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From ‘my’ Wedding to ‘our’ Wedding

I feel I should put it straight out there that I am not a huge fan of weddings. Let me explain. While the institution of marriage is wonderful and I firmly believe more people should make that commitment, I do not like the way in which the wedding ‘industry’ has taken over the ideas of fidelity and genuine love and replaced them with make-up trials, chair covers and expensive cars. There seems to be little concern for the actual wedding ceremony; it is more about the party afterwards. Interestingly the rise of the wedding industry and the amount of money spent is almost in direct correlation with the fall in the understanding of the nature of marriage and its purpose. Once upon a time a couple met, became engaged and soon after married in a simple but joy-filled ceremony and celebration. Today a couple meet, move in together to live as husband and wife and some years later decide to host a massive wedding celebration. Often the authentic joy that should be present at a wedding is disguised behind the grandeur of a show that is more akin to a Hollywood production than the sacred union of a man and a woman. I did not want my wedding day to be a day unlike any other in its excessiveness, but rather a day which felt like the start of a sacred journey and where my new wife and I could truly celebrate with all our loved ones in elegant simplicity. 

So when it came time for Jane and I to sit down and consider our wedding I came to the process with some fairly concrete ideas of what I did not need including a team of professional camera and video people, a convoy of hired wedding cars, a cake that cost more than a widescreen television and a reception venue that felt like a wedding fairy land. My pre-Jane plan included a church, followed by a marquee in a field with a lamb spit-roast. However as I have learnt recently a wedding is the celebration of two people and for that reason I think I see why it can be an excellent part of the preparation process, because it requires discussion and compromise.

You may have already picked up that I am a person who is pretty definite in his ideas, so sitting down with Jane and listening to her ideas helped me to begin to understand that this will not be ‘her’ day or ‘my’ day, but indeed it needs to be ‘our’ day. I know some grooms prefer to take a distant approach to wedding planning and only need to be given the phone number of the suit shop and told the date on which they need to show up to the church; but for me this is a day in which I want to be actively involved with Jane in the planning and preparations so that our wedding ceremony and reception is very much the result of our joint efforts.

One of the first aspects I had to come to terms with was that the day is going to cost money – I think I have a disdain for spending money unnecessarily, mine or other peoples. I was watching a clip from the movie ‘Father of the Bride’ recently where Steve Martin’s character George Banks goes with his wife and newly-engaged daughter to meet Franck, the heavily accented wedding coordinator. As Franck was impressing the wife and daughter with all his wonderful (and expensive) ideas for the wedding, George was in a semi-stunned state calculating how much the blessed event was going to cost him. I got to the end of the clip and realised that I was well on the way to being George Banks. It was a comical wake-up call perhaps.

On 29 December, as on every day before and after it, I desire to honour Jane. I have realised though that all the seeming fuss that goes on around a wedding stems from the true notion that on that day I am receiving my bride. Jane will move from the care of her father to the care of her husband. I am receiving a beautiful gift and must then, within reason, treat the day accordingly. So let the planning begin…

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3 responses

  1. annette cartlidge

    Indeed Bernard Let the planning begin but with an open heart & a flexible mind My Friend !!

  2. Larry Czarnik

    Bernard our friend (and Jane we hope soon to be a friend),

    You have struck two important chords – one immediate and one that will take you for as long as you are married.

    Wedding & celebration – We separate them because you have inadvertently combined them. The WEDDING is as you describe above in part. It is the ceremony. It is the act. It is the sacrament. You BOTH have ultimate control over how you prepare and say “I do”. Nuff said. But the celebration, which typically happens AFTER the ceremony but has slowly started to infringe before. with the bachelor party, and such, even to the ‘rehearsal dinner”, is just that a celebration. Some say it’s not for the couple but for the families. But in any case, it is a party. And as with any party, you can make it as expensive and elaborate as you want, or you can make it as inexpensive and as carefree as you wish. It’s a matter of being strong, sticking to a budget and remembering who is paying the bill.

    Understand completely what you say about cost. Having expended cash almost twenty five years ago for a wedding & celebration, and in considering our 25th wedding anniversary party, we couldn’t even afford to go back to the same place. The price has not doubled, or tripled but is more than TENFOLD what it was 25 years ago. And mind you we paid for our own wedding as our families were not in a position to do so (which also gave us an unusual amount of “creative’ control!) and even though we have done very well for ourselves, re-creating the “not over the top” celebration is just plain a waste of money.

    The second point is in fact the word “you”. What you have rightly found out is “you” is no longer singular. We interact everyday with people, but once you date and formalise it with the proposal, it becomes PLURAL. Plural by definition means compromise. Do you recall how you might have wanted to go to one restaurant for dinner and Jane wanted to go to another??? And now add the families! Life is compromise, little and big. Trust us mate, it won’t get any less in the future. Suck it up!

    And we’ll give you one important bit of advice that was only suggested to me recently by someone who has been married longer and we admire and are what we would call a role model of partnership. Once married, when you (that’s singular for Bernard by the way) wake in the morning, one of the first things you should say is “I am sorry.”. For what you ask? I was told, it didn’t make any difference it puts you one ahead for the day!

    God bless and enjoy the journey,
    Larry & Colleen
    2012JL18 12;30 Sydney

  3. There is a meaning to the word ‘our’ which is impersonal, and therefore less Catholic than communal. In a similar vein, there’s a meaning to the word ‘my’ which is rightfully possessive of one’s ownership of one’s vitality.
    ‘My part of the day’ which may well be shared, but the success of my experience of it may be largely to do with me and my informed action (including, how well I have slept, how well I’ve been supported by my family and asked for this, health and other issues, fitness and general life mood).

    I like my spouse to speak with sensitivity as to the use of ‘my’ – and I’m an important discussion partner in the growth of this dialogue. Like the Trinity itself, there remain three distinct persons, though in union. The complementarity of man and woman is enhanced by their distinctiveness, a quality which is lessened if they are not aware nor encouraged to enact a certain measure of self-possession, the basis for self-mastery. Otherwise, the models for relating are dumbed-down to mere collusion, or mere loss of self. The flame of love may well enable us to go beyond ourselves, indeed for a former sense of what life was about to be willingly abandoned, as Jesus on the Cross revealed. But let this be a nuanced, less sacrificial event, for indeed Jesus died once for all and has given us lighter burdens.

    The prevalence of naturalistic approaches to relating, such as adultery posturing as marriage have fed a barbaric approach to differences. In place of the feminine is a sense of hyper-criticism where nothing is sought at all, except control of outcomes and exhibition of the appearance of success. Jim Bright writes about superficialdom in the Herald today.

    You and your beau are beautiful and your spiritual friendship shows in outward freedom of movement and depth of joy. Bernard thanks for sharing once again!

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