Modern Weddings: A Modest Proposal

Yesterday, I shared a few thoughts on wedding attire and sexy brides and how they indicate that our understanding of marriage is changing. No longer is it a lifetime commitment to love one another through whatever life throws at us and to bring forth the next generation, marriage is now a celebration of love alone. The couple’s commitment is conditional on maintaining their happiness and children may or may not be part of the plan. The commitment may be between a man and a woman, but not necessarily. It is ironic that marriage in our culture has become less meaningful but many weddings have grown into extravagant Hollywood-like affairs.

We often see couples who do things “out of order.” They begin by cohabiting and sometimes even have a child or two. Their primary goal is to buy a house and furnish it in style. Finally they plan their wedding, but that takes time because it must be a grand affair. I know I may sound like a grump, but I do understand that most people mean well and they want what they think is best for themselves and their children. They just don’t realize that building their family on a solid marriage ought to be their top priority. The wedding, when it comes, is anti-climactic because their life together is well underway.

The wedding thus becomes an achievement award that the couple bestows upon themselves. As such, it must be lavish, to reflect their success as a couple. Planning a wedding is usually stressful, but brides can become obsessed with details because everything is meant to represent who the couple is. It all adds up to a statement that defines them and the pressure is on. Some weddings have become expensive displays of narcissism.

To return to the topic of dresses… Not only are they frequently immodest in terms of exposing skin, they are immodest in terms of excessive cost and design. Unfortunately, many brides get carried away and see it as their day to indulge every whim and desire. It places too much attention on themselves, like the stars of the show, whereas a bride’s attire and all the nice things about the wedding reception ought to honor the marriage.

If we look at marriage from a Catholic perspective, we understand that it is a vocation, that is, that God is calling this couple to a life together. That adds an element that should humble us. They undergo a period of discernment and preparation to help them to undertake this commitment capably and freely. They welcome God into their marriage and recognize that they will need to rely on Him as they go forward. Catholic marriage is a sacrament in which God blesses our unions and showers us with His grace. He gives us what we need to have a successful marriage and to be good parents, which we build upon through the other sacraments.

With this view of marriage, a couple will be more inclined to be humble in their approach. Of course the bride will want to dress beautifully and the couple will want to plan a wonderful celebration. But they are not celebrating themselves. They are celebrating God’s goodness in calling them to a life together, inviting His blessing and our prayers.

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