Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dancing Down the Aisles: an Argument for Reverence

I wouldn't usually comment on something that doesn't impact me, but after being asked at least two dozen times by various people if The Man and I would dance down the aisle at our wedding, I feel as though I have to comment. We may both be people who can dance, but we did not approve of the action during our wedding ceremony. I need to be clear: I'm not attacking the couple or suggesting that they are bad people. They made a decision to dance down the aisle at their wedding, and that's fine. My comments are directed toward weddings in general in light of the viral video and how often people have insisted it would be a good idea for us to do as well.

My first problem in commenting about my dissatisfaction with weddings being so joyous that there is dancing in the aisle is that I immediately look like the world's biggest party pooper. I haven't found a way to say, "I disagree with that" without also sounding as if I'm saying, "I disagree with that and think you should too."

One problem I found with the viral video is the size of the wedding party. Since when did getting married mean including every person you've ever known as a bridesmaid or groomsman? Are people afraid of offending someone by not including them in the wedding party that they ask everyone? It feels like it becomes a popularity contest, almost like someone saying, "look at how many friends I have!" Does the seventh bridesmaid really feel like a part of the action when her duties include paying for her dress, shoes, nails and hair, and maybe getting to spend a nanosecond with the bride? What exactly is the purpose of groomsman number eight, and what role does he fulfill on the wedding day? It's one thing if a couple comes from large families and wants to include siblings, but I think a line has to be drawn somewhere. Having the entire fraternity standing next to the groom is overkill and quite tacky to me.

I'll be the first to say that tradition for tradition's sake is a bad idea, but I'm still not sure wedding traditions should be upended by dancing in the aisles. Weddings can be personalized by location, colors, costumes, even size and words... is walking down the aisle too traditional or simple, too boring maybe? Is there an ecclesiastical reason for the slow wedding progression? Perhaps it gives the bride and groom a chance to reflect and grow one more moment as they move toward a life together.

Also, people don't seem to take weddings seriously anymore. I'm not talking about the life-long commitment or realizing the trials of marriage, but the wedding itself. Maybe people don't take saying the vows seriously. Maybe they aren't recognizing what a wedding is: the sacrament between a man and woman as they start their vocational calling together. Dancing down the aisle seems like a stunt wrought with self-gratification, a look-at-me overture that subtracts reverence and respect for the institution Christ Himself created. A wedding is a sacrament, not a production number with a song-and-dance routine. It's not a contest to see how big, how expensive, how cheap, how glamorous, how on-top-of-a-mountain-with-elephants-and-balloons a wedding can be. Even if a church doesn't recognize marriage as a true sacrament (most Protestants don't actually), they usually still recognize the sanctity of marriage.

I'm sure you're ready to shout at me, "Lighten up! It was their wedding, not yours." It frustrates me to no end, though, that people keep suggesting to us that we needed to do that at our wedding. Even if I didn't have an opinion when I first saw the video, I've had to form an opinion. I've had to reason why we wouldn't want to dance down the aisles. For us, it boiled down to reverence. We decided we didn't want a boisterous display and instead chose ceremony style that reflected our commitment to Christ and the Church. Many people later commented to both of us how beautiful our ceremony went, and several relayed how incredible our first dance was to watch.

There's nothing wrong with being joyous. There's nothing wrong with dancing. A problem forms when the need for self-gratification and attention overstep respect. The problem continues when a wedding is more about the show than the sacrament. I am not impressed by people dancing down aisles at a wedding, and to all those who have asked if we considered doing it at our wedding, I am incredibly thankful we didn't do so.

1 comment:

Skunk said...

As a newlywed and fellow dancing couple, I completely understand your sentiment, however my reasons may differ slightly. I didn't want to dance down the aisle because if we had, I would have felt like a cheap copy-cat, which I think is worse that lack of reverence, but that's just where my values lie. :) I value being unique and true to myself rather than trying to be like someone else.
While I didn't think it was disrespectful of them to dance down the aisle, I do frown upon them since they were then asked to ENCORE their performance on the Today show—and they did it!
You should check out the “six months later” video. That one is performed by real dancers, plus it might make you feel a little bit better. :)