I am not getting married, in case you get the wrong idea reading the title. It was my brother’s wedding last weekend and the whole works of it prompted me to reflect why the wedding ceremony is such a big deal.
As far as I observed, it did take more than a village to bring about my brother’s not-complicated-at-all wedding ceremony. For one, my brother and now sister-in-law spent many evenings after work planning for this customary wedding ceremony, burning many hours deliberating over every decision to be made. No doubt they weren’t the most easy-going couple, but they were also nowhere close to bridzillas and groomsaurus that I knew. Then there were both sets of parents, grandparents and extended family members, working in concert to play their part for the wedding.
Our elders coordinated among themselves over how much to put into the red packet so that they can help to cover part of the banquet costs, what they should wear so that the couple can feel proud of them, what gift should they prepare for the couple to be given at the tea ceremony, how the tea ceremony should be conducted… It is amazing just how much thought the family would put into every detail and how much ritual can go into a simple wedding ceremony. I observed first hand the amount of phone calls made and conversations carried out to iron out the most minute detail.
The irony of course is, when there is so much opinion on the table, there is bound to be an equal amount of disagreement. And this indeed happened; though I am immensely grateful for everyone’s sake, that all disagreements happened in the most civilized manner. We talked over the problem, explored various options, kept our tempers and emotions in check, and focused on just keeping this joyous occasion a truly joyous one for everyone. It was hard work and I am sure the couple had it bad: it was their wedding and yet they still had to take everyone’s (both families at least) views into consideration. The restraint exercised was admirable for both young persons.
What I learnt from the sidelines is this: when one has to choose between having his or her way and maintaining family harmony, most would choose the latter. It is heartening to see from both families the desire to show love to these two young persons by allowing themselves be persuaded to alternative proposals and give way.
Other than family, I also saw my brother’s close friends doing more than their utmost to make this wedding ceremony fun and unforgettable, doing all they can to share the burden of organisation. Some of these young boys used to come over our place on weekends, and they have now grown into fine young men; even after they have started their own families, the friendship among the group remained strong, evident in the way they coordinated and worked among themselves. And this, is heartening, while also making me feel old. (I felt like I watched them grow up!)
We often say a wedding is the first major project a couple undertake together and indeed this is one of the first moments where true colours are revealed. At the same time, there is also this realisation that even when a new family is being formed, the two families from which these individuals originated, would not fade away. While trying our best not to impose, we are always there to offer our help and support, and where not needed, to cheer the newlyweds on. As far as I can see, the wedding planning and the wedding itself is a revelation of who is in the village and who you can count on in times of need, demonstrating in very tangible terms the intangible resources that the couple is starting their family with – love, encouragement and affirmation from those who care.
I wish my brother and sister-in-law a lifetime of marital bliss, starting with their sweet honeymoon in Europe. ❤️