Marriage Versus Weddings

Well there's no guesses for what's been on my mind of late. Yep - Peter and I have decided that we want to be married before the year is out, and have booked the Celebrant of our choice. This leaves us with about 4 months to plan our wedding. This should be a piece of cake, we thought...we don't want anything big or fancy. Small. Intimate. Affordable. Joyous. Us.

Interestingly, our friend Daniel posted something on facebook about his two friends getting married. What followed was bewildering. Who knew that innocent statement would invoke so many varying opinions. Here are some quotes "Marriage is so yesterday. Why do people still do that crazy ownership ritual?", and from the same person "it's always a nice event to bring a tear to the eye of every girl waiting for Prince Charming". This from someone else - "presents, lots and lots of presents! That's what it's all about isn't it? Oh, and the honeymoon and the party afterwards too of course" and more from person two "I can see the benefits but it's the reason that it is beneficial that I think is fucked up. It's the church and the government having control of people, basically why you are disadvantaged if you don't get married...if you're not doing it for sentimental reasons...which is a bit cinderella...snow white...what have you, fed into us from a young age as an idealism".

Wow. I've also had comments from friends who said they didn't think I was the marrying kind, and a sister-in-law who thought I was anti-marriage. You know, I've never said anything on the subject at all. I've always been thrilled when friends got married. But I suppose I always thought it was a personal thing. I never hounded my previous partners about getting married, because it was never a deal breaker in a relationship. It's more an optional extra, and these days I'm driving the luxury model relationship. It's a thrilling thing if you have the right person and are doing it for the right reasons. Which from my perspective has nothing to do with presents or parties, and everything to do with two people and how they feel about each other. If it's meaningful and significant to the couple, then what harm does it do? Hell, as the legal wrangles I've written about previously will attest, people's rights to each others assets is not restricted to marriage.

Interestingly, The Age had a lift out a couple of weekends ago discussing 'The state of the union: love and marriage in modern Australia'. A must read, I thought, especially considering all the discussion from everyone. Angela Blakston summed up that today in Australia, people are getting married for an array of different reasons (including that old favourite religion, or perhaps to start a family after living together for a few years etc). Divorce rates are dropping, marriage rates are slowly increasing after years of dropping, as people are getting married older than in years gone by. And they are more likely to have lived together first. She suggests that marriage is evolving, but weddings haven't. The idea of the white dress and all the suits, groomsmen and bridesmaids have been reproduced generation after generation. Food for thought...perhaps.

A colleague at work was incensed recently when we were discussing plans for my hitching. She ranted about the idea that it has to be the greatest day of a woman's life. Therefore if you don't get married, you have never reached the pinnacle of happiness (and yes, she is single, before you ask). I want it to be a great day, but not THE greatest day of my life. Hopefully there will be many more. There's no Bridezilla here. I would argue with Angela Blakston on the point about weddings evolving. In principle they may be done the same way, however they have indeed changed. They've become consumerised. It's a lifestyle moment you buy. To back this up - read Catherine Deveny's article on the Melbourne Bridal Expo. Awfulness personified.

This leads me to where our plans are now. Peter and I brainstormed lovely places to get married, the type of catering, what music we'd like etc. But we are struck again and again by difficulty in finding a location. The problem: we can't find a 'room' for hire without strings attached. And for the most part this means inhouse catering charging anything from $50 - $120 a head for food that's not really what we'd like. It's become an industry, so much so that folk like us, who don't have tens of thousands to spend are left reeling and trawling for alternatives.

It's been eye opening and frustrating. But it has also made us aware of what is a priority. We want somewhere relaxed and comfortable, with good access via public transport and space for parking, wheel chair access for my special needs niece, and the possibility of flexibility with catering. Afternoon tea with a glass of champagne shouldn't be that difficult, but the search continues. It saddens me that marriage for many has become all about the wedding. Get yourself that stretch hummer, this dress, that ring, and serve the right canapes and you're day will be perfect. But the wedding should be demonstrative of the marriage. A reminder about what is really important, and at the end of the day it's about two people and their relationship. And sharing that with their friends and family. After all, once the party is over, real life begins, and that can be the hard part. You can't buy happiness, and it doesn't just happen. Daniel wrote on facebook that in his experience (from a twice divorced perspective) that "it takes two to make it work and one to destroy it". This is true of all relationships, married or otherwise. You both need your eye on the prize, and the prize isn't the wedding's the marriage.

So with all that in mind, the search continues. It has become more about finding somewhere that feels like us, that will allow us to do things a little different, and more reflective of the bride and groom. Somewhere that we can share the day with people we love, in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. We will find somewhere eventually, but all I know is that I will have the right person standing by my side on the day and that's all that matters. Our eyes are on the right prize.


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