The two weddings I attended this past month again brought home this thought – that a Catholic Filipino wedding ritual has ramifications beyond the union of bride and groom. It’s a celebration of family solidarity, an event to strengthen alliances with friends and colleagues, an occasion to forge community ties, and a time for Holy Mother the Church to make sure the Lord becomes a partner in the couple’s wedded life.
But enough of these manifest functions.
The wedding ritual also asserts the primacy of heterosexual unions; the primacy of public rituals over private affairs; the indissolubility of marriage (and the distaste for divorce); the desirability of procreation; the superiority of men over women, and the dependence on families of orientation, now with godparents included, for guidance and support.
In short, the ritual — staged in relatively plush settings to symbolize one’s status – affirms the power of family and church to direct the couple’s life and to propagate an ideology that will sustain that power.
So much for latent functions.
The point is: weddings enable and constrain, and I feel most couples prefer a ceremony that’s more enabling than constraining. The choice of some couples to defray all wedding expenses (as was the case in the two weddings I attended) is a subtle attempt of bride and groom to lessen that constraint, wield a little power, and assert their independence. I wish the couples good luck! The power of social institutions is not as easy to break as the wine glasses we tinkled to get the groom to kiss the bride.
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