A Wedding by Analysis

Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun. Oh, but Mama, that’s where the fun is.

Bruce Springsteen, “Blinded by the Light”

This past weekend, near Asbury Park, N.J.:

When Avril walked that last mile up the aisle to her awaiting groom, Nate, the late afternoon sun radiated warm, golden rays onto that grassy field and Avril like a spotlight from the heavens. We swiveled to look at the glowing bride, turning our heads in unison as she walked by. I looked at Avril. Then I looked at the attendees. Then I looked at Nate. Then Avril again. I wanted to see it from different angles–experience it through the eyes of my children since it was their first wedding: intense happiness, deep thankfulness.

I felt those feelings. I also had some thoughts.

Weddings are interesting things.


Deconstructing a Wedding (by Participating Groups)

Forget all the other stuff (tuxes, rings, wedding singers). You really only need three things to make a wedding happen.

  1. The couple, aka the whole reason for this event.
  2. The wise man, who presides over the couple as The Officiant.
  3. The witnesses–bridesmaids, groomsmen, family, friends.

The Bride and Groom

Most stories set up grooms-to-be as the ones who journey to woo and win over “the one.” The examples are numerous, but think about Wade Wilson’s quest for Vanessa in Deadpool. Can you imagine if the writers pitched the story of Vanessa shooting up baddies to save Wilson? Or Buttercup taking up the sword to rescue Westley (for you Princess Bride fans)? 

But on the wedding day, we reverse the script.

Nate was not walking that aisle to meet Avril. Instead, it’s the bride who takes that purposefully long walk to meet her groom. I don’t know why they do that, but it reminds me of the long wait Adam had to tolerate (the parade of every single animal, the naming and interviewing of each one for its suitability as a friend) to find–finally–someone who completed him, who was “flesh of [his] flesh.”*

Takeaway: In life, sometimes you need to go through the tedious process of experiencing what you don’t want in order to clarify what you do want. 

The Officiant

Avril makes that long walk to meet Nate. He takes her hand. They seek advice from a wise man, who gives them directions and some beautiful words about the meaning of marriage.

Many wedding sermons follow a similar script. They start with the beauty of marriage. Then maybe a story about the couple. Then it comes–it always does!–as if by not doing so, the wise man is being remiss:

The warning.

The warning is that marriage is hard (don’t disagree). That tough times lie ahead (yup). It is meant to manage the expectations of the bride and groom and validate the struggles of those in attendance who are married themselves.

So here you are, at your happiest moment, but the wise man keeps telling you how it’s going to be hard… at your happiest moment. In front of all your family and friends–at your happiest moment.

The wise man is saying don’t stare at the sun too long or bad things will happen to your eyes.

Takeaway: It’s important to manage expectations, even on your happiest day. Anything worth doing may start off great at first, but it will hit rough patches. (Also, maybe invest in a good pair of sunglasses. UV protection is important!)

In order to get through them, it’s important to have your witnesses.

The Attendees

We are the witnesses, and we are a motley crew of confusion.

Weddings can be like high school reunions: you see friends you haven’t seen in years, who you maybe don’t see again until the next wedding a few years down the road. It’s like reading up to chapter five of a really good book, putting it down, then picking it up after a few weeks, reading chapter 8, putting it down for a month or so, reading chapter 11, then chapter 14…

You see some progress, ask them about the gap chapters, but never actually get the full story.

I feel sad about that.

We were all once young(er) and struggling in New York–guppies from different ponds who swam to the world’s largest ocean. We got jobs (some of us even got our dream jobs) then woke up one day to find that those transformed into our careers even though, over a decade in, we’re all still searching for what we want to do next.**

In any case: we have different backgrounds and paths, but our affection for our friends reunites us for one day to not only bear witness, but keep them accountable to their vows when (like the wise man warned) it gets hard.

Takeaway: It’s important to have a cloud of witnesses remind you of why you thought it was such a great idea–and maybe don’t ask people about work at a wedding.


The most important wedding takeaway? 

Dancing is good for the soul.


image source


*Genesis 2:18-23

**I like to use these occasions to take informal polls on career happiness. Someone who is pretty happy at their job rates it a 7 out of 10 but no higher, though I once did meet an 8. Others rate it…less.

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  • amileinmyshoes August 29, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    I loved this. I was at a beautiful wedding alone at the weekend, but it was great! I sat next to people from school. The wedding couple didn’t even go to my school. We filled in the missing chapters (sort of). I love weddings and this post resonated.

    • justmakingcentscom August 30, 2016 at 12:22 am

      Thank you. I love hearing the stories from the parents and catching up with friends — seeing some gray hair, some receding hair, growing children, new editions, etc.


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