There’s a lot of discussion right now about marriage and probably too little talk of weddings. Marriage is a rather Apollonian custom, if you think about it. It’s a rational experience with profound social and legal consequences. But weddings! Holy ecstasy! Weddings are institutionalized contraptions of the Dionysian. They’re veritable love fests with sanctioned intoxication, public speeches and lots of dancing.
I kicked off wedding season last Saturday approximately 1.5 miles away from the Supreme Court. My friend Will’s affair was flawlessly executed: The cocktail napkins were made of linen, the flower arrangements were grand, the setting was sumptuous, the food was fresh and delicious, and the bar was perfectly stocked and properly staffed. After a couple hours, newlyweds and guests entered that unmistakably pleasurable, almost frantic state of continuous celebration that’s unique to weddings.
Yet scour yesterday’s courtroom transcript and you won’t find any mention of the hedonic wonders of a wedding. Well that’s obvious, you might contend, the legal definition of marriage is at stake here and not the right to have a wedding. Wrong! The splendor of weddings presages the entire experience of marriage. Hedonism damn well deserves its day in court!
A short catalog of what makes weddings great:
1) Credibility. Everyone you meet basically wants to get to know you!
2) Civility. Self-presentation attains a heightened sense of urgency.
3) Ceremony. Who doesn’t enjoy the faint touch of some tradition or other?
4) Security. You can leave your jacket on your chair, your purse at the table.
5) Company. Even the line for the bathroom is chummy.
6) Gratis. There aren’t even any chits to sign.
7) Values. People speak openly and uncynically about love and responsibility.
8) Egalitarianism. You’re temporarily part of a classless community.
9) Debauchery. It’s not obligatory, but it’s not readily denounced either.
10) Romance. Entries 1-9 are the ideal conditions of possibility for eros.
There are plenty of compelling reasons to support marriage equality. Legal weddings ought to be added to the list, not just for the couple’s benefit but for the delight of everyone who loves them.