M. Regina Cram
It was Thursday morning. Our high school kids had just headed off to school and I was cleaning up the carnage in the kitchen when a strange man traipsed past me. He was unkempt and unshaven, wearing only gym shorts and a ripped tee shirt. The stranger silently slouched up the stairs toward the bathroom.
“Hi. I’m Regina,” I called after him, stating the obvious.
“I’m Lenny,” he mumbled without looking up.
Do things like this happen to everyone or is it just me?
After several days of such scenes, it had become familiar. Our son Skip was getting married at the end of the week, and out-of-town friends were beginning to arrive. Skip had invited some of the guys to stay at our house, but being a typical guy himself, he had neglected to fill me in on details – little things, like how many human locusts would we be feeding and housing while simultaneously preparing for a wedding?
The funny thing is, I loved it. I also loved watching the wedding plans progress, which was a fascinating study in keeping priorities straight. A friend who teaches photography offered to photograph the wedding as his gift to the bride and groom. Another friend, an accomplished pastry chef, made the cake as her wedding gift. Yet another made the wedding dress, incorporating into it remnants from the dress worn by the bride’s mother and grandmother. An uncle who runs a nursery provided the flowers, which were simple but absolutely magnificent.
In other words, it was a community effort. But don’t equate that with unpolished, which it most certainly was not. It was as classy as any $40,000 wedding. It just cost enormously less, and the focus was on the sacrament of marriage rather than the trappings of the day.
The fundamental principle behind wedding planning is this: a wedding is NOT about the bride. It’s not about being the perfect day. It’s about Jesus. A wedding is about Jesus. He should be at the very core of every marriage, and therefore at the center of every wedding day.
How does one accomplish this? By living what we preach. For example, ask bridesmaids and ushers to pray daily for the bride and groom during the engagement. In the days just prior to the wedding, the bridesmaids might meet together with the bride to pray a rosary, or attend daily Mass, or make a novena together.
Bride and groom should learn Natural Family Planning during the latter part of the engagement. NFP is an excellent way to either postpone or to achieve a pregnancy. It is medically safe, 99 percent effective, and has a positive effect on a marriage. For information, go to www.ccli.org or call the Family Life Office of the Archdiocese of Hartford at (203) 230-2460.
A wedding does not have to cost a year’s wages. To contain costs, one might forgo the limousine. Instead, borrow a friend’s antique roadster, or decorate a dented jalopy, farm tractor, or pickup truck.
Ask a friend to do everyone’s hair rather than investing in expensive hairdos. You might be surprised at how beautiful it turns out.
Instead of tuxes, groomsmen can wear suits, or gray slacks with a navy blazer, then wear matching ties. It looks quite classy.
Hire a D.J. instead of a live band for the reception. The cost is substantially less and often the result is better.
Ask the attendants to be of practical help in the days leading up to the wedding. My son’s groomsmen helped hoist the enormous tent for the reception, then set up tables and chairs to comfortably accommodate 200 people in case it rained. Which is what happened.
A wedding is a wonderful opportunity for family and friends to celebrate the covenant of marriage and to pray for the new couple. When we place the focus on Jesus rather than on the bride and groom, the day is likely to be filled with less expense, less stress and more joy. Which is how it’s supposed to be.
Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer.