Thought for the Day - Canon Angela Tilby - 16/05/2013
Good morning. In spite of the wintry weather the wedding season is upon us. Pretty churches were booked two years ago, hotels are hosting glamorous receptions, organists are practicing the Wedding March.
The average cost of a wedding, whether in church or in a registry office is over £20,000. You can just about do it for £11,000 if you cut the frills. But the frills are very tempting. Wedding Fairs want you to have the best, department stores display the gifts you can shower on your guests, the customized stationery, the crystal, the candles. And that’s before you’ve even thought about The Dress.
When people used to save up for their wedding it was to put a deposit on a house or to buy furniture for a lifetime. You knew you would look at the wedding photographs and see not perfection, but hope. But now the big day is an end in itself as though the rite has come to mean more than the passage. This change is about more than commercial pressure and glam magazines. One recent celebrity marriage, that of Keira Knightly actually went against the trend, she turned up at the town hall in a small and ordinary car in an outfit she’d been seen in before. Her frugality won the approval of Sir Paul Coleridge of the Marriage Foundation. He has argued strongly that our casual attitude to the responsibilities of marriage (as opposed to our addiction to lavish weddings) comes with a high cost both in misery and in cash. What he has in mind are the health and benefit bills following marriage break up.
Throwing money at a big wedding is partly to impress our friends, but also to reassure ourselves. It’s a response to anxiety, the niggling fear of being spliced with an intimate other who may turn out to be stranger than one had thought. It’s like throwing coins in a fountain, paying the invisible ferryman for a smooth passage across the unknown matrimonial sea. I know from my own experience how much effort can go into ensuring all the details are right, as though it really mattered whether the bridesmaid’s bouquets are a perfect blend with the rest of the wedding flowers. But in the end all this is a distraction.
We seem to have forgotten that you can get validly married in your lunch break with a registrar and a couple of witnesses. You can go to Church on a Monday morning and make your vows in the presence of God and a minimal congregation. We used to know that the real thing began the day after the honeymoon. In the Prayer Book the wedding service is called the Solemnization of Matrimony and it’s positioned after the Service of Confirmation and before the Visitation of the Sick. I guess the secret of married happiness does not change very much: Marry someone you love and stay faithful. If only we could.
Available since: Thu 16 May 2013
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