Monday, April 27, 2009


1: a marriage ceremony usually with its accompanying festivities : nuptials
2: an act, process, or instance of joining in close association

Do you cry at weddings? I do. But it hasn't always been that way. In fact, when I think back to my own wedding, the emotion I remember is excitement. I had spent the summer living at home with my parents. J was living in Columbus, OH where I was scheduled to start grad school in the fall after our late July wedding. We had spent about two months apart leading up to the wedding and I was so excited when J arrived the week of the wedding, that I just quit worrying about anything at that point. Several little tasks on my to-do list were never marked off, but I couldn't even tell you what they were. All I cared about was that I was getting married!

At the weddings that we attended after we were married, J and I would smile through the ceremony and squeeze hands during parts that reminded us of our own nuptials. I didn't cry. He didn't cry. We just left feeling renewed and reminded of why we had married each other on that hot July day in southern Alabama.

But about nine years ago, weddings changed for me. Instead of relating to the bride, which brought huge smiles, but no tears, I began to focus on those words "give away." This little moment in the ceremony was not a big deal to me during my own wedding, but now it stood out in bas relief. I was one day going to have to stand in front of those I love and give my daughter away?! What was this craziness? Even worse, my daughters would be excited to be given away, just as I had been. This definitely brought some tears.

I know (logically) that I will be smiling through tears of joy when A, B and/or K walk down the aisle to wed. But (emotionally) I can't believe I'll ever be ready for this. I actually get a tad angry when I think about all of this giving away stuff because mothers and fathers of boys don't have to stand there and give up their sons. I'm sure there's some archaic reason that it's structured the way it is, but it still seems wrong that J and I have to foot the bill for a party celebrating giving our beautiful daughters away!

We attended a wedding this weekend. A sat between J and I, with B on J's right. I leaned over to A and told her to hold her daddy's hand because he was sure to cry when they started playing Jesu. She looked puzzled and asked "Why?" I tried to explain that when we watch a bride walk down the aisle, we see her. We look at those bridesmaids and see her sisters. That, of course, is not sad to her at all.

At the reception, K went outside to pick flowers and then gave them to "the princess who got married today." I know my little girls want to be princesses who get married one day and I hope they are as excited as I was nearly 13 years ago at my wedding. But I'm sure I'll still cry.


RBM said...

To be honest, I always hated those words “give away” in every wedding ceremony I attended since I was a child. I think because to me those words evolved from the days when women were first considered property of their fathers and then, their husbands. So when S and I got married, we did something a bit different. My father just walked me down the aisle and then sat down with my mother until one of the ministers said, “We now ask the parents of R and S to come forward and stand with them. (All our parents came forward.) “The marriage of R and S unites their families and creates a new one. And so, families I ask you, do you rejoice in the marriage of R and S and pray God's blessing upon them?” Parents: We do. “Do you promise to love and support them in their dreams and hopes as a new family?” Parents: We do. “Please repeat after me: We love you S and R/We bless your marriage/We rejoice in the creation of your new family/ and the uniting of all of our families.”

It was so much more meaningful and wonderful to think of our marriage as a creation of a new family and a uniting of our three families into one, instead of being “given away.” You might think of suggesting something similar to your girls when the time comes and/or just changing your own thought process from “giving away” your girls to supporting and creating a new, larger family by their marriages.

WordGirl said...

RBM: What a great idea! I didn't remember this from your wedding, but it does completely change the connotations!

valis said...

I was just glad when my wedding was over. It wasn't at all what I had wanted. David and I wanted a very casual picnic wedding, but his mom kept having nightmares about it raining and started calling him half a dozen times a day while he was at work with her worries, so we gave up and had a church wedding in the middle of nowhere. I hated being the center of attention. I didn't like the formality, etc.

The relief when it was all over, though, was finishing final exams times ten! And finally just being alone together.

I cry at weddings, too. Even the ones I'm shooting when I don't know the people! I feel like a sap and it's hard to see through the viewfinder with blurry tears in my eyes!

Variations On A Theme said...

Somehow I just posted as my husband. Whoops. The above is from me. :)

RBM said...

Wordgirl--glad you liked it. My parents (and I) worked very hard on the wedding liturgy to make it meaningful and a bit more modern. I still have an electronic copy, let me know if you are ever interested.

Natalie said...

I haven't ever thought about the "giving away" part at a wedding. I can certainly see why it makes you cry. Perspective changes once you have children and you do things and think things that you never did before.

I may not have to pay for weddings, but I will in a sense, have to "give" my boys "away." I'm praying now for my boys to find who God intends them to be with someday and that I will be a gracious mother-in-law. It will be hard to let go of my little boys.

Chocolate, Vanilla and Caramel said...

Beautiful! I laughed at the part where you will be crying, but she (whichever one it is!) will be actually excited to be given away! :)