I was driving to class the other morning when something about Miss. Katherine and Prince William’s engagement and upcoming wedding came on the station. The journalist interviewed business owners in and around London, and the retailers and shopkeepers spoke of how they hoped the royal wedding would translate into new customers, new sales, and larger profits. There was no real mention of how expensive the wedding would be. The story focused on the wedding’s impact on the local and near-local economies in Scotland and London and other places where the pair has spent time.
Most people don’t contribute to the national economy when they take vows. But it occurred to me when listening to the story, as it has before, that people spend a lot of money on weddings.
There are halls and hotels to book, flowers to smell and buy, cakes to taste and eat, clothes and shoes and accessories and transportation. Music and drinks and souvenirs and photographers–the list keeps listing longer. Couples make hard choices about who can or can’t come because every head is a cost. But weddings don’t have to be expensive. They can be cheap. In fact, given the choice between an expensive wedding and a poor marriage, the best option for most awake people is the marriage.
All relationships require work. Work sometimes feels like an overpriced item. But working on a relationship’s health leads to personal and interpersonal strength which can’t be calculated. I wonder if it’s helpful to see preparation for a relationship, or a marriage for that matter, as planning an event everyday that pays huge profits.
“Paying” for a good marriage and “spending” time on the relationship may not be attractive or memorable to the people at an event, but it may be worthwhile in the long run. It may expose the health of what’s really between two people months and years after people have forgotten whether a couple put pretty pens or bright white candles on every plate at a reception.
I’m getting into gear over at my church office as several couples have gotten engaged. I expect to see several couples as they plan for vows, even though the last two years were slow relative to weddings. I don’t see all of them. I send some to other pastors and some to professional counselors, because of everything from scheduling conflicts to needs beyond my ability. And I hope that these folks can focus on their relationships and planning for a life, rather than planning for a day. I will certainly tell that to the folks I see.