To Love, Honor and Cherish

Photo by Brent Keane on

It is wedding season, or at least it seems to be so. All of a sudden I am receiving invitations to a host of weddings but I am admittedly a bit uncertain that it is now safe to attend such events. Back in October when Covid-19 was still raging in the United States my nephew got married and my doctor advised me not to attend. I’m still saddened that I had to miss his very special day but I also know that I did the right thing. One of my daughters went with her husband and sons to represent the family. She said that it was outdoors and most of the people wore masks so she felt relatively safe but insisted that it still would not have been a good idea for me and her father to go. From what I hear he did everything right and it was a fun and memorable affair. I wish I had been there.

It’s been difficult turning down invitations given that I am usually one of the people most likely to show up for weddings. I check with doctor each time a new card arrives in the mail and thus far he continues to advise me to stay away at least for a bit longer. I sometimes wonder when he will finally decide that I am good to go once again. I truly miss being able to celebrate with special people even though I suspect that nobody would really notice that I am not there. I say this because I’ve actually attended such events in the past and then been shocked to realize that the bride and groom never knew that I had been there. 

I think it tends to be that way for most couples getting married. The wedding and reception ends up in a kind of haze. After all of the planning for a perfect day all the two can focus on is one another, which is exactly as it should be. In my own case I remember simply going through the motions of all of the wedding day traditions and wanting desperately for it all to just end so that I might get on with the rest of my life. I sometimes wonder why we spend so much time, energy and money on creating the perfect wedding because in truth they all feel somewhat alike and it’s difficult to actually remember anything about one wedding versus another. 

When I got married things were far more simple than today’s huge celebrations. Our reception took place in the Parish Hall and lasted less than a couple of hours. We greeted our guests and offered them cake, coffee, punch and some little sandwiches to munch on while everyone mingled for a time or sat on folding chairs waiting for my husband and I to depart. I may as well have been in a coma for all that I remember about that evening from the moment that I began my walk down the aisle to the time when we rushed to our car under a hail of rice. 

Since then I’ve been to wedding after wedding and they all seem to get just a bit bigger and more complex over time. Even the cakes are incredibly elaborate affairs but in truth their appearance is not nearly as important as the taste. That is what I really recall when I think of the most memorable slices of cake that I have tried. The best cakes are moist and almost melt in the mouth. Those with that rubbery frosting designed to resemble some object are not even worth the extra calories that they add to my daily diet. So it is with weddings and receptions that are over the top.

Weddings don’t have to be elaborate or expensive to be fun. My brother got married on the beach and his reception was at an outdoor pavilion where we munched on barbecue and toasted the bride and groom with margaritas. We danced in our sandals and flip flops and laughed reveled in the joy that filled the air. Instead of cake we ate apple pie and marvel to this day on how wonderful the whole affair had been. 

Destination weddings can be fabulous as well. A few years back an educator friend married in Cancun. The festivities began days before the actual ceremony with everyone who attended getting know each other better in a very relaxed atmosphere. The actual vows took place with the spectacular backdrop of the Caribbean and most of us waded through the sand to our seats in our bare feet. The reception was a happy affair focused on hearing the stories of how the two had found their way to each other and fallen in love. Then we danced the night away under the stars. It was heavenly.

My mother and father got married by a Justice of the Peace. Other than the needed witnesses I don’t think anyone else was there. Later they had a church ceremony at St. Mary’s  Catholic Church in College Station, just the two of them. Someone took a photo of them near the entrance of the church wearing simple clothing and earnest looks of delight on their faces. They were young and focused on their future together rather than a one day bash. There were no guests, no gifts, no dinners or cake. Somehow they did not appear to have missed having all of those frills. Eleven years later they were still giddily in love and no doubt would have made it for a much longer time had my father not suddenly died.

I’m not against big weddings and I know that they are quite important as a way of marking the start of a shared lifetime but perhaps much as we always do we have made them far more extravagant than they need to be. The bills for such affairs are often enough to pay for a car or a year of college or even the trip of a lifetime. I wonder how many actually recall the details of such excesses when all is said and done. Bigger is not always better and sometimes it is not even as wonderful as a more intimate and meaningful ceremony. Perhaps we have gone too far when we see people deferring their actual marriages for years just to save enough for an eye popping wedding. Somehow that seems to be rather backward when all that anyone needs is the pledge of those vows to love, honor and cherish. Everything else is just frosting and decoration on the cake.