One summer we had two wedding invitations displayed side-by-side on our mantlepiece.
The first was to a wedding of wealthy friends. It arrived in an envelope sealed with stamped wax. The invitation itself was made of thickly textured card with gold engraved type. It was surrounded by a band of lace, secured by an artificial rose.
The second was to a Quaker wedding. The invitation was on a sheet of typed A4 paper (recycled).
The first wedding directed us to a wedding list registered at one of the major department stores. The second had a note saying that if anyone would like to buy a gift, the couple would very much appreciate the following… There was then a list of items which included (without any reference to branding) a cheese grater, a sieve and a wooden spoon. I don’t remember, but I strongly suspect there was also a suggestion to contribute to a chosen charity, as well or instead of giving a present.
The weddings themselves were the embodiment of their invitations. At the first wedding, the bride wore Pronovias. Waiters in black tie circulated with champagne cocktails and intricately-constructed canapés, after which the guests sat down to a 5-course meal in an elegant hall. Each table had a flower display worthy of a design award.
At the second wedding, the bride wore a purple dress that could be used again in future. The guests carried the vases of flowers from the Meeting House to the party venue. There was a delicious vegetarian buffet after which we danced outside on the grass (it was a warm evening). At the end, we waved the bride and groom off as they cycled away on a tandem. It was perfectly clear that the couple would have embraced these choices however much money they happened to have in the bank.
So what to make of this? Both weddings featured a loving couple who wanted their friends and family to celebrate their union with them. I don’t think one was morally superior to the other.
It must be said that our own wedding was much closer to the first than the second – far less showy and less opulent it’s true, but it still had all those trappings on a more modest scale. Yet I admire the anti-materialistic impulse. I like the purity of it – the way it gets you away from the surface of things to focus on what really matters.
The problem is, I really like pretty stuff. And kitchen gadgets. And Apple products. I could definitely forsake most wordly things so long as I could still shop at Lakeland. And my Cath Kidston handbag is going to need replacing soon. And I’d need to keep my iPhone, iPad and iMac…
Maybe I don’t have a Quaker soul.
If I get fed up with Judaism and can’t become a Quaker, I might consider Sikhism. They really have the right idea, the way every service ends in a shared meal. Yes, I think I will become a Sikh. I don’t know what their weddings are like, though…
If you enjoyed this, why not ‘Like’ my Facebook page? (Or take a look at it, at any rate):