NOLWAZI MNGADI

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. This old custom represents the items that a bride should have on her wedding day in order to have a long and happy marriage. Despite high divorce rates in South Africa and around the world, little girls (and boys) dream about their wedding day from a young age. There are those, however, who take the institution of marriage, twist it, flip it on its head, and turn it into something completely unrecognisable and sometimes a little weird.

Paraphilia is described in the American Journal of Psychiatry as “recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviours generally involving non-human objects.” While it may not occur to many people to marry the material object of their affection, there are those who would take that next step.

Erika La Tour Eiffel is an ex-soldier in the US Army who lives inSan Francisco. She has had intimate relationships with inanimate objects, including one with a bow named Lance, the Berlin Wall and a piece of fence which she keeps in her bedroom. But these previous relationships pale in comparison with the love of her life, theEiffelTower. Erika married the monument and legally changed her name to show the strength of their bond. The marriage ceremony was a small affair, with just friends and family in attendance. In an interview with ABC News, Eiffel did not think it was strange to be in a relationship with objects instead of people, saying, “We feel an innate connection to objects. It comes perfectly normal to us to connect on various levels: emotional, spiritual and also physical for some.”

Other people decide to marry someone who they have known their whole lives and with whom they feel completely at ease. One such person is Liu Yen ofZhuhai City,China, who in 2007 married himself in a traditional ceremony in the village square. Yen married himself by holding a ceremony where the “bride” was a life-sized cardboard cut-out of himself in a traditional red Chinese bridal gown. Yen claims that he is not gay, but may be “a little bit narcissistic”.

The ceremony itself followed all the procedures of a traditional Chinese wedding. One guest commented, “It is a real grand wedding except that the bride is a photo.” When asked why he decided to marry himself, Yen said, “Marrying myself is a process of deconstructing and reconstructing myself. I make use of the wedding to reconsider opposite-sex marriage. My behaviour seems ridiculous, but I am traditional and conservative at heart so the wedding ceremony is traditional.”

Yen’s behaviour might seem absurd, but he is not alone in this respect.Franceis known for its wine, its cuisine andParis, the city of love. Love inFranceseems to be much more potent than it is in the rest of the world, with lovers wanting to be with each other even beyond the grave. There is a section in the French civil code which allows for posthumous marriages. That is, marriages where one partner is already dead, provided that certain formalities are complied with. In 2009, Magali Jaskiewicz married her fiancé one year after his death. The bride arrived at the ceremony in her wedding dress with a picture of her groom next to her. The ceremony was attended by close friends and family, including the two children she had with her late fiancé, Jonathan George. After the ceremony, the bride commented that she was “not in the mood to celebrate”, having sadly become a bride and a widow on the same day. Posthumous marriages inFranceare not as rare as one might think, with up to ten of them being granted each year.

Marriage is a normal and sometimes even boring part of life, but with some people the words of the American comedian Groucho Marx ring true: “Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?”

Image: Gerhard Louw

 

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