Weddings are Beginnings and Endings

by Julia Phillips Smith

This weekend I'll be attending the funeral of my grandmother Viola Phillips, shown above at right. The photo was taken at my mom's bridal shower in 1962--that's my mom Paulette in the center, with her mom Juliette at left.

When this photo was taken, my mom was anxious to start her new, grown-up life as an army wife overseas. My dad was in the US army, and they were stationed in France and Germany when they began their lives together.

Of course, for the moms in this picture--or, the grandmothers-to-be--this time was also a time to say goodbye. Their daughter and son were heading off into the wide world, leaving a gap that felt raw to the parents shedding tears at weddings.

The emotions surrounding weddings are weighted with so many conflicting feelings. The beginnings aspect is easier to recognize, but the closing chapter aspect can sometimes be overlooked.

Even for the new bride, eager to be her own woman and making her own choices, there may be a confusing reach back for the girlhood she leaves behind.

As I reconnect to family I haven't seen in awhile during this funeral weekend, I'll be feeling the push/pull of mourning for my last grandparent, while rejoicing in the wonderful embrace of cousins and my aunt.

I'll be thinking of this picture of my mom's bridal shower, of the hopes and dreams that were present on that day, and reflecting that I am the living result of some of those dreams.

The next time you attend a wedding and may find yourself feeling a strange mix of joy and sorrow, just go with it. Weddings are both beginnings and endings, just as funerals join the past to the future. 

Photo by Helen Tansey

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  1. Dear Julia,

    My condolences to you and your family for your grandmother's passing.

    I was just in a wedding last weekend and been married before, so your post resonates with me. I saw my mum crying on the night of my wedding day when I left the family home. It must have been a tough day for her, what with the mixed emotions of joy and sadness.

    I love weddings and I must say that the one I went to last weekend was one of the best. It was in the English countryside.

    I have 2 more coming up this year, another English and a Jamaican wedding. I'm very excited.

    Just wanted to tell you that your post touched me.

    Have a good day.


  2. I'm so very sorry about your loss.

    What you stated in your article is so very true. Weddings come with a mixture of emotions, they are indeed bittersweet.


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