May 19, 2008

Wedding Etiquette

Everyone has been asking me since I got back (ok, just a couple of people but it sounds like I know a lot of people if I say "everyone"): "Gosh, Janice, Cathy, Recovering Dissident, whatever, where have you been?"

The confusion of what to call me fits in perfectly with this post. Confusion. Confusion about our relationships with other people.

This past weekend I traveled out of state to a family wedding. I'm blessed in that I know my extended family very well. That is also my curse-some of you know exactly what I mean.

The wedding took place in a Lutheran church that neither the bride nor the groom (nor either of their families) are members of, much less regularly attend. For some reason, I took malicious pleasure in the fact that the Lutherans are stupid enough to marry two people who have been cohabitating for seven years and already have two children together but what the heck do I know about love? My pleasure evaporated when I recall that I've known Catholics in similar situation who were married in Catholic churches.

If we, as a society do not change our sinful ways, the wedding invitation convinced me that Masters of Etiquette will have gainful employment for several centuries to come (assuming the Lord can tolerate the confusion for much longer). I think modern wedding invitations have as much text these days as the Book of Jude. They need a lot of text to try and clarify all the various relationships. I've also noticed invitations are getting larger. I don't get too many of the small, postcard size, wedding invitations anymore. Now, they are, frequently, the size of a Hallmark card (without any semblance of sentiment). I'd be really happy to get enough information from a wedding invitation to do the family tree-if I was actually doing it.

When you are dealing with a bride and groom who have parents, or grandparents who have been married or partnered up multiple times, who's name goes where? Let's see: where's my etiquette guide? Now, if the bride's mother is listed first without Mrs. or Miss in front of it does that mean she and the guy, woman, dog after her name are cohabitating but not married or is it that they are divorced? If the groom's grandparent's names are on there is that a reference to the fact that his Mom dumped him with her parents all the time between her 2nd and 3rd marriages? Oh, I see the bride's last name does not match her parents last name? What does that mean? The bride was married before or the bride's mother's dad's father was? If there is a period after the groom's Dad's name what does that mean if it's not a typo?

I can't wait for the day when I see a wedding invitation that says: Father of the Bride: Unknown Sperm Donor at Blue Door Fertility Clinic.

I know some people just think all this "liberation" is fantastic but it gives me a headache just thinking about it. If a middle aged person like me is baffled, just think what this all this confusion does to kids. How do you explain all this social dysfunction to a child? Most don't even try. They just shrug and say "Oh well, that's what everyone does" At least, that's what they do in my family.

I know there are some of you that don't think anyone should go to weddings like this. We should not affirm this type of sinful behavior. I'm happy they finally legalized it. If any of my family (besides an extreme few) were even Catholic, I don't think I'd go. I'd hope they would not even be married in a Catholic church if they are already cohabitating but I think we've all known some people who have been.

I said earlier "legalize" it. Yes, this wedding was in a church but it was obvious to me, painfully so, that none of them have a clue what they are doing in a church or what goes on in one. They were rude to the Pastor. They bristled when they were told they could not take photos in the Sanctuary or bring food and drink inside. The whole cermoney was just "something that should be done". They complained about the Scripture readings (because they were told they had to have some). They have no notion of why. What the heck do I know about love? What the heck did the bride and groom know about God? The wedding had nothing to do with God. It had everything to do with me, me, me. I need to have a big social event. I need to have lots of attendants to prove how popular I am. I need to wear beautiful clothes.

Great reception and big party after. That made a lot more people happy. In fact, a large number only showed up for the reception. Not that I blame them when the couple hardly gave the impression that being married in a church mattered to them. Their friends and family know they only did it in a church because they could. They know the couple has no deep faith so why should any of their guests pretend they do either?

The whole thing made me so sad and depressed. Pray for them will you? Pray for me too, thanks.

Pray for the newlyweds because a large number of the family were not invited to the wedding at all. This is not due to any social "cutting", it's due to the fact that the bride and groom were too unorganized to get addresses for most of the relatives. I know some family members would not have gone anyway, but I know they are going to be upset that they were deprived of their "God-given, Constitutional right" to decline an invitation. I don't know about your family, but there walk among us some who are unable to function if they can't check "not attending" on an invitation. Even if they could not have gone anyway due to some perfectly valid reason, they are not going to forget that they never even got the opportunity to decline. Oh, no. There are some who walk among us carrying their crosses on one shoulder and on the other they carry the boulder with the weight of all the grudges that they will not discard. These disgusted and angry people will be reminding the family of the "dis" at every family event between now and the day they die.


Blogger X said...

This sounds vaguely like a wedding I attended once. Couple lived together and then married in a Catholic church with Mass, soloist singing Ave Maria, etc. etc. etc. BIG, expensive party afterwards. Later it turned out that one half of the couple had been married civilly and I don't think ever bothered to get an annulment because "it wasn't in a Catholic church so the Church never recognized it anyway." WRONG! Also the couple had aborted their first child. No idea if they were ever properly reconciled with the Church over that one. It makes me terribly sad. The kids they have now are baptized but they never go to church.

May 19, 2008 9:43 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Angela: You can't comment here again becuase you are not allowed to come up with stuff that's even worse!

LOL! Kidding. I'm so happy to 'see' you, I can hardly stand it.

May 19, 2008 9:46 PM  
Blogger swissmiss said...

Sounds like you had a great weekend!!
A guy my husband works with is living with his girlfriend and they are planning to be married in the Catholic Church. Hubby told them not to be surprised if the priest tells them they have to separate before the wedding...but then the priest may not even ask about their living arrangements and marry them anyway :(
My sister-in-law became Catholic just to have a big church wedding. Only times she has been in a church since is to have her two kids baptized (long after they should've been). My brother-in-law thought that because his family was (non-practicing) Catholic that he had a "right" to be married in the Cathedral. Hubby's family is Lutheran, so you never know what to expect :)
Our society has become so independent and self-centered that if my grandparents were alive they wouldn't believe the things that go on.

May 20, 2008 7:44 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Welcome back, Cathy.

I don't know where to issue 4 LJ's, or 4T's

I'll send you the new code.

One of these days I'll have to set up Photobucket shots.

May 20, 2008 7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My dad was a Lutheran pastor and I remember that he would disagree about the lifestyle and/or the compatability of a couple but if they were members, or kids of members, he was supposed to give them his thoughts on the matter, council them, and marry them anyway. One couple had been living together for several years, owned property together etc. and after they got married on Friday night got into something over the weekend and came in Monday morning asking if he had sent in the information to the state saying that the marriage had occured because they wanted to rip it up and "forget" that the marriage had happened. He said that it was out of his hands (don't know if it was actually sent in or not) and that they could take a trip down town to the lawyer's office. I do remember he was p.o.'d that they tried to pull that kind of crap.

Another couple, similar situation, they didn't get married previously because that meant that they "could have" kids (like it doesn't happen otherwise?) and the guy had only just agreed to it if he could get a big boat when the gal got the kid.
PS As a kid I recall hearing the phrase 'living in sin'. There was no tone of judgement involved, just calling it what it is.

May 20, 2008 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds mom and brother thought it was ridiculous that someone they knew couldn't get married in a parish near the beach because (gasp!) she wasn't actually a member of the parish! Her family just wanted to have the reception at a beach club there and assumed they'd be able to impose on this church.

My sister-in-law complained about having to do a few pre-wedding counseling classes (what, they couldn't just waltz in there and get married in the church when one is not practicing now that she's moved out of her parents' house, and her now-husband isn't Catholic? Why not?), and even more that the priest told them not to continue having sex and that if they continued to do so, she should not receive communion (what? tell them what the Church expects? care for her immortal soul? how dare he!)

May 20, 2008 7:13 PM  
Blogger X said...

Cathy, I couldn't stay away forever! Hubby is out of town later this week so I am sure I'll be posting like mad to fill the hours!

May 21, 2008 12:15 AM  

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