(This is a guest post by Daniel Carroll, a wedding photographer and marketing consultant based out of New York state.)
I started working in the wedding industry without having much personal experience with weddings. There weren’t a lot of big weddings in my family, and those big weddings that did happen were mostly occurred before I was born. I started working in the wedding industry before many of my friends had gotten married. This lead to me learning about many of the less formalized wedding traditions on the job in the middle of either planning the event or in its execution.
On either the 3rd or 4th wedding I worked, I witnessed for the first time I witnessed what still resonates as the most moving wedding tradition to me – the anniversary dance.
Now for those of you that were like me and didn’t know what the anniversary dance is, it’s where the MC of the event asks for all couples (married or not, your choice) to come out on the dance floor. Then a song is played, and only the couples can dance. After a minute or so, the MC asks for anyone that’s been together for less than five years to take a seat. The newlyweds exit the dance floor. After a few minutes, the MC asks for anyone with less than ten years of marriage to take their seats and the dance floor morphs from a crowded affair to a podium of marital success. The people left on the stage are actively proving they are truly committed to each other.
After a few more intervals of marital time increments, you will be left with a single couple. For my first experience, it was a couple that had been married for 54 years, which was more than double my age at the time! The record so far that I’ve witnessed is 75 years of marriage. I was blessed to be in the presence of a couple that had weathered the storm through countless wars and literally watched the world change as they remained steadfast to one another. Although neither was capable of impressing anyone with their quick and fancy dance moves, they stood as an impressive example of what is possible if two people absolutely refuse to let the world tear them apart.
Traditionally, the lady is presented with a bridal bouquet. Though tradition is flexible when the couple is older than the tradition itself. If you do the dance, I think at least the last few couples should get some kind of recognition for their commitment. I mean it’s only fair; they’ve danced in 150 previous anniversary dances and thought each time “Next time we are going to win!”
There are many traditions that come with weddings from different types of couples from different types of cultures. But the anniversary dance is one that gets me to stop what I’m doing every time and watch in absolute awe at their accomplishment. No, those aren’t tears! I was just in the kitchen and the caterers are dicing the onions for tonight’s reception.