Marriage is a really big deal these days. A lasting marriage is beautiful but people forget that it’s even more of a bigger deal. A wedding ceremony is simply one which two people officially become husband and wife. It’s simply a ceremony that gives social and legal acceptance to any unofficial relationship. A wedding lasts for a few hours but a marriage lasts for a lifetime.
Now while I can’t speak for other places and cultures, where I come from(I’m sure my fellow countrymen and women will know in due course), the life of an individual is generally divided into four major phases:
(1)Get an education
(2)Get a job
(3)Get married and have kids
(4) Make money(in truth, no one really cares how)
And of all these phases, none of them gains more attention than marriage. The first and most important hurdle is usually to find a suitable life partner and then try to make your folks accept him/her. That in itself is usually easier said than done. Then the usual square-off between the in-laws come next. If all these are safely navigated then the big one comes next, the wedding ceremony.
Before I go on, remember that I’m speaking based on where I am from. Here are the ceremonies:
(1) Introduction: As the name implies, its a ceremony where the in laws meet for the first time. Its usually in two stages: an unofficial meeting comprising of the in laws alone and an official one involving members of the extended family. During these ceremonies lots of “Kola” and “refreshments” must be provided as these go a long way to gain the approval of the bride’s immediate and extended families.
(2) The Traditional Wedding Ceremony: Oh yeah! This is the big one before the big one. This the part 1 of the wedding proper. This is where the groom’s family pays the “brideprice” for the bride as well as other requirements(some families publish long lists whose contents are outrageous) before they are allowed to take the bride from her family(emphasis of this traditional wedding will be a good story for another post) to the groom’s family
(3) “White”(or Church) wedding and reception: This is the big one. I need not dwell on this or the next one(court wedding).
NB: Let me add that the groom is expected to perform the traditional wedding y church wedding, the court wedding is a personal choice. But the traditional and church wedding are compulsory.
The emphasis on these wedding ceremonies is becoming a real obsession by the society today. Members of the female folk are usually very guilty of this. Dare I say now that there’s a subconscious notion in people’s mind that you are not properly wed unless your wedding is/was big and fancy. The mass media reinforces this notion into mainstream culture on a regular basis by glorifying/glamorizing big fancy weddings. Each ceremony is becoming more elaborate, fancy and sophisticated than the last. Those who choose to have small low cost weddings are ridiculed with names such as crayfish or paper bag wedding.
Recently, a whole new industry in its own right has risen and thrives exclusively on wedding ceremonies. Halls have been specially built and rented out at exorbitant rates for this purpose. Individuals(and even entire companies) have invented a new profession, wedding planning. Make up and make over experts are proliferating at an amazing rate. Fashion designers who make tuxedos and wedding gowns charge top dollar for them. I need say more about catering companies and photographers. All these have cone about because of the emphasis on the perfect wedding.
Now am not saying a perfect wedding is wrong, of course not. A marriage should be a beautiful thing, a consolidation of love and commitment, but the over-emphasis on the wedding ceremony rather than the lifelong institution spells serious trouble in the long run. There are lots of couples, who due to societal pressure, have done weddings way beyond their budgets could carry because they want to avoid ridicule or to please, impress or even surpass others. As a result, these couples run into debt and begin marital life on a sour note because the “high” induced wedding doesn’t last long, unfortunately creditors usually throng their doorsteps which leads to police arrests and court cases. Even if it doesn’t lead to the aforementioned, its very certain that marital conflict will erupt as a result. The conflict may even degenerate into unrest, constant visit by creditors as well as the financial challenges which may also result to severe stress followed by a breakdown of the health of either or both couples. Not a very good way to start marriage life of which the wedding ceremony might have been the talk of the town.
This might seem preposterous but its real, it happens. People run themselves aground in order to have the “perfect wedding”. Thus begs the question, how many of these perfect weddings actually last? Its been statistically proven that a big wedding is more likely to fail than a small one(don’t ask me how I know this).
I believe that society should shift emphasis from a big fancy wedding to a long lasting marriage by promoting views that glamorize a long, healthy and stable marriage. Life ain‘t perfect, its what we have all come to understand, but we can try our best to make it better and that can only happen when we prioritize the vital things first, we can only work and hope for better things.