Friday, 23 May 2008

In Praise of Weddings

WeddingWe have a wedding coming up. While the young couple about to marry is wildly, ecstatically happy about getting married, they keep on moaning that they should have eloped. All the minutiae of wedding planning is driving them crazy, even though they are having a relatively simple, low-key wedding.

I sympathize. But I am glad that they're going through with the hassle and bother anyway. I think it's a very important thing, for them and perhaps even more for the rest of us.

Marriage is undervalued nowadays. It truly is the central institution of a society (perhaps the only institution that is present in every human society in one form or another). And it is a good thing that we take the time to show our solidarity toward anyone committing to it.

There is nothing silly about the tradition of showers, for example. While some of the little games might be, a group of women (and sometimes men) coming together to help set up a new household reminds me of the old barnraisers - a concrete way for the community to lend a hand. There is a group of ladies in our church that think it so important that they show up, presents in hand, to every shower hosted at our church (and it's a big church). And if nobody else does, they'll host the shower themselves. It's a small ministry that most of the church is probably unaware of, but a beautiful one.

The act of physically showing up at the wedding to witness and support the vows is yet another affirmation of their importance. And yes, the gifts too are important, both practically and symbolically.

All the planning and headaches are good for the couple too. It helps cement in their minds that this a major commitment, not to be entered into lightly, and not to be left lightly. So when they moan, I sympathize, smile, and tell them that I'm glad they're doing it anyway. How important it all is might not sink in until they're marrying off their own, but that's OK. Then maybe they will realize that they were doing much more than providing an opportunity for a family get-together.

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7 comments:

Fern said...

I wholeheartedly agree. Just today I was thinking about how a marriage isn't just between the husband and wife, or even the husband, wife and their children.

If my husband and I were to divorce (G-d forbid!) my parents and brothers would be devastated. David, one of my brothers, was only 9 when we started dating. He is now 18 and graduating from high school. My husband has been a role-model and friend to David for half of his life! They hand out just the two of them. And David calls our house to talk to my husband as often as he calls to talk to me.

It's amazing to me that someone I chose to include in our family could have such a big impact on my family members' lives. Communities and families can be improved with a good marriage and harmed by a bad marriage or divorce.

Janna Qualman said...

Amen.

Janet said...

Fern, it's very cool to hear how well your husband has meshed with your family. This web of relationships really is the glue of society.

I think the excessive individualism of the 60's and 70's is now perhaps, finally, starting to lose steam and people are starting to get a sense of the bigger picture again. Maybe I'm just being hopeful.

Please note that I'm not much in favour of big, gaudy, surpassing-the-Joneses type weddings either. This shouldn't be a game of one-upsmanship. But I am valuing more and more the communal support for both the institution of marriage and for the actual couple getting married. And cheapskate that I am, I am all in favour of generous wedding and shower gifts. They can spend the rest of their lives paying it forward by turning up at everybody else's wedding, generous gift in hand. It spreads the expense out that way if nothing else. ;o)

gary said...

I've been wanting to try that whole wedding thing myself...

the only problem is, they keep telling me I need a bride first.

What is up with that? Personally, I think it's discrimination, myself! ;-p How else is a fella to get hitched if he doesn't have a ceremony? :-D

Janet said...

Gee, Gary, if I had an unattached sister or daughter I could try to do something for you, but as it happens we have a surplus of unattached males instead. So you're on your own.

(Churches tend to have a good population of females with a positive prejudice toward marriage. Of course, they generally prefer their men to be on the religious side, in that case...)

gary said...

Uh-huh, just bail on a guy and leave him out there all to his own wiles (which, in my case, apparently aren't very good!). ;-p

You know, if you'd hurry on up and marry your excess off, then you'd could splurge a little on the rest of us needful blokes. lol :-D

gary said...

As for church, I have had no luck there either: it seems everywhere I have attended in recent years has them either much too young or much too old. Oh, well...

 

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