I was about to start by saying, “I’ve been to a lot of weddings”. But then I realised that I have absolutely no grounds for saying this. I have been to more than 20 that I can remember off the top of my head. Is that a lot? I don’t know. They have varied in style quite considerably: I’ve been to humanist weddings, registry office weddings, high church weddings, low church weddings. I’ve been to a Quaker wedding, a wedding of somebody named Baker, and if you know any candlestick makers, tell them I’m happy to attend.
Some of the weddings I have been to have been surprising depersonalised. They seem to be perfectly lovely affairs where all the flowers have been great, the room has been decorated to look like it is out of a magazine, which I suppose it is, and the reality of the day has been almost airbrushed out. Sometimes, even with these more stuffy affairs, a bit of personality will leak out. In my experience, this is often if the couple have known the priest / vicar for a long time. I suppose that this is because they do weddings day in and day out, and otherwise there would be nothing that surprising for them, and they would rather take the captive audience they have and expand their minds.
The best of these are priests who don’t just talk about scripture, and don’t just automatically do the feast at Cana and all that jazz. The best talk about what is actually happening at the wedding, and it’s an interesting concept. The Christian bible talks about marriage (Ephiesians 5, 22-33) and husbands and wives being subject to one another. It, like all areas of the bible, is massively open to interpretation and has been used to suggest husbands should command or even own their wives, despite it clearly saying that they should serve each other.
But what I actually think it is driving at is that in marriage you are making a new thing, a new team which you are both members of. And you are both saying, the team is more important than either of us.
Something you can decide without ever getting married.
Sometimes it’s the priest, sometimes it’s a speech, sometimes it’s the party, sometimes it’s despite all of these things, but sometimes you get the feeling that something is being created at that moment: a new team.