Okay, for the record, I love weddings. In fact, I know I wept during the half a dozen I went to last summer. Like watching a baby get baptized or witnessing a child receive communion for the first time, my heart melts at the sign of a sacrament. And perhaps it's because the sacrament of marriage is the first sacrament that I have felt wholeheartedly called to, whereas in baptism, reconciliation, communion, and confirmation I was simply guided through the process (this is of course not to say that confession and the Eucharist are not two of the things that most greatly capture my heart today).
But there is something about seeing the heart of a man, ready to die to himself to live for his wife that makes me ugly cry in front of both I-Don't-Care-Who and their date. Despite the purity and beauty in the sacrament of marriage, it seems that over the years, weddings have warped into something much more superficial. The size of a diamond is how we measure the strength of love; we say "show me the ring," not "show me your heart." There have become these societal standards for what a wedding needs to be: how extravagant, creative, unique, impressive. Engagements have grown longer to provide more time for planning and more time for saving ("weddings are expensive", right?).
There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to have an extravagant wedding; I mean, if that's your thing, then more power to ya (I hope I'm invited). But I think it's time that we all stop feeling the pressure to conform to this new standard of a "wedding."
$51,000,000,000 (that's 51 billion dollars... 9 zeros): the money Americans poured into the wedding industry last year.
Though most couples spend less than $10,000, the average cost of a wedding in the United States is $25,200. THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE THE HONEYMOON. Please tell me that doesn't make your jaw drop. If there are actually couples in their mid-twenties that have this kind of disposable money then I am doing something terribly wrong with my life.
I think we all know that financial burden, especially early in a relationship, is the top predictor of divorce. And unsurprisingly, according to a September study in the Department of Economics at Emory University in Atlanta, the more you spend on an engagement ring and wedding ceremony/reception, the shorter the marriage. That makes me sad, because I think we can all uniformly agree that open bars are neat.
But let's not ignore the timing between the rising divorce rate and the increasing cost of the average wedding. There are plenty of more-than-happily married couples that spent $25,000 on their wedding. But knowing that the old man who I saw sneak a kiss with his elderly wife outside their car in the church parking lot last Sunday spent virtually nothing on his is what inspires me.
I love big, beautiful weddings-- especially when they really capture the beauty in the sacrament of marriage. But nothing makes me more sad than to see a couple pouring months (or years) of time and money into trivial details of their wedding day. As soon as this day ends, now begins the rest of their life. We have to stop viewing a wedding as a finish line for a dating relationship and begin seeing it as the first day of the rest of our lives with our new spouse.
Or maybe I'm just cheap.