Theme: Polaroid wedding
Elopement. Colloquially defined as running away to get married, usually done in secret and more often than not assumed to sprout from a forbidden relationship. The word has a very strong negative associated, so strong that you are forgiven to forget that elopement can also mean spontaneity, impulsiveness, and unbounded joy. Sometimes, a moment of love can get so big so fast that all you can do is get married, because that is the only way that you can express how much you love the other person. Of course I am implying that marriage is the only way that you can show someone how much you love them. But getting married does have its own magic, and brings a certain feeling of contentment with it. I guess that is why the instant-wedding trade in Las Vegas is booming!
But back to eloping. Elopement does not always occur on the whim, sometimes couples plan months in advance. They plan the day as they would a traditional wedding, they just don’t send invites out. If they do tell people about their plans, and even if they invite guests, it is usually a very small number compared to the more mainstream weddings. I would say less than 10 guests in total. Usually the parents, siblings, and best friends. Often, the ceremony is similar to a “normal” ceremony, the couple exchanges rings and vows and everything we have come to know as the rites of marriage, and the reception is then still held afterwards. This reception, because it is usually a very small group, can be held in someone’s home, at a restaurant, or even catered for at an intimate venue. It will all depend on the couple.
I always thought eloping was romantic. Finding someone you wanted so spend the rest of your life with, not wanting to wait months for an available date to get married on, saving all that money so that you can invite a large group of people, spending all of that money… versus eloping – deciding you want to get married, finding your nearest court building, handing in the necessary paperwork, and that is that! Saying your I Do’s and then breaking the news afterwards. You can always have a big party after the fact, where you can invite all your family and friends, to celebrate you becoming husband and wife. It can still be special, maybe even more so since you eliminate the chance of family fights, wedding debt, and other issues that seem to always arise when you are planning your wedding.
We have done our fair share of “elopements” – couples who got married in court, then celebrated with a small handful of guests afterwards. In most of the cases it was not because the family didn’t like the partner, or didn’t approve of the match, or even because they didn’t have enough money to have a big wedding. For some people the glitz and glamour, or extra work, or attention, of spending of unnecessary money is exactly that, unnecessary. They want something small, intimate, and fast. For them it is about the marriage that follows, not the wedding itself. In other cases, their situations have changed drastically and quickly, leaving them no time to plan or wait for months. They need to get married within the week, stripping them of the chance to have the big wedding.
No matter what your reasons are, everybody should be able to have the wedding day that they would like to have. If you want to get married in court, with no hoohah then please do. If you would like to have the more traditional wedding but have no time or money, then there should be an alternative to getting hitched in court by a judge. We want to offer that alternative – a wedding venue for a 1-2-3 wedding. 1 – you pick the date and time so we can arrange the person who can legally marry you, 2 – you let us know how many guests to expect so we can invoice you, 3 – after paying the invoice you merely show up. What will you get? A forest chapel beautifully decorated, a person to marry you, beautifully set tables with flowers and centre pieces, a 3 course meal, sparkling wine for your toast, a bouquet for yourself, and a boutonniere for your partner. We can arrange the photographer as well. Want a wedding cake? No problem, we can quote on that too. In and out in less than 3 hours, you arrive as a Miss and leave a Mrs! And the price? Should you be interested, or want more info, send us an email to find out more.
Engagement. Getting engaged. The dictionary defines it as “a formal agreement to get married” but us, fellows in the industry, knows it is so much more than merely promising to take your partner to the altar.
With all the pressures of modern life, engagements and the time that you are engaged seems to be taking a back seat to the actual wedding, or planning of said wedding. People forget how truly magical it is to publicly display your commitment to each other, and how brave you are to have taken this step. It is truly inspiring to see, and absolutely wonderful to share in this journey!
But where did this tradition come from, and why does it matter in today’s modern world? In South Africa, we typically follow the European engagement and wedding practices. To make the history lesson very short, the origin of these practices can be found in Jewish law. The Torah outlines that marriage consists of two separate acts – erusin (or kiddushin, meaning sanctification), the betrothal ceremony, and nissu’in or chupah, the actual marriage ceremony. Erusin changes the couple’s interpersonal status (and their social status), while nissu’in has to do with the legal changes, and the two practices usually took place up to a year apart.
Later on, in ancient Greece, this practice was adopted as the gamos and engeysis rituals, with Roman marriage law eventually also borrowing the giving of a ring from Judaism. The fiancé presented his bride-to-be with a ring after swearing the oath of marriage intent. But why a ring? The Romans believed the circle signified eternity, since it has no discernible beginning nor ending, similar to the bond between the couple. It was worn on the fourth finger (the ring finger) because the Romans believed the vena amoris, or “vein of love”, began from this finger. So by wearing your “promise to love you until eternity” ring from your loved one on this finger you were, in their eyes, literally connecting your love to your heart.
Today, engagement not only signals intent, but also the commitment and able-ness to take care of the other person. In some cultures and countries, a bride price or dowry (or lebola) is obligated, and only once the whole amount has been paid can the wedding take place. In other cultures, the bride price has been replaced by the engagement ring. Once the price has been paid, whether it is in cattle, money, or a ring, the parents are usually expected to bless the upcoming marriage, and then the planning can start.
This planning can be daunting for some, and pure pleasure for others. If you have been dreaming about your wedding day since you were a child, this can be a time of pure ecstasy (if you can get everything you have ever dreamed of) or pure disappointment (if you realise the budget does not stretch to cover Cinderella’s castle). What we always try and make our wedding couples see is that the wedding day is not the goal, your life together is. As with most things in life, you have to selectively choose where you want to spend your time, energy, and money. But we also know it can be overwhelming, with every friend, family member and complete stranger giving their opinions and trying to convince you about something. And then you have not even been to the wedding expos! Every service provider will try to convince you that they are the best, and you will most likely leave feeling more confused and frustrated than when you entered.
The point is, or should be, that your engagement should signal the start of your life together. It should show the world how committed you are to each other, and strengthen your bond (to withstand the wedding stress none the less), a beautiful, fruitful time that is needed to get to know those last details about each other, maybe work out a few issues, and plan your future – you know, what happens AFTER the wedding. It is definitely not supposed to be a fast road to bankruptcy or family-estrangement, and definitely not a step or phase to be dreaded. Your engaged time should be special, and should lead up to a personalised, well planned wedding that did not break the bank.
Being engaged feels completely different to merely dating, no matter how committed you were, and being married will again feel different to what it felt like being engaged. So enjoy every step, every phase. If you are lucky, you will only experience it once!