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An alternative view on what marriage and weddings really mean

I always thought I’d never get married. It just wasn’t something I’d ever really thought about as a girl, and then as I grew up it became a bit of an alien concept: something other people do. Not for me.

Now – maybe I’m more mature than I was – I’ve changed my mind. I might get married one day, if that’s what life has in store for me… but I don’t think I’ll ever have a wedding.

You’re already forgiven for wondering how anyone can get married without a wedding. As far as the wedding media goes, the two go hand in hand. When you get married you wear a big white dress and invite everyone you know to celebrate with you… and you decorate the occasion.

Why, though?

I’m a creative thinker. I live my life differently to the majority of people: I am self-employed, I’m in a creative industry, I like spending as much time as I can on the tops of mountains.

I’m also very anti-establishment in my thinking. And that’s my first issue with marriage. It’s become something you sign for the government. They control it.

I’m all for making a lifetime commitment to the man I love. I find it a little patronising on the part of government and society that I need to put it on a register for it to ‘count’ – but I’ve come around to thinking that that’s not so bad, really.

Marriage, in my eyes, is a) a commitment to loving someone forever and b) telling the government and giving them your signature so it’s ‘official’. Which part matters? Only a). And b), if I’m honest, gets my back up. I don’t like the government; I’m not in the government, I’m not part of it. So what’s my lifelong commitment to someone got to do with them? Why should I tell them?

I appreciate that the government means we have police and streetlights, that sort of thing… but otherwise I’d rather live a free life without MPs knowing what I’m doing.
If I choose to love someone, it really is none of their business.

Civil and religious marriage doesn’t really come into it for me – I’m not religious so making vows in a church would seem false. To swear my undying love and commitment before God would be crazy when I don’t even know what I believe. Besides, I’d rather address my words to the person I’m in love with. And one last point – isn’t God supposed to be everywhere? In which case I’m sure he’d be as happy if I made those vows in a pond.

So – marriage. It’s all about a) for me, and I wouldn’t really mind registering it with the government, but only to please everyone else!

There’s a very curious link between marriage and weddings in this country, perhaps in the whole of the western world. When we hear, “X and Y are getting married!” we immediately wonder where, and when, and whether we’ll be invited. (And then, what she’ll wear, and if it’ll be a big ‘do’, and how much it’ll cost us. And we make judgements about the look of the wedding.) But this shouldn’t always be the case. Why does marriage = wedding?

Weddings are a celebration, a party. We say our vows and then we go off and have a wedding to celebrate. It’s actually fascinating that we all do pretty much the same thing!

The bride wears a very special dress, usually white and expensive. The couple have photos taken, then join family and friends to celebrate. They hire a special place to do all of this. There’s food and drink. People make speeches. An entertainer comes and people dance until it’s time to go home.

It’s odd enough that we all follow that formula. But when you think about the details, it’s even weirder that we all do exactly the same thing: we drink champagne while the groom, then the father of the bride, then the best man make speeches. About the same things: groom = quick intro, “my beautiful bride”, sit down. FOB = “my daughter”, look after her, welcome to the family, sit down. BM = funny stories, thank people, sweet tear-jerker comment about his “bro”, sit down. The entertainers – be they bands, singers or DJs – arrive around 7 and the party starts by 8pm.

Even crazier: we decorate all the chairs people will sit on. We make a tower out of cake and then slice it while everyone watches. We hold a bunch of flowers all day and dress our best friends up in matching outfits. Why?!!

Yes, it’s fun. And it’s tradition.

But I’d love to see it done differently. As much as I love other people’s weddings, it’s the unique little ways they personalise things that make them special.

And for me? I’d start with a question:

Wedding?

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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1 COMMENT
  • Nathan @ Artemis Stationery
    6 years ago

    I’d never thought an MP would care much unless you invited one! Had never considered the government aspect, the historical link with the church was always what first occurred to me.

    I think there’s not always a tonne of rights of passage or things that bring people together. It’s very good to do things your way but rarely bad to celebrate something important in your life with those people nearest and dearest.

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