Michaela Roman

Some UTEP students don’t want to change their last name when they get married.

The real story behind traditions

February 9, 2016

Marriage is considered a necessary milestone for most Americans, like going to college and getting a job. Another milestone, however, is dishing out a wad of cash and going along with traditions in order to raise from  boyfriend and girlfriend up to the level of husband and wife.

According to, couples will spend on average close to $20,000 for their wedding, not including their honeymoon.

The dress, the reception, the rings, the flowers-all of these necessary traditions-easily rack up the bill, yet no one stops to think why we bother with any of these traditions. The Prospector examined the history and impact of some of these traditions.

The Name Change – One tradition doesn’t cost much money, but has changed recently, and it involves the bride taking the husband’s last name. It’s part of an antiquated assumption that the husband would buy the house under his name and be the primary breadwinner. It has always been common in English and American culture for the woman to take his last name.

However, with shifting gender roles and same-sex marriage, this tradition is making its way out the door.

“I’m not planning to take my wife’s name,” Manuel Herrera, freshman biology major, said. “But I don’t see the logic in her taking my name either, especially if she has a pretty name.”

Kristina Hinojos is a senior studying English and American literature. She said the problem doesn’t lie in her name, but her children’s.

“It would have to happen one way or the other. Either I’d take his name or he’d take mine, mostly so our children would have the same last name as their parents,” Hinojos said.

Although an important issue for our parents and grandparents, it seems that the issue for future married people is to be decided when the time comes.

Other traditions whose roots are often overlooked remain to cause headaches and hits on the pocketbook.

The Grand Fiesta – Extravagant decorations and receptions are a recent tradition in America. Although large wedding celebrations are common in other cultures, American weddings were simple at best. As families migrated across the frontier of the country, the availability of preachers to officiate the marriage was low. Small family celebrations and common law marriages were popular, but it wasn’t until consumer society took hold in the early 20th century that spending money equated a happy marriage. One thing is correct: the bride’s sparkling dress, chicken cordon bleu and chocolate fountain only appear necessary because of the hard work of people in the wedding industry.  According to a study done last year by Emory University economics professors Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, for both sexes, spending more than $20,000 on the wedding ups the odds of divorce by 3.5 times compared with couples who keep it between $5,000 and $10,000.

Throwing the Garter – This tradition comes from an earlier French tradition that held the belief that a piece of the bride’s gown brought good luck. While at first it seems innocent, there have been several accounts of the crowd bull rushing the bride in order to snag a piece for themselves, leaving the bride feeling invaded and in rags on the floor of the altar.

Colors of the Bridesmaid’s Dresses – Back when evil spirits were still a thing, bridesmaids were used to disguise the bride and protect her from whatever evil spirits did. Originally, the colors of their dresses matched the bride’s white dress, but as dyes became readily available the white slowly transitioned into the flamingo-pinks and Slurpee-blue we see today. A parallel tradition reveals that dressing the bridesmaids in strange colors helps distinguish the bride and ensure she’s the prettiest one in the room.

The Honeymoon – As if we need a well-grounded tradition as an excuse to take a vacation. The honeymoon dates back to Nordic cultures where men used to literally steal the woman away from her family and keep her until the family agreed to let him marry her. This gave way to a more fun tradition where consenting brides would be stolen from her family and hideaway for 30 days with each member of the new families bringing honeyed  wine as a gift for the newlyweds.

Mike Vazquez may be reached at [email protected].

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