Most people love weddings. I don’t.
Am I really being a friend if I show up for the wedding and then abandon my friends in the 10, 20, 30 years that follow, when married life throws the inevitable hurdles and heartaches their way?
It’s not the concept of a wedding itself. The idea of two people choosing to love and commit to each other for the rest of their lives is really wonderful. What’s not is the amount of time, effort and money ($65,482 on average in Australia1) that gets poured into the “big day”.
Yes, I’m an unmarried man, so perhaps I have no reason to be commenting on this subject. But then again, I’m not only writing on my behalf. I serve as a voice for the couples who said with a sigh of relief at the end of their wedding day, “I’m glad that’s over.”
It seems oxymoronic (or even just moronic) that the “best day of your life” involves so much stress. There’s pressure on the bride and groom to look “right”, pick the “right” venue and invite the “right” people. Much thought also goes into the menu, music and a myriad of other things (to dance, or not to dance?).
The bride and groom aren’t the only ones under the pump. There’s pressure on everybody. Guests have to show up, dress up and pay up (presents). The pastor must put a new spin on 1 Corinthians 13 and Matthew 19:6, while the photographer is expected to capture every moment perfectly. Even God isn’t immune, as we put pressure on Him to keep the rain clouds away and everybody safe.
It all seems a bit much. The wedding day is, after all, just a day—the same 24-hour patch of time as any other day. The marriage is “til death do us part”.
My real (mock-) beef with the “big day”, however, isn’t actually the wedding itself. It’s what happens afterwards. No, not that. I’m talking about the guests—you and me—and our tendency to attend the wedding and then disappear from the marriage.
Imagine a father attending his daughter’s first swimming carnival and only watching the start of her race. The gun goes off, she hits the water and he heads to the canteen. Is he really being a father if he doesn’t see her through to the finish? Am I really being a friend if I show up for the wedding and then abandon my friends in the 10, 20, 30 years that follow, when married life throws the inevitable hurdles and heartaches their way?
Sadly, it’s an approach we’re also guilty of when it comes to new believers. We make a big deal of the baptism but often fail to stick with them on the rest of their journey. Come, be baptised. Be blessed . . . now be gone. Last year the General Conference released some shocking statistics regarding the number of people who have left the Church.2 Could it be that we—as individuals, not the institution—walked out on them first?
“So long as you both shall live?” It’s a question posed to every bride and groom on their “big day”, yet one every wedding guest also needs to consider.
Do you, [your name], take this couple, to [encourage] and [support] from this day forward; for better or for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health; to love and to cherish from this day forward, so long as you both shall live?
The “I do” is up to you.
1. Bride to Be magazine, 2015.
Linden Chuang is assistant editor—digital for Adventist Media.