“So how does it feel to be hitched, man?”
“No different, really…”
After a week away she is back to her job and he is back to his. Things are the same at their place except they received some nice gifts and a hefty amount of cash they are using to pay off some of the wedding debt.
That’s the reality for many (if not most) couples getting married today. They have dated, moved in together, and then had the big ceremony. They’ve been together for years and the ceremony just makes it official on paper. They take a nice vacation (aka honeymoon) which may just be a little more costly than their other trips together.
According to WeddingStats.org the average American wedding in 2014 costs an average of $28,671 (not including the honeymoon.)
It has gotten me to thinking, “Why?!” What is the point of a wedding blow-out when a couple has already been together for years? Why bother with the white dress or a church? A party or honeymoon trip? It’s all just sort of anticlimactic.
It could be it’s kind of like big ‘ol grown-up prom. A day for a woman to dress up in her very best. The couple gets to hang out late with friends and now they are all legal. Some weddings are themed just like high school prom used to be… with decor inspired by everything from the roaring 20s to 50s-style Rock n Roll. There’s even the photo booth for kissy faces and duck faces. Nice thing about this prom, everyone brings you gifts.
Maybe it’s an excuse to host a big party for out-of-town guests and extended family. With families increasingly spread across the country a wedding brings people together. Wedding roles and assignments make people feel honored to be singled out as special to the couple. Being assigned a role such as cake cutter, groomsman, or gift table attendant pretty much ensures even a faraway relative or old college roommate will make the effort to attend.
Perhaps it’s having a special day to be memorialized in photos… The bride is the focus on the day. Every bride is a beautiful bride. Most people spend more money on wedding photos than they will spend on any other photos in their lives. The pictures include candid shots of friends, moves on the dance floor and romantic close-ups. In case of a fire, these are the photos a couple would grab. They are beautiful and a reminder of how everyone said, “They are perfect for each other!”
Maybe it’s the urge to appear “responsible” that urges others to have the wedding. Maybe grandma kept bugging him to put a ring on it. Perhaps they decided it was about time to have children and they wanted to marry before taking the next step.
Having weddings is a well-respected tradition. Just like any tradition it is easy to just go through the motions without considering the “why.” But if one is going to spend thousands of dollars on a party it makes sense to think through it. I mean logically a wedding makes no sense unless it has a clearly agreed upon meaning.
A good place to look for meaning is always the Bible where we find weddings were also big events. Women wore colorful robes and jewelry and were carried in a procession. The bride was carried by friends in a loud parade to her husband’s house. There were often feasts that lasted for days, such as Jesus’ first miracle the wedding at Cana. Honeymoons lasted seven days.
Remember how in the Christmas story we read Joseph was pledged to marry Mary? That meant a legally binding agreement had happened between their families and Joseph spent much of his time preparing a place for Mary to live. According to Bible resource GotQuestions.org, “After betrothal, all that remained were three matters: the wedding celebration, the bride’s move into the groom’s house, and the consummation of the marriage.” It was even the role of the wife’s parents to collect the bed linens to use as “proof” the girl was a virgin when she married. (Read more about weddings of the Bible here.)
Perhaps the reason today’s weddings often seem anticlimactic is because they are. There is nothing the couple has not done that makes them a “married” couple besides the celebration (and paperwork.) For the wedding to have significance it is a line of demarcation of sorts: before oneness and after oneness.
The Christian community is often criticized for creating an idol out of sexual purity. This is wrong. Making a god (little “g”) out of any good thing is something we all must guard against. In the backlash we must not ignore the subject altogether. More than ever I think it is safe to say many in the church are not even aware any sexual relationship outside of marriage is not God’s best and is in fact sinful (1 Corinthian 7:2.)
In addition I believe our collective desires for fairytale-like weddings with the associated expenses are causing couples to keep pushing back the big date on the calendar. When that’s all a couple has to look forward to it is understandable why they would spare no expense to make the day perfect. However when a couple has the adventure of intimacy and a new life together, the wedding itself doesn’t have to carry all the weight of expectations.