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.