Tuesday 7 July 2015

A Trad Wedding

It is Traddy Tuesday, my day for enthusing about all things Trad Mass, so as to give hope and happiness to potential converts who read about "Dies Irae" but can find only "Day by Day" at their nearest parish church. The amusing thing is that I grew up with "Day by Day" and have umpteen post-1965 hymns rattling around in my head, and when one of the St. Louis Jesuits sent me an angry email for having made fun of one of their songs, I was staggered that a name I had read in hymn books all my life was a real, live man who was now extremely cross with obscure little me.

Anyway, if you don't like "Day by Day," don't get mad, get trad. Thanks to the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, you can find the traditional Latin Mass, now called the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, all over the world, including in Belgium. When I was in Belgium last week, I discovered that the village church was closed for repairs, so its Sunday Mass was held at the next village over. I mentioned this option to my brother, but he liked the EF in Namur plan better--probably gambling that the EF would have better music. Thus, I cannot tell you what a Belgian village Novus Ordo is like, although I am relatively sure they do not offer to euthanize your disabled infant after the homily. 

Meanwhile, the EF Mass is more or less the same all over the world, so instead of writing about the Namur EF, I will tell you about Trad Bride's recent wedding, for it was unusual in its modesty and simplicity. 

Until she married, my friend the Trad Bride lived with a flatmate in a rental flat on top of the FSSP house in Edinburgh. Incidentally, our priest needs a new tenant. Hint hint. Come to Edinburgh, rent a room in the flat. Tidy, quiet, friendly female flatmate. Easy access to daily EF.

As Trad Bride got married in the chapel of the FSSP house, she did not have very far to go. In fact, all she had to do was climb down the staircase, which is outdoors, to the pavement and then go around to the front of the house. I was terribly nervous that there might be some disaster involving long skirts and high heels, so I stood outside well back in the priest's carpark beside the neighbouring 19th century house to watch Trad Bride descend. 

And lo, the attic door opened, and Trad Bride appeared in her white dress, long-sleeved white bridal jacket, my wedding veil and a small red gift bag of necessities in lieu of a handbag, and began to climb carefully down the zig-zagging staircase in her high heeled shoes. A flight behind her came her one attendant, her younger married sister, wearing a beautiful pale plum ballgown and a black mantilla. It was like something out of Amélie, had Amélie been a Nice Catholic Girl instead of an ordinary post-sexual revolution proto-hipster with a quirky sense of humour. 

To my great relief, Trad Bride reached the bottom without mishap and gave me her small red gift bag to shove under a chair in the hallway. She waited for her sister while I scuttled in the front door and stowed the bag away. Then I sat in the pew in the back of the tiny chapel beside B.A., being one of the last to arrive. It is the only pew; the chapel otherwise has a collection of prie-dieux. The tall, handsome, dark-haired groom was on the right, in the aisle-side prie-dieux, wearing a dark suit and a red flower in his lapel. His best man was beside him, and three other members of his family were in prie-dieux behind them. The bride's blonde mother was in the second row on the right, wearing a silver skirt suit and a small cap of black feathers. 

The Master of the Scola began an introit on the harmonium in the hallway. The priest processed into the chapel behind a tall blond altar server, followed shortly thereafter by Trad Bride's Sister and Trad Bride, whose short train was almost longer than the aisle. They took the prie-dieux on the left side of the aisle. There was absolutely no room in the middle of the aisle for the standard twin prie-dieux so much a feature of church weddings. 

In the traditional Catholic marriage service, the marriage service is separate from the Mass. It happens first. Possibly you don't even need the Mass afterwards. The bride and groom stand in the middle of the aisle and say their super-traddy vows and are prayed over and the priest blesses the ring and it all sounds very Anglican, the Anglicans having preserved the old Catholic marriage service more assiduously than the liturgical architects of 1971. And so Trad Bride and Trad Groom's marriage service was intensely solemn and holy, to say nothing of concentrated and short. Then, half amusingly, half poignantly, the space constraints forced them to return to their prie-dieux  and thus they had to sit apart for the Mass. 

This was the Low Mass for the feast of the day, as they had requested. However, they got to kneel together for the Nuptial Blessing near the end, poor Trad Bride crushing a spider with her dress, and once again I was impressed by the prayers the Church even in the novus wedding mass thinks the bride needs to keep her good. B.A. thinks it is because women used to die in droves ten months or so after their weddings, but I am not so sure. I think it is because women eventually get impatient and cross with their husbands when these husbands no longer resemble superheroes of romantic literature and are occasionally tempted to murder them and/or run away. The only reason why nobody (except married women and priests) knows this is that married women cannot admit it outside the confessional without hurting their husbands' feelings, poor chaps.

When Mass was ended, we all sang the Catholic Emancipation era hymn "Hail Queen of Heaven, the Ocean Star" and then the bride and groom, holding hands, followed the priest and altar server out into the hallway. This was particularly sweet, as I hadn't seen the bride and groom holding hands before. 

The bridal party went straight across the hall to the vestry to sign the register and all the legal paperwork, while the Schola and I rushed up the staircase to await the champagne. Two of Trad Bride's other friends were fussing in the minute kitchen with tea cups that I'm not sure were ever used, so intent were the guests on the champagne. Meanwhile, we all stood around shyly for a bit, not knowing what to say, rather like when I went to visit my friend Sister Mechtilde, and her family and friends sat dumbly before her window in the grille, beaming at her. Life in the UK, people. However, it occurred to some to take photographs, and Trad Bride's sister popped open the champagne, and we all grew more talkative and it was like a Sunday Gin and Tonic party, only with champagne instead of gin and twenty people instead of the usual five to ten. 

The plan was for the bridal party and family to go to a spiffy restaurant for the wedding breakfast (i.e. lunch), but I had to go to the airport before Trad Bride and Groom left, so sadly I can't describe their leave-taking. But other than the fact it was a Catholic wedding, it was all very much like the simple, heartfelt weddings you read about in Anne of the Island and Little Women. I believe after the lunch Trad Groom simply drove Trad Bride home to his village. So it was all very edifying, especially as neither Trad Groom nor Trad Bride had been married before. 

My wedding was also small and simple, but as I was a divorced-and-annulled person, Anglo-Saxon convention dictated that I had to have a small and unobtrusive wedding. Of course, I rather undercut its modest obscurity by writing all about it for the Catholic Register. However, a deadline is a deadline, and it was all I could think of to write about. 


  1. I thought that it's traditional for Catholic couples to arrive at the wedding ceremony together and approach the altar together...

  2. Expat Housewife7 July 2015 at 14:02

    How beautiful, I can imagine the whole thing, including the dangerous outside steps!

  3. Well, Julia, I am looking at the Marriage Service in my 1958 Missal, and I don't see that there. If standing out in the aisle counts as approaching the altar together, they certainly did that.

    1. Expat Housewife, it really was beautiful. Not enough seats for R & H; they had to stand, and even then I think one of them knelt so as not to block the view!

    2. Expat Housewife10 July 2015 at 14:12

      That is very courteous. I am so happy she had a beautiful wedding.

  4. Was it something like this? I especially like the last picture. :)



  5. Well, the service part looks familiar, but my friend's Mass wasn't the "Nuptial Mass" (with the usual readings) but the Mass for the feast of the day. There was only one priest, and the altar was set up the way an altar is usually set up for the Extraordinary Form. And we were all slightly squashed, and the bride and groom are in their forties.

  6. I love Traddy Tuesday :-)

    Aussie girl in NZ

  7. They were in their forties? Yay! I love that!

    On a different note, could I suggest a topic for your blog consideration?

    I'd be interested on your thoughts on a few things:

    1) female breadwinner/male homemaker marriages
    2) men who want to marry 'alpha females' and be stay-at-home dads
    3) the division of household labour in marriage

    I had a very fun weekend spent with a lot of young Catholics. One of them is a man I'm quite fond of (put it this way -- if he asked me out I wouldn't say no). I befriended a girl he briefly dated and with whom he still friends. She said that this man is more or less looking for a super-intelligent alpha female (think high-powered politician or lawyer) and that he would like to be a house husband who home-schools the kids. The thing is, this guy himself is training for a very high-powered career, but why do that if he wants to be a SAHD?

    Then I was speaking to another (male) friend who says that there are indeed Catholic guys who want to fulfil the house husband role.

    Well, okay. But I wonder how prevalent this way of thinking is. I'm never going to be a six-figure earner, and for the first time I'm starting to wonder if that might actually be hurting me in the 'marriage market'.

    My folks say that Young Man No 1 is kidding himself because wives become resentful when they come home from work and the chores have not been done or have not been done to womanly standards. I can see how that would be true.

    So what do you think?

    1. Perhaps this guy does not so much want a breadwinner wife as a job that keeps him at home...? Back in the day (in Aus) lots of families had stations or farms and the men would be working all day with the the livestock or crops, yet they would still be at home....

      I was actually discussing work with my Dad not long ago. I had just started working again after a voluntary period of unemployment and it really surprised me how much I ENJOY going out to work (though were I married and had kids, I would be a very happy SAHM - though I suspect I would start a hobby business...). I have a friend though, who only works because she needs money to live. She would much much rather be a housewife. I jokingly said to Dad I think it's programmed into women (to be happy working at home for your family). He said that lots of men would probably prefer to stay home, but they don't because you just have to do what you have to do to get your family fed, clothed and sheltered. So there's Dad's view for you...!

  8. A six-figure earner. Ha ha ha! Is that before taxes or what? In my experience, men--like women--just don't want to be taken advantage of financially, and so are just happy if the women they love actually contribute in some way. If this means a second income, great. Fantastic even, if he enjoys the so-called finer things in life. However, it can also mean being a super-careful manager who also makes the house a lovely place to come home to.

    Since homemaking is so devalued in Western society and the ability to make huge pots of money almost worshipped, the high-earner will always have to check to make sure he or she doesn't start patronizing the homemaker and making him or her feel like dirt. Women making more money than their husbands is a relatively new phenomenon; men used to feel ashamed (or were "supposed to" feel ashamed) of living off a wife's earnings. It's good that those days are gone. However, I think spouses still need to ensure that the lesser earning spouse feel valued for his/her contributions, be they monetary or homemaking. Since we don't have (or as they say in the UK) "run" a car, I am all too conscious of what backbreaking labour merely doing the grocery shopping can be, never mind the laundry!

    1. Heather in Toronto8 July 2015 at 15:01

      As something of an aside, I've read your tales of lugging horribly heavy bags home and have to wonder, are you not able to get those little folding hand carts in Edinburgh, the ones that car-less people in Toronto use to bring their groceries home? I and half the little old ladies in my neighbourhood would be lost without them. I've got a lovely steel framed with two heavy duty wheels, but even the dinky little wire ones can get the job done if they don't have to go over any super uneven ground.

    2. We had a super one that even climbed stairs, but alas it broke. We really need to get a new one, but in the meantime my response to a really big shop is to call a cab from the supermarket. So I am whinging for nothing, really.

    3. Oh, I have thought of another reason why a man might want to marry a woman who earns a lot. If she makes all the money, if she leaves him, she has to pay him alimony and child support, not the other way around. O tempora, o mores.

  9. I asked my dad if he would work if he didn't have to. He said no.

    1. Expat Housewife10 July 2015 at 14:18

      My husband wouldn't either. He would read and travel and do fun intellectual stuff. Maybe a hobby would earn him some money if he out enough effort into it. I think many men understand that their personal worth is not related to their job and how much money they earn, and they see working as a necessity rather than a source of personal identity and fulfilment.

  10. Beautiful wedding description! Very lovely.

    Julia, almost all of the NCBs I know are american (plus a few Italians) and most would have said in college that they wanted a wife who stayed home. Now that most are married, they would say they would prefer their wife stay home (even if it means a delay in house buying) once there is a baby, but would support her if she feels called to work. One guy my friend dated wanted her to work so they could go on ski vacations every year (she is now marrying someone else). Though a few would want to work near the home, like as a farmer, none wanted to be a homemaker. In short, I doubt you are repulsing men bc you are not going after a high power career.

    My husband would not do the work he's doing if we won the lottery or something, but he thinks it is good for him. (I concur.)


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