Monica Dux’s recent article discussing marriage versus weddings hit a chord with many, depicting traditional white weddings as exercises in doll-like gender roles and wanton excess, but here’s an alternative view from a mother’s perspective.
I love weddings. Mine, my daughters’, all the ones I’ve attended. In all their whiteness and fluff, yes, and even expense, I think they’re one of life’s greatest and most joyous highlights. I even like carriages.
But that’s not why I like them. I like them because they are a glorious celebration of love and the formalisation of two people’s lifelong commitment. Why wouldn’t you want to embrace that joy and shout it from the rooftops, and have your family and closest friends involved in the celebration? In our family, marriage is taken very seriously (like really lifelong stuff) and weddings are revered. So they’re ‘big’ events. Not necessarily in terms of size or cost, but in terms of importance, of detail, of planning, of emotion.
Weddings, at least for us, are about sharing the celebration. The marriage is the personal commitment of the couple but the wedding is the shared celebration of that commitment. It’s exciting, it’s important, it’s momentous, so let’s have an event that is worthy of the sentiments. The intention is they’re only going to do this once so let’s make it memorable. In fact, let’s have a party.
Weddings are also about celebrating how we got here and what’s important to us all as family and friends. We, the bride’s family, who love her (and now him too) are part of this journey and celebration. We raised her, guided her, protected her, and cherished her, and now we are ceremonially ‘passing the baton’ to someone else as they become their own separate entity, still joined but detached. Of course they were together before, but this is the public declaration and we’re celebrating it and living the exquisite joy of love in families, and among friends. Enough love to have us all teary-eyed with exploding hearts, before the event, during, and even after – entire tables of adults, silently weeping at the pulsing emotion rebounding in the room. It wasn’t embarrassing – it was beautiful.
Some choose to elope or marry in a registry office to escape the hype and the cost, and maybe avoid potential fighting and embarrassment. If that’s your preference, great – do what’s right for you. But it’s not right for others. For many it’s about family and friends too – we are an integral part of the celebration. All cost considerations aside, I personally would have been shattered to discover my child had married and excluded us from sharing the moment with her. We would be devastated to have our children marry without us, just as they would be devastated if we couldn’t be there to be part of it. Sometimes I refer to my daughters’ weddings as ‘our weddings’. It’s not a misnomer.
No doubt the preparations drive many to distraction and perhaps mortal combat because there are too many options and opinions, and knives may occasionally be drawn. But I even love preparing for weddings – well, mostly. The planning, the choices and even the stress is part of building the momentum and anticipation and a nod to the importance of the final event. You know, it’s a big thing this getting married. We’re allowed to make a fuss.
It’s undeniable weddings often involve considerable up to ridiculous cost. But each couple and family is capable of deciding what they want to spend and how they want to spend it, in a way that makes them happy. If photography is important to you, get a great photographer, or if music’s your thing, hire a band if you’d like. If it’s not, save your money. If you want lots of friends to come, cut back somewhere else. Horses for courses.
And ‘special’ doesn’t have to mean exorbitant. We, as a family, in preparing for Wedding Number 2 are looking for bargains, sourcing treasures second hand, borrowing items and reusing others. Even Dad is making decorations from recycled bits of discarded timber. The ‘girls’ will have working bees to handcraft invitations with the most basic of materials in a charming and thoughtful way. It’s not necessarily about cost but caring and creating something that’s worthy of the celebration.
Does the wedding then overplay the marriage or the lifelong commitment? No doubt for some it does (think Kardashian). But for us, and so many others, it acknowledges the importance of the latter. It’s not about the bells and whistles, love those as we may.
I agree with Monica it’s a travesty of social justice that currently in Australia only heterosexuals get to participate in this array of wedding choices, and let’s all agree marriages can be celebrated in any number of ways with any number of budgets. But let’s also remember why so many of us are having weddings, even the ones with tiaras and masses of tuille. Let’s just hope we can avoid sub-standard catering at all times, weddings or not.
It’s a family affair.