#23 The Wedding

October 18, 2016

Something borrowed, something blue, something that explains why weddings look the way they do. Part 2 of the story of Sue and Austin’s wedding.

THE FACTS

Our theme music is by Nicholas Britell and our ad music is by Build Buildings. We were edited this week by Annie-Rose Strasser, and produced by Christine Driscoll, Elizabeth Kulas, and Rikki Novetsky.  Sylvie Douglis and Nick Fountain field produced at the wedding.

Thank you to Sue and Austin’s friends and family for letting us ask so many questions and bother you during the whole wedding.

Thanks to Jorge Just — and sorry we forgot to thank you last time, and to our beloved mix engineer Andrew Dunn. ANDREW DUNN MIXED THIS EPISODE, he always mixes our episodes, and we have not been great about remembering to tell you that!

Additional production assistance came from Jacob Cruz, Emily Kennedy, Melanie Kruvelis, Sarah Melton and Sarah Stoddard.

Thank you to Karen Klaiber Hersch, Gayle Strege, Patrick O’Neil, Jennifer Gellmann and Sharon Boustani.

LEARN MORE

If you want to learn more Folk-Lore of Women you can access it via the wonderful Project Gutenberg at this link.

Did you like learning the value of the garter industry in 1952? What a rebel – you probably need Dr. Vicki Howard’s book at this link or your local library.

There are a lot of wedding traditions out there!  We obviously didn’t cover them all! There’s a great history about women changing their last names by Dr. Sophie Coulombeau at the BBC. For some funny and insightful thoughts on the prevalence of Corinthians in wedding vows, check out this essay by Kate Braestrup at Huffington Post.

And finally, stay posted with us as we report the next season. You can follow us on Twitter, subscribe to the newsletter, or subscribe to us on your podcatcher for all our cool updates!

See you in 2017!

Show transcript

[MUSIC PLAYS]

PRODUCER: What’s happening now.

DJ: The bride is coming down the aisle.

PASTOR: The congregation may be seated.

RACHEL: Dearly beloved. We are gathered here today to celebrate the wedding episode of Surprisingly Awesome from Gimlet Media.

RACHEL: Who are you guys?

SUE: Hi I’m Sue Smith.

AUSTIN: And I’m Austin Rodrigues.

RACHEL: You’re still Sue Smith?

SUE: I’m a liberated woman.

RACHEL: And I am your officiant, Rachel Ward. And this week we are going to Sue and Austin’s wedding. If you didn’t hear the episode before this one, you might want to go back and listen, so you can get to know our bride and groom. On the last episode, we followed them as they planned for their wedding. We left off, just as they were hitting a big bump.

[VOICEMAIL BEEP]

AUSTIN: Hey guys, I thought you might want to know that I got into a bike spill last night. I hit a rock on my way up the Williamsburg bridge and landed on my handlebars and the pointy end jabbed into my pelvis. And it hurt a lot.

RACHEL: Austin was worried he might be too hurt to do all the things he wanted to on his wedding day. But he was being really stubborn about getting help, until ….

AUSTIN: Via the encouragement of my wife and my sketch team Nipsey, UCB Theatre Monday 9:30, vape life. They told me I had to go to the doctor because I went to rehearsal the day after the bike accident and I was like pale and lethargic and like, in a lot of pain, so I went to the doctor. He was like there are no organs there it’s just a really bad bruise and you’ll be fine and sent me on my way.

SUE: I was very scared I made him go to urgent care.

RACHEL: It sounds kinda like his improv team made him go to urgent care.

SUE: Yeah he probably takes more stock in that.

AUSTIN: Uh, no it was on both of your urgings.

RACHEL: So with Austin mostly all healed up … the show goes on. And on our show today, we are going to be looking at the origins of what we consider the modern, secular American wedding. We’re going to look at wedding traditions — ones that Sue and Austin participated in, and ones that they passed on. Things like walking down the aisle, wearing a garter, and that famous old line about something borrowed and something blue…

There’s a LOT to unpack here, because it turns out that wedding traditions? They don’t come from one place. They’re a hodgepodge of things from all different places, all different times, all different social practices.

So throughout this episode, we’re going to be stepping back — to Ancient Greece, to the Middle Ages, to 19th century America — to understand what the weddings of yore have to do with the weddings of today. And to help with that we’re going to bring some experts to Sue and Austin’s wedding — specifically, a classical archaeologist and two historians.

And I also wanted to give a quick shout out to our queer listeners — we got your emails! And to make it clear for everyone, these traditions are used in lots of weddings, not just straight ones. But for now, let’s pick up where we left off. Right before Sue and Austin’s wedding.

[VOICEMAIL BEEP]

SUE: We are heading up to the venue very early tomorrow morning and I’m feeling so relaxed actually and like calm and excited. I can’t wait to see everybody and have bonfires and stay in tents and see everyone I love and I think it’s gonna be great.

RACHEL: Suuuuure it will be.

AUSTIN: Rehearsal was a —

SUE: Shit show.

AUSTIN: Shit show.

SUE: Yeah.

RACHEL: Tell me about that.

AUSTIN: I’ve never been to a wedding rehearsal that wasn’t a shit show, though. So I feel ok.

SUE: No, but — can you imagine like, 10 comedians and performers trying to all make a
wedding happen, and tell — they were all trying to like, tell the pastor what to do (laughs)

AUSTIN: Yeah, well, we’re so used to directing our shows.

SUE: and then everyone had an opinion, I was like guys, shut up. (laughs)

RACHEL: A lot Sue and Austin’s wedding party came up to camp the night before, making a long weekend of it. And you may think this is really traditional, a wedding that basically takes up a whole weekend — rehearsal dinner, wedding day, maybe day-after brunch. And you may have complained about it — all the schlepping, and having to book multiple nights in a hotel yourself. But if you think that weddings go on for too long now … you would have HATED the middle ages.

DR. CORINNE WIEBEN: Oh yeah, the average wedding, sort of the process of getting married, can take weeks if not months in the Middle Ages if you want to be super formal about it.

RACHEL: This is Dr. Corinne Wieben, a professor of Medieval History at the University of Northern Colorado. Talking to her made us realize that weddings have changed a lot over human history … and that each time they took on a new form, it was because the meaning of MARRIAGE had changed. In the Middle Ages, that form was a wedding that took FOREVER — because they were basically contract negotiations. But of course, you didn’t have to be at that wedding for those weeks and weeks that it took to broker that deal.

DR. CORINNE WIEBEN: It’s more like a business merger than like a ceremony, in the way that we think of it now. So it requires a lot of negotiation. And you want lots of time to be able to think about this and think about what you’re doing.

RACHEL: Medieval weddings were different than modern weddings in a lot of ways. But the biggest way in which they were different than Sue and Austin’s is that they were primarily about transferring wealth. Whereas Sue and Austin’s wedding … sometimes it feels like it’s primarily about destroying wealth. And TRANSFERRING candles.

CHRISTINE: What are you carrying?

SUE: A huge box of candles. Because it’s like I tried to organize everything. But … it somehow is disorganized.

RACHEL: It’s the morning of their wedding. Sue and Austin get up to go work in the reception hall which in this case is a barn, because their wedding is taking place on a farm. The barn is beautiful — it has big chandeliers and sparkly lights strung across the rafters. But it’s a BARN on a FARM — so there’s a litter of barn cats underfoot everywhere. Next to the barn is a pen full of goats, and turkeys and roosters. Converting a barn into a party is a big task.

SHARON: And then, I just need to know the seating chart cause —

AUSTIN: I have it right here.

SHARON: Oh ok.

AUSTIN: So I can do this. I can set up the chairs.

SUE: OK.

SHARON: Ok, so we’ll all do it together.

SUE: Can you throw this on that table?

RACHEL: Sue and Austin are having 135 guests — the average, according to industry data, is 126. A good size for a party.

SHARON: (laughs) Ok. Alright so we’ll set up the chairs.

RACHEL: The stress in the barn is palpable. Sue and the bridesmaids pin up decorations, arrange candles and linens. Austin has the seating chart in one hand, and is using the other hand to unfold chairs and slide them up to tables. Over and over again … checks the chart, slaps down a chair. Checks the chair, slaps down a chair.

SUE: He’s so stressed. He’s never like that. He’s always really calm.

RACHEL: What do you think’s going on.

SUE: For him? He — he’s — he wants everyone to have a good time.

RACHEL: His stress levels are rising. But Sue’s are dropping.

SUE: There was a point where I had to stop setting up and go get my makeup done and just let got and let God.

RACHEL: Sue escapes the stress of the barn and heads into the farmhouse next door. She takes a seat in a director’s chair, facing a set of glass doors that look out onto the barn. She is calm.

RACHEL: You look like, sort of like, a Queen looking over your dominion right now.

SUE: Ah! My subjects. Of the barn! (laughs)

RACHEL: The mood here is GIDDY, as bridesmaids with curlers in their hair lounge around the kitchen, snacking on zucchini bread, and joking.

ANNA: That cat sat on my face at 4:30 in the morning. It was like humping my face.

SUE: You guys are married now.

ANNA: We’re married. I guess in cat world if you rub your butthole in someone’s face…then they’re your wife. They’re your wife! (laughter)

SUE: Anna this isn’t about you! (laughs)

RACHEL: The bridal party is in a silly mood … but Sue’s mother Ingrid, is a little more contemplative.

RACHEL: Sue, what are you looking forward to right now?

SUE: Um —

INGRID: I know the answer to that.

SUE: Wait, what?

RACHEL: Wait, Ingrid you know the answer to that?

INGRID: I think I do.

RACHEL: What is it.

INGRID: Well I can’t say it out loud!

RACHEL: Whisper it into the microphone and we’ll check it with Sue.

INGRID: When Austin sees her first she wants to make him cry.

RACHEL: Sue, what are you most looking forward to?

SUE: Looking hot in my dress and shoes. What did you say?

RACHEL: I think you guys had effectively the same answer.

PERSON1: She said making Austin cry when he sees you.

PERSON 1: Oh yeah Austin’s gonna be crying the most.

RACHEL: Sue and her mother talked about weddings a few weeks before the big day … but not about what traditions Ingrid is passing down to Sue. Because Ingrid didn’t have a big, traditional wedding when she married Sue’s father. It was much simpler. A district justice married them, with rings they’d stopped off at K-Mart to buy right before.

SUE: So it was just the two of you.

INGRID: The two of us. Just your dad and myself. And then after we got married, we did go over to Lenny and Nancy, were some friends of ours.

SUE: Lenny and Nancy, I’ve never heard of them. Who are Lenny and Nancy?

INGRID: We lost track of them when we moved away from Harrisburg.

SUE: Right. Why did you guys decide to get married.

INGRID: Well as you know I’m Canadian.

SUE: It was a green card marriage. I didn’t know that.

INGRID: Not necessarily. I would never have gotten married just for that reason. I mean there was a lot of love involved too. But it just made things easier.

RACHEL: Ingrid’s wedding to Sue’s dad might not have been that traditional … but there are traditions that she’d like for SUE to take part in. She pulls out a small box, covered in writing … in German.

RACHEL: What — what is this?

SUE: My grandmother’s garter.

PERSON 1: Oh my God, can you see it?

SUE: But what does it say in German?

INGRID: Well, uh — the interpretation I’m not real sure of. Something about — she wrote this after 25 years. And she was talking about how marriage had changed over the years.

RACHEL: So your — your mother used this?

INGRID: My mother. They will be married 65 years next month.

RACHEL: And so why do we have it here right now?

INGRID: Cause initially Sue said she was gonna wear it.

RACHEL: it’s something borrowed and blue.

PERSON1: And old.

RACHEL: So what I’m referring to is that old rhyme, about what a bride should wear: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. People tell brides they’re supposed to wear one of each of those things for luck. The origins of this saying are tough to pin down. The earliest published version we could find is in a book called “Folk-Lore of Women” by T – F Thiselton-Dyer — T – F Thiselton-Dyer cites it as something that brides said and did in 1906.

RACHEL: That tradition, of trying to have something from each of those categories — old, new, borrowed, blue — has continued since then … and as weddings became more commercial, people have found a way to cash in on the saying. In the 1950s, that interests in following that custom, and the interest in having a garter, like the one Sue’s grandmother wore… they came together — and many brides wore a blue garter. The custom spawned a niche industry of companies selling garters, and in 1952, the garter industry sold $175,000 worth of wedding garters.

RACHEL: But Sue will be using zero dollars worth of wedding garters. She’s not doing it.

INGRID: She told me she changed her mind about the garter thing. But I brought it anyway. So she may not wear it.

ANNA: Did you wear it.

INGRID: No. See that’s it. I didn’t wear it. And she was betrothing it to me, Which I never got the chance to wear it. And we found it, um, just recently, actually. My mother has Alzheimer’s and we were going through her stuff and I thought, Sue might wanna wear it. (starts crying)

RACHEL: Oh, Ingrid.

RACHEL: Weddings are emotional. It’s a time of transition and it’s a kind of rite of passage.

RACHEL: What did being a bride mean to you?

SUE: I mean it was nice to celebrate the marriage and celebrate the love, but I did feel like anytime I encountered a woman that I didn’t really know that well, I could instantly bond with her about this wedding thing, we could just like freak out and bride out about it. Um so it gives you that connection to other women which is cool. But I would hope there are other roles out there for women than bride, wife, mother.

AUSTIN: It’s really hard to find the line of femininity and getting married

SUE: Feminist

AUSTIN: Not feminisitity,

SUE: … cocity …

SUE: feministing

RACHEL: What Sue is reacting to is that a lot of wedding traditions, when you peel back their face, can seem sexist. Think about the garter toss. The groom reaches up under the bride’s skirt — in front of everyone, and slingshots the garter into a crowd of male wedding guests. What this actually symbolizes is proving that the marriage has been consummated. Proving that the bride was pure — that the groom is a stud. There are also variations on this practice.

AUSTIN: I had to do it once when I was a kid

SUE: No!

AUSTIN: Say I was 12-15, off of like a 30 year old woman … ‘cause there is this thing that if you take it over the knee you’re a bad boy.

SUE: Did you go over the knee? I’m sure you did.

RACHEL: The garter toss is a holdover from this whole category of rituals that don’t really happen anymore: bedding rituals. This is Dr. Vicki Howard, at the University of Essex.

DR. VICKI HOWARD: They are things like, sort of hazing a couple who are going to be sleeping together for the first time, on their wedding night. You know, accompanying them to the bed. Teasing them, having sort of a communal party in the bedroom around the people, around the couple.

RACHEL: The couple’s first night together is NOT a private affair. During the Middle Ages a witness to … that first night … was necessary to make a marriage official. The tamer version of this practice that eventually developed was for a bride to toss a garter out the window to say “look, leave us alone — we did it.” In the late 19th century, tossing the garter became ceremonial.

RACHEL: But no one’s getting their garter tossed just yet — metaphorically or actually. Back at the farmhouse, the bridesmaids have gone from giddy, to full on SQUEEEE, as Sue appeared in her dress for the first time.

BRIDESMAIDS: AHHHHHH PRETTY GIRL!!! Oh my God. Woo hoo. Whoa. Oh it looks perfect. Pretty girl. So pretty. Oh my God the ceremony starts in 10 minutes! Shut up.

RACHEL: For the groomsmen the mood was more methodical …

AUSTIN: Vows. Gum. Sunglasses. Phone for pictures. Got my watch, got my pocket square. I think I’m good.

RACHEL: More somber.

ANGELO: Do we do anything? Do you want a pep talk

AUSTIN: No I’m alright.

ANGELO: look at me do you want a pep talk? Do you need one?

AUSTIN: No I’m ok.

ANGELO: Ok let’s roll

AUSTIN: I guess I’m gonna go up there and get married. This seems right, right?

RACHEL: Right … after the break.

RACHEL: Welcome back to Surprisingly Awesome from Gimlet Media. I’m Rachel Ward. This week we’re guests at the wedding of Sue Smith and Austin Rodrigues. It’s their big day. We’re at the top of a hill, in rural upstate New York. Guests are seated in old church pews. Sue and Austin are standing in front of an arbor decorated with sunflowers. Beyond them, green farm plots roll up to meet a blue sky filled with stout white clouds. Stands of trees edge around the farms, their leaves in heavy disagreement about whether or not this moment is summer or fall.

AUSTIN: I was so nervous, I must have asked 20 people am I supposed to go up there, am I supposed to hang here and say hi to the guest and everyone was just like just do whatever you want and then I eventually went up to stand at the altar and that’s when I started to get really nervous. And then they brought my grandparents came up in the van and like that was when I lost with seeing my grandma made the trip out there and everything. And I was just doing this, just banging my fist into my hand, trying to look casual and cool when I was really like the opposite to that

RACHEL: While Austin tried to look cool, the DJ, his friend DK, cued up the music:

DK: I’m looking for the bridal party, I thought somebody was gonna be giving me a thumbs up.

RACHEL: Sharon, the venue owner, called down the hill on a walkie talkie.

SHARON: Thumbs up, we’re ready to go. Yeah. Ok let’s get everybody in their places.

[MUSIC PLAYS]

SUE: I could see him from the distance but I couldn’t really see him until I started walking down the aisle.

AUSTIN: Yeah I caught a glimpse of her coming from the barn but then I turned away because I didn’t want to see her until she did the loop around the corner of the aisle

[MUSIC PLAYS]

RACHEL: Sue, what did you think when you saw him?

SUE: That he looked good, I liked all his stuff and yeah, I thought he looked nervous… it was cute.

AUSTIN: Until you came around and then when you came around the corner it was oddly calming and not overwhelming.

SUE: Yeah I felt more calm when I saw you and I was standing up there with you.

AUSTIN: Yeah.

SUE: Yeah, it was like no one else was around.

RACHEL: And, by the way, Austin did cry when he saw Sue in her dress.

SUE: But it was cool to come around the corner and see everyone you loved. Because I hadn’t seen a lot of them until then and it was like, Oh my God this is crazy.

AUSTIN: that’s what you pay for, that what you do all the planning for.

SUE: Priceless.

RACHEL: And timeless. “Walking down the aisle” connects to a long tradition of weddings as processions. Dr. Lin Foxhall, a classical archaeologist at University of Liverpool says that deep into history — before Christianity, before the Roman empire — the Greeks used wedding processions, walking from one family home to another, to show that a couple was getting married.

DR. LIN FOXHALL: It’s the woman passing into the husband’s house, that’s the minute they’re married.

RACHEL: Walking down the aisle — processing down the aisle — is our modern connection to that ancient practice.

DR. LIN FOXHALL: The most important bit of the wedding is actually the procession. Certainly in the Ancient Greek world, you go from the bride’s house to the groom’s house, and you have lots of singing and dancing and clothes and flowers and all of the things you would expect.

RACHEL: The same as today. Dress up in fine clothes, have a procession. But one pretty big difference:

DR. LIN FOXHALL: In antiquity, births and marriages and deaths were all really family affairs and they were not something that the state got involved in. And of course there was no overarching church to manage them either. That’s a really different way of looking at a wedding.

RACHEL: In antiquity, religion wasn’t really present at weddings — getting married was a family matter, not a state, or church matter. Also, in Ancient Greece, there wasn’t “a church” as we think of it now. Sure, people might get married in a sanctuary for their favorite god or goddess … but it wasn’t until pretty long into the life of Christianity — the 13th century — that a church service began to be a critical part of a wedding. Nowadays we think of a wedding in a religious space as “traditional” and weddings on hills on a farm as “non-traditional.” And we think of “the past” as a more religious time. But Dr. Vicki Howard at the University of Essex says that even in early AMERICAN weddings, a wedding in a church WASN’T guaranteed.

DR. VICKI HOWARD: You know, the idea of a church wedding is something that becomes a middle class ideal in early to mid 19th century. Before the 19th century, you may not even be able to have a minister, because there may not be one in your area, and you might just cohabitate, or have common law marriage.

RACHEL: It wasn’t until the 19th century that Americans started to think of a “church wedding” as a “default wedding.” It was just impractical to have a wedding in a church all the time — maybe you didn’t live near a church, or your church didn’t have a full-time preacher. So you might just move in together and start telling people, we’re married. No ceremony, do not cross go, do not collect $200 worth of pots and pans from Bed Bath and Beyond. But despite the secular nature of Sue and Austin’s wedding, the order of service they’re using — THAT is heavily influenced by a Christian service: It’s got an opening prayer, readings, some sort of message, some singing.

PASTOR JEFF: As Sue and Smith make their promises to each other today, let us enter into this celebration confident that God is present with us.

RACHEL: Even when your pastor gets your names wrong. That’s Sue and AUSTIN, Pastor Jeff. But that little mess-up primed the guests to laugh as friends and family rose from the pews, to deliver readings.

INGRID: Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it doesn’t boast, it is not proud.

DONNA: A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks.

LUCAS: I will give you everything. Baby. Love me. Lights out. Beyonce.

RACHEL: And then, on the windy hill, Sue and Austin delivered their vows, which they wrote themselves.

SUE: Austin, you are the warmest and most generous person I’ve ever met. And also really tough like a bear or a wolf. I will love puns the way that you love puns now that we’re happily meowied.

AUSTIN: I promise to always have a one way ticket to snuggletown. I promise to always always support you and have your back. I vow to celebrate your many many wins and pick you up after any losses. I promise to never have a man bun. I love you, I love you, I love you Sue Smith.

RACHEL: Writing your own vows feels very modern, like a deviation from tradition that makes a ceremony more personalized, more casual, more American. But according to Dr. Corinne Wieben at The University of Northern Colorado…

DR. CORINNE WIEBEN: Medieval marriage could be shockingly informal. As long as you agree in the present tense to be married to each other you are married without the presence of witnesses, without the presence of officials.

RACHEL: Medieval people were writing their own vows wayyy before Sue and Austin crafted their first pun.

DR. CORINNE WIEBEN: It’s just a person saying I in this present moment, take you as my spouse. And as long as two people say that to each other, that is considered to be a legally binding marriage.

RACHEL: It didn’t matter where you got married, or who in front of – if you declared to each other, I will marry you, you were married. And there’s another medieval tradition that we observe today:

DR. CORINNE WIEBEN: The exchange of rings is a really common tradition throughout medieval Europe, and it’s one of the few ways in which people can sort of publically perform a wedding. Wedding rings are an extremely medieval thing. So if you are a couple in the Middle Ages and weddings are this informal private thing, one of the things you can do is a public ceremony to kind of cement the idea of your marriage in the minds of your family and the community is to exchange rings.

PASTOR JEFF: It gives me great pleasure to introduce, for the very first time, Sue and Austin as husband and mah wife.

AUSTIN: I feel like when the pastor, is that what we call Jeff? When the pastor said mah wife it was cathartic for me, I feel like I don’t have to say mah wife anymore. That was my last mah wife I don’t need to say it anymore

SUE: Because it like God said it.

AUSTIN: I mean who that’s like top heightening.

SUE: You can’t heighten it any further, yeah I dunno.

RACHEL: The public declaration by Pastor Jeff — and the public exchange of vows — this is what modern American weddings look like now. It’s a really different idea than a wedding being a contract negotiation, a business deal, to unite two families or consolidate property.

RACHEL: Do you guys feel like that’s your marriage?

[laughter]

AUSTIN: We don’t have anything

SUE: neither of us married up.

SUE & AUSTIN: No …

SUE: It woulda been nice if one of us had money

AUSTIN: the only way that we can relate to that is that we are in the same careers, so we can support each other.

SUE: We are a comedic power couple.

AUSTIN: now we are a comedic power couple, where as before we were just comedic lonely people.

SUE: Comedic weirdos.

AUSTIN: Our powers have combined.

RACHEL: To Sue and Austin, a marriage is much more than the business deal that it would have been in the Middle Ages. It’s about becoming partners. So the form of their wedding matches that — it’s a celebration of their partnership.

[JOHN PRINE SONG]

RACHEL: And just like millions of wedding before theirs, Sue and Austin’s service ends with a song — and they process out.

RACHEL: What was the moment where, like the physical action or thing happened … where you guys felt married?

AUSTIN: You leave the ceremony and that’s a strange kinda feeling. So we had a singalong for when we walked down the aisle and we sang one chorus of the song and kinda stayed there and walked away during the chorus and it felt like now just the two of us while everybody else is back there singing so I guess that kind of like a moment that was the first time that it was like wow this is the first time we’ve been alone while married.

SUE: Yeah definitely, let’s walk towards our future.

DK: dinner will be served very soon, but right now I would like to introduce for the very first time our bride and groom Mr. and Mrs. Aus .. woop Austin Rodrigues and Sue Smith.

NICK: I don’t think this dinner is gonna end in the hour they thought it was gonna

WOMAN: No

NICK: Does it ever?

WOMAN: It’s ongoing …. alright guys, grab your plates and make your way to the buffet. Enjoy.

MAN: Gentleman first, right?

RACHEL: In our research, we found that people have always assumed you would feed them at the wedding, or throw a party for them once you got married. And there’s a long tradition, from the Renaissance, to the American frontier, of people getting back at you, if you didn’t. It’s called a shivaree, or a skimmington, or rough music. Dr. Vicki Howard from University of Essex says if you didn’t come through with a party, the community would just harass you until you did.

DR. VICKI HOWARD: If a couple is seen as somehow having broken a rule, like not having provided a big party for the community, or not having invited the town into the celebration, people in the community might go to them on their wedding night and throw rocks at their house or play loud music or somehow rough them up a little bit in kind of a good humored way.

RACHEL: There’s no need for shivaree at Sue and Austin’s wedding. They’re clearly providing a party for their community.

SUE: So happy, so happy, everybody’s having so much fun and blending well and dancing. If you can believe that. I’ve never seen so much dancing at a wedding before, and it’s awesome. Speaking of which I have to dance to this song, okay? Bye.

RACHEL: This wedding is shivaree-proof: Even the kids of the farm’s owner agree.

OLIVIA: But right now I’ve never seen everybody get out of their seat and dance right at this time at 8 o’clock, I’ve never seen that.

SUE: You know, I think that people aren’t very self conscious I find in our friends and they will just do whatever and I like them about them

AUSTIN: Yeah we picked a good crew.

SUE: And it was good because it provided an environment where I didn’t feel self conscious and I could do whatever like mhhh let’s just dance, whatever.

RACHEL: Guests having a ton of fun — that’s the pay off. This is exactly what Sue and Austin wanted. And it’s a big win for DK, the friend who’s djing.

DK: The playlist is killer, uh the the biggest success of the night is, it’s 10:24 and the shuttle … the last shuttle bus is supposed to leave to 10:15pm and he is not even here. ‘Cause I offered him $50 to be late and the dance floor is still going good, the party is still going good. I lost my voice from yelling and singing and dancing.

AUSTIN: The energy felt so good,

SUE: Great energy.

AUSTIN: No matter how much money you have you can’t buy the energy at your wedding, having a room full of people that are just gelling well together energy

SUE: And everybody is having fun and having a good time and not rolling their eyes

RACHEL: What’s the key factor to get that?

SUE: You gotta really love each other.

AUSTIN: Yeah that a big one for sure.

SUE: You gotta really be in love.

AUSTIN: I think people really feed off your energy as a couple.

RACHEL: The whole thing is worthy of Ancient Greece.

DR. LIN FOXHALL: There was no register of marriages anywhere in the ancient world pretty much. So you couldn’t go into ancient Athens or ancient Rome and find a registry of marriages. Because it just didn’t exist. As far as the state was concerned, the marriage was a private business. Because it was a contract between two families.

RACHEL: This is Dr. Lin Foxhall again. She says that in Ancient Greece and Rome, weddings were big as a means of communicating citizenship. Because in Ancient Greece, you could only be a citizen if your parents were citizens. But because the state didn’t keep track of marriages, you had to rely on the community to remember that they’d happened.

DR LIN FOXHALL: Now one good way of making sure that everybody knows that your parents are really married and you’re not just some dodgy person, who, you know, fell off the back of a truck somewhere, is to have a really big celebration that people see happening before their eyes. Because then they can testify that you are really married.

RACHEL: So to broadcast hey, two citizens getting married over here! You have the biggest wedding to-do that you could muster. That way, 30 years later, when your kids needed to prove to the world that they were citizens, they could say … “no, no, no, no, no I’m Alexandros and Isadora’s kid — you know them, they’re citizens — you went to their wedding!”

AUSTIN: Oh, would would the guests say they remembered being there?

SUE: Absolutely.

AUSTIN: Oh for sure, yeah I think so.

SUE: I mean there were kittens.

AUSTIN: If you wanted a kitten, look down at your feet, there is a kitten you pick it up, pet it, throw it, bye kitten. There were goats getting their heads stuck in fences, like how are you not going to remember that. Bonfires and smores, pulled pork sliders. The Greeks and Romans will be talking about our wedding.

RACHEL: Eventually the shuttle bus — an off duty yellow school bus — does come, and the guests climb aboard and roll away.

ANNA: So the last crew that was going to the hotel has left on the shuttle, now the only people left are the people staying here. And everyone just gathered in a circle and Sue and Austin just danced in the middle and kissed. It was really sweet they love each other so much. Oh, the DJ needs to play one more song right now.

RACHEL: And then the last song played, and outside at the firepit, Sue and Austin debrief on how it went.

SUE: Everyone had fun and a lot of people who go to a lot of weddings were like, “this is the best wedding we’ve ever been too.” So …

AUSTIN: Best day of my life. I’m excited to wear this ring. I’m a different man now. I am happy to be married and have this ring and it’s an honor to be married to such a wonderful woman as I am. And yeah I didn’t used to be the kind of guy who wanted to get married and now I am. So you never know. Any guys out there listening, you never know.

RACHEL: And then they jumped into a golf cart.

SUE: Alright thank you! There we go, thank you.

[car drives off]

SUE: Oh no! [laughs] Bye.

Our theme music is by Nicholas Britell and our ad music is by Build Buildings. We were edited this week by Annie-Rose Strasser, and produced by Christine Driscoll, Elizabeth Kulas, and Rikki Novetsky. Sylvie Douglis and Nick Fountain field produced at the wedding.

Thank you to Sue and Austin’s friends and family for letting us ask so many questions and bother you during the whole wedding.

Thanks to Jorge Just — and sorry we forgot to thank you last time, and to our beloved mix engineer Andrew Dunn. ANDREW DUNN MIXED THIS EPISODE, he always mixes our episodes, and we have not been great about remembering to tell you that!

Additional production assistance came from Jacob Cruz, Emily Kennedy, Melanie Kruvelis, Sarah Melton and Sarah Stoddard.

Thank you to Karen Klaiber Hersch, Gayle Strege, Patrick O’Neil, Jennifer Gellmann and Sharon Boulani.

And thank you so much, to everyone who invited us to your weddings. We’ll be reaching out to shortly with a wedding gift.

Quick production note from the Surprisingly Awesome team — we’re going to be taking a hiatus — this is our last episode before the break. But STAY subscribed for fun treats and surprises along the way.

You can tweet at us @surprisingshow, email us at surprisinglyawesome@gimletprod.staging.wpengine.com. And our Tumblr is TrueSharkAttackStories.tumblr.com.

Surprisingly Awesome is a production of Gimlet Media.

SUE: Did you hear about our mini-moon though? We went on like mini-honeymoon after and all we did was a 500 piece puzzle and ate bagels and it was great.

RACHEL: Where did you go?

AUSTIN: Long Beach Island, New Jersey. A little retirement community.

SUE: The puzzle was amaz– it was exactly what we needed

RACHEL: What was the image?

AUSTIN: An old couple on the beach.

SUE: Just a watercolour, like 500 pieces, nothing special.

AUSTIN: It’s wasn’t a Thomas Kinkade but it was similar.

SUE: No it was no Kinkade. Really experience married life on that trip.

SUE: Yeah

AUSTIN: We really did.

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Dan Savage: Sex columnist, advocate, DESCENDENT OF MOBSTERS. Gimlet's new genealogy show @twiceremoved is EVERYTHING https://t.co/Iv9RcFMG07