My brother’s wedding is officially over and done with. He’s happily married, everything went smoothly and the wedding was lovely… What else? I’ve had several thoughts running through my head over the span of the wedding weekend. Here are a few thoughts: I have a big family and yet, only two of my siblings are married (I’m including my newly married brother when I say two). It seems my siblings, and myself included, haven’t made getting married our sole life purpose and reason for living. Or, maybe we’re all unlucky in love.
There are many ways you could look at it. So, about a half million times this weekend the conversation switched over to the question: “Who is next?” The question isn’t entirely offensive, nor is it surprising. I assume everyone felt the need to ask it because there is no way to know who is next, which might just be the scariest thing ever. My oldest brother was married 15 years ago. Will it be another 15 years before someone else gets married? No one had a Magic 8-Ball on hand to consult for the answer and to be honest, I haven’t exactly been staying up at night trying to answer the question, either.
So, the question, “Who is next?” prevailed throughout all the wedding festivities. You would think the same conversation would get old at some point. I was asked the question on Friday throughout the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The topic was debated extensively on Saturday throughout the actual wedding. Even today I met with family for lunch, only to hear further speculation as to who is “next” in line for marriage. I admit, I only have so much patience when asked the same question over and over again. It gets a little tiring at some point. I start considering new and creative ways in which I can respond. Well, I think I’m next. After all, getting married and popping out babies has always been my life ambition. I don’t even know why I’m bothering with college. Do I need a degree to change diapers?
I think what is most frustrating about the question, “Who is next?” is the underlying assumption that marriage is what defines individuals. The notion that you are incomplete until you are married and if you haven’t made the trip to the alter yet, it is only a matter of time before you are “next.” I would rather have spent the weekend talking about why I might go into the Peace Corps, or how I had a wonderful time in Florida with my sister, Sara, but am not a fan of the lizards that are everywhere, or discussing the newest Lost or Harry Potter conspiracy. Of course, why discuss such topics when the single most important issue has to be when I will be getting married. I also found myself thinking this weekend about the absurd nature of weddings.
Often weddings are suppose to exemplify perfection and yet, there are so many uncontrollable forces. At the rehearsal the priest was incredibly strict as he gave out exact instructions. How one should walk, which way to face, the importance of standing up when the bride enters the church, and so on. It became apparent that timing and presentation are everything. When the actual wedding ceremony arrived I remembered only bits and pieces of the previous night’s instructions. As I began to walk down the aisle I knew the show was on.
I attempted to strive for excellence by walking as perfectly as possible, at just the right speed and angle. Mid-way down the aisle I felt my new red shoes painfully digging into my feet. So, instead of walking as a vision of elegance I ended up walking a little like a penguin. Later, when I went to the back of the church in order to pick up the gifts for the Eucharist, I had a small collision with one of my sisters. Luckily, the collision was minor but it felt much greater as all eyes were on us. I’m certain the priest noticed and wondered why that blonde girl hadn’t paid more attention at the rehearsal.
As I carried the glass of wine for the Eucharist to the front of the church I couldn’t help but envision disaster. I could see myself dropping it on the priest, causing permanent stains to form over his ivory robes as the sound of breaking glass echoed through the church. I walked slower than usual to avoid this scenario, focusing my eyes on the wine, telling myself, “Keep calm, keep calm.” I almost let out a visible sigh of relief when the glass was finally placed into the hands of someone far more capable.
In the middle of the ceremony my brother, Alex, was dying from a cold. It sounded like he might be hacking up a lung. What would happen if a groomsmen hacked up a lung in the middle of the ceremony? Would this stop the wedding? Alex turned to me and whispered in panic, “I need a napkin.” Of course, I had no such thing. I whispered to the person sitting next to me, “Alex needs a napkin.” Of course, no one had a napkin and Alex went on dying. Everyone assumed he needed the napkin because he must have been crying (how touching) but if they saw the spittle that eventually covered his tuxedo and seat, they would have understood why a napkin was so urgently requested.
I understand weddings must follow tradition and if one plans on getting married in a church, then ceremony and tradition are to be expected. But at the same time, why does tradition have to be so formal and uncomfortable? I can imagine myself getting married in a field or on the beach, the wind blowing through my hair. I might have a priest conduct the ceremony but it wouldn’t be a ceremony with strict rules and order in place. I wouldn’t want it to be a total hippie wedding but maybe a little hippie like. Maybe something like the wedding I encountered on a beach in Fort Myers, Florida. Something small, informal, and in a natural setting. No frills, just a wedding on the beach.