September is one of my favorite months for many reasons. One of which is the recognition of my marriage. (YouTube Channel link) This month is also gaining popularity with other couples as indicated by a wedding I am conducting.
|Wedding Party - 40 years ago|
In years past most "legitimate" wedding ceremonies occurred within the confines of a church building. The idea was God's blessing on a couple would only occur within the walls of a church building. Also, an ordained clergy person, appropriate music, and dignified conduct were indicative of the sacred and in some traditions sacramental ceremony. Plus, the venue was free or relatively inexpensive while being familiar to most people.
I do not remember a particular time when the wedding ceremony, venue, and structure began to change. However, the change, in my estimation has been significant. Rarely are wedding ceremonies conducted in church settings. Numerous venues abound in urban and rural settings. Now most church buildings charge a fee for members and non-members alike. There is often a list of "dos + don'ts" that is significantly greater within a church than in the rented venue. Officiants (no longer limited to clergy) can instantly receive online, legal credentials to satisfy the laws of individual states to sign a marriage license. The comfort level provided to those attending in a venue setting is greater and often more familiar than in a religious structure. Music is unrestricted. It is as diverse as the DJ's ability to download from a streaming service.
|Hillsboro United Parish|
The ceremony in which I was most recently involved included the couples' canine as the "flower + ring bearer." The outdoor venue in a quiet, rural, farm setting fit the nature of the couple. The relative simplicity along with the venues cats, chickens, fruit trees, and fall garden produce provide a unique and relaxed setting. Plus, the fee included multiple days for set up and take down without feeling rushed to get out of the way for the next event.
|Setting for recent ceremony.|
Which setting is more appropriate for a wedding ceremony? Is God's consecration of a union greater in a structure set aside for religious functions or a repurposed barn and farm? Is there a correlation between setting and sanctity which directly impacts the longevity of the relationship? Is there a benefit to an officially recognized religious professional conducting the ceremony?
My perspective is found in today's title. The ceremony and setting are not the basis of a relationship. Who is chosen to speak words, manage the flow of the event, and sign a civil, legal, government document has minimal impact on a relationship which began months or years previous. Money spent to facilitate and entertain a gathering of family and friends does not provide dividends which keep a relationship strong yet flexible. It is the willingness of a couple to understand the changing dynamics of a relationship over time which is important. The family and friends are to be mentors. They provide applicable interpersonal resources to assist the couple in daily decision making. And surrounding all of these dimensions is the grace-filled, forgiveness focused presence of God. The gifts or blessings of the Divine are not limited to place or person. God's ability to positively impact the pleasure and perseverance of the relationship cannot be relegated or regulated.
Life and relationships are continuously commingled. I discover perplexity and promise both by being in relationship and publicly celebrating the journey of others in their relationships! This cannot be contained by place, custom, or language.
|Valley of Fire State Park (northeast of Las Vegas NV)|
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