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…
Bernard is an Australian writer and speaker. He writes at Foolish Wisdom and Proposal to Marriage. This post appeared previously in one of his other columns.