Sunday, July 19, 2009

Going to the chapel and we're gonna .... go into mounts of unnecessary debt ?

Weddings ...


Part of me cannot wait to get out my feelings on weddings and then there’s another part of me that is fearful of how my thoughts will spill out. Oh well, here she goes…

Weddings. In they’re purest sense are one of the most sacred, beautiful, meaningful celebrations in a person’s life, if they choose to have one. They are coveted by young women and dreamed about by girls even younger.

What first comes to mind when you think of a wedding? To me, a big white gown, multitudes of flowers, extravagant décor and dress, lots of food, laughter and some tears. I think of the ‘the walk’ down the aisle, vows that are recited, promises made, perhaps a father/daughter dance, followed by some once in a life time speeches (good or bad). Oh and don’t forget the cake – a brilliantly decorated cake is essential for a good wedding.

As I mention all of these things I chuckle to myself. Don’t get me wrong, these are all beautiful additions to a nice celebration of love but how vital are they really to a celebration of a sacred covenant that is being made between two people and their God? That is the true essence of a wedding, isn’t it? The coming together of two people into one, who plan (with God’s help) on spending the rest of their earthly lives together. When I put it that way you kind of do wonder what all of the pomp and circumstance is about.

I think back to when Wally and I were preparing for our own wedding. Since my mama didn’t get to plan her wedding (when she was 19) she was quite excited about helping us with ours. And since mama and pop were paying they certainly had the final say. In all honesty I would have loved to run off and get married without the big show especially when mama stormed into my bedroom 2 weeks after we were engaged and demanded we get ‘on this’ and start making some concrete plans. She is an organizer and needed things done yesterday, I just wanted sit and enjoy knowing that soon (within 7 months) I would finally be able to live my life with Wally all the time.

Anyway Wally and I decided that the main thing we cared about was the ceremony – it was the real reason we were going ahead with the ‘big’ wedding. We wanted to set an example of deep respect and commitment for the covenant we were about to take part in. We wanted others to be there to witness our vows to one another and hopefully later keep us accountable for the words we were promising to each other.

We indeed planned the ceremony and mama made sure the décor was beautiful, as well as the reception. I tried to make sure my girls’ dresses were affordable, modest and wearable again. Wally and I pursued premarital counseling and only went a couple of times before our pastor said we were ‘good to go’. I nearly begged him to keep working with us – I had ‘issues’ with Smoky mama and knew that I wanted to work them out before the big day. The pastor however said he thought we were the most grounded couple he’d met with (to marry) and that we had ‘good heads on our shoulders’. I was praying he’d change his mind and help me work through some of my bitterness (it’s another long story). Anyway I was left to my own.

We indeed had a wonderful day and a very meaningful ceremony to both of us, and surprisingly many others. We wrote our own vows and added our own ideas. We refused to have a unity candle on the sole basis that everyone had a unity candle. We chose our Scripture and songs for our musicians to sing and play. Every single person in the ceremony was specifically chosen in regard to our relationship to them. I collected my bouquet as I went down the aisle, from several people that were special to me and whom played important roles in my life at different times. I wrote special notes to each of them, to share with them why I had chosen them and what they meant to me. I loved it and I loved them.

My brother, Marshmallow, lived up to his name that day. He bawled and bawled all day and throughout the ceremony. He hugged me (and I mean HUGGED me) 3 times throughout the day. I had written him an extra long, REAL letter, sharing my unconditional love and care for him as his sister. Apparently when he read it at home (after I’d left) he cried like a baby and just sobbed and sobbed. You see normally he puts on this ‘tough guy’ act and tries not to show emotion, I guess it wasn’t working for him that day – I’m glad.

I’ll never forget walking down the aisle and saying to Pop ‘Wow! There are so many people!’ To which he replied (in a cracked, shaky voice) ‘You’ll be fine, it’s ok, you can do this.’ Um, I think I should have been the one telling him that… his reaction was interesting to me because I’d never seen him crack before or seem nervous - EVER. He is Mr. cool-calm-and collected.

So we lived through our day and all of the pomp and circumstance. I did wear an off white dress that I had made by my closest friend’s mom. I loved that it was made by someone who respected marriage and upheld it’s sacredness. She hand stitched much of the lace because I couldn’t afford to buy the actual amount needed. The dress was beautiful. Not like other bride’s dresses. It didn’t make me look like a princess on her most perfect and only day. Instead it made me feel prepared to take vows that would bind me to another person. It was different, imperfect and special just like me, and just like the life I was walking into.

A couple weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine about my ‘most beautiful day’ ever. I was referring to a time I was in a friend’s wedding. When I was done talking my friend said ‘You mean except for your own wedding, right?’ I smiled and said ‘No.’ She looked at me awkwardly and waited. I tried to explain that I never felt that ‘fairytale’ way about our wedding day, but that it was intentional. I didn’t ever want to set myself up to feel disappointed or diluted about what my wedding day was supposed to be about. It was really about Wally and I making a covenant, period. Not about feeling like the most beautiful person on the planet. No dress, jewelry or hairdo could make me beautiful on my wedding day, that was an inside job and I had hoped that I’d done my homework and succeeded.

I don’t mean to come off as a ‘know it all’ about weddings or that I ‘have it all together’, or that I am such a godly woman, because I don’t and I’m not. I fail in so many ways: with my attitude (especially with family), I carry around bitterness of hurts from long past, I birth jealousy that clothes me in the ugliest of garments. However over the years Wally and I have been married I have had a front row seat to what marriage can bring with it: the challenges, the hurts, the frustrations. These things only get glossed over during the sermon at a wedding. How often do you here a couple talking about how they are going to deal with the day when the husband loses his job when they are signing up for their bridal registry? Hmmmm … never.

Marriage is a wonderful gift and a beautiful one, if cared for, but during the planning of a wedding the main focus seems to always be the day, to celebration and how everything is going to look in the moment. And that’s the thing, the day lasts but a moment and the marriage lasts … well that depends.

I suppose part of me just wonders, if we could strip away all of the outward stuff and started to work on all of the inward stuff, what would happen to our divorce rates? By no means am I trying to judge people that have decided upon divorce but I'm sure many of them would say themselves that they would do things differently. Perhaps they would still marry the same person but maybe consider possible circumstances they may go through as a couple and how they may react. Now I realize that there really is no possible way for a couple to know what they would really do in this situation or that. The thing is that many of them are so caught up in the fairytale they are planning (in their wedding) that they fail to recognize that life indeed takes over after wards and you don't drink from champagne glasses and feed each other cake every night for dinner. That unlike the day of your nuptials, things don't always go smoothly, you don't always respond adoringly at one another and you can even look down right ugly to each other - and the kicker is neither one of you give a rip what the other one thinks.

Once again I'm not trying poo poo the party, just trying to make the after party an event that can be enjoyed for more that a mere few minutes. I could truly go on about this for hours and hours but I will force myself to stop.

Wedding: the ceremony or celebration of a marriage

Marriage: a legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife (or now a days between two people), a close union

Seems to me you need a marriage before you can have a wedding ... at least one worth celebrating.

1 comment:

Zoe said...

Perfectly said.