Weddings are kind of amazing. This has not always been true, of course. There was a time, not so long ago, when "big weddings" were events for rich people. Now, it seems that everyone must have a big wedding. Even people marrying for the third or fourth time want the whole thing done "right."

I wonder about how we got here. Until the middle of the last century (the 1900's, for those who have forgotten), weddings were simple affairs for almost everyone. The bride would wear her nicest dress, the groom would wear his suit, and the family and friends would all gather. The minister officiated in the church attended by one of the two parties (usually the bride). Very simple.

Rich people, of course, had very different weddings. They had expensive gowns and catered receptions. But they were rich. They did not have these things to impress anyone, but just because that was what they did.

Now, almost everyone wants a big wedding. More accurately, women seem to want big weddings. It is "their day," we are endlessly told. To this end, their fathers are expected to spend thousands of dollars, proving how they "love" their little girl. It is really rather sad.

After all, the services are all pretty much alike. The cliches are the same. People light the "unity candle," which is kind of cute but not very meaningful on any real level. Often, they will have "communion" with just the married couple, which is really odd given that it is called "communion" because it is supposed to be of all believers, but I digress.

The key is that the wedding itself does not really mean anything. The wedding I attended this weekend was, without question, the finest ceremony of any kind I have ever attended. The church was beautiful, the dresses were beautiful, the reception was as perfect as anything can be. The couple looked beautiful. Everything was perfect.

Yet, I wondered. They are married now and, once the ceremony is over, they are just as married (and no more married) than any other couple. Everyone had fun and the economy was nicely stimulated, but, at the end, it is still a young man and a young woman beginning an immense task.

I hope someone told them about all this. I hope that someone, at some time, said to them that they should think very seriously about the whole situation, not just love the wedding. They have good parents and good ministers and I am pretty sure someone talked to them. They seemed to take it all very well.

I hope they know how important this all is. I hope that all the cliches of the service actually meant something to them. I hope they understand that all the noise and bands and crowds will do them no good when they hit their first difficult situation.

I am always thankful for my own wedding. My bride did it all. We had a small wedding, in her small church, with family and friends. Our reception was a pot-luck brought by her family and friends. Our "honeymoon" was moving into our new place. Our photographer was her uncle (we never even look at the pictures). Everything in our wedding said "we are starting a normal life together." I am glad of all that.

A beautiful wedding is a lot of fun. I enjoyed this weekend's wedding as much as any I have attended, except for two. First, my own wedding. Second, the one wedding I performed. In that wedding, the bride and groom decided to forego the usual cliches and have a church celebration of their marriage, and it was beautiful of them to do so.

I love a nice wedding. I hope it will be the start of a wonderful relationship.

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