I write a lot about social relations on this blog, and this post is no different.

I recently attended a wedding for one of my college friends, and as many people said, this was my first “peer wedding.” What is the significance of this label, and what happens at weddings.

For me, the main effect was to underscore the many stage of life that each person goes through. I used to hate weddings. They were strange and very boring, and I always felt out of place because I could not dance. Now, I attend “peer” weddings and the importance is very real. This is now my stage of life (even though I’m not getting married anytime soon), and lessons are striking. Many of my friends that I talked to were already engaged and when I saw them, they were enjoying the wedding and taking notes as how they would things. This wedding for them was also a window into the excitement and pageantry of it all. For me it was a realization that people were playing for keeps. It’s no good just to date casually, or go to a bar, or meet up every once in a while. People were moving in together, taking sub-optimal jobs, and in short, `taking risks’ for the other person they were committed to. More and more the language I heard was not about who was cute or funny, but about who was committed and how one’s future would interact with potentially finding someone to share it with. Again, just as I felt before high school, college, and now graduate school (all I do is school I guess), big moves were in the offing.

On a more generic social level, my only insight was this: the family of the bride and the family of the groom cooperate together on the wedding. They get to know each other, and from what I could tell, they got to like each other. But then there’s the rest of the family, and the incentives for socialization are almost non-existent. Why would the second cousin of the groom have any reason to make an effort to speak to the aunt of bride, or any number of extended relations? And this isn’t to say that people don’t try and meet each other, they do, but that’s the point. Weddings are a way of testing the pure and natural socialization tendencies of human beings. Some will to try to engage with and meet others, but some are perfectly comfortable to sit at their table and watch a far removed in-law get married to a complete stranger.

That’s why, at this wedding, a socialization technique that was on display was the “cage and feed” strategy in which the venue is compressed and lots of food is available. There’s no room to hide and everything to be gained by going to where the food is at, and the hope is that people collide and then share some polite banter. Then, after a while, you open things up and the people expand into the new space, and back into their comfort zones. You compensate for the increased room to avoid people by providing tons of alcohol; then people aren’t so gun shy.


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