Monday, June 4, 2007


Sometime in the 20th century it was decided that every girl deserved to be married like a debutante - very expensively, whether her family had the resources or not. And at some point the idea that the service was the property of the couple rather than the church also took hold - thus romantic, sentimental - often secular - music and songs, vows written by the couple and made to each other—with only an incidental acknowledgment of God and the congregation, everyone in the wedding party dressed extravagantly, and cameras everywhere.

A wedding that is performed as a Christian ceremony is, in fact, a church service, and the most important thing about the vows ought to be that they are made before God.

S.M. Hutchens:
...I made some firm resolutions about how things were to be done if I ever became a pastor, and when I did, that is how they were done. ....

The wedding ceremony had to take place in the church building, the couple could not write their own vows, but had to repeat the traditional ones ("obey" included—none of the modernism of the 1928 Prayer Book, thank you). Once the rehearsal had begun, things were set—no "suggestions" would be entertained after that point from the bride, family members, or wedding consultants. Any member of the wedding party who showed signs of inebriation would be immediately ejected from the rehearsal or the service. No photographs were to be taken during the ceremony, which was a service of Christian worship. Nothing unreasonable, nothing outside tradition, nothing that didn't need mentioning in that time and place. But it didn't sell too well. ....

The insanely expensive wedding is nothing new, and in Christendom it is as old as ecclesiastical cooperation with worldliness and wealth. But the Church should not cooperate, and where it has its wits about it, it hasn’t. As it provides (or should provide) a pall to cover every casket that enters its doors so that in death the differences between the poor and wealthy are minimized in favor of the spiritual significance of the Christian funeral, so it should impose similar restrictions upon weddings. Beauty should be there—the church and its surroundings should be liturgically beautiful as an act of its people combined—but all ostentation and every show of the wedding as anything other than a religious rite should be strictly avoided. As for the pagans, let them do as they will, but at least the Christians should provide them a good example. ....

I am reluctant to particularize too much outside individual pastoral situations. Room should be allowed, for example, for generosity—in, for example, feeding those who are invited. But all things need to be done advisedly, in accordance with spiritual wisdom and authority, and the rule should be in accordance with the beauty of simplicity, so the poorest of maidens could be married in the grandest of churches without embarrassment, and the richest without display.
And from Stand to Reason:
I found this short interview with One Perfect Dayauthor Rebecca Mead stimulating thinking I'd never done before. I have no sense she's a Christian, but the general point she makes here is that without the sacred, without the traditions of weddings, the size and expense of a wedding have filled a vacuum to give meaning where there is none without God. She offers some interesting thoughts about how people, especially women in this case, fill the sacred gap materially that our secular culture leaves.
Sources: Touchstone Magazine - Mere Comments: One Perfect Day, Stand to Reason: Weddings in a Secular Culture

No comments: