Here is my January Newsletter Article from our Parish Newsletter...
The Curate's Corner
As most of you know, I am getting married this month. Planning a wedding is a whole different ball game when one is the groom and not as a quasi-neutral clergy officiant. I do not recall having read a church newsletter article before dealing with weddings. With my unique position as both a groom and as an ordained person, I suppose there is no time like the present to delve into the hefty matter of weddings and matrimony in one page or less.
One of the things that has both amused and irritated me is how people respond when they learn you are engaged. Of course, my Roman Catholic friends have no idea how to respond to this news. Trying to feed the words “ordained” and “married” into their understanding is like trying to feed a DVD and lumpy oatmeal into their computer. On the other end of the spectrum, I have some fundamentalist friends who cannot figure out how I was ordained and got a job in a church without being married. Suffice is to say that like that old robot of television history, “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!”
While it was cute at first, I have also been mystified as to why otherwise well meaning people, when hearing you are about to be married, have this aggravating tendency to tell you horror stories about weddings and/or marriage in general. This tendency literally began only moments after I proposed to my fiancée, when a man at the next table gave me the following advice: “Run!” (at which point his wife smacked him.)
Wedding disasters are also apparently culturally approved tidbits to pass on to unsuspecting couples. Topping the list of such tidbits people have passed along to me are as follows: someone's in-law showing up drunk, a blizzard, and the priest's robes catching on fire in the middle of the exchanging of vows. My personal favorite thus far has to be the one about the maid of honor running off with the Elvis impersonator. (I found that story to be proof positive that some things are best left to mystery.)
Random Elvis sightings aside, I have also had a crash course in the cultural phenomenon that is the Wedding (with a capital W.) I grew up as an only child and all the cousins my own age were also males; so, I was largely immune to the whole fairy tale wedding thing that is apparently crammed down the throats of young women since the time they are 10 or even younger . While my fiancée has been incredibly level headed about the whole thing, I have found this aspect of American culture incredibly disturbing.
I read somewhere that the average cost of a wedding nationwide is just over $20,000. Part of my Scotch-Irish heritage has always been the virtue of thrift. This is not to say that I am stereotypically cheap, but such a factoid, assuming it is true, gave me pause. Unless you are being crowned the King of England, such time, money, and resources should not be frivolously wasted in such a manner, especially over a single event.
I am also not saying that people should not put thought into their weddings and the vows they take. They are very serious indeed. The catechism in the Prayer Book describes marriage as a sacramental rite “in which the woman and man enter into a life long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows.” Weddings should be about putting those sacred vows into a real life context by setting priorities. Waste and excess are not good groundings for a new couple forging a life together in a culture already saturated with consumer debt. The role of the Church should be to encourage the couple in their vows for only in community is the wisdom found to nurture couples along the road of life with all its potential pitfalls and blessings.