Why do we have weddings?

Ok here’s a thought for you to chew on – do we just have weddings to create a big deal out of an event that arguably does not demarcate a particularly new phase of life for most of us?

Right off the bat, I have to acknowledge that this is not a new idea to me – I first read it in the book One Perfect Day by Rebecca Mead over a year ago. But like many things, it had to percolate in my brain for a long time until actual life experience made it really click into place.

I was thinking about my friend getting married – apparently they did so bright and early – and how they were spending their wedding day. A lovely dinner, perhaps a romantic stroll, a Broadway show – it’s New York, there is no lack of options. But at the same time I wondered if it really feels like a wedding day?

That’s when my mind snapped onto that thought I first heard from Mead. Why should months of planning culminating in a big party make you feel any more married than going to city hall?

Because you just survived a giant ordeal together that’s why. For the great majority of us, marriage no longer means a dramatic move out of the parental home or a rude introduction to sex. We’re already living together and cooking together and sleeping together like any old married couple down the street.

But getting married should still feel big – so we add in a whole lot of pomp and circumstance and familial strife to make sure it is A. Big. Deal.

That being said, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. We kind of need this in our lives. Sure it might be a little belated to celebrate our ‘becoming adults’ at a wedding but I think we tend to just slink out of parents’ houses and build lives with our partners without any pomp or circumstance. You need at least some pomp or circumstance!

Getting married has really become a gradual journey, and along the way we never get an explicit chance to thank our families, friends and others close to us – or really acknowledge the fact that somehow we did grow up and find our partner. Weddings give us that chance.

This thought literally occurred to me as I was microwaving my lunch and I just typed it out in a big flurry. It might be hunger-fueled drivel. I’m really interested to hear your thoughts.


Posted on March 16, 2011, in Life and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Ooh, interesting! It’s funny how many people have asked me since we got married, “So, how’s married life? Does it feel different?” and I never know how to answer. Yes and no. In some ways the wedding didn’t change our relationship at all, but occasionally something will make me realise that in fact there is a subtle difference being married – starting to really feel that we are a family now, not just a couple. But the change didn’t happen at the wedding, overnight – for me, it’s something that comes gradually. Filling in a census form. Sharing a bedroom in his mum’s house (scandal!). Calling him my husband and not sniggering inside my head.

    So if weddings don’t make you feel married, what’s the point in having one? Well, I completely agree with your analysis of why weddings matter – it is a rare and precious opportunity to thank the people who have helped you to get to this stage and celebrate them. But also, it is amazing to realise how much they all love you back. That was one of the best things for me – I had no idea how much people cared until our wedding. Plus, you have to get married somehow, so you might as well take the chance to have an AWESOME party while you’re at it…

    • YES, I totally agree. There is a really subtle change that you can’t really explain, at least not during small talk. There isn’t an easy answer and I think that’s what most people are looking for when they ask that question.

      I think what you said about weddings making you realize how loved you are is also really important. It’s one of the things I’m sad about with my friend not having a wedding – not getting to douse her in some serious attention and love (cause outside of the wedding-realm, it might be slightly creepy).

  2. Huh. This is really interesting to ponder. In a lot of ways, I think so. We are aware that we’re creating this more because it’s a big deal for friends and fam than because it is for us.

    But the process has turned out to be bigger than we imagined, it’s great for forcing us to set boundaries with family and break away in a more real way.

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