Defining Marriage – Confusing? You Bet!

Nearly 80% of all weddings take place in a church, synagogue or other place of religious worship. I found this shocking. Mainly because, I thought that it would be the opposite, that  more weddings were civil ceremonies held at reception sites, officiated by individuals licensed by the state rather than performed by ordained members of various religious institutions in a house of worship.  In fact, ‘church’ weddings are on the rise. However,  it is technically not the signature of the priest or rabbi  that makes your marriage legally binding, it is the stamp by the state. So, the thing that  makes the marriage legal has nothing to do with religious affiliation or lack thereof.  If you are keeping score, this means that technically ALL marriages are ‘civil unions’ but, not all ‘civil unions’ are marriages.

Of course that takes us into the whole same sex marriage debate.  Miriam Webster defines civil unions as: “the legal status that ensures to same-sex couples specified rights and responsibilities of married couples“. However, states: “Civil unions are legal contracts between partners that are recognized by a state or government as conferring all or some of the rights conferred by marriage, but without the implicit historical and religious meaning associated with the word ‘marriage’.” No mention of same or opposite sex. I was married in the Cook County Courthouse in a civil ceremony… no priest, no rabbi, no minister. Therefore, although I am legally ‘married’ to my husband, by definition it is still a civil union. However, technically it is referred to as a ‘civil marriage’ . You see, because we have different chromosomal makeup, we are allowed to be legally married.  Are you still with me?

If you are confused, welcome to my world. But, lets get back to the church for just a second.  Centuries ago, people who wanted to be joined together for life simply set up house together (mutual consent), no questions asked. No ceremony, no gown, no DJ or flowers. Somewhere around the middle ages, things got confusing. Some countries required the government to sanction marriage, some required sanctioning by the ‘church’. Realistically, this was done to document, track and control marriages and probably to make a profit somehow.  To this day, some states still recognize common-law marriage which is based on  length of co-habitation and mutual consent.

Without getting into a detailed  history of marriage , let’s fast forward to the year 1999.  Bombarded by requests for marriage licenses by same sex couples, Vermont lawmakers took matters into their own hands and decided to create a parallel license (equal to marriage in everything except name) to issue to same sex couples wishing to be afforded marital rights. Thanks a lot, Vermont…. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! If I understand this properly  (please correct  me if I don’t), “Civil Union” licenses were created to appease some voters  without offending the other voters along the way. In order to be completely politically correct, perhaps it should be called a “Duplicate  Chromosome Union” license. This way individuals with gender re-assignment wouldn’t have to have an additional parallel license.

This brings us to 2012 where  you can have a civil ceremony and civil marriaige  but, it isn’t considered a civil union.  You can have a civil ceremony which can be a civil union but not a civil marriage. Fortunately more churches are accepting of all kinds of marriage, unions and cermonies and are willing to accept the religious and cultural differences of couples everywhere. Perhaps that is why ‘church’ weddings are on the rise. Stilil shocking to me but, then again, I’m still trying to figure out who came up with the idea of a  ‘parallel’  license.

Click here to find out some of the best matrimony sites from where you can find your life partner.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Kim’s Fairytale Wedding – The Party’s Over

There is always that moment after the wedding is over when you wish you could do the whole thing again. The dress, the party, the dancing and seeing all of your friends/family in one place – everything and everyone looking so wonderful. Then you start addressing the Thank You Notes and settling into married life and realize how much work went into the whole thing, thinking maybe you can wait until your 10th anniversary to plan another event of this magnitude. After about six months, when all of the excitement has died down all you want to do is have one nice quiet evening at home with no tasks or ‘to-do’ lists.

Then there are those cases when the wedding lasts longer than the marriage. Whether it is finances, place of residence, children, or infidelity, the realization that you married the wrong person has to be painful.  Yesterday’s announcement of Kim Kardashian’s probable divorce did not come as a shock to as many people as she would have suspected. While I would like to say that Kim Kardashian deserves some time to work this out in private, I can’t for several reasons:

-With all the debate over gay marriage – also known as civil unions or in my house, just plain “marriage”, I wonder why people can’t let this go. Another example of two heterosexual people who have all the rights afforded to them by the state and federal government (and the approval of conservative marriage activists) to marry whomever they want and have it televised to the tune of $18 million +, to stay married for 2 or 3 months and divorce for no reason, to marry multiple times to whomever for whatever reason and treat the process in a disposable manner…. yet two men or two women who are truly in love and have already shared more life experiences than most couples cannot legally ‘marry’ in their state. AND even when they are afforded the rights, they walk away with a certificate that says “Civil Union”. This is completely unjust and I feel a public explanation is due.

-When you are married in front of television cameras for ratings and profit, when the entire romance and proposal and engagement are televised for ratings and profit, when you live every moment of your life for ratings and profit, you should have to answer every single question from every single person who contributed to your ratings and profit.

– If you are able to turn a  self-indulgent lifestyle into a career, you should have enough sense to ask your future husband or wife a few simple questions: “Where will we live after we are married?” and “How will we support ourselves… will we both be working?” or “Where will we raise our children”.

In my opinion, Kim Kardashian should have to answer every question, return every gift and donate every dollar made  to a charity … one that fights for equal marriage rights for all. 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago



Whats the Difference?

Once again I have been slapped in the face with a headline that I can’t seem to wrap my brain around. To better understand my confusion you have to understand that I love weddings.  ALL weddings… okay almost all weddings.

We live in a world where an engagement with a 60 year difference between the two parties  is front page news, everyone clamoring to get the scoop on why the bride backed out just days before the wedding. I would like to go on record as saying that it is probably because he is 60 years older than her. Maybe she didn’t want to marry a man who could be her grandfather, no matter how rich and powerful and exciting he may be. Interestingly enough I seem to be the only one who sees this. No offense, Hef – we get it: you like young blond women but, maybe not all young blond women like rich old men.

In the same world, teen pregnancy is both villified and celebrated on reality TV. Its okay to preach abstinence and not practice it. It’s okay to have a baby with no visible means of support as long as you can get on a reality TV show and make a name for yourself. Forget High School, just write a book, get a reality show and make some money. No one cares if you are educated enough to actually write the book  yourself, just have someone else do the work so you can cash the check and move on.

In another part of that same world, a headline appears announcing the marriage of a 16 year old child to a 51 year old man. Have you heard? The guy who played the creepy warden in ‘The Green Mile’ and some other show I never saw, tied the knot this week in Vegas to a 16 year old girl. I watched and loved this movie and by the end of it  I wound up hating this character and thinking to myself , “Wow – he must be a great actor to be able to carry off this part.” Turns out he really is creepy, no acting involved… just memorizing lines.

This is obviously the headline of which I speak. The fact they got married is less creepy than the fact that he has been dating a girl probably since she was 15. There is a name for guys like that – whats the word I am thinking of? It’s on the tip of my tongue…. Maybe I’m wrong but, what parent allows their young teenage child to date a late middle-aged man? It  is not the 35 year age difference that bothers me as much as the fact that she is 16 years old! If he was 61 and she was 26, I could care less. To get a little perspective; understand that my husband is nine years younger than me. We married when I was 39 and he was 30. At our current ages it seems like nothing but when he was 13 and I was 24, I wouldn’t have given him a second look. If I did, I would expect someone to call 911.   In most states it isn’t even  legal for a 15 or 16 year old to have an intimate sexual relationship with  a person over the age of 18…. but, with their parent’s consent they can get married. How is this possible? I am still confused, and still grossed out.

Oddly enough in that same world, The United States of America, only a handful of our beloved 50 states recognize marriage between two parties of the same sex , no matter their age. Two legal adults in a consensual relationship cannot share property or any  of the other rights afforded married couples because they are of the same sex. So while our legislators are busy defining marriage as between a man and a woman (even minors):  the economy is dumping it’s toxic waste on our standard of living, climate change  heats up and our jobs are shipped overseas. AND instead of issuing an arrest warrant for someone who apparently broke the law in ALL 50 states, we are forced to look at photos of creepy guy and child bride smiling and declaring that love is ageless. Love may be ageless but, in this case it can also be downright creepy.

Dear Media of all forms,

Please don’t show another picture of this couple together, one is enough.

Thank You

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago