Not Your Ordinary Marriage

In this age of atheism and individual spirituality and even apathy, it doesn't make sense for a lot of couples to have a traditional church wedding. Why should the bride wear white if she's obviously not pure and virginal? Why should bridesmaids spend hundreds of dollars on frou-frou dresses and tacky dyed satin shoes they will never wear again?After I became engaged this year, I briefly considered getting married by Elvis in Vegas. My groom would wear a red jumpsuit and blue suede shoes and plenty of hair gel. I'd do up my hair in a trendy beehive and show off a little pink girly dress.But that's been done.Then I heard about the woman who had a Halloween wedding in an old theater. She and her husband-to-be dressed in black, as did all of their guests. But, to me, that seemed a little morbid -- and a bad omen to start off their marriage. I mean, shouldn't a wedding be a festive occasion? Then again, maybe if you begin with something dark and gloomy, no matter how bad the marriage becomes, it will always be a step up from the wedding. Hmmm.The turning point in my conversion to alternative marriage devotee came last Christmas, at the wedding of one of my best friends. The ceremony and reception were held in an art studio. The bride and groom, both recent art school grads, dressed as the White Queen and Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland - costumes that reflected their whimsical personalities. The wedding guests included cowboys and Indians, fairies, and even some Ninja Turtles.To top it all off, the bride had convinced me -- a mere wedding guest -- to also dress as a bride. She wanted to confuse her in-laws, some of whom hadn't met her before and had no idea what she looked like. So I wore my mom's wedding dress to my friend's wedding - lacy sleeves, white veil, the works. Let me tell you, I got lots of raised eyebrows and sneers from the wedding party's families.But it was also deliciously fun to be a bride at someone else's wedding. It removed the heavy sanctimony that some church weddings have, and made the whole thing more light-spirited and celebratory -- really a reflection of the bride's and groom's personalities.Their wedding helped to convince me that there's often not a compelling reason to be married the old-fashioned way. Some might say that a church wedding heightens the union that God, or whatever spirit you believe in, makes between husband and wife. I say that an individual wedding makes the experience more personal and meaningful -- and can actually deepen the bond between spouses.Of course, a non-traditional wedding is also more open to disaster, since there's no planned structure, and no precedent to follow. Anything goes. But, in that way, it's a big adventure -- just like the marriage itself. I figure you might as well start the rest of your lives with a ceremony that reflects who both of you are, how you see yourselves, and what you believe about the world.That's why my fiance and I are now thinking about having a theater wedding -- a wedding within a play, with the guests as "actors" - sort of a real-life version of the Tony and Tina play long-running in Chicago and New York. The guests would have parts to develop and lines to read, modeled after their own personalities. Maybe it will even be a musical -- a comedy, with a few misunderstandings along the way, but clarity and happiness in the end.Of course, my fiance and I will play the leads.

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