Putting dignity, sanity back into weddings
RITES AND READINGS FOR A WEDDING WITH SPIRIT
Mueller Nelson and Christopher Witt
Image Book, 222 pages, $11
Sacred Threshold is a wonderful new book. Unlike most
wedding planners, this one is written for both the bride and the groom.
The book puts the wedding day back into perspective. Its not
about lavishness, but about good taste. Its about meaning, grace and
inviting the presence of the holy.
The authors re-examine what we are quick to call
traditional. They give us some history and perspective on common
wedding practices. Their suggestions are sensitive to a new time where we
finally respect the equality and dignity of the sexes. The book is rich with
good ideas, great stories and practical suggestions:
- A wedding dress doesnt have to be lavish, dramatic or
expensive. And if its either too suggestive or too girlish, the bride may
squirm in due time remembering her immature taste. Let the groom consider
buying a good suit with lasting value, circumventing the wedding
industry that has him renting a tux.
- The brides attendants might be given a color preference
and hem-length but allowed the freedom to find or make a dress that suits each
figure and style. Groomsmen might wear a suit or slacks and blazer.
- Theres no need to forgo a down payment on a house to buy
flowers. A husband and wife can give each other flowers throughout their
marriage, instead of spending a fortune for a single day.
- Welcoming guests begins with the invitations. Sacred
Threshold provides every kind of wording for all kinds of situations.
- Officially, the bride and the groom are the hosts of their own
wedding. Rather than hiding away the bride before the festivities, the bride
and groom should consider standing at the door to welcome their guests. Then
the ushers can seat them. Before the wedding procession begins, bride and groom
can each take a little time alone to gather their wits, calm their nerves and
focus on what is about to occur.
- What we think of as the traditional bridal
procession undervalues the brides dignity by handing her from one
man to another man like property. It ignores her mothers role and leaves
the groom waiting at one side like an afterthought. An inclusive wedding
procession might have the attendants walk in two by two, followed by the groom
between his parents and the bride between hers. Or the bride and groom can walk
together at the end of the procession. Or the groom and his family can enter
from one side, and the bride and her family from the other.
- The couple might consider inviting the people assembled at
their wedding to sing. They may want an experienced song leader instead of a
soloist for the ceremony. This book offers lists of appropriate wedding
- Weddings in church generally call for scriptural readings. Even
the most familiar passage is fresh and comes to life if the reader proclaims it
clearly. This book instructs the readers and helps them rehearse. It also
offers selections from many religious traditions, some excellent poetry and
some very good, readable essays.
- If the bride or groom has been married before, or if they have
lived independently for a time and already have what they need for a home, they
might indicate this to their wedding guests. They may want to suggest a
favorite charity or cause where their friends can make an offering instead of
- Throwing the brides bouquet seems fairly demeaning of the
single state, of women and of marriage. Why not present the bouquet to someone
who is important in the lives of the couple? In a thoughtful and mutually
respectful wedding, removing the brides garter and throwing it to the
bachelors is also out of place. The practice is a remnant from another time
when women were viewed as possessions.
Im glad I found this book. I have an unofficial ministry
preparing couples for marriage and presiding at their weddings. From now on,
Ill recommend Sacred Threshold to every bride and groom I meet.
And Ill recommend it to priests, pastors, rectors and others who want
their young people reading on the same page with them.
Terrence Halloran lives in Garden Grove, Calif.
National Catholic Reporter, September 25,