Minimal Millennial Weddings - An Editorial for BlackChalk Magazine
Words & Photos – Courtney Barriger @bearcourt
Editor – Justin Howard @jthnomad
“The very essence of romance is uncertainty.” – Oscar Wilde
MINIMAL MILLENNIAL WEDDINGS – WHEN THE TRAPPINGS AND TRADITIONS FALL AWAY, ALL THAT’S LEFT IS …
So… I’m a millennial… (yes, millennials are now in their 30’s) and I’m hesitant to claim the loaded title because my generation has been labeled entitled and lazy, “the selfie generation” by our Gen X, and Gen Y brothers and sisters. We seem to putter along with our cell phones as an appendage, not quite digital native-borns, while we figure out how to be adults in this ever-equalizing, gentrifying society. And with all of our deviating, non-traditional life choices, some of us have the balls and the gall to get married!
I have some insider information because I went to a millennial wedding recently – as a millennial – and had a lot of questions answered. My oldest friend and dearest cousin decided to tie-the-knot with her beau of six years in Oahu, Hawaii in the spring, just days before the volcanic eruptions started on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Both of us coming from the conservative South – North Florida to be exact – the weddings of our youth typically took place within a chapel, the pastor in a nice suit reciting the nuptial agreements over a bevy of groomsmen fresh from Vegas and giggling bridesmaids all in matching catalogue dresses they would likely never wear again. Today, if you even Google “wedding” you get a lot of fantastical, Pinterest ready images with soft white light and a hell of a lot of lace (that hasn’t gone away) – OH, and likely a few images of Meghan Markle to boot. It’s all over Instagram and Pinterest – our weddings are starting to look like the inside of a crafts magazine, only it’s real life. And I dig it! Again, access to other people’s ideas has produced variety, and more…!
From afar I’ve borne witness to a few millennial weddings; it comes in waves, and it’s not what you would expect. Most of us don’t get hitched right of high school, that might be a ripple, but the first wave happens right after college. My Facebook was flooded with recent graduates smiling gorgeously with all of the trappings of chapel weddings. But it seems like the second wave is less likely to glue to tradition. The second wave comes in the late 20s, early 30s and everyone seems to do whatever they want.
On the scene in Oahu – coming in as a wedding guest, everyone knows Hawaii is expensive, and renting a car and a hotel adds up quickly, so I rolled it into one by renting a 1980’s Westfalia Camper Van from Surfer Van Hawaiito cruise around the island independently and live the dream of camping and hiking the islands. Ubering (there’s another way?) in from Honolulu Airport to Diamond Head Crater the day before the wedding, I discovered to my dismay that I had rented a van with manual transmission. A millennial mistake – to assume a vintage vehicle would be easy – but Josh hooked me up with one I could drive and I was off to the races!
At Owens Ranch, a quaint, multi-house family owned property right on the beach at the North Shore, the wedding party was hanging out; ladies preparing Mason Jars to be filled with tropical flowers and LED candles, and the men fishing and BBQing. The vibe was laid-back barefoot, with Kona Brewing Company Beers, Slightly Stoopid playing on the Bluetooth speaker, and acoustic guitar. With the unusual rain patterns coming and going, the original sunset ceremony for the next day was up in the air. It was an option to move the ceremony an hour ahead to mitigate the weather, not something a bride-to-be would usually be so chill about. But my cousin, a 31-year-old, had no worries, “When it happens, it happens.”
The next day came and I woke up imagining a lot of prep had to be done, but the family was snorkeling and the bride was laying out on the beach enjoying a beer. I had volunteered to be the unofficial videographer and I was also the unofficial maid-of-honor. A lot of unofficial duties for so important an important event!
The couple had decided on Hawaii with the aim to keep the wedding party small. A smaller wedding meant smaller costs, and less people to be shy in front of. Plus, anyone who made it all of the way to the middle of the Pacific really wanted to be there; no chance of stray guests showing up just for the dinner buffet.
4 o’clock rolled around and I started to wonder if things were going to start to assemble. We had no timeline or to-do-list prepared. And then I realized that I had a role in this too. I had also volunteered to do the bride’s hair and make-up and it was on me to initiate when that would happen. So I called her over, chose a Moses Sumney Pandora station for mood and got to work, barely leaving time for me to get ready myself.
Two hours disappeared quickly under laughter and curls. The crowd of 18 people gathered on the beach in a V formation. So small was the number of the party that later, my friend in LA’s father watched the wedding video and asked “where is everyone? Is that everyone?” Just comments coming from a Jewish Persian man who considers a small wedding to be a guest count of 100. The typical party number at a Persian wedding is 301 plus. “Is that what the groom is wearing?“ The groom was wearing a tropical linen button-up.
The ceremony lasted less than 20 minutes, I should know, I recorded the whole thing. They shared no handwritten personal vows, skipped the ring-bearer, decided against the nonsense of bridesmaids and groomsmen. But decided upon the color of the flowers based on the numerological number of the day, and the day of their wedding based on the phase of the moon; a new moon means new beginnings.
Though simplified of most of the trappings of traditional American wedding, the ceremony moved the parents and loved ones to tears to see a young couple commit the rest of their lives together. And that is where the tradition resumes. The commitment to one another is still the same – for the most part. They hope, and we all hope for a legacy that starts from that moment and leads to generations of new life. The meaning behind marriages, though they come in different packages, genders and gender roles, still carry the same aspiration – a lifetime of love and togetherness.
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