Weddings so different today

They were working on their vows the other day. Say what you like about non-religious weddings but there's certainly no lack of thought and consideration involved. No priests here to help them through their lines; no simple "I do" at the end of the patter. No templates. These guys were having to think carefully about what they wanted to say to each other, about what the day meant to them. About how they saw their future together.

As the father of the bride, couldn't help but notice the contrast. When my wife and I were married thirty years ago, in a Catholic church in South Dunedin, we only had to concern ourselves with the version of the vows we preferred. The priest did the rest. To this day, I have no idea what he said. Just knew enough to blurt out an acceptance at the right time. It will be different on Saturday, though. These two are going in with their eyes wide open.

Different, too, on so many levels. We had a frocked priest; they're having a gay, female celebrant. We had flowers, they're having thistle - to commemorate the groom's Scottish heritage. We had our wedding in a basilica, they're having theirs in a country garden (weather-permitting). We had a pipe organ and organist, they're going with a DJ. We left most of the arrangements to our parents; they've organised everything themselves.

And it doesn't stop there. True enough, I hadn't really kept pace with the way weddings had changed over the past couple of decades. Wasn't up with the latest trends. Still, it was with some alarm I heard my daughter discussing the idea of bringing the family collie. Thankfully, was able to persuade her to reconsider. Seems like the weather's going to be unpredictable enough without adding a hyperactive sheep dog to the mix.

Am pretty sure, also, she's scuttled the plan of having a quiz contest during the reception. Couldn't quite get my head around that. The photo booth will be there, though. Was told my scepticism over that was borne of inexperience. Everyone does it these day, apparently. Am reliably informed that, whether or not there's an official photographer on duty, the casual snaps taken by guests often add another dimension to the wedding album. Right.

Not that I should worry, really. If my daughter's choice of a husband is any gauge, her decision making faculties are beyond question. What a bloody good sort. Couldn't ask for a nicer son-in-law. A gentle bloke, with a political bent that fits comfortably within our Kiwi spectrum, he's hard-working, cheery and utterly comfortable in his own skin. Most importantly, he seems completely smitten with the woman he's about to wed.

Gutsy too. Must admit, when my daughter set out on her OE, we weren't expecting her to return with such a quality Scottish souvenir. This is a young man who's left his family and friends behind on the other side of the world to make a new life in New Zealand.. The only folk he knows here are the people with whom he works, my daughter and her friends, and our family. I think about that sometimes and feel a genuine sense of responsibility...

Anyway, on Saturday I will be the father of the bride. Not quite as important as the mother of the bride, perhaps, but a special role all the same. Am just hoping everything goes smoothly; that the weather behaves itself and the wedding cars don't break down.  Not that I should stress. Was told ages ago, apart from walking my daughter up to whatever they call the thing that's not an altar, there's only one other duty for which I'd need to prepare.

Oh my God, the speech...

» Read more of Richard Boock in the Sunday Star Times.
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