Weddings/dowries/receptions

In The Heart of Africa film, we will depict the payment of the dowry or “dot,” which is a government requirement for a marriage to be legal in Cameroon.  Of course, Shakespeare used dowries in several of his plays.  Feel free to comment about which plays and how he used them.
In first world countries, we don’t have dowries per se, but we do have expectations.  Which of the following do you think is essential for a wedding?  Please comment.  You might really want to comment, because this time, I’m giving a prize for the best comment.  I have DVDs, books, games, and even hand soap as possible prizes.  So comment well!  Choose as many of these “expected” things as you want–as long as you have good reasons for them.

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5 thoughts on “Weddings/dowries/receptions

  1. I tried to honestly take the poll by not marking any answer (because, strictly speaking, NONE of the items listed is essential–what is essential is the consent of the bride and groom). But the poll told me I must choose an answer before voting. So I ended up voting “Reception” because I think it’s close to essential to have some sort of communal acknowledgement of and, in a sense, participation in the marriage.
    “Lunch” is good too (lunch–or at least food in general–is always a good idea even apart from marriage), but what I really mean is that, in addition to the reception, it’s good to have a somewhat more intimate gathering of friends and family to share (helped by the blessed effect of good food) in the event. As far as the exact timing of the “lunch” (didn’t they used to be called “wedding breakfasts” even when they took place in the afternoon?), I don’t think that matters too much, except that I guess it’s best for it to happen AFTER the wedding to make sure the couple actually went through with it.
    And of course a tux is cool–but it’s not essential.
    Speaking of what is essential to marriage: Shakespeare makes it powerfully clear that a dowry is NOT one of the essentials. Yes, it may serve some positive social functions, and may also at times serve as a destructive impediment. But money–though very, very useful–has little to do with the essence fo marriage. In the play King Lear, Shakespeare has two noblemen (Burgundy and the King of France) vie for the hand of a princess (Cordelia). When Cordelia’s father chooses to cast her off without a dowry–without even acknowledgement as his daughter–Burgundy ends his suit. But Cordelia’s impoverished condition enflames the love of the King of France, and he says: “She is herself a dowry.” Now, that’s what I call an understanding of what is essential.

  2. The poll would only let me vote on one thing, though I tried to pick several. We read of the dowry system being abused by young men in India, where young brides die suspiciously often in kitchen fires soon after marriage. A man can enrich himself collecting dowries from several wives this way. Sorry not witty or clever, just a pressing human rights issue. Can’t wait for the movie!

  3. To me the reception is the most important thing. What everyone looks like or what you eat or whether or not you have bridesmaids is not something you can always control. But if you can have a reception you get a chance to see all the people you love on what is probably one of the most important days of your life. To me that’s what matters most, getting to share that day with the people you love.

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