Thursday, June 18, 2009

A new way to look at weddings

Last evening, I had dinner with a young friend and former staff member who is completing plans for her wedding, to be held shortly. She and her fiance live modestly, come from families of modest means and are not at all given to ostentatious displays. The wedding she described was not ostentatious, but seemed a very traditional one, with a large guest list, about 175, invited. We know each other well enough so that I felt comfortable in asking why this was so.

The answer, from someone whose judgement I deeply respect, provided one of those rare, paradigm shifting moments of illumination that I experience only rarely. My own view was that weddings are primarily rites of passage for the bride and groom; that they should be the focus of attention and the ones whose wishes were respected. I wondered why it was so often the wishes of families, rather than those of bride and groom that seemed to prevail in wedding planning. And I wondered why a young couple, beginning their lives together, would want to spend so much money on a party for a large group of people with whom they could only speak very briefly, if at all, on their wedding day.

My friend’s view was quite different and offered insight not only about her own wedding, but about Sri Lankan weddings I have attended over many years. Weddings are not solely, perhaps not even primarily, for the bride and groom, she told me. They are more for the families and are, in fact, celebrating the union of these families and, hopefully, the blending of two family traditions as well as the union of bride and groom.

Today I had lunch with another woman friend, an Indian and shared this insight. She said yes, that was certainly the way that her own wedding had been viewed. The two families had, essentially planned and managed everything. She had little say and that was fine. This was as it should be, she felt.

From now on, when I attend large wedding I will worry less about whether or not the wishes of bride and groom are being fully respected by their respective families. Broadened by my friend’s insight, I will simply relax and enjoy the celebration.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home