Why Get Married?

I write a lot about weddings, but a wedding is merely the first step and symbolic transition in something bigger: marriage.  And while I love weddings and creating wedding ceremonies rich with meaning, it is the lifetime that follows that matters most.

There’s a beautiful poem by Marge Piercy, an author I’ve always enjoyed, called Why Marry at All?  The piece addresses overcoming old constraints of marriage that limited a woman’s role in life, and celebrating the more modern idea of standing together through life’s challenges as equals. It’s a point of view I agree with completely. Because marriage, like all societal constructs, has evolved and grown. And this is a good thing.

The institution of marriage probably predates recorded history. Most ancient cultures valued a wife only as property, an idea that held on far too long. Over time, however, both religious organizations and governments began to set out rights and obligations between the spouses. Different religions and cultures have different interpretations of this, but all agreed that intimate relations and procreation were an expected part of the union. Lovebetween the couple came to be valued much later, really only in modern times.

Today most people choose whether or not to have children, and couples that do not want, or cannot have children, are not shunned, but live a happily married life. Over-population of the planet should figure into this equation as well, although that discussion seems to have disappeared.

When women no longer have to depend on marriage for survival, why would a woman want to get married? In the 1970’s feminists began asking this very question and many rejected the institution. But ultimately the bond of love between two people is more powerful than social forces left or right. And so, feminists, too, chose marriage. People just naturally want to pair-up; most people do not want to be alone.

I believe in marriage because, at its healthiest and best, it creates a place of safety, where two people can grow, as individuals and as a couple. It has proven to promote longevity, stability, health and wellbeing. It also provides legal benefits including tax, social security, employment, medical, family, housing and other types of legal rights that vary from state to state. I’ve officiated quick elopements for many a military couple, needing the legal status so their partner could live on the base, and marriages for people dealing with immigration issues. There are couples who need health insurance of their partner, or the right to make medical decisions. And I’ve officiated for countless love-struck young couples who are yearning for a lifetime of happiness.

I’ve officiated for gay couples who have spent over 20 or 30 years together and finally got to make it official. I support marriage equality because it’s obvious to me that gay and lesbian couples deserve all the same legal, spiritual, social, and emotional benefits of marriage, and I’m so happy they got that. Let’s hope we don’t lose those rights.

Today, marriage is better than ever! Couples I speak with are very committed to equality and see their relationships as true partnerships.

When I am creating a wedding ceremony I am celebrating not only the love of the two people who brought us all together for that purpose, but the institution itself.



thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the awesome photography!

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