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Exploring Ideas For New Marriage Traditions

By Father Jim Sauer
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As a newly ordained priest, I purchased a 25-page magazine-like formatted booklet entitled “Alternate Ideas for Weddings.”  Being very green, I shared some ideas with couples coming for marriage preparation.  Over the years, the booklet must have landed up in the hands of a couple because I no longer have access to it.  (The publishing firm had a similar booklet called “Alternate Ideas for Christmas Giving.”)

I just googled “Alternate Plans for Marriage,” and would recommend that couples getting married read through the ideas.  Parents, who have three or four daughters in their teen-age or college years, might want to take a look at it too!  Thoughts dance through my mind as both mom and dad work outside the home and dads sometimes work two jobs because they know that their daughters will most likely be getting married.  And they don’t want to take out a second mortgage on their home or a personal loan.  This brings me to the focus of today’s article.  Don’t you think that the cost of weddings has gotten out of hand?

Now I can easily say this since I have no children.  But it’s true, isn’t it, when mom and dad work themselves to the bone, or go into unreasonable debt for a wedding day?  If only we could step back and look at our behavior “after the fact,” we would realize that we need to exercise some restraint on the cost for such events OR we don’t have to keep up with the Jones’ OR we don’t have to let our children have everything they want to show them that we love them.   It comes down to setting priorities and fiscal boundaries.

The booklet “Alternate Ideas for Weddings” contained some very fascinating ideas.  One was that the couple creates their own wedding invitations.  Today, this is a piece of cake with the modern computer technology we have.  One couple in 1990 did just that.  Their invitation cover was plastered with their photographs from their baby years through 1990.  I saved their invitation as an example to share with other couples of what could be done.

The booklet also suggested having a “potluck” dinner instead of a big fancy dinner.  (I hope no one is reading this who is in the catering business!  Don’t worry!  Very few couples ever took this seriously for fear that it would make them look too cheap!)  There are probably many readers who remember (again like my parents) returning home after their early morning wedding Mass (because of having to fast from midnight before receiving communion) for breakfast at the bride’s family home.  Their guests came for lunch and dinner prepared by the family and/or extended family; and usually a dance followed at the family home. 

Who doesn’t like a potluck?  All the delicious dishes different people prepare are usually empty by the end of the meal.  The guests could bring their recipe and the bride and/or groom’s family could compile a beautiful recipe book with a picture of the couple on the cover as a gift following the ceremony.  (It might be more work, but it sure beats blowing bubbles after Mass – most people enjoy cookbooks!!)  If your parish auditorium has an alcohol-free policy, I’m sure there are a lot of farmers in the area who might rent out their barns or machine shed for a day!   There’s also nothing wrong with an alcohol-free reception.

There are probably many more alternate ideas for weddings, but these are the only two that I can remember from the booklet I once owned.  Personally I think it’s worth giving some thought to the cost of weddings, which has just skyrocketed out of sight.  Plus I think we need to ask ourselves about the morality of spending so much money just on one day of celebration while hundreds of thousands of people go to bed hungry each night throughout the world. 

Jesus says we are responsible for them regardless of whether we have a wedding!  I believe we can have a beautiful wedding ceremony and reception without the huge outlay of money we have grown accustomed to in our society.  It’s certainly worth thinking about and examining our consciences. 

Fr. Sauer writes about the Sacraments. This is his latest in a series on the Sacrament of Marriage.