A number of people I know got married in recent months, including my own brother, Harry. I can't help but notice that all these weddings are celebrated in almost the same way. The fashionable thing to do these days is to take up a "wedding package" which usually includes inter alia the making or renting of the wedding gown, a photography session which may or may not include the video compilation, and of course the grand wedding reception in a famous hotel where hundreds or even thousands of family members and close friends are invited to grace the occasion.
If anything, these days weddings are not a cheap affair—they can cost up to a pretty down payment for a house, or maybe the full price of a car. And in almost all cases, I also notice that most of these young people who're struggling to build up their careers would have to sacrifice quite a lot to raise the money to cover the cost of the wedding celebrations. In fact, it is almost expected of them to throw a big party!
I found myself looking back at my own wedding some 19 years ago. When compared to what's the norm today, it pales in comparison. We had the church thing, of course; and then after that we proceeded to the hall at the back of the church for some light snacks and soft drinks. Later that evening, we invited some friends for a party. But far from a grand wedding reception in a famous hotel, we decided to set up tents in the front compound of my uncle's house. We did not pay astronomical amount for professional photographers. Instead, we sought help from some friends to take photos and videos. Everything was kept very simple and down to earth. I dare say it was one of those boring weddings based on today's standard!
I think it would have been nice if I could afford a grand wedding, but the cost of such was far beyond anything that I could afford. I used up quite a bit of my savings for the celebration, and I was determined not to borrow money for that purpose.
Actually, it's strange that people in general have the habit of having grand wedding celebrations, really. Admittedly, it's a very special day, but I see marriage as something akin to running the marathon. Too many people celebrate their arrivals at the starting line, and then after the race had started, too many of them find that it's a very unpleasant experience. So they struggle; they suffer when they reach the undulating surfaces; their knees and ankles turn into jelly when negotiating bends; and ultimately many of them suffer cramps and give up long before reaching the finish line!
I celebrated my arrival at the starting line over 19 years ago. But it was a very simple celebration. And as I started running the race, there were many, many tough moments when I had to climb hills, when I had to overcome exhaustion and thirsts and cramps all over my body. But overall, it's been an enjoyable run anyway. With my arrival at each new milestone, I felt there was a bigger reason to celebrate. I'm happy that I've reached this far in my race, and I celebrate the fact that I'm still racing up to now. I've seen too many people who celebrated excessively at the starting line who've long since given up on the race. All those grand celebrations seem such a waste.
As I run my marathon, I feel blessed that I still have it in me to continue running. I'm still enjoying the race, and although I do not throw a big party at each new milestone, I celebrate grandly in my heart and mind. But perhaps 20 years is a good distance to pause for a grand celebration before continuing with the race again. I think 2012 will be an exciting year...