They’re starry-eyed. He pops the question and offers expensive sparkle for her third finger, left hand. She gasps and cries. They hug and declare undying love. She delights in her new status of up-coming bride as she plans and shops and frets over every detail for the perfect wedding. He gets a full report every night when he calls to check in. She feels like a queen. He feels like a bystander.
As the coronation day draws near gifts pile up on a special table carefully draped with Grandma’s lace cloth. The mother of the bride marks off each RSVP returned in its cream-colored self-addressed envelope and makes sure there will be enough chicken dinners.
The lovebirds make a cursory visit to the minister for a brief admonition from him to never go to sleep angry and to have a date once a week. He gives them a little booklet on what makes marriage work. Neither one has time to read. The anemic advice gets lost in the fairytale shuffle.
There are obligatory showers filled with silly games and lots of oohing and aahing over every appliance and monogrammed towel. The bachelor is treated to a party by his so-called friends who seem to think he needs one more stab at wild-oat sowing before the old ball and chain drags him down to some horrible domestic prison where he will never taste freedom again.
The church is packed. The candles are lit. The music begins. The double doors in the back of the sanctuary open and a surreal vision of loveliness steps out on the arm of her still handsome father whose bank account has shrunk to new lows for such an exhibition. He isn’t sure this over-the-top hoopla is a good idea and wonders why they couldn’t have done what he and his beloved did all those years ago…invite family and a few close friends to a cozy chapel and have cake and punch in a small room afterwards.
The groom feels faint as he stands at attention and waits for that satin and lace covered creature to float down the aisle. Ten of her closest friends, in ugly pink dresses, dream of their own processions. The corresponding number of groomsmen seems to appear out of nowhere. They each look like that proverbial deer who always seems to be getting caught in headlights that mesmerize, paralyze and then kill.
The preacher asks who gives her away. The obedient father responds, as is customary, that he and her mother do. He places his baby’s hand in the outstretched one of the frightened, dapper-looking young man who is trapped in what he calls a rented penguin suit. The traditional ceremony begins.
The will-you and do you part is zipped through and answered correctly. The pronouncement is made. They kiss. The audience applauds. The mother beams. The father sighs. They adjourn to a fancy hotel for the dinner and dance. Toasts are made. Cake is cut. The bouquet is thrown. They dash through a rain of birdseed, since rice is a no-no, and slide into the back of a shiny white limousine that whisks them away to their rondevouz with a big ship bound for honeymoon heaven.
After a delightful week he carries her over the threshold of the tiny apartment and real life begins. She happily plays house and greets him at the door every evening with open arms. He spends long days at his new job and hopes she will look for work too so they can save some money for a home.
She can’t cook; neither can he. They order out a lot. No one cleans. They don’t know how. Things pile up. She wants to go somewhere fun. He’s too tired. They fuss. She cries. He slams the door.
His change from attentive suitor to busy husband leaves her empty and yearning for super-charged romance. Her change from bedazzling bride to demanding wife scares him. She pouts. He sulks. They’re miserable and confused. The dissolution papers state irreconcilable differences. She goes home to mom and dad. He moves out of state.
When a fancy wedding is the primary focus, ignorance of the reality of marriage will be a couple’s undoing… and suffering abounds. If mutual respect never finds a home, the seed of love will wither before it gets its tap root. Anger will demand to have its way and frustration will serenade the brokenness. In the end, its hateful song will scare forever away.
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