July 23, 2024

The Problem With the Modern Wedding

This week two coworkers will get married.  This will be the third of many weddings that I’m aware of happening this year– only one (my brother’s) of which I will have been a part of.  The sad part is, the wedding this week will be no more than a formal event– a time for family to enjoy food, to get pictures and celebrate a union of two people who got it all backwards.

You see, that’s what the modern wedding has become.  We now expect and even go so far as to encourage young teens to experiment and to engage in sexual activity.  There was a time when we could expect a young lady of 18 to be chaste, saving herself for her husband.  This is evidenced by the character Nancy Drew.  There’s a new movie coming out, but in order to adapt it to our culture they had to find a thirteen year old:

In the classic series of books that peaked during the Eisenhower administration, Miss Drew was a young woman, either 16 or 18 years old, depending on the driving laws of the time. She had already stepped out of the pimply pool of seething neuroses that we call high school, and dwelled, unencumbered by a day job, in an orderly world where your housekeeper prepared the meals and tweedy new clothes were charged to your father’s account at the local department store. The old Nancy was so mature that the actress who portrayed her on television in the 1970s posed for Playboy. If the new Nancy Drew did that, child pornography laws would have been broken.

But that is no longer the case.  In fact, it seems that more and more people are deciding that marriage is simply an option that they have– if they want it.  Between laws that have been added to protect those outside of a marriage union (be it for homosexual couples or those simply cohabitating) and the spread of out-of-wedlock births, the attraction of a stable marriage relationship is waning.  Our culture encourages us to trust only ourselves, look out for ourselves, and it is constantly reinforcing the idea that we do not need to be married to be happy.

This is London reports that marriage rates in London dropped to its lowest levels since recording began:

It said the long-term fall in the popularity of marriage was continuing, with millions of couples choosing instead to live together and delay having a family. The figures, which cover 2005, the same year the new rules were brought in, show the number of weddings in England and Wales dropped by more than 28,000, from 273,070 to 244,710.

That means that the modern American wedding is simply a sham– something that is done out of formality if done at all.  And that would bear out with the amount of money that is spent putting on a wedding.  I mean, look at all the television programs glorifying everything from how he asks to the day itself.  Rob at SayAnything catches some of this when he talks about how absurd the modern wedding has become:

Am I the only one who’s tired of weddings? Am I the only one who sees these over-blown ceremonies for what they really are? I’m not talking about the ideal of marriage, but rather the industry that has cropped up around that concept.

Think about it for a minute. A young man and a young woman fall in love. They’ve been dating for a long time and its becoming clear to both of them that they should take the next step. So what is that expected next step? An engagement ring, of course. And, of course, the fiancé-to-be won’t be expecting a run-of-the-mill ring. She’ll be expecting a ring of the “how else can six months salary last forever” variety. Why is she expecting that kind of a ring? Marketing, of course.

All their lives today’s women have been told to expect a fairytale wedding. They want huge rings and huge ceremonies. Forget that most young couples already have enough financial burdens what with most of them facing enormous student loans and credit pit-falls at every turn.

So, at a time when marriage means less, we’re putting more money into the ceremony to commemorate something that’s already happened (the couple that is living together and in some cases has a child together) instead of taking time to make the ceremony have real meaning.

We’re supposed to be celebrating the union of a man and a woman– making of two one.  Not creating an excuse to blow a bunch of money on two people who have been playing house and now want to try to somehow get some kind of blessing on their own selfish actions.

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11 thoughts on “The Problem With the Modern Wedding

  1. Very good summing up! It seems the less profoundly we view the state of marriage the more money and pomp we throw at the wedding.

    I went to one a couple of years ago which cost a fortune. The marriage lasted 8 months.

  2. Thanks, Buffy. The wedding has become a show more than anything else. I mean, just look at celebrities especially– it seems that few take weddings seriously. It’s almost like another prom in some cases.

    We really need to instruct people on why what’s going on in the wedding is much more important than the pageantry on display. Again– it’s supposed to be an internal thing, not an external one.

  3. I SO agree with you. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with making your wedding day special – but I think this is totally blown out of proportion. To us, the important thing is not *getting* married, but *being* married if you know what I mean. The ceremony will be nothing but a small celebration of the start of our big journey.

  4. I’ve always preferred dainty rings myself… 😉

    I could never grow tired of weddings though, and I was so refreshed at the last one I attended, my niece’s. It was so God-centered, it was beautiful. They even exited the sanctuary after being pronounced husband and wife to “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”. Very humbling.

    It does make me sad to see couples doing “it” out of order. I guess you could argue that at least they’re going through with marriage, when so many are content to live together indefinitely while bringing several children into the world. I just wonder what can be done to reverse this epic problem. Marriage is becoming as archaic as check-writing.

  5. How appropriate! Our first anniversary is this weekend!

    We had a smallish wedding at a specialty chapel. Mom wanted a big froufy dress for me, so I honored her with that.

    My husband, Jeff, wanted to honor me with a big sparkly engagement ring. I had actually said I didn’t want one at all. Well, what can a girl do when her beloved wants (insists) to give her a diamond. I picked out a plain gold band to go with it. 😉

    Jeff wore a silver ring while we were engaged. Maybe we can start a trend for Men’s Engagement rings? (The jewelry industry would love this!) He thought it wasn’t fair to have only the girl proclaim to the world that she was “spoken for” while he didn’t have any outward symbol of it.

    The best part of our wedding? Our first kiss. Yes, we waited to kiss until our wedding! We were from less than perfect backgrounds (ahem) so when we started courting, Jeff and I decided to follow this example. Let me tell you….that made the entire chapel cry!


  6. Really? My wife and I will be celebrating 6 years on Saturday. Unfortunately we’re 9 days until we’re getting out of debt so we won’t be doing anything big until after that, but it is an exciting milestone!

  7. We’re supposed to be celebrating the union of a man and a woman– making of two one. Not creating an excuse to blow a bunch of money on two people who have been playing house and now want to try to somehow get some kind of blessing on their own selfish actions.

    LOL, tell us how you really feel! Great post MinTheGap. I think my favorite wedding (besides my own of course) was for a good friend of mine named Ted and his (now) wife Emily. If I’m remembering correctly, Ted and Emily had a wedding budget of less than $2k (I want to say it was closer to $1k), yet, it never seemed like anything was missing.

    It by no means was a small wedding, but it also wasn’t huge. The wedding was at their church, and the reception at a local hall. Members of the church had decorated the hall (and did a great job). The cake was from Walmart (and was fantastic), and many of the extra details were cut out (e.g. Instead of a Limo, they borrowed a white Cadillac.).

    I was really struck by the simplicity yet elegance of everything, and couldn’t help but think that more money than was needed was spent on Meg and my wedding.

  8. 22 years and counting and I couidn’t be happier. Besides that most couples co-habiting in the UK don’t realize that the law doesn’t reconize living together untill it’s too late. Often what happens is a couple move in together have kids and than at some point break up. It’s only then that they realize that leagaly there was no relationship. For the man it means no visitation rights, for the mother no support payments or splitting of assests. If everything happened to be in his name, well she’s out of luck. Doesn’t matter how many kids they had or how long they lived together.

    I have a niece getting married and I am shocked at the cost of getting hiched this days. There wedding will run abit under $10.000 CDN and that is considered very cheap!

  9. It pays to do things in order, Rob. What I find interesting is that even though people are saying marriage, etc., is dying, people are still forming monogamous bonds, having children, and owning a home, but all without the vow to stick with it. Perhaps the cost of the wedding is prohibitive? Or the commitment?

    I guess I don’t understand why anyone would want to put themselves through the whole break-up divide up, single parent scenario all because they don’t want to go and get married– to me, it’s just poor planning.

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