The wedding season is upon us in earnest. Most weekends between now and the end of September, one church or other in our beloved Parish will be filled with strains of Give Me Joy In My Heart, Wagner, and the sound of bells rung out in joy. When you arrive on Sunday mornings you will see the tell-tale signs of the celebration the day before; confetti like blossom littering the floor under lych gate, the church still filled with flowers and the overpowering scent of all that best perfume and aftershave (incidentally why churches burn incense, originally to cover the smell of the great unwashed, these days to mask the smell of Lynx, Pacco Rabanne and Charlie).
There is so much that goes into making weddings the great day of celebration that they are. Chatting to wedding couples in the midst of organising the big day, I am struck by how complicated it all is these days. I had a 15 minute conversation with a bride about ‘favours’ the other day. I had never heard of them. She explained what they were and that she and her fiancé had decided to get personalised ones for every guest from Ebay and that they cost… Phew! Organising a wedding must create an administrative burden like that of running a small country.
I guess I am more conscious of this this year as my eldest daughter Katie is to be married in Aldingbourne Church next October to her delightful fiancé Matt. They are making plans already and are very excited about it all, as we all are.
Every bride and bridegroom wants their day to be perfect and despite what the weddings on the soaps tell us, they almost always are. Not in the sense that everything goes EXACTLY the way it was planned but in the sense that a celebration of love, a thanksgiving to God for the very gift of love – is always perfection.
As an example of what I mean I would like to tell you of a wedding last year where a page boy refused to get dressed. Not get dressed in his perfectly matching suit, chosen to compliment the colour theme of the wedding you understand, but get dressed AT ALL. He turned up to the wedding in his pants wrapped in a blanket. It was brilliant, it was perfect. Because he was there. He was a part of it. The little boy was one of the things that made the day perfect, perfect and totally unforgettable.
In an age where TV shows like ‘Don’t tell the Bride’ and ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ encourage us to plan weddings as if there were written in the pages of a fairy story, the reality is so much better, so much more human and so much more wonderful. From out of tune singing (mostly by your clergy) to fainting grooms, from horses that poo at exactly the moment the bride steps from the carriage to the page boy pulling faces at the camera. Weddings are full of humanity and are perfect because of it.
Of course we all know one wedding where things didn’t quite go according to plan. It would have been social death to run out of wine as the wedding couple did at Cana. But Christ’s actions, in turning 150 gallons of water into wine show us that despite the mess we often find ourselves in, love conquers all. No matter how imperfect the day itself turns out, the fact is that the couple get married, love is celebrated, two become one. That is what it is all about, that is what is perfect.
God’s love conquers all the imperfections, and not just a bit. 150 gallons is excessive – that’s 680 litres of the best wine. God’s love is extravagant, it is more than we need or deserve. It wipes away our imperfections, redeems us, inebriates us and leaves us drunk.
Thanks be to God (hic!)