Wedding & marriage
Written by Rachel

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Meaning & purpose

Many aspects of modern life are warped. The original meaning and purpose has been lost and only a parody remains. People merely 'go through the motions' and the sincerity is forgotten...


Consider 'marriage': people commonly spend a colossal amount of money on their wedding - an immense event that lasts only a few hours. For what? What does it all mean?
The wedding has become a pantomime of greed and showmanship.


A couple becomes engaged and expect presents.
Then they spend at least a year planning a wedding and booking countless elements before indulging in a lengthy hen night or stag night, before the actual day itself.
They pretend to be Christian in order to be married in a church because it looks nice on the photographs. 
Finally, there is the honeymoon. How much of this actually has anything to do with getting married?

Skimming the surface

A wedding is the joining of two people in the union of marriage. Beyond the vows themselves, nothing else is actually necessary. What matters is the heart of the relationship. The sincerity.
Endless distractions and fanfare do not deepen the marriage. They actually do the opposite: they cheapen it. The solemn ritual of marriage is lost in the sheen of superficial, immature showmanship.

I suddenly realised that the less the relationship means, the more you spend on the wedding.

(Black Mirror)


If the vows themselves are not the focus of your wedding, ask yourself: what was the wedding about? Showing-off?


Once upon a time wedding presents were meant to help a young couple set up their home and prepare for their lives together.
A honeymoon was a short getaway designed to modestly celebrate their union in privacy.

A modest wedding...

Many people claim to have a 'modest wedding'. Then they begin to leak out the specifics: the country mansion they hired, the incredibly expensive honeymoon tour... It becomes a bragfest.
These situations are rather telling. In seeking to impress you with their not-so-modest wedding, the individual reveals their insecurities.
They are weak, uncertain, inadequate and feel that boasting will win you over. By contrast, a genuinely integrated person would not care what you think and would not be seeking to impress you.

Photographic madness

The photographs often tell the real story: vanity, posing, fakery, insincerity, bragging, boasting. The bride and groom behave as though they are celebrities. For a day.
Pre-wedding photo shoots, celebrity-style photography, a music video... These distractions take people further and further away from the truth, the substance, the reality.
They indulge the ego and encourage vanity and conceit. A few months later... these expensive momentos are gathering dust. Who watches them? Who looks at them? Who really cares?


Getting married in a church is a common practice and not to be taken lightly. Using the premises for a photo shoot is offensive to the church and surely demeans the wedding itself.
Adopting Christian standards and values is not an easy task.


Many marriages break up after a few years and this is not surprising. If a wedding symbolises truth, commitment, honour, fidelity and love - why is it treated like a circus?
Where is the integrity, the honesty, the genuine earnest warmth, love and feeling?
Novelty, noise, excess, costumes, scripted promises and money seem a poor way to begin a sincere pact between two people.
Only when you pare away the clutter can you see the real. And also what is lacking...

The wedding mirrors your ego

The idea of 'getting married' is only a concept. What you choose to do with the idea is the important part: you make it what it is; you imbue the idea with meaning.
The truth is in the doing of things, so if you get married and have the entire lavish affair - that is your wedding.
Every part of the experience is the truth of it, the reality of it: the 'good' and the 'bad', the pleasure and the excess, greed and waste. This is the actual substance of the event.


The original meaning is of marriage is often lost and whatever you have made of 'wedding' is the reality of the event. If your wedding is a gaudy, vulgar spectacle then it is a gaudy, vulgar spectacle.
That is the truth of it; surface glitz and glamour smeared across the relationship in the hope of what?


Taoism values the essence of things. It seeks to find the heart, the centre. The unique quality. What is real. Invariably, this leads to simplicity, to elegance, to a paring away of the non-essentials.
If you seek truth, tranquillity and harmony, then how you do things should reflect this approach.

Individual meaning

'Meaning' is something attributed to phenomena; it is our way of making sense of life. When considering any aspect of life, we examine the components and extrapolate a meaning.
The danger with this is that we can imbue anything with meaning, even when it no longer has any bearing on the original purpose.


Many marriages end in divorce. Often quite quickly after the wedding...
Imagine if a couple were to focus their attentions on the marriage rather than the wedding?
Rather than let their egos and demons run riot, they work on cementing a strong foundation for their future as a couple. How would this affect the long-term success of their marriage?
Who can say?
But at least their attention would have been on the part that matters.


This is not a page about getting married or about weddings. It is about attitudes. The Science of the Essence teaches people to focus on the substance: To eat the fruit, not the flowers.


A Taoist is not interested in novelty, entertainment, performance and spectacle. They seek a quiet life, well lived. A wedding lasts for a day. A marriage is supposed to last for a lifetime.
By placing your efforts, finances and attention on the marriage instead of the wedding, you are committing to a lifetime's work rather than blowing everything in a single day.

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Page created 18 April 2007
Last updated 29 August 2019