There have been no shortage of challenges in the last year. The huge scale of the Covid pandemic and its impact is naturally causing a lot of anxiety, uncertainty, and fear across the globe. Lockdowns, face masks, tiers and restrictions, furlough schemes, home-working and business closures have headlined the news. Getting married in the chaos of the pandemic does not seem to be such a great idea. But maybe it is not as bad as it looks.
From the Sikh perspective, the day of marriage is a lot more than just a ceremony or a celebration. It is the day when two souls merge as one and collectively become the soul bride. The couple is one soul in two bodies. This merged soul then marries the Almighty God, the groom. The real beauty of a marriage where God is at the centre is that it releases us from ignorance, selfishness, and doubt and provides a springboard to fall in love with God. Even a pandemic cannot deflect the ceremony’s beauty because it is really about the couple, their love, and their commitment to God.
So everyone should just move on and get married, right? The reality is that it is not that simple! There are many challenges: one of the biggest is juggling the desires of those close to us. Family and close friends can have certain expectations and some strong opinions of what they are expecting on your big day. There is nothing wrong with that, it is nice that those around you care about your wedding day and want to be part of it. Planning a wedding can be very stressful, and a couple cannot do it all by themselves (while remaining sane!). After all, it is family and friends who provide emotional, spiritual, and financial support. But what do you do when your marriage is restricted to six people? How do you manage expectations?
I can talk from experience since my son is due to get married during this lockdown. There have been some difficult decisions to make. One of them has been timing, which has been more like a crystal ball exercise! Will there be another lockdown? Will restrictions ease by waiting a little longer? The date was moved from April to May, hoping that more of the family can be invited. But the couple has settled for just moving ahead and not waiting for further easing of restrictions.
Planning for a restricted wedding day does require a different mindset. In many ways, simplifying the day is a good thing because it helps focus on the most essential part of the wedding and reduces many complications and even drama! One area that really helps is technology, which has kept human beings connected during this difficult time. So much can be done to bring everyone together for your special day. With technology like Zoom, hundreds of people can log in and feel part of the wedding. Different time zones can all join in too. Break-out rooms can create different environments to tell a story about family, friendships, younger life, and other exciting and interesting things about the couple. Time can also be set aside for personal video calls and messages from all over the world.
Another positive is the cost of the wedding. As we all know, weddings aren’t cheap! In the UK, one estimation of the average cost of a wedding in 2020 was £16000, excluding honeymoon and guest spend. And Asian weddings can be quite a lot higher than that too! A restricted wedding will reduce the costs significantly. If your family is like ours, you would probably choose to spend some money so that you can come together, but keep the spending within sensible limits. At the end of the day, the couple will benefit by reducing wedding costs and putting the saved money to more practical uses as they begin married life.
With what appears to be an effective vaccine rollout, it seems like there is light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe we will be looking back at this time, and it will slowly become a distant memory. It may be that things will never entirely be the same again. No doubt Zoom will be playing a significant role in my son’s wedding, which is not something I would have dreamt of a couple of years ago. But one thing I do hope is that this helps us have a rethink about wedding days. Maybe we have given too much emphasis to the celebration and the party in the past or taken family get-togethers for granted. Accepting God’s Will in these tough times may be challenging. But a couple’s love and commitment to God and ability to see positive in any situation will undoubtedly see them through it. This is the true spirit of a wedding day, and that does not change. Everything else is just a bonus.