I’m nearing the end of this year’s wedding season, and possibly the end of “wedding season” as my early adult self knew it. I seem to have reached the age where the frequency at which my friends get married has slowed to a trickle. And as much as I’ve bitched about the endless parade of weddings, I’m sad to see my Saturday nights open up again. I have learned to find a quiet joy in being a wedding guest.
When I reflect on the past 10-plus years of nonstop weddings, I can remember so vividly the beautiful ones, the ones that had the best food, the ones where the energy on the dance floor surged, the ones where I truly felt love radiating from the couple and their nearest and dearest.
The sap in me loves a good wedding, but the feminist in me is on the fence about this whole government-sanctioned arrangement. Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe in the partnership and the commitment; I sure as hell believe in the party. But marriage is a legal exchange of property, and that’s something I just can’t separate from the love fest.
Recently I was looking through the paperwork from when I bought my house. I skimmed through the deed of sale looking for the information I needed, and my eyeballs came to a grinding halt at a specific section of the document: “To Have and To Hold.” Sound familiar? I had almost forgotten that the most common start to a couple’s vows is also a legal term for the transference of property. It’s really just the kick in the nuts to the whole affair, and I’m not sure how to reconcile that.
Even though we no longer think of marriage as a business transaction, there continue to be economic advantages — tax breaks, health insurance, splitting the Netflix bill. We haven’t quite divested ourselves from a bygone era where women were bought and sold, when money, livestock and dowries exchanged hands between their fathers and husbands-to-be.
Maybe that’s why I like weddings so much. A marriage might still have its roots in finance, but a wedding is just a celebration. No one has a wedding for the tax break. The wedding is a moment to pause, surround yourself with people who love you enough to put on a fancy dress and buy you a gift, and publicly declare your commitment to another person. It’s a time for remembering the people you love who are no longer there to celebrate with you. It’s a time to eat cake and drink too much, to dance around with the friends you don’t get to see as often as you would like. And it’s a time to look across the table at that wonderful, crazy person who loves you enough to make the same commitment. Most of all, it’s a time to celebrate the unbelievable fact that, of all the billions of people around the world, you found one who fit.
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