I went to a wedding the other weekend. It was a truly amazing day - and after a week of torrential rain, the sun came out over the cliffs of Cornwall.
In the late afternoon, in that lull between formalilty and drunken abandon, the groom said to me:
"It doesn't feel like enough, really. We just stood there and said: I do, and I do, and signed our names. I can't believe that's it and we're married."
But that's not it, I thought. It's not just the name in a book and the 'I-do-s'. It's the whole thing: the rituals of the whole day. It's the feasting, and the dancing, and the symbolic cutting and sharing of cake. It's the feeding your loved ones. It's being showered with petals and the singing. We're just another tribe, after all; marking these important days with rituals, because that's what you do.
I think I said some version of this to him, much less poetically, after having two cocktails and a load of fizzy stuff. Not sure if it came out quite right, but I've thought about it since.
That's why it matters, sometimes to other people, that you do these things. To the 'elders' specifically: the white dress; the name changing; the little things that carry on.
I thought I would be rebellious, to start with: blue dress, my own name. But seeing that these things matter to people makes me think again. Why do they want them? Why do I not want them? I can see why it would be upsetting to lose these things.