Wedding faux pas?

Weddings in the New South bring up all sorts of issues never before encountered in the history of weddings.

Last weekend, Carla and I took our oldest son, Barron, to his first wedding — the marriage of his youth minister, Matt Hester, and our friend Courtney Phillips. It was a beautiful and somewhat unorthodox ceremony and reception that was very personal and deeply rooted in their faith journey and family history.

While we explained each element to Barron, who professed to be sleepy and yawned throughout, I couldn’t help but try to connect our Atlanta church friends to the ceremony, which was taking place in Courtney’s hometown of Orlando. We and two other couples were the only ones from our church in Atlanta who made it down for the wedding, and I knew the folks back home would want to participate vicariously in the celebration.

OK, I know I could be making matters worse by sharing the offending image here, but you have to see it to make a judgment. It's all about context. And isn't it a lovely wedding?
OK, I know I could be making matters worse by sharing the offending image here, but you have to see it to make a judgment. It’s all about context. And isn’t it a lovely wedding?

So, as the couple looked longingly into each other’s eyes and said their vows, I discreetly and silently took a photo with my iPhone. I wrote a simple caption and uploaded it to Facebook. Within minutes, several of our church friends “liked” or commented on the image and expressed thanks for my sharing it.

When we got to the dinner reception afterward, I showed Carla the photo and proudly proclaimed how thoughtful I had been by sharing this with our friends back home. That’s when I got the speech.

“You did NOT,” Carla said, wide eyed. “I thought we had talked about this at the last wedding we went to. They should have the opportunity to be the first ones to share pictures from their wedding. It’s THEIR wedding. What is it you say all the time: ‘It’s not your news to share?’”

Oops.

I began to doubt myself. We had talked about this at the last wedding we attended, and I couldn’t really remember, but I think I came out on the side of posting photos from a wedding in progress on Facebook was a no-no.

“Yeah, but there’s a bunch of people back in Atlanta who couldn’t be here. They would want to see it,” I meekly retorted.

Carla rolled her eyes in response.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I just think it’s something that they should be able to do.”

I continued to mull it over as we joined our friends at the table for dinner. By the time we sat down, Carla had already recruited our friend, Autumn, to her point of view. Carla swore that she didn’t prime Autumn to respond in her favor.

That’s when the self-doubt really kicked in. Had I committed a faux pas? Should I have left well enough alone and let the new couple post the photos they wanted posted from their wedding when they were ready?

This may be a rationalization, but beyond the idea that I was sharing this with our Atlanta friends who could not attend, I also thought “Hey, everybody’s doing it.” These were young people getting married. There were dozens of people holding up iPhones capturing photos and videos of the ceremony. I just assumed I was not the only one posting them to Facebook.

And in my defense, it was a beautiful wedding. It was outside under a giant Live Oak tree draped in Spanish Moss, and it was the same location where her parents had been married. See! Beauty and meaning! It was practically begging to be shared on Facebook.

I was so troubled that when we spoke to the bride and groom at the reception, I barely got out my congratulations before confessing what I had done. In their typical, laid back and inclusive fashion – the groom and groomsmen were wearing Chuck Taylors for crying out loud – Courtney and Matt shrugged it off and said it was fine. They were OK with it.

So if the bride and groom don’t mind, is it OK?

Not to turn this into an episode of “The Marriage Ref,” but I thought I’d let you decide this week: Am I guilty of prematurely sharing an indelible image from someone else’s important life event or was I sharing an event with people who could not otherwise participate because of distance?

You make the call.

We have another wedding in a week, and I need to know how to behave.

Leave a comment below and let me know how you feel on this issue. I don’t want to be still hashing this out with Carla at the next wedding!

Matrimony in the great outdoors

I’m not really a fan of weddings.

I guess I enjoyed my own wedding, but overall, they’re just not that appealing to me. They are too often a big production that has little to do with making a sacred vow before God, family and friends. The spectacle and expense are too much for me to take seriously.

Alex and Natalie get married on a dock
The view from the congregation at the King-Vinson wedding posted to Facebook by one of the couple’s friends.

That said, I have been to a number of very nice weddings and have enjoyed being a part of a number of ceremonies in which friends or family have done their best to put the emphasis on what’s important. This past week, Carla and I attended one such wedding that turned out to be the perfect combination of scenic venue, enjoyable conversation, delicious food and a meaningful ceremony.

I guess it’s just natural when you’re married that when you attend a wedding you end up comparing it to your own. Even though we married in May, we couldn’t help but think about the similarities and key differences in this union of our friends, Alex and Natalie, and our own wedding more than 15 years ago. We were good, Southern traditionalists and attempted a simple, tasteful and aesthetically-pleasing outdoor wedding. A heavy rain sent us indoors, completely changing the venue and vibe of our wedding, and Carla has harbored regret ever since.

She even gets a little jealous, I think, when couples get to have their nuptials outside, which was the case last weekend for Alex and Natalie. Because we have been in dialogue with them at church during their wedding planning for the past few months, we were eager to see their vision come to life.

Unlike our wedding, the weather cooperated magnificently. You could not have custom- created a better Georgia October day. It was clear with a slight breeze and warm without a trace of humidity. The lakeside setting with trees turning autumnal red, orange and yellow provided scenic vistas from nearly every vantage point of the several hundred attendees. The wedding party assembled on a flower petal-strewn dock, tastefully and simply adorned with two huge urns of fall flowers.

The music was a mix of violin and keyboard and included the classic as well as the bride and groom’s special selections.

Alex chomps a piece of the grooms cake as Natalie looks on.
Don’t they look like they’re having fun? The chocolate-peanut butter groom’s cake was a hit.

I care very deeply about Alex and Natalie and was glad to see them taking such efforts to ensure the event was about what weddings are supposed to be about, and when they tied a fisherman’s knot instead of lighting a unity candle, I couldn’t help but think how the metaphor was appropriate on so many levels. All that was missing was a fish jumping out of the water at the moment they set their completed knot down into a ceramic basin.

As the ceremony ended and guests made their way to the lit tent by the lake, the photographer got busy taking the obligatory after-the-ceremony photos. Unlike many weddings we’ve attended where the guests are left to socialize in hunger for what seems like hours, Alex and Natalie wisely invited their guests to help themselves to the buffet during the photography session. Having left our children with Carla’s parents, we were appreciative of the rare treat of uninterrupted adult conversation. The time at the table was a special gift for us as we and our friends reflected on our own wedding experiences, laughed at our naivete and reconnected with the reasons we had all chosen our mates. And it was a powerful reminder to me that Carla is a lot of fun to be around.

I’m glad the weather cooperated. I’m glad I was invited. I’m glad Brian, Amy and Rebecca sat at our table and provided easy and enjoyable conversation. I’m glad Alex and Natalie seemed to get what a wedding is supposed to be about. And for this wedding Grinch, I’m glad I had one to chalk up on the good side of the ledger.

Maybe my attitude will change about weddings. There are precious few years left before I may have to be the father of the groom myself. I might as well get ready for it.

Have you been to a particularly enjoyable or meaningful wedding recently? How did you make your own wedding a unique expression of your style and your relationship? Do you hate weddings? Leave a comment below and share the love.