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Ruth Graham flags a funny problem in the  essay that Matthew Cantirino shared  yesterday: Originality has never been more valued in wedding ceremonies, and never harder to produce.

She and her fiance, “like just about every other betrothed couple in America . . . wanted our wedding to be ‘personal.’” But “the aesthetics of such a wedding . . . are practically set in stone: indie pop music, mason jars, white Christmas lights, wildflowers. And poetry.”

By the time of her wedding, she came to realize that there is no such thing as an entirely original wedding ceremony: “marriage means stepping into an ancient institution marked by hundreds of temporal particulars,” so your wedding’s dearth of originality is no shortcoming.

One blessing of getting married in the Catholic Church is this unoriginality. Besides sparing the bride and groom the burden of originality—-writing their own vows, playing good but not overused music, finding meaningful yet not excessively obscure readings—-the Catholic rite of marriage reminds the couple of a truth easily forgotten: Your wedding (like your marriage) is not only about you.

That the Rite of Marriage takes place the middle of the nuptial Mass,  embedded between Scripture readings and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, is no mistake. It situates the marriage in what is, for Catholics,  its broader context : its divine origin and graces, its connection to the community, its symbolism of the covenant between God and man.

But perhaps the most counter-cultural aspect of the ceremony (since, after all, most couples find some divine or transcendental meaning in marriage) is its mention of children. During the vows, couples are asked: “Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?” In saying yes, the bride and groom agree together to found a new Ecclesia domestica , the domestic Church that is the family. But even that new family is not a unit unto itself; it is part of a whole community , as the community’s presence at the wedding attests.

The nuptial Mass, then, is suffused with meaning, which deepens over time as the couple matures in their marriage, settles in a community, and (God-willing) has children. Personal weddings can be nice, but I’ll take this unoriginality any day.

Articles by Anna Sutherland

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