Having attended some wonderful weddings recently, I’ve found myself reflecting on marriage – as it evolves – compared with the expectations expressed at a wedding ceremony and also whether #MeToo is impacting weddings and marriage expectations.
Reflecting at Weddings
As a long-married person attending wedding ceremonies of vibrant young but mature people, I’ve found myself reflecting during the ceremonies on what I’m seeing and hearing. Some things have struck me that seem so different from traditional ceremonies.
Thoughtfulness. Each wedding ceremony, and associated events, seems to have been thought through in incredible detail. Nothing seems to be accidental – from the ceremony itself, the order within the ceremony, the degree of formality, the choices made for location, seating, wording, dress, decoration, guest appreciation and more – it’s all been considered and thoughtful decisions made.
Involvement. No longer are the bride, groom and attendants seemingly remote. The number of events pre- and post-wedding and the attitudes of the couple lead to involvement of all. You feel close to the couple, involved in the proceedings.
Customised. Each wedding is totally different. From ones resembling formal church roles and wordings to ones which are completely, intimately personal. Each couple has decided what they want and how they want to do it.
Articulateness. I’ve been amazed at the beautiful words chosen from poets, writers, from the couple themselves, from their friends, their families. The words have led to tears in the audience (and for even me), due to their deeply personal nature, insights, heroic expressions, long-term aims No bumbling through by anyone. Each person has thought deeply about what to say and has said it well almost without exception
Weddings and #MeToo
But I’ve been surprised by some elements that continue to exist – presumably through tradition – that seem inappropriate in a #meToo era.
Fathers handing the bride to the groom. As a father, I’d be proud to walk my daughter down an aisle for her marriage. But brides are women. They are not possessions, to be passed from the man responsible for raising them as a child to the – hopefully equal – man they are marrying. In an equal, #MeToo world, if I were a bride, I’d want to demonstrate my independence, my maturity, my equality by walking by myself or with my husband-to-be.
Obsolete ceremony wording. Mostly the wordings are being adjusted to reflect modern times eg ‘obey’ has disappeared. But ‘from this day forth’ is anachronistic if you have been living together for several years
Brides not speaking at ceremonies. Young women, if you want to be equal, speak equally! While grooms normally speak at length, many brides seem reluctant to take a prime lifetime opportunity to demonstrate their equality by speaking at their own reception. And fathers of the bride seem to speak much more than fathers (or mothers??) of the groom. Again, in an equal world, fathers (or mothers) should have equal roles.
Weddings and Marriage
As I listen to the fine words, great intentions, see everyone beautifully dressed, I do wonder too how that compares to the reality of marriage, over long periods, the stresses on individuals and couples from the key events of births, job changes, location changes, career challenges and more. To the reality that many marriages don’t actually last.
But this is one day to celebrate your life together, a peak in your happiness (hopefully not the peak…), so perhaps it’s not the time for reality. King and queen for the day, lauded by your subjects, everyone happy. That is something to celebrate, MeToo or not.