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Celebration of Joy or a Display of Wealth?

Orange blossoms

Orange blossoms

One day my prince will come! Right? If you pay attention to popular white orchids 3 blossomsTV, books, movies, greeting cards, candy makers, and the like, everyone knows that no woman’s life really starts until their true love arrives (and it’s always heterosexual – not!). I won’t go on about my skepticism that it’s healthy for young women to think that it takes a prince to complete their lives. That’s hooey. Enough said. But discussions with my youngest daughter reveal the insidious aftermath that girls expect after finding that prince/princess – the overly dramatic proposal and perfect wedding.

She asks about the proposal I received from her father/my husband. It sounded more like a life plan, and it was perfect for both of us. Not a Hallmark moment, to be sure, but we both understood the game plan. She cites all the stuff on Facebook, YouTube, and TV about the overly dramatic, breathtakingly perfect marriage proposals; she thought that was how life really works. I had to laugh, and the conversation continued with a discussion of the marketing and media engines at play there. I don’t think that most people have those kinds of moments.  What would she do if she finds a wonderful partner who fit her in every way, but didn’t come through with that over-the-top proposal. Then what? Throw him back? If I’d rejected my husband due to a lack-luster proposal, that would have been silly. He’s a great husband, father, and partner. And he’s an engineer – theatrics are not his way of life, or mine.IMG_5868

Then, there’s the wedding. She’d heard how the wedding was supposed to be the best day in a woman’s life. Huh? Weddings are usually stressful. It might have been good, but the BEST? I don’t think so. Was it important? Yes. Was it great to have it over with? Yes. Weddings involve organizational planning and lots of people. As good introverts, we’re not so big on the lots of people thing. And the “perfect” wedding doesn’t happen by accident. I’ve been to weddings where I felt like I was there just to make the price tag of the wedding pay off in the presents received. You know what I mean – the invitation was from a relative of the bride/groom (a term of convenience, knowing there may be a bride/bride or groom/groom), whom I’ve never met but may have heard about. The parents/family members of the bride/groom look stressed to the max, and whoever is in charge of the checkbook is sweating bullets. That doesn’t look so fun to me.

May the happy couple enjoy their path to a new life, as partners

May the happy couple enjoy their path to a new life, as partners

So in counterpoint this weekend, we attended a wedding blessing for an older couple that we know who got married in an intimate family affair in the morning. A wedding celebration followed for family and friends in the evening. It was gracefully organized by the bride with no stressing out. She emailed all the guests and explained that they did not want conventional gifts, but for each guest to help as they felt appropriate. Some brought food for a cover-dish meal, some provided entertainment, some ran errands or set up the chairs, etc. in the lovely park. The bride and groom greeted every guest before they assumed their position at the front. Wow! They actually knew that I had attended, and wanted to show their gratitude for our being there. I knew we were in for a different kind of wedding ceremony/party right there, and the goodness continued.

In drought-ridden, parched Colorado, fires raging throughout the state, it rained. What a blessing that was! No one complained. It began with a good sprinkle, and the bride and groom asked if everyone wanted to go to the covered area. No, we opted to get much closer to them under the broad branches and ample leaves of a wonderful tree. When the rain began to come down in earnest for a few minutes, we’d already moved on to the reception in the covered area. No problem. It was a delightful ceremony, and the antithesis of the perfect “white wedding,” yet it felt appropriate and joyful. Now I admit, it was hosted and attended by a free-spirited crowd, and this relaxed type of event may not be for everyone. But I was so happy to show my daughter how there is more than one kind of wedding, and she can decide what she wants if/when it’s her time. There was no $5,000 dress, $25/plate dinner, or ostentatious show of wealth. I was very impressed by how much everyone appeared to be enjoying it, including the bride and groom. Something to aspire to, I think. Good wishes to them and all who choose a celebration of joy over a display of wealth.

4 replies »

  1. I couldn’t agree more with you. Weddings have become all about the “show” and nothing at all about the marriage. It makes me sad that such a meaningful event has become nothing more than a showy circus. I’m hoping that eventually the pendulum will swing back in the other direction.

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  2. Karel:

    I am not trying to “one upmanship” your story of the wedding but it does remind me of a wedding your father and I went to once in Houston.
    The young couple both worked at our favorite restaurant and dance place. We were favorite customers so they invited us. The wedding was held in a roadside park out in the boonies. It was a picnic type wedding. It poured rain so everybody got under a tarp for the ceremony and to visit under the tarp until the rain stopped enough for everybody to eat the picnic lunch. It was a lovely, personal wedding. They were just as married, just as happy and the event promised all the same things to them as a huge church wedding.

    It has been my observation that every young lady I know who had a wonderful “prince in shinning armour” type proposal, had a failed married. It was fake to begin with and stayed fake. Courtship is meant to be growing together…or not. That is how you decide. If it has to be some spectacular event to propose, then something else in the relationship may well be missing. The quiet growing together where neither can really remember the proposal suggests it was a mutual understanding built on mutual goals, mutual respect, a mutual travel plan for going through life. That makes a marriage.

    Let me see, I met your dad when I was fifteen; we got married when I was 17; we are still married . We have been in each other’s lives for sixty years already but we are still a year and a half away from our 60th wedding anniversary. Can I remember when your dad proposed? Yes. It was quiet, it was personal. We were sitting on the schoolhouse steps. No bells, no whistles, no party, no friends, no family, and no rings for quite a while. But we understood the commitment.

    Nice discussion you had here. A great talk to have with your daughter. Your pictures are great. Trees always remind me of people. Some grow straight and tall, some grow twisted, some are more beautiful than others, some are just small and plain but they are still trees, doing what trees are supposed to do. I bet all of them are very happy to be trees.

    MOM

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