An Old-Fashioned Southern Wedding

by Steve Lancaster12/21/18
My wife and I just returned from a 2200-mile road trip to attend the daughter of a friend’s wedding. The groom is an engineer and owns a pizza restaurant here in Fayetteville. The bride assumed my wife’s job as a financial analyst in the Chemical Engineering department of the University of Arkansas. The planning for this day began when they announced their engagement about one year ago.

These days formal weddings are not the thing among the younger crowd. To have any kind of ceremony at all is unusual but the whole deal with a rehearsal dinner, reception dinner and party and a brunch the day after is so traditional as to require comment. The wedding was in Charleston SC. Even in the winter a gorgeous location. I can’t say much about the venues except that they were beautiful Southern locations. The low country and the tidewater add a special grace and charm to the proceedings and by themselves made the trip worthwhile.

Wedding are a special commitment for friends and family. These two young people will face challenges in their life together, but I have no doubt that they will persevere and prosper. It is not entirely due to the wedding ceremony, but it is a major element, with friends and family standing by the couple that, if nothing else, provides emotional support to them. A community endorsement of their commitment.

At other times in our culture, when things were leaner, a wedding might be formalized with the bride and groom jumping over a broom. In New England it was not uncommon for a new bride to give birth 6 months after the marriage. Apparently, premature births were easily cared for in Puritan communities. Fertility was a prized asset in the 17th century.

The acceptance of the relationship between two people has always been one of the strengths of not only Western culture but all human cultures. As we have degraded the importance of marriage, we have also degraded the importance of child rearing and community life. Perhaps in the future marriage as an institution will arise to the important place it holds in our culture. It was a privilege to attend this wedding, for all it symbolizes about our collective past and all it means for the future.

My wife and I had a whirlwind tour of Charleston and Savanah on our trip. I wanted to visit Parris Island RD, but weather and time prevented that. We did have lunch at the Lady and Son restaurant, owned and operated by Paula Deen. The drive home through South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas was long and tiring. I doubt we will make another long road trip. One of the nicest stretches of the Interstate system is I-22 between Birmingham and Tupelo. If you have the opportunity you can catch up with the Natchez Trace in Tupelo and visit the birthplace of Elvis. • (95 views)

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9 Responses to An Old-Fashioned Southern Wedding

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    I’ve attended a few formal weddings in my life. There was my sister’s over a half century ago, but I naturally remember nothing about it. The marriage didn’t last long, though her current marriage has worked well. In our family, informal affairs have worked better. Elizabeth and I never actually formalized a wedding (we were thinking of it at the beginning of last year, but various matters — including the increasing decline of my body — prevented it).

    Various friends of mine had weddings, including 2 that were held about a month part over 30 years ago. One had interesting timing. One morning I attended the funeral of Grant McCormick’s father. Then Elizabeth and I went to a science fiction convention in Evansville — and that night, took time off to attend the wedding of Joseph Major and Lisa Thomas. It wasn’t a large wedding (the reception was held in the Thomas house), but Elizabeth is a relative of Joe’s so we were able to attend. Two formal events in one day.

    The next (and probably last) formal wedding I attended was the wedding of my niece Megan Jessica Vaile (my sister Theodora’s daughter) up in Maine. This has a massive wedding reception, including live Maine lobster with melted butter. It was also secular, but with a special ceremony that very much resembled a standard one and had been rehearsed.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    To have any kind of ceremony at all is unusual but the whole deal with a rehearsal dinner, reception dinner and party and a brunch the day after is so traditional as to require comment.

    Welcome to StubbornThings, Steve, where the usual and normal have become so abnormal, they are like elements in a freak show. 😀

    Sounds like you and the misses had a wonderful road trip. I encourage you and others to write about (and show them with a few photos as well) your experiences in normal America. Best wishes to the happy couple.

    • Steve Lancaster says:

      Brad, Indeed it was a great trip. Reminder that life actually happens outside the
      DC beltway. Here in flyover country normal people are living their lives and will continue to do so.

      I am reminded of a Martin Mull movie from the late 70s or early 80s, Serial. It dealt with a normal person living in the confines of Marin county. It’s very funny even 30 years after it was made and amazingly topical.

      In the movie Mull attends a wedding of two liberal/progressive self proclaimed “assholes”. He tells his wife, “I don’t have time for two self proclaimed assholes to be pair bonded by a priest from the gong show” lets go home.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Here’s that movie: Serial. That sounds like my kind of film. One reviewer bills it as “A satirical classic about Californian lifestyles.” These days it might be difficult to actually do that, things have gotten so silly. You have to have a sense of the normal in order to do satire. Yes, you or I would be in on the joke, but I don’t think there are all that many people left who can spot the absurd and call it so.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I’ve never seen it, but the wikipedia description is interesting. It reminds me of the early 70s cartoon satire Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, which was a fun send-up of weirdoes on both the left and the extreme right, but set in the LA area rather than Marin County. The Almanac of American Politics described Marin as a place where housewives in cashmere sweaters went to the store in bare feet to show solidarity with the poor.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Most of the weddings I attended were local, but we did take a long drive to Maine (this was 2002, and I wasn’t about to fly and have to endure TSA searching). Time didn’t permit a long visit or any extra sight-seeing, which was disappointing. It would have been nice to see West Point or the Baseball Hall of Fame on the trip. We often used to do a lot of sightseeing on long vacations trips (usually to attend SF conventions) — battlefields, museums, zoos/aquariums, mansions, state capitols, etc.

        I’ve never been to South Carolina or Georgia south or east of Atlanta.

      • Rosalys says:

        “I don’t have time for two self proclaimed assholes to be pair bonded by a priest from the gong show” lets go home.”

        Priceless! I think this may be my kind of movie, too. I hope the library has a copy.

  3. Steve Lancaster says:

    I have it on disk. Something for a cold Arkansas night. Haven’t watched it for 10 years or more.

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