Sunday, October 24, 2010

Simply Marriage

The wedding season is over, in this parish there are no more until next year. Like most priests I am a bit ambiguous about weddings. I hate the excess, the whole "princess for a day" thing, the conspicuous expense and consumption, which in so many ways is a contradiction of the Gospel and which nowadays often causes even the devout to put off marriage until the can match the outlay of their friends.

My last wedding, I wasn't the celebrant, that was another priest, I was the registrar, was a delightful contrast to the hullabaloo of most weddings. There was no music, no flowers, apart from us two priests, there was the couple and two witnesses. The reception was in  a local pub, yes there were a few bottles of champagne, the wedding breakfast consisted of pizza from the pub menu.

For the couple, the highlight of the whole thing was kneeling before the priest to receive the nuptial blessing.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful in every way.

PIUSXXX said...

"I hate the excess, the whole "princess for a day" thing, the conspicuous expense and consumption"
Father, why are you so bitter and angry about everything?

araceli lorayes said...

No parents? No siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, close friends? I'm all for respecting the sacrament of marriage, but this seems a bit too austere for me.


Fr Ray Blake said...

"bitter and angry"?

Not all, I am delighted to be able marry a couple who are in love but I think social conventions take over and become a burdensome on those who want to marry.

I think the average cost of a wedding in the UK is £25,000, which places a great stress on a relationship.

araceli lorayes said...

No parents? No siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, close friends? I'm all for respecting the sacrament of marriage, but this seems a bit too austere for me.


Dilly said...

As a once-married woman fast approaching her half-century, I would venture to propose that the enduring marriages I have seen among family and friends have resulted from the Grace conferred by the Sacrament. This is the best wedding present anyone can have - and I have seen it work to resolve really difficult situations, where most marriages would have crumbled. I'm not saying it makes people happy - but it can make them strong. I suppose I must have learned as a child that the Sacraments confer Grace - but it wasn't really stressed during Marriage prep. We were the first couple that year in the church to have a full Nuptial Mass, the Priest told us.

You are right, Father, to stress that the blatant commercialisation of many aspects of the day is insidious (and vulgar). (Personalised napkin rings, favours, etc). However, it is a little sad when family are not involved. My mother made the cake, and, with a friend, did the flowers. With a sister, she did the bridesmaids' dresses as well. A friend lent a veil. I did go a bit barmy on the dress. Although the wedding breakfast was in a restaurant - the evening do was at home, fuelled by tax-free alcohol from the PX (niece's boyfriend was US military), and home made food. I still use most of my presents, and they remind me of those who gave them (many sadly have passed on).

My parents married in 1942, just before my father was due to be posted to North Africa. Mum organised the wedding in 3 weeks, and when her coupons were stolen, both mums rallied round and got enough together for a cake and a wedding dress. In the photos (on film "liberated" from old RAF stock by my uncle) both mothers are dressed in 1920s finery - they forewent their own outfits to dress my mother.

Fr Ray Blake said...

It wasn't so much austere just simple.

In the past couples who used off to Rome to marry to be married simply with a priest and witnesses.
Many of our Poles want to marry with half a dozen guests.

I posted this just to point out that weddings can be simple, especially as weddings are becoming ever rarer and more expensive and more complex.

P Standforth said...

There is a theory going about that links the cost of a marriage inversly to the length and success of it, probably a little apocryphal but there's a solid point there. In my experience the simpler ceremonies have been the more meaningful, though a good crowd of family would be a pre-requisite for me. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of being close to family (in a number of senses). I wish the lucky couple many blessings and a long and happy life together.

Paul, Bedfordshire said...

It can be done more sensibly. We kept ours 10 years ago down to £5k despite having a reception for 60 odd guests plus photographer and video & car & music into the evening.

Project managing it yourself and shopping around is the key, you don't have to go to a plush hotel - and as it turned out the catering at the place in south London we went to was better than any "hotel" wedding I've been to.

However the highlight of the day was unquestionably the Wedding service itself, which was immediately followed by extraordinary form Low Mass courtesy of Fr B - in those days you had to get the bishops permission for EF.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

An excellent post & reminder! With the first of our eight daughters to be married in April 2011 it is worth keeping the importance of the Sacrament as the main aim. Anything else should be simple. That does not mean miserable!

Michael Petek said...

A rural wedding where my father was born and raised (border of Slovenia and Croatia) can start on a Saturday and the festivities can be expected to continue until Tuesday.

My father and I went to one there in 1986 and there was so much wine it was poured from watering cans. Everyone - and they're all farmers there - brings their own produce, so the costs are kept down.

This expresses the fact that a wedding is significant for the community as a whole, not just for the bride and the groom.

Pedant said...

Many years ago my sister was in a BHS restaurant having a cup of tea and there was general kerfuffle in the doorway. In came a bride (in white gown) and the groom and about 20 guests and they had their reception there.

At my wedding in the late 1960s there was a remarkable occurrence. My wife's grandfather, a great big fellow, was violently anti-Catholic to the extent that he had physically thrown a boyfriend of his daughter out of the house when he learned he was Catholic. At the time the nuptial Mass was virtually the traditional Latin. He sat bolt upright right through the service with a solemn face but at the end he came over to me and said that he hadn't understood a word of it - but he had enjoyed it. The entire family was amazed.

Anonymous said...

When I was a teenager I remeber an elderly priest, Father Power, preaching on marriage. Hw told us that he own parents had celebrated their wedding breakfast on an upturned orange-box, and that they were the happiest couple he had ever seen.
Seems to me that nowadays couples want to start off married life with what others had to work long and hardat. Perhaps couples seem to have little to work towards together. Hence failures in marriage.

EuropeanCatholic said...

As a single man, I read your post with much interest.

Please pray for me that God would bring a godly woman into my life whom I could marry and have a family with.

Thank you

Anagnostis said...

I've been married three times (!!!) and had the good sense (or good fortune) to do it abroad on each occasion. First time was in the RC Cathedral of Athens (my parish church at the time), after Sunday sung Latin Mass, followed by a party on our rooftop (the bath filled with ice serving as a refrigerator). My parents and a sister flew out. It was beautiful and cost as much as the beer, wine and souvlakis.

Widowed, I married again twice in France, in my wife's home village near Bordeaux; twice, because you have to have a separate civil ceremony in France. This came before the Church wedding (for which M. le Maire always contrives to make you late) and was extremely dignified and impressive. The Mayor's "sermon" was absolutely brilliant - all about marriage as being ordered to the raising of children, a public act involving the community and the Republic, before the representative of which we were promising to consitute the basic building block of a free society, etc, etc. (a couple of years ago I attended a relative's civil marriage in England which seemed to consist entirely of vacuuous Blairite guff about "cherishing each other's dreams"). The Mayor (who looked like Sacha Distel in a tricolor sash)insists on kissing the bride before allowing the groom that privilege. On the way out, he discreetly propositioned one of the bridesmaids.

The Nuptial Mass, rite of '62, was celebrated by a friend, a well-known English parish priest of traditional persuasion, en-route from his parish pilgrimage to Lourdes, in the Gallo-Roman parish church, right on the bay of Arcachon, with the groom answering the responses from the prie dieu.

Afterwards one of my wife's elderly relatives was heard to complain to the local PP: "Well Father! I see the Council hasn't reached England yet!". The party then repaired to an excellent local sea-food restaurant until the early hours.

From memory (this is 15 years ago), not including my wife's dress, the whole lot cost under a grand.

Anagnostis said...

Oh - I meant to add: assuming both of my daughters marry a nice Orthodox boy, the wedding's bound to be in the groom's village in Cyprus, so I'll be spared the British nonsense again; if that fails, and they won't enter religion, they will definitely be prevailed upon to elope.

Volpius Leonius said...

I think it is important to emphasise that none of that princess for a day stuff is necessary, it is no coincidence that since secular, materialistic society got its hands on weddings and corrupted them by marketing them as nothing more than the party of a lifetime with prices to match that marriage as an institution has almost died out amongst the poor which results in the evils of habitual fornication and children been born without the security that a marriage brings to the family unit.

Our society needs to hear the Catholic teaching on marriage, so how long are we going to leave our fellow men living in the darkness of their ignorance just because we are afraid of been attacked by those who have been left in the dark so long that the light hurts their eyes?

Anonymous said...

We got married just over 22 yrs ago. I borrowed the dress from a friend, another friend drove me there. my dh suit was from Marks and he used it for interviews after that and our son has worn it since.
We had a meal upstairs in a pub afterwards.
As we couldn't really afford the wedding everyone who came simply bought bits of it; so one person paid the organist, another friend paid for flowers- simple ones and so on. No one had to shell out a great deal and I reckon the whole thing was less than £3k
We've dont the same for other friends. I did the flowers and wedding cake for a friend and we spent £60 for all of that. I've seen a single bridal bouquet for more than that.
The most important part of our wedding day was the vows. We didn't have Mass because I was about the only Catholic in the church - but the wedding was beautiful.

it's such a waste to spend £25k on a single day-and then of course say you can't afford to have children.

Anonymous said...

By the way, someone rightly mentioned that poorer people are not marrying and the cost may be part of the problem.
A friend of mine was working in a very poor parish. She was helping prepare the children for First Holy Communion and they had the usual problem that the families wanted the children to get the sacraments but didn't bother going to Mass.
Sister and the PP made it clear they only wished for simple white dresses and veil for the day.
One girl turned up in a dress embroidered with pearls and gold thread. It had cost over £1500 and the family rented a limo too.
Sister went to discuss this as she knew they would have borrowed the money to do this and the mum, in front of her 7yr old dd said bluntly she didn't think the girl would ever marry and this was her (the mum's) only chance to see her pretty!!
That is beyond tragic.

Cecilia said...

The desire to have everything just perfect goes beyond the wedding day: I am thinking of the "need" to renovate the bathrooms, have a new fitted kitchen and completely redecorate the house before starting the family.
There is, on the other hand, the very real problem of not being able to afford anywhere to live: the age of the first time buyer who doesn't have family help with the deposit (depending on which paper you read) is 37, 38 or even 39.The alternative is usually insecure privately rented accommodation which, after the intitial six months, the couple can be required by the landlord to vacate at only a month's notice - hardly the best situation in which to raise a family.

Consalvi said...

I hope the standard of food in the pub was up to the standard of the Hyde Park Hotel. It's so disagreeable that our clergy have to slum it in Brighton. Comparisons are odious, but I am reminded of an earlier post of yours in August this year describing a similarly low-key wedding at St. Mary Magdalen's as "sombre". No wonder the Catholic Church is in the spotlight when our clergy compare weddings to the detriment of the community. If we are to get the Catholic message across, shouldn't we be consistent across the whole range of issues relating to parish life?

Fr Ray Blake said...

Desmond, I don't think you read the August post properly, I described Diedre and James's wedding in the Extraordinary Form as "sobre", not "sombre", that was the nature of the rite, and that was their choice. I enjoyed both of these weddings, they were very beautiful, and are worth commenting on because they were different fom the usual weddings I celebrate.

Furthermore, when I am someone's guest the food is always excellent.

THIS is what I wrote in August:

They chose to have their wedding in the Extraordinary Form, I tend to be in favour of things EF but the wedding rite is so perfunctory, almost rude in its beginning, not even the Sign of the Cross but straight into, "Will you take ...", I was tempted to persuade them to opt for the Novus Ordo. I didn't but we did have a Missa Cantata with incense.
It was a very sober affair, just over a dozen guests, both their families are Irish, a few other parishioners, four people in the choir loft, me and the servers.
What struck me, as with other old rite acts, it was God that did it, He married them not me, in the case of Deirdre's and James' wedding it was the Eucharist the joined them together.

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