Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Happily ever after

I wonder sometimes about weddings. Brian and I got married five years ago and it was very important to me, but if I look at it intellectually, I start to wonder. Why do we need to put on pretty clothes, get up in front of a group of people, have a big party in order to make a commitment to another person? I suppose most girls and young women have expectations of a fairy tale, of feeling like a princess, of living happily ever after. But why? Yes, the weddings are often lovely, but they don't represent the real commitment, do they? The real commitment exists in the private promises that a couple make to one another, in fighting and making up, in sharing the mundane details of their daily life. A fancy dress and some signatures on a piece of paper seem so much less important than all that.

I say those things, but every time I go to a wedding I change my mind. Over the weekend, one of my very closest friends in college, although one I've grown apart from and not spent much time with in recent years, was marrying the woman who has been his love and partner for the past eight years. After eight years, one would think that maybe the wedding itself wasn't so significant--at least not if you went by my theory. But as they went through a ritual that millions of other people have experienced, I understood its importance. It was a beautiful. It was meaningful. It was an honor to witness it. I cried through the ceremony, and had a grand time at the reception. It was wonderful to see Mica and Lara, and all their friends and family, so happy. We were all celebrating their love, their commitment to each other, and their hope for happily ever after. Seeing them exchange vows and rings, watching them dance and laugh together, I understood the importance of the wedding ceremony. I still believe that the real commitment comes from their private promises and sharing their day-to-day life, but the ceremony was important for them, for their families, for all of us.

I wish them all the best. At this moment, I can't think of two people who deserve to live happily ever after together more.

5 comments:

Skiplovey said...

I know what you mean. I love weddings. Even if the couple have been together for a long time, like your friends, they always seem so fresh and new up there at the altar. It always feels like the beginning of something wonderful.

janet said...

I couldn't agree more. When I think about weddings, I wonder what the fuss is for (even though I loooooooved my wedding) and sometimes I think we should just get rid of the whole business altogether.

But then I go to a wedding, and (assuming I love the couple) I just melt. And cry.

So yeah, it doesn't really make sense but I totally agree!

jen said...

i don't see the importance of weddings. if a couple wants to have a celebration to mark their marriage, i think that's fine (within reason) and i admit that weddings can often be fun and touching.

but i don't think that makes them important. in some ways, weddings are very emotionally manipulative -- everything is designed to bask in this atmosphere of sentimentality and emotion. and even when the emotion is genuine, there is something really contrived and fake about weddings, i think. all the pretty clothes and flowers and heartfelt speeches, however tasteful and genuine and beautiful, are really just part of a performance. of course we get all touched to see people we care about surrounded by this gorgeous display of light and love -- how can we not ? -- but it's so far removed from real life. for one thing, rarely are we as touched by these people's relationship (or even care that much about it) before or after the wedding. and as you said, the "show" of the wedding has little to do with what commitment is really like. i also don't like the "pay attention to me" and/or "give me stuff" quality that seems to pervade all weddings. i think that is also manipulative.

i'm getting married in a few weeks at the courthouse and i have no interest in a wedding or reception. in fact, although our immediate family is coming to the courthouse, we aren't telling most people about the wedding until after it's over. meanwhile, a group of my friends and i happen to be going tubing next weekend, and if i told the tubing place that it was my bachelorette party i could get my tubing for free ($30 value!). but i can't even bring myself to do that, because 1) i hate the idea of getting sucked into to using my wedding to "get stuff," even on a small scale, and 2) because i don't want to bring that kind of attention on to myself. not that i mind getting attention per se, but i don't want it just because i'm getting married! anyone can get married (as long as they have different private parts) -- i really don't think it merits anyone (other than the couple involved) making a fuss over it. if people want to fuss over my relationship, there are a lot of more meaningful aspects to it that they can fuss over. but if, for the most part, people aren't all that interested in how amazing and special and committed our relationship is on any normal day, i don't have some particular need to share it with the world. i'd also be fine with sharing it, too (and i often do just that on the interwebs). but i'm not going to create a special day designed to cause people all of a sudden to notice my relationship.

sorry for the overly long comment. i don't why i can never be succint about these things.

startingtoday said...

I love weddings. They make me happy when I think the two people will be happy.

However...

A friend of mine got married a few years ago. And she was engaged for TWO years to a guy she had only ever had a long distance relationship with. And for two years, all I heard about was her wedding planning (Long Island.) Not about how happy she was to be getting married, but how happy she was to be planning the wedding.

I went to it, and it was HUGE, long, stuffy, and uncomfortable. And I hate to say it, but now that she's married, it's not that she's unhappy, but she's had this big "now what?" moment. For YEARS, it was all about the wedding.

I've been married, now getting divorced (I'm pretty sure he's gay.) And I put more emphasis on the wedding too. Not so much in scale or grandeur, but just the wedding. The rings. All of that.

If I ever get married again, especially if its a deeper more meaningful, honest relationship than last time (it better be!), then to me? The wedding matters, but not so much. I'm a woman, of course I love diamonds, but I don't even think it would matter to me how the man proposes. He could give me a twist tie ring, so long as I loved him and loved me. And as far as a wedding? Something simple with close friends and family. It's not to show off. It's to share with them. I've seen too many of my friends let their weddings BECOME their lives rather than seeing it as the start of their new life.

Ramona said...

You get it. You really get it. Witnesses to a wedding are there to support the couple over the entire course of their marriage. You affirm and testify that you agree that they should be married, hence the "speak now or forever hold your piece". Couples should be scrutinous about whom they invite to their wedding and especially whom they ask to be in the wedding party. These people ought to hold the same values and morals, and support the state/covenant/contract of matrimony.
Great article.