Prior to that stay in France, that female graduate student had been to some American church weddings. Paris weddings she had never before experienced. She had met students from Europe, students who had chosen to pursue their education in the United States. Many of those visiting Europeans had been attending classes at Mount Holyoke College, where that woman’s husband was on the faculty.
After arriving in France, the graduate student, who hoped to earn a doctorate in anthropology, made a point of witnessing every aspect of the French culture. One item on her list of “things to see” was this item: “weddings.” Paris, with its beautiful cathedrals, served as the setting for many weddings. The graduate student no doubt made note of that fact.
Yet that graduate student did not restrict herself to only church weddings. Paris had an active Baha’i community. The members of that community invited the female graduate student to at least one Baha’i wedding ceremony. The observant graduate student must have noted the simple nature of that ceremony.
The visitor from Massachusetts discovered that the Baha’i wedding ceremony is not like most traditional weddings. Paris fashions can be seen at such a ceremony. Parisian music might well be played at some point during such a ceremony But a Baha’i wedding does not require that a couple say “I do” before a member of the clergy.
The man and woman who constitute a Baha’i wedding couple use a different phrase to finalize their marriage. Paris Baha’i couples, New York Baha’i couples and New Delhi Baha’i couples, all use the same phrase. They say “We will both verily abide by the will of God.” That phrase is spoken in the presence of two witnesses.
Now the graduate student from Massachusetts did not have any preconceived idea about the “proper” way to conduct a marriage. Paris Baha’is made her feel very much welcome at any of their Baha’i weddings. The aspiring anthropologist had never before seen such a display of unity in diversity. A diverse group of Parisians seemed quite familiar with the nature of the Baha’i wedding ceremony.
The graduate student returned to Massachusetts with lots of information about European weddings. Paris weddings, in particular, could be described in detail by that graduate student. She may well share some of that information with some of the female students in the Five College Area. A bus in that area transports students to four different colleges, and to the University of Massachusetts.
That woman’s shared information could mold the character of weddings in that area. The chapel at Mount Holyoke, Smith, Hampshire or Amherst College might one day reverberate with songs that reflect the influence of a Parisian wedding.