Sunday, January 07, 2007

To have and to hold...

In the year 2000, our family grew by four members when my younger daughter married a fine man who came equipped with three children. It grew again yesterday when his 19-year-old daughter married a fine young man of her own.

The bride was beautiful. Her braces came off earlier in the week and her smile was radiant. The groom, an Ethan Hawke lookalike, looked great in his white tuxedo. The bride’s younger sister was one of the bridesmaids, and she looked prettier and more grown-up than I’ve ever seen her. The bride's brother, home on military leave for the occasion, was as handsome in a tux as he is in his uniform. The parents of the bride and groom were also dressed formally. They were suitably elegant to attend a gala event at the White House instead of a wedding in a small southern town.

The wedding was held in a large church, one large enough to have a really good audio-visual system. A hidden camera focused on the the bride and groom during the proceedings, projecting their faces onto large screens and letting us see close-up the subtle nuances of their expressions as they exchanged vows. Their love and their joy were evident.

The bride and groom both make church a huge part of their lives, way more than I ever have. As part of their commitment to their religion and to each other, they opted for a covenant marriage, which requires counseling before marriage and makes divorce more difficult to obtain. The church’s online wedding policies state: “No changes to the vows will be allowed.”

I must admit that one tiny part of the vows rankled my inner feminist. The words for the bride and groom were mostly the same, except that where he promised “to be faithful to her,” she promised “to serve him.” “Serving him” wasn’t in the wedding vows I took in 1961 (or again in 1968), but it was the societal mindset then, so it might as well have been. Unfortunately, it was also a concept that slowly eroded my self-esteem. I’m hoping that a 21st century bride can serve her husband without losing sight of her own worth.

Weddings always make me cry, no matter how much I tell myself ahead of time it won’t happen again. This time it was the faces of the bride’s parents-–two sets of them--that brought on happy tears. Their eyes showed so much love for their daughter on this day she’d always dreamed much hope for her future.

Their faces reflected feelings I remember well, feelings of my own during a special wedding ceremony in the year 2000.


  1. I cry more at wedding than at funerals!
    My first marriage in 1985, I didn't promise to serve him, but it was what he expected, he was just plain mean spirited.
    My second marriage in 2001, took place in church, I did promise to love,serve, and honor, I could do that with this man, because I KNEW he would not take advantage of me or those vows. He loves me for my independence, and never feels intimidated by my strong presence. He truly was a gift from God above, and he is a very secure man. So Velvet those vows aren't a bad thing, it just depends on whom you take them with.
    P.S. Happy New Year!

  2. I have been married 36 years today,
    Velvet. The walk down the aisle has been a long one..lots of bumps.

  3. I waited till I was 48 to get married for the first time and wouldn't have done it if those vows had been required of me! Our wedding was in a friend's home with six of our closest friends and the service was conducted by one of them. It was intimate and wonderful and truly friends witnessing our pledging our commitment to each other. But each of us much decide what it is right for us and it sounds like this was a perfect wedding for your special family members. Long health and happiness to them! Carmon

  4. Sounds like a beautiful wedding, Velvet. And congrats on your new 'relations'. My inner feminist would have a problem with 'to serve him' - I did the whole traditional 'love, honor and obey' the first time around - but when T and I married, we said 'love, honor and cherish'- I'd have NEVER said I'd obey. And 'serve' - not in this life time. We've come a long way, baby. But that's me. We are all different and it sounds like they have found exactly what fits for them - how lucky they are.

  5. hope he is faitful that makes it easyer to serve.

  6. I asked a group of young men recently if they expected their future wives to work and contribute to the finances of the home. Almost every one said "absolutely". Given that mindset, I would expect young women to expect and to get the serving (and some cooking, cleaning, diaper changing, etc)in return.

  7. Schremsgems, thanks for the reassurance that the "serving" doesn't have to be one-sided.

    Anonymous, happy anniversary! Thirty-six years is a long time; I can't imagine a relationship that lasts that long without a few bumps along the way.

    Carmon, I'm with you on the intimate wedding thing. My first one took place in my parents' living room with just a few close friends and family. My second husband and I were married by a judge (who also happened to be my boss) with nobody else present but the two witnesses. I think smaller ceremonies focus more on the marriage than on the wedding festivities.

    Jackie, you're right. This seems to be exactly the way they want to structure their relationship. Not what I'd do, but more power to 'em.

    Patsy, I think Frances Swaggart and Tammy Faye Bakker would agree with you.

    Annie, that's it in a nutshell. I applaud couples who work out a division of labor that's agreeable to both partners, and I know a few of them. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people (mostly men) still follow the Golden Rule: "He who has the gold makes the rules." When women's jobs pay as much as men's do, possibly there'll be more equality in the household chores.

  8. Congratulations to the newlyweds! I was thinking how young the bride is - but I was 21 when I got married, not too much older.

    In my church's ceremony there are no vows - they assume you want to be there, LOL. There is a line about the wife having to obey her husband - but there is also a line about the husband loving his wife more than his own life - so I think it kind of evens out.

  9. Sunflower, I married at 18 and it was disastrous, but I didn't put nearly as much thought into it as these two did. They've had a lot of pre-marital counseling as part of the convenant marriage thing, so I'm sure they have a better idea of what they're getting into than I did. Your comment that at your church "they assume you want to be there" made me laugh.

  10. Wouldn't it make sense that the pre-marital counseling should be required for everyone getting married, not just the covenant couples?

    I started dating hubby-to-be about two weeks after I started college. We got married ten days after I graduated. So we had PLENTY of time to sort things out in the interim, LOL.


Your comments might be the very best thing about blogging. I love it when you care enough to share your thoughts here, so go ahead and say what's on your mind.