Wedding Reservations

No doubt, weddings are now a major industry. From tacky to elegant, from funky to sophisticated, every bride and groom have some idea of what they want (especially the brides.)

Maybe it started with Queen Victoria’s well-publicized wedding and the cheaper, more available laces and fine fabrics of the nineteenth century. My husband’s family has photos of some very elaborate wedding parties in the early twentieth century (although they were working-class East Enders). My family, Baptist since John Knox, apparently, didn’t have  elaborate weddings until the late 1960s.

I still have major reservations about the royal theme of most weddings. (Yes, I had one, and once that juggernaut got rolling, wished I hadn’t.)

Although I am writing these days about weddings, it is in the hope that we can restore some sanity to this situation. Big weddings and wedding dresses are simply not modest, thoughtful or economical. Weddings were once just part of the church scenery – families gathered, words said, blessings pronounced, there was a dinner party, and husband and wife went off home, happy and scared. Now it is more than being princess for a day – bride is princess for a year or more as she drags family and friends about looking for dresses, accessories, catering, locations. This bossiness and self-centeredness could get to be a very bad habit. This year, it’s the wedding – then the “perfect” house, the perfect job, the perfect wardrobe, glamourous vacations, and overachieving children. Even Christian women get caught up in this, believing that they have to prove God blessed them above others.

What happened to modest hearts, to young people raised to believe that their role in life is to serve others? (For the Son of Man came to serve, not to be served, and we follow Him.) Don’t get started with your children expecting elaborate birthday parties, loads of Christmas gifts, special vacations. Don’t try to compete with the world. We may have to live in it (or we would have no opportunity to witness) but we are not of it.

With all the commercial hype around weddings, even second and third weddings are becoming major productions.  Mature women are trying to get in on the scene, registering for gifts, buying white gowns and veils, inviting hundreds of guests. (Yes, this was my juggernaut, veering out of control as soon as I said the words: “Church wedding.”) Maybe it’s because older women have their own earnings and some stability, and like to prove that maybe they aren’t all that old, after all.  “Hey, I earned it, I can spend it any way I want.”

We’ve lost any sense that the white gown and the veil mean anything outside of spending a lot on a costume. We imagine that we have the resources and privilege of royalty, at least for one day. We imagine that it really is all about us. We’ve lost touch not only with the Christian origins of wedding, but our folk and ethnic customs and their meanings. We let the fashion industry take over one of the most important and intimate days of our lives.


8 thoughts on “Wedding Reservations

  1. My grandmother got married in a black dress which she then used as her good dress for many years. My mother even remembered my grandmother wearing that dress and since she was born 5-6 years after they got married and you need to be a couple of years to remember she must have used it still at least 8 years after her wedding.

    My mother had a simple dress too, in blue. She wanted a white dress but since she was pregnant both her mother and my other grandmother thought that it would not do. This was in the 60s and many people had white dresses even if they were pregnant so mum thought they were old fashioned but accepted the blue dress. It is really pretty but she always hated it because she felt forced to choose it. I have it in my wardrobe but I am too big to wear it and the fabric might be too sensitive anyway. I have thought about making something out of it to give it a worthy second life instead of just hanging there but I do not know what that would be.

    • My mother was married in a grey suit. I think my grandmother was married in a navy dress with a sailor collar. I’m not sure about the other grandmother – probably a simple “good” dress she made herself.

      Wedding dresses can be made over into christening gowns when you have a baby!

  2. My mother wore a navy blue dress, a shomewhat sheer woven-striped fabric, with a navy blue underdress-slip of something silky, 1950 so probably rayon? It had a little white lace collar and cuffs.

    I made my own very simple white dress for my wedding, 1970’s satiny polyester with a lace yoke. I could see no sense in putting a lot of money and effort into a dress I would be wearing exactly once. It took me half a day to make it. My refusal to have an engagement ring, my lack of interest in a big wedding, and my insistence that I did not want a reception were all problematic for my now ex-inlaws. They insisted we had to at least have a dinner to invite all their relatives too, and were not particularly pleased at my saying if there was alcohol at the dinner there would be no bride there.
    I had very certain ideas about how I wanted to start my married life, and I guess I didn’t get these ideas from Brides magazine, haha.

    • Funny, isn’t it, how it’s your weddign but they want to tell you how it should go? The seventies actually had some good design elements in them, as far as wedding dresses went – Mexican weddign dresses, Gunne Sax, the more basic drapey jersey thing which works when you are as thin as a rail! I never have had a diamond! I would refuse a diamond or gold! I don’t wear a wedding ring now.

  3. My daughter called this morning to tell me her sweetie proposed last evening and she said YES!
    They’re planning to marry in Oct 2011.
    They said this will give them time to plan, and to earn the money and pay for things as they go, because they do not expect their parents “to pay a fortune for some big la-de-da party”. They want to keep it simple, just a handful of family and friends,in accordance with an old friend’s advice. He was a church organist for many years, went to countless weddings and told my daughters, “the bigger the wedding the shorter the marriage.”

  4. I bought two Gunne Sax prairie style dresses, blue and white reversed tiny flower print for me and floral and cream for my maid of honor, on sale for $60 for the both of them. My husband wore a new blue light denim jacket and slacks that his mother bought for him. I had a pink rose, white carnation and blue lupine bouquet, the maid of honor’s, the two mothers’ and grandmothers’ matching corsages, and the men’s carnation boutonnières all came to $100 from the local florist. We picked wild daisies, wild roses and lupines to go into the blue speckled granite pitchers on the table of the rustic restaurant on the hillside where we were married and we all had a brunch breakfast afterwards, muffins, scrambled eggs and bacon, oj, and huge fresh strawberries. The wedding cake was sheet cake carrot cake I baked with cream cheese frosting and walnuts. David and I paid it ourselves. Plain gold rings from a friend who ran a Christian bookstore for $300. A college friend took candid photos and only a few posed ones afterward. We honeymooned at a national park in his parents camp trailer.

    What ever happened to the community church wedding with a simple cake, punch and mints hosted by the church ladies. The last couple weddings I attended were DeMille productions, everyone waited an hour and half for the couple to show up, and the receptions unbearable due to the band’s volume.

    • I noticed that about receptions. The wedding party takes ages to get to the reception because they have to have photos. It’s better to have them done before the wedding, with just the bride and groom shots immediately after. Or they can make a studio appointment. There is a lack of hospitality when the guests have to stand around for a couple of hours; some venues will have a cash bar open, but that just encourages the drinkers to start drinking and keep drinking, and how much Pepsi can a non-drinker hold? (I do drink alcohol sometimes, but I don’t want to hang on to the same glass of tepid, poor quality wine for two hours.) Your wedding sounds great. A morning wedding with brunch is certainly simpler, and cheaper, especially because no one expects alcohol at breakfast.

  5. At my second wedding my children from the first marriage were the ring bearers. I thought I would look pretty stupid trying to pull off the virgin bride in white with my boys standing next to me. Therefore I decided to wear what I wanted. I wore a green tea length velvet dress from LLBean and green slipper shoes. Instead of a veil I wore a ring of daisys with green ribbons on my head for a covering.

    I had picked up trays of food from a local caterer and we had the reception in our home. The cd player served as the disc jockey. It was family and close friends, about 20 in all. It was very intimate, friendly and everyone had a good time. It was a time of joy, fellowship and union. That is ultimately what a wedding should be.

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