What should a wedding be like? As a little girl I was entranced by my mother’s wedding magazines. She ran a shop in Knightsbridge and advertised in them, so our coffee table was always piled high with copies of Brides Magazine. Long before I knew what a camera was, I used to spend hours cutting out the pictures and making poster collages out of them, wide eyed at the goddesses in white dresses.
I always felt weddings were important. The first miracle in the New Testament is even wedding related! Jesus performs his first miracle at the Wedding at Cana, and I find it a great story. The couple had run out of wine; a massive faux pas in Ancient Israel. And no fun. So Jesus turned some water into wine. I love the fact that upon arriving on earth with a mission to save the world, the first thing Jesus does is create more wine. Not what you’d expect.
The Wedding at Cana had exactly the same dilemmas that the modern day wedding faces: How to afford a heinously expensive event. And people were it seems far more judgmental then. Running out of wine was a seriously embarrassing situation. Glad we’ve (mostly) moved on from that!
The other thing I find heartening about the story is that at no point does anyone judge the family for organising too big a wedding. The narrator appears to be supportive of their desire to go for it and extravagantly celebrate this very important occasion. There is no sense of parsimoniousness, stinginess or cutting back. The idea appears to be to go all out to celebrate. Have we lost our ability for unstinted generosity in the recession? Thrift is important, but lavish generosity has a place too.
Surprisingly, the statistics suggest that the marriage is more likely to last if you have a big wedding.*
Culturally, modern weddings are a crazy ball of different beliefs, which is part of what makes them so fun to photograph. There’s a bit of ancient goddess myth in there – Bride was the goddess of fertility who stalked the land with a lantern making the crops grow. Then she was a virginal saint who embodied ‘feminine virtues’, and knights started to call their sweethearts ‘brides’. And there’s a bit of empire in there echoed in the fact that Queen Victoria wore white on her wedding day – before that it was yellow. And of course the walking up the aisle dressed in white echoes the Church processing in glory towards God on the Last Day in the book of Revelations. These images are embedded in our sub conscious. Weddings are the bringing together of two people. Surely something to celebrate.
In the end though the most important thing is to create the wedding that YOU both want. This is the 21st century and a wedding is an equal partnership. Because of my job I’ve watched so many people get married. From my privileged position as a wedding photographer up near the altar what I see is that it brings people together. It is the best thing you can do for your relationship. Elopement or massive party, make your wedding wonderful, in homage to your love. And of course, and I mean this from the heart, whatever the size of your wedding do not forget to invest in a great wedding photographer so that you can relive all those wonderful memories later.
What do you think? Is it better to have a big wedding or a small one?
*This statistic doesn’t mean you should have a big wedding for your marriage to last, it just means have the wedding you want, don’t worry about whether it’s big or small.