What do you really need for a wedding? Many couples spend months and sometimes years planning the perfect event complete with a lengthy guest list, carefully selected catering, and even live music.
For those getting married in the midst of safer-at-home guidelines none of these things are options. Even as states reopen large gatherings are still forbidden in many places. The perfectly decorated halls are going unused.
Over the last couple of months I’ve watched two live-streamed weddings and seen numerous posts on social media from couples who decided to tie the knot even if it meant this sort of wedding. These weddings are smaller and often simpler than the large parties we’re used to. They include a handful of guests and what reception there may be is hosted in someone’s home or backyard.
From these beautiful and happy couples I’ve been reminded of a few important things.
Don’t put off your wedding unless you really must
All of the couples who have gotten married since mid-March have had a choice to make. Whether they seriously considered it or not, any of them could have decided to push back their wedding date. But they didn’t. Because of this, they are now living their vocation with the graces of the Sacrament.
Between planning the wedding, determining future living arrangements, and the painful wait, engagement can be a stressful time. There can be valid reasons to have a longer engagement, usually motivated by love and prudence. However, these reasons are the exception rather than the norm.
Like any Sacrament, marriage should not be unduly delayed. The COVID couples remind us of this.
You Don’t Need to Include Everyone
As much as we may want to have all our extended family and every friend we’ve ever known present at our wedding it’s really not necessary. Social custom tells us it’s rude to not invite people to such a special day. However, Canon Law tells us only two witnesses are required, not 200 or even 20. Guests should not take priority over the Sacrament or even the needs of the couple.
Sometimes couples can’t afford to invite everyone. Sometimes they don’t want to. A small wedding doesn’t mean you don’t love your family and friends. It doesn’t mean you’re not overjoyed by this special day.
A small wedding, like the couples of the last few months have had, can put the focus back where it belongs: on the covenant the man and woman are about to enter into.
The Sacrament takes precedence over everything
Receptions and showers have been canceled, church pews roped off and guest lists trimmed. But for those couples getting married right now, one thing remains constant: the Sacrament they are entering into.
This does not mean that those couples who have delayed their weddings do not honor and appreciate the Sacrament. For some, delaying may be the more prudent or loving decision.
Choosing to have the Sacrament without the reception reminds us which actually matters. In modern society, the party has overshadowed the vows in many cases. Couples choosing to get married now have rejected that disordering of priorities in favor of grace.
It’s never what you planned
Almost every married couple I’ve ever met has at least one story of something at their wedding that did not go as planned. I have about seven myself. Even in the best circumstances wedding days do not always go as planned. Even less so does married life follow our designs.
Yet, couples getting married now and couples before them have chosen to jump in feet first to the hectic adventure of marriage. Couples over the last few months have faced unprecedented decisions and difficulties. But they have handled them with the inner peace, flexibility, and joy that is so needed in married life.
The couples going forward with their weddings right now remind us that Sacraments and vocations are meant to be pursued even despite less than ideal circumstances.
Featured image: Pixabay. Free for commercial use. No attribution required.