Our son was married a couple of weeks ago.
For this postworksavvy mom, the wedding was special. Aside from the fact that things proceeded perfectly (in my eyes), it was special time for us.
It marked a major change for our small nuclear family — we now have a daughter-in-law.
Marriage signified another big step toward the responsibilities of adulthood for our son and our new daughter-in-law. They are no longer individuals. They have now formed their own couple unit with its own boundaries.
Formal and Public Ritual
Robert Fulghum in his bestseller From Beginning To End writes about the many rituals in our lives. He refers to a wedding as a rite of passage when there is a formal and public acknowledgement of the transition from single to married life.
But marriage remains a holy grail — a dream that symbolizes love, commitment and exclusivity for couples.
In our culture, marriage represents the concretization of a relationship. It is a public declaration that formalizes a couple’s commitment to form a life long partnership.
Weddings as Ceremonies
Whether the wedding is an elaborate costly event or a scaled down ceremony at City Hall, there is a ceremonial aspect.
The wedding ceremony may follow strict religious traditions or adhere only to civic rules. Regardless, it represents a serious commitment, a legal change of status for the two individuals, and a change to family structures.
Our son’s wedding was a poignant reminder of the rituals of family life.
As he walked down the aisle with his bride, they took the first steps of a life together.
From this time onward, their couple relationship will begin to define their family which will be different from their respective families of origin.
They will develop their own traditions, rituals and history as the years pass and they share experiences.
Memories and Emotions
The myriad of emotions experienced on this occasion was startling. We were ‘over the moon’ with happiness — as were all of those who attended.
There was sadness as we remembered those who were unable to attend.
At the reception we dined and we danced until the wee hours. There were speeches and toasts and outpourings of good wishes from family members and friends who came to the wedding.
Many people who attended were thrilled that the wedding provided an opportunity to renew friendships and/or to renew family relationships.
Many of our son’s friends from his college days in Boston travelled thousands of miles to attend and arrived from cities across the US and also from the UK. After more than 10 years, they were overjoyed to have a varsity soccer team reunion over the weekend. They affirmed each other and affirmed their relationships with the bride and the groom.
New Rituals are Created
New memories were created as we celebrated.
Our family has now been joined with another family and new traditions will evolve. Family rituals will change and evolve as both families accommodate new relationships.
As the circle expands, our hearts also expand. We grow in love and understanding.
Our family rituals will become even more special as we savour our traditions while making room for new customs and new people.
And at the heart of all of this is a new couple who wanted the ritual of a church wedding ceremony, who wanted to confirm their relationship as husband and wife in a public manner, and who wanted to celebrate their union with their families and their friends.