danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
Dear God, does this man do nothing but go to weddings )

I suppose what I've drawn from the experience was this, that my own assumption that everyone who is silent on the subject of religion is unmoved by it is worth reexamining and that some dialogue about the subject is probably to be welcomed.
danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
More a commentary on my journeys this weekend. Musings on weddings in part two
If you don't want to know about weddings you don't want to read this )

All in all very lovely.
danieldwilliam: (Default)

My sister has revised her wedding plans and I have been made redundant as Master of Ceremonies.

On the grounds that the wedding is quite small (circa 40 people) she’s decided that she doesn’t need a set of ushers and an MC to keep everyone sticking to a time table.

I am less convinced. I suspect that informally people are going to have to be sent to find people so that they can either be in a photograph or eat dinner. Badged as ushering or not this job still exists. Someone still needs to keep a handle on who should be where and organise the ushers.

Perhaps the events staff at the venue will run this element of the celebration.  I fear it may un-devolve on to the bride and groom. I guess we’ll find out.

I’m not disappointed. I confess to not looking forward to the job particularly. Rather, the job was fine but I had other hopes for the day. I’d hoped to spend the day supporting my daughter who is being a bridesmaid and wrangling the Captain who is being an insane two year old. Also, catching a few good whiskies with one of my brothers. So a day spent telling Bluebird her hair looks lovely whilst feeding the Captain crisps sounds more fun for me than helping to herd 40 people, half I don’t know and half I’m related to.

I’ve been asked to do a reading and that satisfies any desire on my part to be marked out as paterfamilias in waiting.

For there is also something about the symbolism of roles at weddings that speaks to status and relationships in families.

Firstly, most obviously, who you have taking on the set pieces in your wedding says something public about the closeness of those relationships.  Your best man is likely to be the male friend of the groom whom he most trusts; the man he would look for on the battlefield if things went awry, either to offer or to accept a rescue. If all it was only about having a humorous / ribald / embarrassing / really dreadful speech there are people you can hire for that. Get Stephen Fry or Frankie Boyle to do you a podcast.

Secondly, I consider marriage to have some symbolic role in joining together two families into one. Your mileage may vary on this and that’s okay. It’s not my job to tell people what marriage means to them (probably) but for me, and I suspect for other people too, marriage isn’t just about marking and making official a long-term relationship between two people. It’s about blurring the lines between two existing families so that they become one. 

So my wedding party consisted of two best men, my oldest brother as senior morale support and my oldest and dearest friend for likewise and for the speech.  My ushers included both of MLW’s nephews, now my nephews and were lead by my middle brother. When I’ve been involved in weddings in an official capacity it’s been for old school friends or my flatmate at Uni.

MLW included in her bridal party my daughter, now her step-daughter.  The father of the bride role left vacant by the death of MLW’s father was filled by her older brother.

So the process of marking out important relationships and familial roles is made public and explicit by roles in such celebrations as weddings and funerals.

It may well be that the symbolism my sister wants to lay out is – hey, I’m much more relaxed about these things than average; I don’t want or need to mark out an in-group and an inner group.

 So be it.

On a political note; perhaps there is a conversation to be had about marriage in our society.  There may be useful questions to ask ourselves about what marriage means.  Is there a role for a formally recognised family or are we just a collection of individuals contracting with the state?  Is there something particular about the institution of marriage that supports our society, our polity, our civilisation that means we need to agree about what it is?  Is marriage a contractual short-hand for changing property rights between people in limited ways in limited circumstances or does entering the institution change us and our relationships with each other, the commonweal and the state. Is marriage even the business of the state?

For me those are more interesting questions than whether we should extend the right (or the obligation) to be married to some people based on their sexuality. Particularly when we don’t appear to be able to agree on what marriage is for those people who are already eligible.

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danieldwilliam

August 2017

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