When my mom suggested holding the wedding reception in the back yard, it just felt right. I couldn’t have put my finger on what was right about it when she said it, but it was like a light bulb went off above my head. In my back yard is where I’m supposed to celebrate my wedding.
Of course, I had my reservations. Could we fit enough people? Would the neighbors get pissed? Where will everyone park? But the idea seemed so right to me, I just couldn’t let it go.
My mom said that it was because this idea is just more me than a reception hall. I am passionate about local economies and urban homesteading. I have a love affair going with this back yard, and leaving it will be the saddest part of getting married. I have put a lot of work into it, and I will put a lot more into it to get it ready for the wedding. And I will love every minute of it.
But, the longer I have to reflect upon it, the more I think that there is so much more meaning to a back yard wedding than just environmental friendliness and speaking to me as an individual. A back yard wedding speaks to the meaning of marriage as a whole.
Weddings serve a greater purpose than just procreation (despite what some homophobes want people to believe). Traditionally, weddings were a way to grow families and communities by bringing them together. Wars could be resolved through weddings, poverty could be eased, friendships could grow and communities were strengthened. Marriage was more about that than even love, traditionally. In fact, marriage for love is a relatively new concept, anthropologically speaking, and in many ways, unique to western culture.
Now, I’m not saying that I don’t like marriage for love. I love Jeremy very much, and I’m glad that I have gotten the opportunity to marry him, instead of being forced to marry the first man who showed interest, or the man who knocked me up (thank God I didn’t have to marry that). But I think that the other purposes of marriage, the ones that have served such a vital purpose to human culture from the dawn of time, ought to be recognized and cherished. And while it is true that that purpose was often achieved by treating woman and children like property (I will trade you my prettiest daughter in exchange for ceasing this war, etc.), I don’t think that ancient sexism devalues the role of community and the way in which community can be served through marriage.
Marriage can, and should, bring communities together. Of course, most people’s marriage brings two families and sets of friends together, and that’s very good. But community consists of more than just our friends and relations. Community consists of your neighbors, your mail carrier, your garbage person, local business owners, your religious authority at your place of worship, all the people around us every day that most of us tend to take for granted. And it’s hard to involve community, on that level, when you’ve shipped yourself far away from your home, your neighborhood, your community, to some sterile, foreign, artificial location for your ceremony and reception.
While I understand that budget and space restrictions keep most of us from inviting our entire communities to our weddings, I love the idea of having my wedding reception in my community, involving my community. Not only will my friends and family have the opportunity to get to know each other, but my neighbors will all have this opportunity to get to know my friends and family, and each other, as well. In a world where we spend more time talking to Facebook friends than our own neighbors, I think back yard weddings might just be one step towards saving the world. Or at least culture.
Here’s an article about community and family that I really enjoyed. I hope that you do too.