Monday, July 8, 2013

The Blight of the Modern Wedding

I am to be wed soon. A joyous occasion, to be sure. But as the date approaches, and I spend more and more time in arranging the events to come, I have realized that how the modern idea of marriage - at least in America- has acquired a curse. It is a curse of pride, and consumerism, and self-worship. The wedding industry appeals to a certain concept of the "ideal wedding", placing an enormous amount of pressure of the bride-to-be. From a young age, females are inundated with images of the nigh mythical wedding, and they attempt to live up to this ideal, something that requires a Herculean effort on her part. At the same time, the engagement period is a spiritually harmful time for the potential bride, since it carries with it the idea that this is a time when the bride-to-be is entitled to excessive self-focus. The average wedding today is some kind of bizarre combination of a right-of-passage/demonstration of worth. Our sense of self worth is somewhat tied to what kind of wedding we can have, and we feel judged if we cannot deliver. A great deal of this problem stems from a much broader issue: the pressure on middle to low income people to emulate the rich. Somewhere along the line rich folk started having more and more extravagant weddings, but they could afford to do things like hire a wedding planner. Those with more humble bank accounts have to simply do the best they can with what they have, even if it never quite feels like enough.

The average wedding today costs $30,000. Take a moment to let that sink in. That's absurd, Ultimately, weddings aren't about jumping through hoops or putting on a grand show. And they're not excuses for the bridal couple to feel entitled to inordinate amounts of special treatment. Something I rather appreciate about the Orthodox wedding sacrament is that, ultimately, the couple is not the center of attention, or at least not in isolation. It's a church service, filled with prayer and worship, and God is center-stage. It is about why God has instituted marriage, and His blessings upon marriage. Ultimately the service is the means through which God mystically unites two souls. Erin and I are going to do our best to have a beautiful wedding and an enjoyable reception, but we refuse to bow to ludicrous popular wedding expectations. That's not what we're about, and it's not what weddings are about.