The wedding I attended on Saturday was the thrid wedding Brandon and I have gone to this summer, and definately the longest trip of them all. In the process of going to and from this wedding, I had plenty of time to think upon the subjects of love, marriage, weddings, and the differences between the three ideas.
Love is the only one of these three I look with complete positivity upon. Romantic love is beautiful thing between two people who truly care about each other, and when it's really good, it's a close friendship and a wonderful memory even after a romantic relationship ends. I am in this sort of love pretty damn deeply. It's the reason I went down to Pennsylvania in a car with no air conditioning, the reason I got all dressed up to meet a bunch of people I don't know despite the ominous warnings, and why I really don't regret getting the sunburn I have right now. This was all of my own free will. It was all part of an adventure with my cutie, and I had a great time.
Weddings, however, do not elicit the same fondness of response from me. If/when friends of mine/ours decide to get married, I'll gladly go. I gladly went to the past three. I can't say, however, that they are something I really see as reasonable or necessary. It's certainly not something I plan on doing. In the old days, and in many cultures, this kind of ceremony wasn't the ordeal it has become to those of us living in the 21st century. In Jewish law, a couple is considered married if they have sexual intercourse, and no other ceremony need be performed. Before the Japanese literally made up a Shinto ceremony for weddings (an interesting, albeit superflouis one), if a man and women lived together for long enough, they were considered wed. Sacred or not, you'll find that many of the most important characters of the Christian Bible were married to two or more women, and the devotion and love a man and woman have were not necessarily monogomous bonds. The sentimentality and over-the-top importance placed on this whole matter seem more and more like artificiality and empty ritual to me with each wedding I attend. That doesn't even begin to cover my gripe with the actual nonsense of the SET UP of the ceremony. Look at the practicality of the whole issue--you spend a ton of money on a dress you will (hopefully) only wear once, or on a tuxedo (even a rental) that's just as bad. You pay to have the space to have the wedding in. You pay to have the reception and feed a bunch of people, who, usually, are a mix of friends and relatives you'd rather not even have present. Then there's the cake, the music, and everything else that dumps a load of pressure onto a couple of people who are already stressed enough as it is, making what is, to them and their families, one of the biggest steps in their adult life.
This last point, for me, is where the biggest problems in both weddings and marriage (let us not confuse the two, though they may be closely related) lie. Yes, marriage is a commitment, and if you are getting married, it's probably a big deal to you. However, I feel that a relationship, and a true commitment, is more important than even marriage is given credit for. In most of the Christian ceremonies I've attended (and I have attended quite a few), it seems that everyone's glad the couple involved is willing to make that commitment, pray and hope against divorce, and leave the rest to God. I'm sorry, but it seems to me that everyone, including the bride and groom, are leaving it to either God or pure luck that things will work themselves out. It's not a commitment on their terms...they're just hoping for the best. Love and commitment are being made on someone else's terms. Someone else has to pronouce you married. I don't like it, I don't like it one bit. A true bond between people only requires one thing, in my opinion, and that is themselves. I want love, I want commitment, I want a relationship on my own terms. Our terms. Not some pre-ordained, ritualized, third-party's terms. I'd want to say, "This is the man I am going to love and respect, because I decided it." I want to know that he feels the same kind of thing for me. I don't need a fancy ring, a pretty dress, or a man/woman with "the power vested in me" to tell me that. All I'd need is our own understanding. And fuck all to what anyone else says.
For some people, marriage is that thing. That precious bond they chose together. Others, though, aren't this lucky. They marry for acceptance (living together still being a big one on many people's lists). They marry for tax breaks. They marry because it's the role others feel they need to fill, or sometimes because they themselves think they need to fill it, regardless of what other feelings and thoughts they might have. And they just keep doing it younger and younger...of the three weddings I went to this summer, only one of the grooms was even able to drink a champaigne toast legally. I'm sure there is plenty of love in the eyes of the bride and groom...but I have to wonder if marriage really means the same thing to each of them...and who they are getting married for. I wish them the best, of course, and I really do hope that each couple I've seen get married can really make it work for themselves. It be nice to see it bring happiness rather than just troubles to their lives. I hope this, despite the well known divorce odds for most couples these days.
I also hope, though, that my friends and family members understand why I wasn't eager to catch any bouquets.