The swell of rousing music fills the air as a gasp of appreciation escapes from some lips.  Others crane their heads to get a better look at what is going on. Photographers hustle, for good vantage points to get a good picture.

The young woman leaning on her father’s arm is accompanied by a train of ten couples dressed in turquoise satin and cream suits respectively. Their steps are co-ordinated as they move in slow steps to the mellow notes of To God Be the Glory for the great things He has done.

The young bride is dressed in a long white dress heavily embossed with diamante beads – off the shoulders and revealing much more than it should, in keeping with the latest fashion. The dress, like her shoes and the pearl and gold tiara is from abroad. It is that kind of wedding where a lot of stuff comes from abroad – the outfit, the wedding cake, the invitations and the guests. There are dignitaries, family, colleagues, old schoolmates, lovers…friends, enemies …everybody who is ‘somebody’ has packed themselves into the church.  They are all present to witness this young couple take their first steps into the well and tested road leading to matrimony.

The old Pastor who has seen so many stand before the altar and make vows that are legally, spiritually and emotionally binding, gives them a reassuring smile as the procession ends and they stand in front of him.

The brides father reluctantly relinquishes his second daughter to her groom.

The Pastor begins to read the vows, those irritating little details that are meant to have an impact on two individuals and that of generations to come, but no one seems to  be listening. The bride is actually a very beautiful girl under the layers of chocolate soufflé powder mask, but it is a hot day and her bridesmaid dutifully brings out her handkerchief to wipe away the sweat running down her face and spoiling her make up. She doesn’t want her first pictures to look anything but perfect.

Someone is arranging her veil and another is making sure that her silk train doesn’t get too rumpled. The Bride is wondering whether all those haters and backbiters that swore that this day would never happen, are getting a good look at her and how beautiful she looks and regretting being so nasty to her.

What about another key player on this life changing event – the Groom?  No one seems to really pay much attention to him, as he stands tall and handsome, clutching the hand of his new bride and looking into her eyes like a man who has just paid dearly for a new car, and wonders whether it’s going to last the distance of a long journey.  He shuts out the voices of his single bachelor friends that are echoing in his head and tries to ignore the rising fears of what might lay ahead, by looking ahead to the honeymoon – no sorry I meant holiday to come.

He is a very modern 21st century kind of young man, so he doesn’t have the delights of the marital bed to look forward to, having sampled and exhausted the charms of his beautiful bride long ago. He is thinking about the tourist attractions in Hawaii, as there is nothing left in his wife that is worth anticipating. He has sometimes wondered in the past, why every woman has to make such a big deal over an event that lasts a few hours, yet alters a man’s destiny forever.

He hopes that she is worth the colossal sacrifice and expense he is making to marry her.  His mother had pleaded with him, asking him to ensure she was pregnant before marrying her but he had decided to go ahead.  He felt a bit guilty and sorry for the girl. They had been together for almost seven years and he had been her first.   So he felt obligated in a strange kind of way to make her his wife.  As for children, she was in her late twenties, a good time for motherhood.  There was loads of time.

There is another woman whose pride and joy on the day is slightly eclipsed by that of the Mother of the Bride. Yes. It’s the Mother in law.  She is a regal and authoritative as a queen as she surveys the crowd in the church.  It is truly a great gathering, one that has cost thousands of pounds and dollars. As she dances down the aisle as her son and his bride make their way out, she sends up a silent prayer to God that this very crowd will congregate here for the thanksgiving of her grandchild, in nine months’ time.

Three years later…

The pretty young bride hardly smiles nowadays. The slim girlish figure is more rounded but the light in her eyes has gone. She had certain expectations when she got married and in five years every one of them has been dashed. She didn’t marry for this. For Better for Worse…and it has been for worse.

Sometimes, she remembers the words of that timeless song from Tina Turner.

What does love have to do with it?

Part two to follow.

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