24 June 2009

the time has come, my little friends, to talk of other things

I've been thinking a lot recently about "The Wedding". Not the marriage - we're firm of mind and heart that we want to spend our lives together. I'm talking about the party.

I'm talking about the 100+ guest list, the menu that takes months to perfect, and all the little details that (don't kid yourself) no one really notices. Except you. (And, of course, if it matters to you, then that's what's really important!)

I've been thinking a lot recently about why we, as a society, feel the urge to proclaim our marriage as solidified with a (oftentimes opulent) party, with as many people we've met in presence. At times, it feels like "The Wedding" is more of an expectation of society than a wish.

At about two and a half months to go - and a lot still on my plate - I've been mulling over a few "what ifs". What if we decided to elope? Would that really be "so bad"? We'd still have an intimate ceremony, we'd still end up married, and we'd still have cake (there will always be cake!).

Our extended family might be a little upset. But honestly - I think they'd get over it. I come from a huge extended family that's scattered all over the US. I rarely see them anymore! I'm very happy to live my life with my future husband. Even though my family is huge, I've always felt the emotional barrier that comes with physical distance. Leading my life with Mr. Bearcub is one of the realest expressions of "family" I've ever felt.

When we began forming ideas for aspects of our wedding last year, I told Mr. Bearcub that I wanted a small wedding. I wanted no more than 50 people. total. (Remember, there are over 70 people in my family, alone!) I wanted most of our guests to be our friends, and I wanted for everyone that was present to really want to be there. It makes me personally sad when people show up to a wedding only because they thought they "had" to. I wanted none of that nonsense.

The reality of families, though, is that if you chose to publicly announce your marriage to a small circle of people, the larger circle of people has to be included.

The reality of society, I think, is that contributing members to society wish for the big changes in their lives to be publicly recognized. In a crazy, very human way, it makes the rite of passage more tangible.

For those who choose to elope, choose courthouse weddings, small gatherings, and the like - believe me when I say that your wedding is no less important than those who invite 1000 people to their wedding. Your wedding is equally important, and equally special.

I'm only commenting on the apparent societal impetus to present one's marriage with a large party. I recognize that, while this seems crazy to me personally, I feel like a party with a ceremony and dinner and dancing and all my friends and close family would make us more married. That which is already affirmed in our hearts would be reflected in the minds of our peers.

I'm slightly very overwhelmed at the amount of planning that still needs to be done. We could elope, and we would be happy. But really, we want to have our wedding. With all the details and friends and family and (of course) cake.

What's your perspective on the societal "expectation" to throw a large party for your wedding?

1 comment:

  1. I feel like a big wedding is a chance to get everyone together, a chance that comes really just once in a lifetime (besides maybe at a funeral?) but this is coming from a person who enjoys large social gathers anyhow. Of the weddings I've been to, the bigger ones have been more fun - more people to talk to, more dancing, more laughing - but generally those wedding have been with either a lot of my own friends or with my (extremely large) family. Think of it as a family and friend reunion. People remember weddings. And in some cases bringing people together one more time can help mend some family/friend divisions, not just in relation to the couple, but also for the people at the party. I often think about why I chose to spend the money on a big wedding myself, and honestly when I look back at it, maybe the cost alone wasn't worth it, but it was worth it to have everyone there that has helped me become who I am and ultimately had some influence over the choices I've made to get to where I am in my life -- that was important to me. And of course, the details matter even if only for you.