This past weekend I saw two of my high school friends tie the knot and it was really great. In the 21st century, Western marriage seems to have lost its luster from centuries of old. There was no land exchanged nor familial political agendas met, and while I cannot concretely confirm it, I’m not sure her white dress accurately represented the bride’s intimate history.
More and more people are married later and later, if at all. The argument of the “true” meaning of marriage and its “sanctity” dominate news cycles, protests and parades. For what? What’s the fuss? I catch myself wondering why we even feel the need to say “I do” in a room full of friends and acquaintances. When you think about it, the whole ritual is antiquated and archaic. My friends had already put in seven years of ups and downs, and were doing just fine. If you really like somebody, why do you need to make a big production out of it and spend thousands of dollars on some contrived fancy party?
Now I get it. It’s because we can. We should. We love it.
I’m not saying everyone should or needs to get married, and I’m not saying it’s the most important day of anyone’s life, but it does hold some weight. It is a big deal, not even for the bride and groom necessarily, (or groom and groom, or bride and bride, for that matter) it’s a big deal for everyone else. It’s a chance to let everyone else in the room raise a glass to the memories they have of one or both of those crazy kids. It’s a chance to forget about the rent, the retirement fund and all the stresses of life. It’s a time to remember how to be truly happy for and proud of another person. It’s to be social and feel and dance and drink and be merry.
So the next time you find yourself invited to a night of nuptials, get out there on the dance floor, toast, roast, sing, scream, sweat, sway, cry, cheer and live. Few things make you feel more alive than celebrating the happiness of a person you care about surrounded by other human beings sharing in that same empathic, euphoric joy. When you really take a step back and look, that what it’s all about. That’s as human as it gets. You don’t see too many other organisms getting together and taking time out to recognize the beauty of sharing life—c’mon.
Taking those vows shouldn’t be something that you feel obligated to do by a certain time in your life. It shouldn’t be just an excuse to check a “success” box. It shouldn’t be about drawing attention and making a spectacle just for the sake of exhibition. It shouldn’t be forced or rushed. All of that seems to lead to stress and selfishness in the supposedly sacred relationship. It shouldn’t be a destination or a culmination in someone’s life. It also shouldn’t be too serious. It should have funny mishaps and awkward hiccups. It should be genuine. It should be goose bumpy. It should be a tad surreal. It should just happen and be a part of the natural flow of living. It should be like the mountains and valleys a river passes through from spring to ocean front; just one of the beautiful sites carved out on a unique, winding path to the grave.
Marriage is not a must. Marriage is not an absolute. Marriage is not for everyone. But that’s all okay. Marriage doesn’t even mean that the darling duo will ever smile as much as they do that day. It’s about those people there to bear witness, and you, and everyone else, in that moment in time. And you know what, as much as they’ll laugh and find meaning, the happy couple of the hour will have years of tears and fighting and reconciliation and maybe even divorce ahead of them. Heck, they may never be as happy as they are on that day, and that’s okay. Life can be a Russian roulette surprise party at times. Forever is hard, damn it.
Too young, too old, too different, too similar, too broke, are too many excuses.
No one really knows if it will work out in the end. That wedding isn’t for the bride and groom. It’s for you and everyone else in their lives. It’s about making the trek. It’s about the little moments. It’s about the pictures. It’s about putting on your finest duds, getting all dolled up, bouquets being flung, seconds on cake, long speeches, flirting with strangers, and finding out where to have an after party.
This past weekend I saw two of my high school friends tie the knot and it was really great, and I loved it and I could and I did and I got it.