My niece’s wedding was perfect! Well, maybe not perfect, but lovely, and a nice expression of her and her new husband’s tastes and aspirations. The flowers, the dresses, the decorations, the food, the cake, the music — all beautiful. Having the ceremony on a beach in Santa Barbara was risky. There could be members of the public who insisted on playing horse shoes throughout the ceremony (which there were) or trains barreling past sounding their horns (which there almost were). But no one was too upset when a little kid knocked a toy ball under the bride’s train and dived in to retrieve it, or when couple of kids in swimsuits sat in the back row. The sky was blue, the sea was calm, and the happy couple seemed well and fully in love.
I was relieved that the clergyman kept his remarks brief and focused on the couple he was hitching. How unfortunate it is when preachers take weddings (and funerals) as marketing opportunities. This one did not, and his remarks were warm and upbeat. Of course, nobody knows what particular words might actually help two young people undertaking the awesome task of joining their separate lives. In this case, at least, no harm was done, and maybe a little good.
Almost by definition, weddings idealize families, and at the same time they bring into focus the oddities and sorrows in the particular families at issue. So it was here. Estrangements, old resentments, oddities, illnesses, old age, memories of the beloved departed. Plenty of things we don’t like to talk about and would not be proud to celebrate. Are there any perfect families? It’s doubtful.
But it was good to focus as a big family on two young people and their aspirations. Good to focus on the reality of love. Whatever else St. Paul got wrong, he was right about this – love is the greatest!