Why Do We Cry At Weddings?
Theme-Symbolism Integration Part 1 is here:
So why do you cry at Weddings?
At what point in the ceremony are you most prone to burst into tears, or at least gasp and blink and wish you'd remembered to bring tissues?
Does the point where you burst into sniffles signify a different reason for the emotional upwelling?
Do you get that same feeling just looking at the pictures later?
If you, the Romance writer, have no answer to that question, "Why?" then how can you portray, depict or evoke that crucial moment for your readers?
Do you fall back on cliche, or tell not show and just say "she sniffled" or had to leave because she was sobbing out loud?
Have you ever examined that inner-emotional-WHAM that fills your eyes to the brim, in step by step analytical detail so that you know all the elements that compose that sob/gasp/whoom!
Have you ever experienced that kind of blast/scream of mysterious emotion in any other context?
Can you summon it at will, turn it this way and that, and dissect it so you can recreate it for readers who have never experienced it?
Some just suffer through weddings and consider it boring, never responding to the emotion of the moment. Some are too overwhelmed by their own resentment or jealousy that someone else is getting married and they have no chance of ever having that moment. Some are too overwrought by responsibility for "everything to go right" and can't feel the moment. Some have only been to weddings where they were bridesmaids in pinching shoes and "the wrong color" for their body type.
But do you know that flashing-burst of emotion intimately? Do you feel it only at weddings? Or does it come at other moments?
Is the "at weddings" flash the same as that which comes over you on other occasions? Is there something similar tying together the "at weddings" tears with tears that flood over you at other kinds of moments?
If you can catalog, then contrast/compare the wash of tears brought on by various triggers and put words to the cause, to what your heart-of-hearts is responding to and why it is tender in that area, then you have nailed the ultimate theme of all Romance, or at the very least of all Soul-Mate based Romance.
Here is a recent article on "triggers" and how society is conditioning young people to handle triggers:
Does that spark of emotion akin to that at weddings just blindside you from time to time, get pushed aside because sobbing out loud would be inappropriate or embarrassing, and then disappear onto a dusty shelf in your mind, not cataloged by any keyword?
Do you pay attention to the whipsaw emotional responses you have as you wander through life? If so, chances are good you are a writer -- even if you've never written anything other than your signature.
Astrologically, Neptune rules Romance -- the blurry veils that soften reality and make everything beautiful. Saturn rules practicality, things like the Wedding budget, choice of menu, caterer, venue, how many guests you can invite to your Wedding, and so on.
Wedding Planners make their living off the fact that the Romance is still smothering the Couple's ability to manage mundane details in a business-like manner. The Wedding Planner's job is to create a cloud of dreamy beauty to cushion and waft the couple into a heavenly honeymoon.
Meanwhile, the prospective in-laws are trying to repair the errors they made at their weddings by imposing their dreams on the new couple.
Criss-crossing currents of fury/hope/grim-determination (not to mention pinching shoes) often interfere with Event Planning. So people today try to out-source it all by hiring a professional to put on a pageant where the Couple can be the stars of the show.
Here are some previous posts where we have explored how to use Theme and Symbolism and other techniques that build your fictional world around creating such a powerful moment your reader cries -- just as they would at a wedding.
To create such a tear jerker moment in your fictional wedding, you may not need to understand what is going on inside you when you burst-into-tears, and try to push down and contain your response. But some writers do need to articulate the unnameable in order to nail it effectively.
If you have experienced that wordless sensation that causes the flood of tears, you can very likely replicate it for many of your readers. But if you have just used the material (the symbolism) that jerks your tears, you may leave a good part of your readership cold because you did not include the symbols that represent their vulnerable spot.
Your vulnerable spot does not have to be the same as their vulnerable spot if you understand vulnerability in general.
Most people do not understand why they feel the way they do -- and of course there is no one answer that explains any particular emotion in everyone.
Emotion is in that realm beyond language.
The alphabet of emotion is symbolism.
Neptune rules symbolism, and Saturn & Mercury rule vocabulary definitions.
Neptune rules Romance, and Romance speaks in symbols.
Hence weddings fraught with traditional symbolism hit vulnerable spots in almost everyone -- but the spot and the vulnerability are different for each person.
If the triggers are so diverse, and the inner-meaning so idiosyncratic, then why is the experience so wide-spread, so common?
Crying at a wedding isn't something that happens once in a lifetime. Some people cry at every wedding. Some people experience that wham of emotion under other circumstances besides weddings. Baby Showers? Christenings? And of course funerals, but those tears feel different.
So next week we'll look at this blindsiding gut-punch emotional flash in more clinical detail to understand what you, as a writer, can do with it.
Meanwhile, go watch a movie that makes you cry, hit pause and feel that feeling. Notice what it is doing inside you. Watch for similar responses you have to commercials, to cute-animals on Facebook, to your kids' graduation, and even to funerals, or Award Ceremonies. Tributes to fallen heroes. Whatever stirs and moves you with a surprise flash and upwelling eyes.
What is going on inside you when you cry at the sight of something external to you?
You will find the images in this post on my Pinterest collection Entertainment and Information, with links to the Wedding Planners and other contractors a Bride needs.