Monday, March 14, 2011

A wedding rant

One of the things I think is hard about blogging is not that I'm vulnerable when I express my opinion, but that I might hurt other people when I do so. Do I hate it because I don't want to hurt others, or do I hate it because I don't want to be seen as mean? A bit of both, and probably more the latter.

That being said, I'm plowing ahead with my opinion which is: weddings. Ugh. All that money and effort and more often than not it seems you get a bad ceremony and a bad party.

How's that for snarky over-generalization and unfair tarring with a broad brush?

Let me be clear that I'm not talking about this particular wedding. I am talking about weddings generally and this one just happened to get in my sights. If I were kindly disposed, I'd talk about all the things I liked about the wedding I attended, and there were a lot of things that were lovely. But no. I'm on a tear and will instead focus on the negative out of spite and spleen in order to score cheap points and validate my personal position on the matter.

The wedding I went to last weekend was particularly noteworthy in that it combined Episcopal and East Indian traditions which highlighted some of the weaknesses of each. The Christian part of the service seemed so vapid and the Indian part so patriarchal. I found myself sitting there sending the psychic message to the bride and groom: "You just need to sit through this religious fol-de-rol in order to get married. You don't need to pay attention to it." OK, when you're a religious professional and you think the religious part is just a formality to be endured, that's a bad sign.

And how many people are thinking that? How many people say to themselves, "I need to go through the motions of a religious ceremony in order to get married. It doesn't mean anything"? I shudder to think.

One way in which these two traditions did not mesh--and clarified a weakness in many weddings I've seen--is that in the Indian tradition, the groom is the center of attention. He has a huge and raucous procession involving lots of dancing and a ritual welcome of the groom by the bride's mother. It was wonderful and very fun, but it made the bride seem like an afterthought. Of course what I'm used to is the tradition that the wedding is the bride's day with the groom a fairly passive bystander. I don't care for that either. What would it take to make a wedding an expression of the partnership that I imagine most of us hope a marriage will be?

I think part of it will be thinning things out. The friend I was complaining bitterly to talking to about weddings pointed out that weddings seem to have accreted more and more traditions over time without losing any old ones, and all of the traditions got codified so that they MUST be included.

Initially, you had a wedding ceremony. And then maybe you had a dinner afterward. And then someone proposed a toast. And then someone thought it would be nice to have a cake. And then a bouquet of flowers for the bride. And then you needed someone to help hold the flowers for the bride. And the groom needed someone to hold the rings for him. And then if you were going to include one friend, you couldn't not include these other friends. And it would look silly if they dressed differently...and on and on. And each piece got more and more elaborate and indispensable. How could you NOT have flowers or a three-tiered cake or a hairdresser or groomsmen in tuxes with matching cummerbunds...

I wish we could get back to basics so that each and every couple getting married understood there were two things involved in this event: a wedding ceremony and a party. That's it. Forget the traditions. Forget them all. Wipe your brain clean. Now: what do you want your marriage to be? What words convey what you believe about what you're doing? What ceremonial actions will symbolize that? Forget the religious traditions for a moment. Start with a discussion about what it is you think you are actually doing.

And then when you have done that, and only then, think about the hospitality you want to show to your guests. That's what the reception is all about: you have guests; how will you serve them? What do you think will be enjoyable for them? What will make for a fun party? Plan accordingly. All else is moot.

1 comment:

Kurt said...

Great post LKT!!!