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Asian Groom Upsets Family By Breaking Tradition And Refusing To Let American Bride Bow To Him

bride holding bridal bouquet
Andersen Ross/Getty Images

Cultural traditions can have deep, personal meaning to the people who participate in them.

Or they can mean nothing.

Take the western wedding tradition of the bride wearing white. It’s a fairly new tradition, only beginning in the Victorian era that was heavily bolstered by the wedding industry.

It’s origins are purported to signify the virginal purity of the bride, but people would be hard-pressed to find many white dress weddings still adhering to that requirement.

So is it OK to wear white even if the origin is rooted in a misogynistic double standard?

What about other wedding traditions with problematic meanings? Who gets to decide if a couple adheres to the tradition during their wedding?

A soon-to-be groom turned to the “Am I The A**hole subReddit to pose a hypothetical “Would I Be The A**hole” (WIBTA) question for anonymous online feedback.

FewGoldfish asked:

“WIBTA for not allowing my wife-to-be to pay respect to me on our wedding day?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“I (34, male) am Asian and grew up in Asia until 14 when I went to school in the US. I’ve been studying/working here since, while most of my family still lives where I come from.”

“I’m currently engaged to Anna (29, female). She’s a White American.”

“My family is not against me marrying a foreigner, but insists we have our wedding back in my home country, traditional style.”

“Anna is a mellow person and is very open-minded.”

“She has great respect for my culture and is willing to have our wedding as my family dictates.”

“One of our traditions—ancient…not many modern couples do it now—is that on the wedding day the bride, in front of all the guests, is supposed to pay respect to the groom by bowing down to his feet.”

“It’s to show that she is wiling to obey her husband and treat him like the protector in her life. It puts the wife in a lower position than the husband.”

“Anna sees this as part of my tradition and said she will do it.”

“I refuse to let her.”

“I think it’s deeply disrespectful to the bride. Anna doesn’t understand the full implications of the act.”

“Now my family is mad at me. They said Anna is fine so I should just get with the program.”


The OP summed up their conundrum.

“I refuse to let my bride bow to my feet on our wedding day based on my country’s ancient traditions.”

“I may be the a**hole because my bride is OK with it and I am causing problems for my family.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The majority of Redditors agreed that the meaning of the gesture couldn’t be separated from the action, so the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“NTA. I mean, I can understand why she might be fine with it. While of course the nuance of it is deeply misogynistic and definitely not the type of marriage you’ll have, it would cause less friction with the family.”

“And an action only has meaning if you imbue power in it.”

“But I get if you find the symbolic act deeply offensive and don’t want it as part of the memory of your wedding. So stand your ground if that would be distasteful to you.”

“I’m getting married in a church even though I’m an atheist. My partner would consider themselves a non-practicing Catholic, it would appease our parents, so I’ll do it.”

“Even though symbolically it represents us serving Christ, for me it’s just a building so I don’t care.”

“But then again, I’d wretch if I was expected to say I’ll ‘honour and obey’ him, so it’s all about what you’re comfortable with.” ~ No_Ad_770

“NTA. That’s awesome that Anna is willing to respect your family and culture, but if you choose to skip a sexist tradition and show your respect for her, that’s even better.”

“It’s your wedding, and you’re choosing to make a beautiful statement.” ~ anonymom135

“NTA, but I have a suggestion. How about twisting the tradition a little, and you both bow to each other.”

“That way, you’re still giving family what they want, and you get what you want by showing equal respect in return.”

“I applaud you for the love and respect you are showing to Anna.” ~ Prestigious_Dig_863

“NTA. It sounds like you and your fiancée have great respect for one another. That’s wonderful.”

“It’s your wedding. If you don’t want your bride to take part in a sexist tradition, you can explain in detail to her how that is unacceptable to you and don’t mind your old-fashioned family.”

“Best of luck to you!!” ~ BBQQuails

“I’m Asian, and my country has a similar tradition where the bride has to pay respect to the groom, but the action is different from yours.”

“To be clear, I was the bride. I explained the processes and what each of the steps meant to my white American husband, who was very bewildered.”

“However, he has a complete understanding that this was only for show. The day came, we did what we had to do.”

“The elders in my family were happy, and we bolted out of there as soon as the ceremony was over to started our lives together and plan our actual wedding ceremony the way we wanted it to be.”

“I applaud your stance on this matter; however, I suggest you talk to your fiancée first. You may know more about the tradition, but she’s the one who will have to face more repercussions from your side of the family.”

“Asian families always treasure men over women, and they would think she’s some sort of wench who manipulates their precious boy (you) into not following the tradition.”

“You WNBTA [NTA], but you might end up making her one in your family’s eyes.”

“Congratulations in advance on your upcoming wedding!” ~ CuriousCavy

Some saw no a**holes here, however (NAH).

“It means nothing to the both of you and it changes nothing between you, so let it go.”

“BUT, I won’t let my daughter participate in a debutante or social sorority because I feel like it’s demoralizing to farm out girls to the richest family. NAH.” ~ GoodArtichoke9532

“I wonder if Anna is keen to do this to show respect to your family and your culture? Including it, but with the twist of you both bowing to each other would be a lovely way for her to be able to do that, but also make it clear that she isn’t your subordinate.”

“But definitely talk it over with her and with your family. This can be a NAH situation with a bit of communication.” ~ OmegaSusan

“NAH. Give a complete explanation to your bride-to-be if you don’t  think she understands it.” ~ l1ft3r99

“NAH. As someone from this culture, touch her feet back. It shows equality and two way respect and is what most modern couples are opting to do now.” ~ Top-Noise5959

While a few pointed out that by forbidding his bride, the OP was embodying the very thing he condemned (YTA).

“There’s a very interesting irony here. You don’t want her to ritually show her willingness to obey you, yet you are asking her to actually obey you.”

“What you should do is ask yourself whether or not you actually want a relationship where the wife is in a lower position than the husband. If the answer is no, please stop acting as though you have the authority to make this decision.”

“She is willing to do it, she understands as well as we do, due to your explanation.”

“If you refuse to let her do this you are asserting the authority that you claim to be refusing. YTA.” ~ Miserable_Dentist_70

“YTA. You refuse to let her?”

“You say it is disrespectful to her, but it is disrespectful to take away her agency. She is an adult and can make her own decisions.” ~ A_Mild_Failure

“‘…Anna doesn’t understand the full implications of the act…’.”

“YTA for thinking she’s an idiot. She understands what bowing to a man means. Unless she’s an idiot.” ~ BetterYellow6332

“Currently YTA for forbidding your ‘equal’ from doing something. Make your actions match your words.”

“Right now you claim you refuse to allow her to be treated as subordinate to you.”

“So you’re going to order her to do what you want with no regard to what she wants because she’s too simple-minded to understand what she’d be doing?”

“Talk about being sexist…”

“Have a discussion with her. Tell her everything you’ve told a bunch of internet strangers, then show her some of the respect you claim you have for her.” ~ Reddit

Other YTA voters felt as long as the tradition means nothing to the bride and groom, it has no negative impact.

“YTA. She is willing for your family’s culture and tradition. IT’S ONLY A TRADITION!”

“You are going with the other traditions and you are not really holding her out as your servant. It will keep peace in your family overseas and then you come home and carry on as usual.”

“Nobody gets hurt with this. It’s just a tradition.”

“As an example, I am an atheist, but raised religious. When my family has a special occasion to have a church service, funerals, weddings, baptism, etc… I would be the a**hat for resisting.”

“I go along with it because I respect their choice and to me IT’S ONLY A TRADTION. It won’t turn me into a Christian by going. No harm done.” ~ Illustrious_Wish_900

The OP was certainly provided some points to ponder.

Whatever he and his bride decide, may they have a lovely wedding and a happy life together.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.