FOR THE LOVE OF RELATIONSHIPS – Are weddings important?

My daughter got married in May so, naturally, I have been reliving the special moments of the wedding and thinking about this amazing event with great interest and curiosity.

Because weddings  are so expensive, there are many who are choosing to skip the event and put the money that would have been spent on a wedding into a down payment on a house or pay down school debt. There is a debate about this skipping the wedding trend.  My wondering is, why are weddings important. Several months ago, I was asked by my 33-year-old daughter if I would be upset if she and her fiancé were to elope. I told her she was a mature young woman, and she could do what works for her. I did say that I would hope she would create a community of support for her upcoming marriage and have the experience of a special celebration for such a transitional time in her young life. Soon after that exchange, she called and asked if we could go wedding dress shopping. She, too, had been exploring the significance of having a wedding celebration with family and friends. What we both discovered is that a wedding has several purposes. 

One purpose is to celebrate marriage in the community increasing its visibility and value. Weddings and marriage have been replaced by sliding into relationships, casual sex and cohabitation which has become the social norm. According to researcher and author, Kay Hymowitz, there are two Americas, those who marry and those who do not, depending on educational achievement and financial resources. Her book entitled, Marriage and Caste in America,  Hymowitz outlines this cultural shift. 

Another purpose is the showcasing of the thoughtful, intentional, and public commitment of two individuals in the presence of family and friends. The third purpose of a wedding, the most valuable of the three, is to provide a ceremony of spoken promises before God and witnesses. The couple recites their vows to each other asking the community of people in attendance to support and mentor them. 

At my daughter’s wedding, after the vows were spoken to one another, the officiant then asked the guests to stand and pledge with an “I do” as well. The attendees promised to support guide, mentor, and be available to assist this couple in their marriage because, after every wedding comes a marriage with all the ups and downs of life adventures and obstacles.

One of the ways we, as a nation, can continue this wonderful tradition of weddings and the celebration of a marriage without the tremendous price tag is to ask organizations to host the wedding ceremony allowing the couple to have as many guests as they desire. After the ceremony they can host a celebratory punch and cake event in the reception area. In this way the guests can witness this amazing life transition event and offer support in the years ahead without going into debt. The more guests who witness this life transition and the promise  to care for one another, the more the couple feels supported and loved. After all, love, support and building community is the real purpose of a wedding. joneen@myrelationshipcenter.org , www.myrelationshipcenter.org 

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