Post Valentine’s Day Reflections

I heard or read somewhere that Valentine’s Day is a popular day to propose. Whether it is the most popular wasn’t mentioned. And it kind of makes sense. February is probably the latest time for an engagement in order to have enough time for a traditionally timed June wedding (unless a semi-private quick wedding is planned, which is highly inadvisable for statistical longevity for the marriage).

But what is happening with marriages these days? For one thing, the costs are way out of hand. In this country, there is a distinct wedding industry – fueled in large part by magazines like “Bride” and by Hollywood excess, in real life and on film. Women dream of an ideal wedding (whatever that is) complete with all the trimmings. Men end up buying into all of this with elaborate proposal settings and rings that cost way out of proportion to common sense. Then there is the rehearsal dinner, the “dress”, and the cost of the reception, which includes a free meal for everyone and a DJ or other music performer. (Did I mention the cost of booze, too?)

The average wedding tab these days is said to be between $20,000 and $25,000. That is obscene. How can a young couple start life with that kind of debt? Because I would assume that very few couples (or their parents) can foot this tab. What if that money went into a down payment on a house? What if the cost of diamonds on a ring was spent on baby sitters so the couple can have some time to themselves?

Girls begin fantasizing about their wedding day at a young age. I get numerous inquiries from young ladies (and their mothers) about getting married in our “cute” church. The church building is not seen as sacred space. The church meets their fantasies of probably many years. They have no interest in being part of our worshipping community. And so, they have no interest in having many people help support their marriage.

Many ask if we rent the church. In their minds, the church is just another commodity in the wedding industry. Something that can be bought for a price. The shock is that a wedding is a church service. It is focused not on the bride, but on God. A sacrament comes into being in the liturgy. I ask that inquirers into a wedding at Our Saviour pick up a wedding packet. After that, I rarely hear from them again.

The “event” of the wedding takes second stage to spending the time it takes to forge a life-long, lasting relationship. After all, isn’t that what a marriage is supposed to be? Marriage education classes before and after the wedding would go a long ways to reducing our countries horrible divorce rate. That is where an investment of time and money needs to be.

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