Why Weddings

Photo: mariam in a wedding dress

I had a boyfriend who once mentioned something about wanting doves released at our wedding.  At the time I was, and to some degree still am, ambivalent about marriage, and true to form, I had no interest in the pomp and circumstance.

That is, until I got the opportunity to model a wedding dress in a bridal show.  I saw myself in the mirror in a luxurious white gown, and even without heels, garters, jewelry, tiaras, veils and extra-long trains, I looked beautiful.

I’m generally pretty happy with the way I look on a daily basis, but even on my best days, I didn’t look as good as I did in that dress.  I decided then that I wanted a wedding because, well, unless I modeled at more bridal shows, when else would I get the chance to look that pretty?

For girls who like to play dress up, the wedding is the ultimate party, but it serves other purposes, too.  Within the week preceding the Royal Wedding hoopla, the ex who wanted doves asked me, “What is the point of a big wedding?”

“It just seems like a waste of money,” he continued.  “It’s not an investment.  It does nothing to help the marriage.”

I said I could understand why black couples would go for a big wedding: when you get access to something you or your people had long been denied, you celebrate your access in a big way, similar to what I think is the motivation for bar hopping at the stroke of midnight on the birthday that turns you legal.  But I couldn’t think of a reason for a big wedding for white couples or for any other race.

We started thinking of reasons for weddings and their rituals, period.

“I get that the wedding is for the bride,” he said.

“And for the groom to enjoy her beauty,” I chimed in.  He agreed.  “The garter ceremony is a celebration of marital sex, and the tossing of that and the bouquet gets everyone excited for who’s next.”

It dawned on me that the purpose of the whole thing—the very public declaration of love and the after party—is to encourage other people to do it.  And what better way to encourage marriage than to make the ceremony of it so lavish that it falls just short of over the top but remains fun for most of the people involved?

My ex pointed out that my argument may hold water now, but big weddings have been around since marriage was expected.  So what was the point back when being unmarried at 22 made you an old maid?

It may be because parents take joy in showing off what good catches their children are, but I couldn’t come up with a solid reason.  I suspect if I were to research the matter, I would find that weddings had something to do with a bride’s dowry, that they were just a way for the wealthy to show off their opulence, and that in effort to keep up with the Joneses, we all followed suit.  Years later, we’re staying single longer or not marrying at all, divorcing a lot when we do, and investing more in a day than we do in the institution it celebrates.

So I see no use for doves, but I intend to look beautiful and glamorous on my wedding day, whenever that is.  More importantly, however, I intend for the marriage to last.

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4 thoughts on “Why Weddings

  1. That really is a beautiful pic of you. Amen to that ending. That is something I never wanted was to spend tons of money on a marriage, spend all of my time and energy on it and then not look forward to anything beyond that. All the marriage is is a starting point. I praise God for those 40+ and 50+ year marriages. I just hope to marry, stay together and continually be all about each other. It’s a rarity now-a-days.
    I did some searching and this looked interesting with what you were talking about…

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