Metapatterns in Weddings

The first pattern I identified in wedding ceremonies is that of borders. From the scientific point of view borders are meant to protect or contain through the creating of barriers and separation. Borders in weddings include the dress, the veil, and the garter. Each of these borders creates a sense of containment and protection of the bride’s physical body and her purity.

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The next metapattern is binaries. Binaries are the simplest form of complex systems and often involve unity. In this case, the family is the complex system, and the couple is the simplest binary system in which two individuals unite to become one, both physically and metaphorically.


Closely related to binaries is the center pattern. Centers stabilize a whole, centralize significance or importance, and relate to other centers. In weddings, the physical center is the couple being married. Their marriage creates a stable system (the new family unit). As the new couple creates a family, focus shifts to another center: the family that grows beyond the couple. The couple and the family are the physical center, while the love shared between them is the symbolic center.

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Finally, the patterns of time and cycles are also important to weddings. Among many things, time is a progression or sequence; it can also be seen as a cycle. Weddings represent a progression of time in a person’s life, moving from singleness to marriage, as well as (usually) a progression of maturity. Weddings are also cycles of life. Individuals leave their families to create their own. Their children will go on to then create another family, and the cycle continues.

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The discussion of borders, binaries, and cycles in weddings extends to larger discussions of human life. The structure (border) of weddings demonstrates the need for humans to protect the means by which human life is reproduced (in this case, through marriage). Humans also exist in binaries for support and survival in life. The cycle of life is, simply, birth, living, and death. Weddings are a piece of this larger cycle. Essentially, weddings extend into what it means to exist and survive as a human being.

As demonstrated above, learning to recognize patterns in smaller contexts (weddings) lends to understanding patters in larger and more interrelated contexts (existence and survival). No matter what the topic or context, students can and should learn to recognize patterns and how they interact with one another. The more students see patterns in smaller contexts, the more they will make larger connections. These connections help them to better understand the world around them, just as weddings help us understand the larger context of life.

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