White bridal dress. Tears. Runner. Bridal Party. String quartet. Cake. Family. Unity candle. These are some of the things that come to mind when I think about a wedding. I have seen more than my fair share of them in my day. There are the million dollar affairs where the wedding coordination team operates everything like a military unit down to the two people that show up in a chapel in jeans. Different strokes for different folks. However, one question always pops in my mind. Is it a wedding that is desired or a marriage?

The typical wedding puts the bride in the spotlight. Yes, families come together to celebrate their union through love and presents are bestowed upon the happy couple. Although the groom may begin the whole production by proposing, it is the bride that is given the most attention on that day. She is kept hidden and fussed over which sometimes causes emotions to run out of control. Many a bride is allowed to make unreasonable demands which then turns everyone into a ranting raving lunatic until some brave soul is able to control the situation. No one wants an unhappy bride thus people prance around to please her: hair stylist, make-up artist, nail tech etc. Oh the stares of the lovely lady in virginal white. The dress costs a fortune, and she has been on a diet for years. Let us not leave out the sign of the times: the moment she changes her relationship status from engaged to married.

The tossing of the bridal bouquet is taken quite seriously in many circles. Sometimes, women are not as nice to each other while leaping through the air to catch the floral symbol of you are next to wed. What is the rush? Could it be the old standby of the biological clock is ticking? Is it the assumption that we are suppossed to be married by some magical number? Where did all of this originate?

As the divorce rate looms out of control, one wonders if people are truly paying attention to the officiant during the ceremony. It is normally said aloud that marriage isn’t a union which should be entered into lightly. Careful thought should be put into the joining of hands. Now, is it the joining of hands that gets the careful thought or the execution of the large production to please people that will not be present during the first fight? Oh, I am just getting started with this one.

If a woman chooses to keep her last name, she is often chastised for being too modern. The whispers of disapproval begin at the cocktail hour. “You take the last name of your husband to honor him…”. As my eyes roll in utter disgust, I think that that a man should be honored to have you as his wife and shouldn’t care if you choose to keep your last name. My mind reflects on what a colorful sociology professor said during my undergrad years…”I have been married three times and each time, I kept my last name. He married me. He did not adopt me.” A woman may choose to keep her last name as a tie to her origin, her ancestral line, her own identity. She may even answer to Mrs. so and so but keep her maiden name on documents. Maiden name…as if she is Rapunzel or something….

Perhaps there is something to be said about a woman choosing to marry another woman. There are so many debates over this, and its an issue that remains on the legal table. However, when it boils down to the very last grain of rice, why is there an issue with two human beings loving each other and choosing to declare their love publicly? Isn’t that the so called dream? To walk down that aisle in that expensive dress that you get to wear once? Isn’t this the slice of the pie that we are trained to want with all our heart and soul?

People actually begin to wonder about a woman if she is not married by a certain age. She must be a cat person. Workaholic. The inevitable opinions start to swarm freely. You should get out more. I want some wedding cake. Oh, you are too picky. Do you still like men? Don’t you want to give your parents grandchildren before they die? Ah, yes that is the answer: rush into a parenting situation in order to please people before their mortality runs out. Why is the guilt trip necessary?

There are women that choose to marry themselves until further notice. This may be a compromise of sorts. People get to attend a wedding atmosphere and eat cake. Mom can see you walk down the aisle in that white dress and everyone is happy. You do not wake up the next morning realizing that this person is yours for the remainder of your lifetime on earth. Here comes my point.

A wedding is a party that has been blown out of proportion by a billion dolloar industry. When two people fall in love and decide to be together, that is a connection that is celebrated by the two of them. Nothing else is truly necessary. Of course, most want to include their families and close friends but at the end of the day, its about the relationship between the couple. That vision sometimes gets lost among the open bars and photo booths.

If you want a party, have it. You can even have a theme or a coordinator. Invite all your friends and be the life of it all. However, if you want to get married, put the relationship before the pomp and circumstance. It is important. If you invite me, I will attend and have a glass of champagne. Maybe, a dance or two and definetely a slice of the cake.