Monday, May 02, 2005

Going to the Chapel

I must say, the story about the real life runaway bride left me sad. We'll probably never know all the reasons why she ran, but I think it's safe to say that her (then) upcoming wedding was overwhelming. Seriously, 600 guests? Why on earth do you need 600 guests at a wedding?

I think this illustrates a sad trend in America today - as the divorce rate hovers at 50%, weddings are getting more lavish and expensive. I think I read in the NYTimes a few months back that the average American wedding today costs about $25,000. $25,000! Please, put a down payment on a house or start saving for your future children's college fund or donate to a charity. $25,000 is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on one day. The real effort needs to be put into the marriage itself. A wedding is the ceremony that marks the beginning of the sacrament. But it is not the sacrament itself.

I remember a couple of months ago Fr. Bill was lamenting about Bridezillas - those women who insist this is their day, things are going to be done their way, the earth revolves around them and who very often leave the hubby-to-be out of the picture. He, as you may know, witnesses dozens of weddings a year (not performs them, as of course Catholic teaching is that the bride and groom confer the sacrament of marriage on each other). He says the most beautiful brides are the ones who keep weddings simple, the ones who don't have hair and make up that make them look like entertainers, the ones who let little misshaps slide because they're focused solely on their new spouse.

Of course weddings are important. It is necessary that the sacrament which reflects divine love for us so well and which is caught up in the loving relationship of the Three Persons of the Trinity be feted in public. After all the family, which is led by the husband and wife, is a little Church and it needs all the support it can get. But we need to question if our focus on weddings (and usually this is not even the marriage ceremony, but the reception) is hurting marriage itself.

This leads to a quick discussion of bridal gowns. Most of them today are disgusting. I wanted to get people's thoughts on it. My mother always taught me that a woman should always be modest, but never more so than on her wedding day. This for her (and I agree with most of it) means that a bride should never wear a strapless gown (actually, no woman in a church should wear a strapless outfit). My mother is also uneasy about sleaveless wedding gowns, believing that they should generally be frowned upon and that if a woman does decide to wear one, she should wear elbow-length gloves to keep most of her arms covered. For my mom I believe there are exceptions to the latter rule, but never to the former. So, what do people think about strapless and sleaveless wedding gowns?