A family wedding lets us reconnect with relatives, revisit memories, and reflect on the bond that draws families together.
That’s what I did last weekend, when I attended the wedding of my husband’s cousin’s son. While neither of us knew the groom well and had never met the bride, we were happy to visit with so many relatives gathered in one place.
Goin’ to the Chapel
The wedding itself was a suburban Los Angeles affair. Held at a wedding chapel on a trafficked boulevard, the event was relaxed but efficient, a bit impersonal although personalized. The “chapel” had a front room with wooden folding chairs and stained glass windows. Adjacent to it was the dining room, where guests retired immediately for the reception and dancing with a DJ.
Like any wedding, this one had its “moments.” Face it: planning (and paying for!) a wedding is hard. For example, it’s tough to find a bridesmaid dress that suits the array of figure types most weddings entail. Selecting soloists can also be tricky — there were three long minutes last weekend when I focused on the carpet design and thought about serious things in order to keep from giggling. But that was me. Most likely there was a reason behind choice they made.
Weddings can be particularly dicey occasions nowadays, when multiple sets of parents and blended families are the norm. This event was no different, as the groom’s parents divorced years ago. Both halves of his family, plus the bride’s relatives, spent several hours in the same building, but we barely interacted. Photos and table assignments gave us individual versions of a communal event.
This wedding was a notable day for our family, an unforgettable one for the bride and groom. No matter whether the setting is a wedding chapel in California, a cathedral in London, a courthouse in San Francisco or
a beach in Hawaii, wedding rituals have been taking place for thousands of years. Friends and families pause to celebrate the decision of one of their own to unite with someone from another family — they welcome the newcomer into their tribe.
Bless the Broken Road
The song the couple selected for their “first dance” was Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts. For me, this choice captured the spirit of the day. The song’s chorus ends, “This much I know is true / That God blessed the broken road / That led me straight to you.”
Brokenness and hope. They often meet at family weddings. Families are funny, families are strange, families are dysfunctional. But families are there. Even in the midst of flaws and pain, our families are around. They’re stuck with us, and we with them.
When we marry, we choose a spouse. We also take on another family, with all its dreams and disappointments, all its failures and hopes.
Broken but hopeful, the family endures.