The Beauty of A Beautiful Ceremony

This the summer of weddings for Paul and I.  We have reached the age where the children of our friends are beginning to marry, but we are also colleagues and friends with young people who are taking the big step. Between June and October, we will be attending six different weddings.  Six!

While all of this nuptial joy can be expensive (think new dress, new shoes, shower gift, travel costs, wedding gift…..!) and a little tiring, it is also the most incredible reaffirmation of the power of human love.  Next to the welcoming  of new life (which I suspect will be happening in droves in a year or so…!), participating in a wedding is the most touching of social rituals.  I love the whole thing!

Every wedding is unique, which is part of the fun.  Our weddings this summer will include an outdoor Orthodox Jewish ceremony on a farm, a backyard secular ceremony in the Maine countryside, a formal Catholic ceremony at a grand hotel, a semi formal morning wedding at a country club and two more traditional church and reception weddings.  They are all different in tone, style, menu, music and guest lists.  One was even in another language, requiring us to read the translations in the books.

But they all share a common core, a common heart, a common purpose.

And this commonality is what I love.

It is not the chance to dress up fancy that makes weddings so special to me. It’s not the flow of cold crisp wine, the delicious foods or the gorgeous settings.  It isn’t even the chance to dance as if I was still 25, making a happy fool of myself and usually wrenching my back for a good cause.  None of that is what I find so exciting when I open up those wedding invitations.

I am humbled when I am asked to attend the wedding of a friend, or a cousin, or the child of my childhood buddy. I feel pride, and joy and usually some surprise when the brides and grooms reach out to ask me (me!) to be a wedding guest.  I always feel as if the cool kids have invited me to the party!

See, when you go to a wedding, you are participating in an ancient ritual that has existed in every society in the world, since probably about the time when humans emerged from our caves.

When you listen to the service, (even if you don’t know the language!), you are asked to say ritual words, or to sing, or to raise your hands up high, holding them out to form a canopy over the heads of the lovers, blessing them and wishing them joy and prosperity and fertility.

Through these rituals, these words, we are welcoming a new family into the greater family of our community. By raising a glass and shouting  “mazeltov” or “cheers” or “salut” or “slainte”, we are saying, “We are all here to help you, to support you, to get you on the road to a happy future.” By allowing us to participate, the couple is telling us that they are happy and willing to join the community of families, the community of our churches, our towns, our country. Every new family unit strengthens the family of humanity, it seems to me.

I am so happy and proud to have been included in the six weddings of this summer.  Weddings mean hope and love and sharing, and they reinforce my faith in the future.

Why would anyone want to deny these beautiful ceremonies to couples who happen to be of the same gender?


3 thoughts on “The Beauty of A Beautiful Ceremony

  1. I rest this post and promised myself to come back to it. It reminded me of a book I have on my bookshelf – Homosexuality and the Christian Faith – Questions of Conscience for the Churches edited by Walter Wink, a Professor of Biblical Interpretations at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City.

    This debate is currently raging in Scotland and our Parliament are making positive steps to introduce same sex marriage – it saddens me to see how many churches here are reacting to this. In the preface of his book Walter Wink talks about the “fratricide over the issues of homosexuality and the irony is that not just gays and lesbians, but the churches themselves, are likely to become victims”.

    This book was given to me many years ago by a colleague, a counsellor who was married to a minister. We both worked with people living with HIV and AIDS.

    Like you I love weddings. I have some good friends who have lived together for many years, they have loving and caring relationships and strong faiths yet they cannot marry in the way me and my man have. – making our vows in church.

    This book affirmed my beliefs and provided me with a strong argument. I am confident that my God has read this book too 😉

    Sorry I’ve just had a bit of a rant there (but hey you know me, I love a bit of thinking and debating and you never disappoint!). You have written such a beautiful post and make such an important point. I didn’t see the final sentence coming, but boy am I glad you included it.


    • Funny to say this, but it shows something about the way I write: I didn’t see that last sentence coming, either! It wasn’t until I was at the end of the post that it suddenly hit me: why shouldn’t all these very different ceremonies include some with one more variation?
      I am not a religious person at all, but I do believe in a spirit of love and generosity. How can denying people the right to love others possibly be a good thing for humanity?
      Thanks for your “rant”, my dear!! I love sharing these ideas with you!


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