Is It Just About You?
In a previous post I commented on the recent royal wedding of Prince Harry and Princess Meghan, their use of “I will” instead of “I do” and how that practice is much more common than most couples think. This week I’m going to offer some comments on another element of that royal wedding ceremony that many couples think is unusual.
Immediately following the Declaration of Intention, the Archbishop said to the congregation:
"Will you, the families and friends of Harry and Meghan, support and uphold them in their marriage now and in the years to come?" The guests responded with, “We will.”
I happen to think that it’s really powerful that hundreds of friends and family members verbally and publicly stated that they would be supportive of the new couple. Wouldn’t you want the same for your ceremony?
It turns out that the Archbishop wasn’t doing anything strange or unusual in asking the guests to respond. That practice has been included in thousands of weddings and even though there’s nothing particularly sacred about it, it’s prescribed in the worship guides of every major Christian denomination. I always suggest that couples include something like this but many of them say to me, “That’s weird” or “I don’t want other people saying anything during our ceremony”. Yet, here we have a very high-profile wedding in which the guests are asked to respond. It turns out that this practice is much more common than most people realize, and, in my opinion, it should be considered by everyone. Here’s why.
Your guests aren’t just there for free food and drink (well, most of them, anyway). For the most part, your guests consist of family (some close, some not so close!) and friends. Of course, there will always be those whom you don’t know very well. You know – the ones that your Mom said that you have to invite because it just wouldn’t be polite if you didn’t! Most of your guests are present because they genuinely care about you and if you didn’t care about them, you’d just go to the courthouse and save yourself a lot of time, money and effort. Your guests play two very important roles in your ceremony…
1. Your guests are there to affirm your decision to get married. Many of them have been with you through good times and bad. They’ve seen the breakups and tough decisions you’ve made and they’ve loved you through all of them. Their presence at your wedding is their way of saying “you’ve made a good choice and I’m here to affirm that. I’ve got your back!”
2. Your guests are present to show you that they’ll continue to support you. If there’s anything that I’ve learned in almost 33 years of marriage, it’s the importance of friends and family during the marriage. It does “take a village” to make a good marriage. I can tell you with great certainty that surrounding yourselves with good friends and strong family relationships is one the key ingredients to a long and successful marriage.
You and your partner are going to share vows of commitment to each other. Consider having your friends and family to make a similar commitment of love and support to the two of you. Here’s what I like to say to the guests…
“We, their community of friends and family, have a responsibility to this couple. By our steadfast care, respect and love we can support their marriage and the new family they are creating today. As friends of Groom and Bride, will all of you, do everything in your power to uphold and care for these two persons in their marriage? Will you love them, support them and encourage them? If so, please say, “We will”!
My hope is that all of your guests, whether verbally or silently, will not only affirm the union you are creating on your wedding day but that they will continue to be there for you in the years to follow.