When a couple gets engaged, opinions about the wedding begin raining down immediately. Their own opinions, their mothers’, Martha Stewart’s.
But I wonder how many of us have asked the question that Episcopal priest Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio poses at CNN today — what would Jesus think about overspending for a wedding?
Before I explore this topic, let me first disclose the fact that I’m a Jew, and so religion-wise, Jesus has no bearing on how I live my life. So, there’s that.
Anyway. Tumminio goes back and forth in her piece, pointing out that Jesus advocated for — and I paraphrase — getting by with as little shit as possible; but at the same time, everyone knows that Jesus loved a good party. And a good party, of course, costs money. And resources. In other words, perhaps Jesus had never thrown a party of his own, so he didn’t realize how difficult it was to reconcile his teachings with his actions. (We’ve all been there.)
That said, Tumminio seems to come to the conclusion that the philosophical issues raised by expensive weddings are worth considering, but at the end of the day, Jesus might have been cool with excess spending in certain circumstances. She writes:
It’s hard to live here on Earth, knowing how people around us suffer, knowing how we suffer. So when something worth celebrating comes along — like two people willing to love each other through hardships they can’t even imagine — splurging a bit is OK.
Love, Jesus seems to say, might be worth some extravagance.
What I’ve failed to mention so far is that at the beginning of the article, Tumminio opens by talking about how lavish and expensive her own wedding was.
Twist! It’s a fact that ultimately lends the piece the tone of a long, elaborate excuse (she takes great pains to note what she got for free, for instance, and the fact that the wedding was no more expensive than any other northeast affair…which have an average cost of $29,788, according to a survey done by the Fairchild Bridal Group).
But then again, wanting to make excuses for having an expensive wedding is understandable. There are, after all, some inescapable truths about modern American weddings that are pretty uncomfortable. The weddings shine a bright spotlight on socioeconomic disparities between the wedding-thrower and the rest of the world, however small or large those disparities may be. Also, the affianced may feel as though they’re being taken advantage of by a consumerist-driven wedding industry. And it certainly is not logical or rational or fiscally sound to spend thousands of dollars on one day (in this economy!!).
In other words, many modern weddings follow a new-ish American tradition that some of us wonder if we believe in or not.
But time goes by, and wedding planning must happen, and decisions must be made, and we don’t necessarily have years to consider the ethical and moral implications of our centerpieces.
So, what to do? Is the answer to make excuses after the fact? Or to feel guilty? Or to try to go out in the world and right all of society’s wrongs?
I would say that it’s probably none of those things (since you asked). In fact, it’s probably more productive to decide what you want, and what’s reasonable and within your means, and stick to it. Maybe try to understand why you want what you want, in the interest of personal growth (hey, remember that idea?). Like, who knew that color-coordinating napkin rings to the flower girl’s dress would be such a high priority for you? Lesson learned.
But don’t do all of this laden with guilt. Guilt doesn’t erase behaviors anyway, and it doesn’t make anyone feel better in the long run. And you may as well enjoy your wedding day, and the years that follow, no matter how much you shell out.