Last weekend my family and I attended the wedding of a very dear friend. It was a very modern affair in some ways. They had been together for eighteen years and produced two gorgeous children before they decided to tie the knot. Yet in so many other ways, it was terribly traditional. Far more than I had expected.
This was brought home to me whilst sitting waiting for the bridal party to appear. My nine year old was asking question after question and it became clear to me that every step of a wedding is very much ingrained into most of us by adulthood. You just know what is happening, no queries needed. I guess that would be the same whatever religion or tradition you have been brought up within.
At this wedding, things about the day, the ceremony, the meal afterwards - all of which seemed perfectly normal and expected to us adults - were a source of much mystery to my child. It was the first wedding she could remember attending.
So why was the groom waiting at the front without the bride? And why did we stand up and sit down so much even though it wasn't a church? Who is being given away and why? Who told me what to read out at the ceremony? Do all these people have to talk after dinner and what are they going on about? What are we "toasting"? More importantly, why can't we go over there and just cut ourselves some wedding cake?! The child's eye view was fascinating. It really made me think about what a wedding means.
And to add a touch of genealogical musing (which was how this blog started - and please note, I have resisted the temptation to comment on Who Do You Think You Are? yet this series!), I did think this week about how times have changed in terms of late marriages.
Currently, when you are searching nineteenth and early twentieth century records, you tend to be surprised by illegitimacy, by people living together according to the census, by couples marrying later after having children. Such genealogical discoveries lead to mysteries, to brickwalls, to family secrets.
Now, though, we are well used to such arrangements. I can name many happy families who have no parental marriage certificate. So, just as in the future genealogists will find divorce to be common place, they will also have to deal with far more fluid family arrangements. They might find my friend on a census with her family, they will find her children. Hopefully, they will look way past there and see the marriage as well...!
It was a fabulous day. Even the weather was kind. But it was particularly a day for love. My beautiful friend was never more beautiful.