What is marketed as tradition by the wedding industry could better be called the traditionalesque -- a pleasing melange of apparently old-fashioned, certainly nostalgic, intermittantly ethnically authentic practices that may have little relevance to the past or future and are really only illustrative of the present in which they emerge. Tradition is one of those words like homeland or motherhood, that is most frequently invoked when what it represents is under threat, or is in abeyance; and the emphasis placed upon the notion of tradition by the wedding industry pointsI have a hunch my reading audience is mostly male and not particularly interested in how bridal services are marketed , but I offer the quote because I think Mead's term (my wife and I were debating if she coined it or not) traditionalesque can also be used to describe the culture and practice in vogue in large parts of Orthodoxy today. I can walk into just about any synagogue in my neighborhood and find people engaged in an odd hodge-podge of practices and dress in an effort to capture some of the flavor of tradition they were either not brought up in (esp. in the case of BTs) or which they have morphed into something the grandparents or great-grandparents they are trying to emulate would only be confused at seeing. It's the quaint fuzziness of an imagined past that has been created and marketed as "frumkeit".
to a contradiction at the industry's core: The imperitive of economic expansion demands the introduction of new services and new products, but those services and products must be positioned not as novelties but as expressions of enduring values.
A local Rav who teaches in a girls' school recounted in a speech that he was once asked by a girl if wearing a certain dress or accessory was halachically permitted. His response, which drew approval from the audience, was that as far as he knew "the Chasam Sofer's mother" would not wear such a dress -- case closed.
If you close your eyes for a few seconds and allow your mind to wander you probably can conjur up some image of what you think the Chasam Sofer's mother looked like (let's be real -- it's probably something like your grandmother). Unless you are a very special person, if you close your eyes and allow your mind to wander I doubt you can conjur up the details in Shach and Taz that may address an issue in Yoreh De'ah.
The reality of halacha is tradition; "what the Chasam Sofer's mother wore" is traditonalesque.
Like the bride who overspends on her dress and accessories because the industry tells her that this is what "traditionally" brides have done, in our world the newly minted observant or newly more observant, the MO high school kid who "frums out" in Israel somewhere, the parents of girls in the shidduch circut who are under such pressure to conform and fit in -- in all these cases and more a manufactured set of do's and don'ts that are a fictitious (mis)representation of mythological past have become hallmarks of "tradition" that is a more cultural myth than a directive from Sinai.