The fact that stares us to our faces is what we call “White Wedding” in our part of the world, which could be considered as “Traditional Wedding” by those from whom we copied the wedding from.
Though we all know from history how the term “white wedding” came about after Queen Victoria in 1840 decided to wear a white gown for her wedding to Prince Albert. But of course, today, when we talk about white wedding, it is not just about the white gown.
And so, if we must be brutally honest to ourselves, it is indeed a multiplication and something of inferiority for a black man to celebrate what he calls traditional wedding and still feels he is not married until he celebrates the traditional wedding of the Western man (white wedding), wearing three piece suit and his wife dressed in a long white gown under a hot sokoto-like sun.
The only fact that makes it not to appear like a multiplication is what I call the “Church-ness” or the “Christ-ness” imbedded into the white wedding. I guess this is why people now call it church wedding or Christian wedding.
But, even at that, there is a problem.
The Christian faith as brought by Christ is universal. It can be planted into any culture. The missionary don’t need to carry the culture of his place alongside the faith to others. No culture is superior to the other.
If we are ready. . .
All we need do is to take out what constitutes the “Church-ness” and “Christ-ness” from the white wedding and put it into our own traditional wedding.
One does not need a suit and a gown, a bridal train or best men in suits, flowers girls or even rings, before his wedding could be called a Christian wedding.
One does not necessarily need to come to a church building and take vows before the altar before the wedding could be called church wedding.
What makes marriage is not the wedding suits or gown, it is not the rings, even the priest or pastor is there as a witness. This is why even a deacon can assist in a marriage. And in some extreme cases, where there is no priest or deacon, After due approval, the law of the church allows the diocesan bishop to delegate lay persons to assist in wedding. (Canon 1112.1).
What makes marriage according to the teachings of the church in Canon 1057 §1 is simply the CONSENT of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons quali-fied by law.
You see that part where the man and woman promise fidelity to each other and to love each other in good time and bad till death?. . . That is the kpim. That is the consent.
The function of the priest or pastor or Deacon is to accept their consent in the name of the church in the presence of at least two witnesses. Then he gives them the church’s blessings.
Just in case you don’t know, the Canon law gives provision that marriage may not necessarily be celebrated in the church, the local ordinary (Bishop) can grant permission for it to be celebrated elsewhere. (Can.1115, 1118.2).
It is important I add this because you might so get used to wedding being done in the contest of mass and forget that marriage is a sacrament that must not necessarily be celebrated in the context of mass.
This simply means that it is possible for a priest or pastor to join couples in holy matrimony right there in their traditional wedding after all the marriage preparation and classes have been done.
Using the Igbo traditional wedding as an example, the program can begin with prayers and scriptural reading, other traditional rites can be done. Then, after the bride had identified her husband through what is called wine carrying, the priest can at that point ask the man and woman to give their consent. He accepts it, gives them the church’s blessings. Marriage is done. They continue with their dancing and eating. As simple as that.
But how many of us will accept this? I know of a diocese that tried this, most intending couples said they don’t want it. They prefer the “white wedding”. For them, marriage is not complete if they did not wear white gown and suit.
Look at how wedding is done today in Africa. It is now a game of show. After traditional, then white wedding. Series of expensive make ups, pictures, rented Mercedes Benz to impress, bridal shower, expensive decorations, name them. . . Everyone trying to outdo the next person on whose wedding is considered the “talk of town”, at the expense of the true essence of marriage.
Ours is a case of mental slavery, and it is to us that the legendary Bob Marley sang, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, non but ourselves can free our minds. . .”
Written by Fr Ugwu Kelvin MSP
Image credit: Ebony.com