Saturday, October 13, 2007

the perfect stor...er, wedding

You can tell perfect weddings, because at them, (only) six things go wrong.

Two bridesmaids faint. What to do? Panic? No. Just say, Check; that's two, four more to go.

Three hours before the reception, the groom's cake slips off the backseat and coats a station wagon's floorboards. Not to worry; got one of our six out of the way, with none the wiser: no one else had seen it, so no one will know when we substitute a sheet cake from Kroger.

The special handmade unity candle has been left on someone's mantel. Problem? I don't know; does it count as something going wrong? It does? Check. Figure, well, at least that one's out of the way, as a guy does a mario andretti going to your friend's house to retrieve the candle, and the accompanist plays some more.

The Mayan calendar savants at the rehearsel dinner location *double-book* the only room that will hold your wedding party. On the spot you have to move the rehearsel to a friend's house. Hm. Maybe that counts as two.

Maybe one reason people get confused about weddings is that although they are not performances--"perfection" in execution is--in a meaningful wedding, at any rate--only slightly positively correlated with "perfect" in emotional and spiritual terms--in a real wedding, the couple are "performing" something; that is, they are accomplishing something. Philosophers even use the term "performance speech" for what goes on: namely, that when the couple says, "with this ring I thee wed," they do. Saying it makes it happen; words don't just affect, but in this case also actually effect the reality.

Another confusion comes from the mistaken notion that a (real) wedding is "just a ceremony." It is natural, I suppose, especially in a culture like ours that has few clearly meaningful public acts, that a genuine ritual would be mistaken for a mere ceremony. What I mean is, a ritual is a symbol, specifically an enacted symbol, and not just a formal protocol one "must," to meet regulations, go through. A symbol is a word, an object, or an act associated with a meaning. So symbols are inherently meaningful. Ritual is an acted symbol, so it (should be) is inherently meaningful.

Once one realizes that this is a ritual, a meaningful action, a symbol, then one sees why as long as the meaning is meant, and as long as what actually lies at the core of that meaning gets enacted one way or another, then the ritual has been a success. Given that humans aren't consistent, and can only attain procedural perfection through drilled repetition, it becomes obvious that a ritual perfect with respect to meaning, to its symbolic function, will most likely not be perfect with regards to its execution, because that's not the important part. The meaning is the important part.

So remember: (at least) six things go wrong at every perfect wedding.

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