"And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:23-24
|Our Wedding, Feb 5, 1995 Chehalis, B.C.|
Just recently, Dave and I were musing about whether a marriage would be nullified in the eyes of God if the laws of the land hadn't been properly followed. When first married, I'd occasionally wake up from a dream where I had experienced the horrors of being improperly married. Such is the life of a person with a vivid imagination.
I am exceedingly grateful for the institution of marriage. What a horrible lonely life I would have but for my husband and my children. I feel for those who must raise their children on their own. How overwhelming a task it must seem.
For the most part, weddings are grand events in Canada, taking the larger portion of a day with celebrations often going into the wee hours of the night. Our wedding was quite simple by comparison, and we would have made it even more so if family didn't feel a full roast beef dinner with all the trimmings was not an absolute necessity. But I'm chasing a rabbit trail.
Weddings in Colonial times (in general) were much more simple affairs. In Virginia, before the Declaration of Independence, "the rites of matrimony" could be done two different ways.
- A license was issued to the bridegroom from the clerk's office in the county of the bride. This cost the bridegroom about 20 shillings and 50 lbs of tobacco. The license was then delivered to the clergyman on the wedding day to 'solemnize' the rites. He'd be paid 20 shillings for the service.
- The clergyman posted banns of marriage for the couple on three Sundays at the cost to the groom of eighteen pence and for the 'joining of the couples together' he received 5 shillings.
Most weddings were solemnized by parish preachers (parishes being that of the Church of England). However, some Presbyterian ministers provided the service. If the marriage was done by license (route 1 above), the parish preacher took the 'solemnizing' fee even if the actual ceremony was done by a Presbyterian minister.
Our marriage process was not that much different from the 1700's.
Dave and I did not have a typical church wedding. We were married in the lodge at Pioneer Chehalis along the Chehalis River and nestled in the rugged mountains of British Columbia. A more beautiful setting there could not be. We had our pictures taken in the trees along the river. Having taught horsemanship clinics for several years at this location, I knew the weather would be perfect, and it was. (And no, the picture above is not done in a studio but onsite, just outside of the lodge where the ceremony was held.)
We had to apply for a marriage license as well, but I didn't need to be a resident of B.C. (although I was). Dave had to pay for it (probably around $100). The license is only valid for three months. Within that three months a marriage ceremony with two witnesses needs to be performed.
In B.C., you can choose from a civil or a religious ceremony. The minister performing a religious ceremony has to be registered with the government, just like in Virginia in the 1700's. The minister performing the ceremony completes the Marriage Registration Form and sends it to the agency where the marriage will be registered and the legal record kept.
"After the declaration of independence, in 1780, an act passed the general assembly to authorise as many as four ministers in each county, of each denomination, to solemnize the rights;" Elder John Leland, The Virginia Chronicle 1790Dave and I were married by a Lutheran minister, and the wedding witnessed by many family and friends. For us, it didn't matter the denomination of the minister. He was a friend of Dave's and able to marry us and that was enough.
In Virginia, many couples could not have the minister of their choice before 1784. They were limited to the authorized ministers in their county. After 1784, any ordained minister could apply for a license to solemnize the marriage. The license was given to the preacher, and after the ceremony, he was to certify to the clerk that indeed the solemnization occurred. The groom paid five shillings to the preacher and fifteen pence to the clerk for registering the certificate.
What was our conclusion about the validity of a marriage not done according to the law of the land? God does tell us to obey the laws, so we should make every effort to abide by them. However, mistakes and misunderstandings do happen. I think the vow before God would stand. Perhaps a simple fixing of the mistake by making it legal according to the state law would give all peace of mind.
After eighteen years of marriage, the only thing I can remember about those days before knowing Dave is how lonely I was. He truly is my hero, because he took this less than adequate woman and made her his wife, providing me with a friendship that will last through eternity.
Much advice can be given for marriage, but one thing I know for sure, humility and grace before God and your spouse must prevail through the whimsical winds of love. And I hope my dear husband has found the money he spent to get a wife returned to him a hundredfold. I know I've been blessed beyond measure.
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear...
Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.I Peter 3:1,2,7