I’m going to tackle this question head-on: is a wedding really play? I’d say yes. But then I would, wouldn’t I, in my eagerness to greedily make everything part of my specialist subject. That would be a terrible tactic on Mastermind. I think ritual shares many of the key features of play: rules, agreed roles that each person takes on, time ‘outside our usual day-to-day activity’, fun and enjoyment, coming together socially.
We might not generally label it as play, but I certainly think it’s interesting to consider what would happen if we did consider ritual as play.
It was the wonderful occasion of Alan and Carolina’s wedding that took me away from my usual activities, and off to Bury St Edmunds. After the church formalities, we headed to a social club for drink, breaking bread, speeches, socialising and dancing. If those activities aren’t playful, I’d find it hard to say what is!
What did I learn by treating the day as one of my 100 Days of Play? That you can indeed find opportunities to shoot for the goal – not clearing the dance-floor, for example, or chatting to five people you haven’t met before. It would be a bit weird to treat a wedding as competitive play, but even so it’s clear that there are ways that each member of the single team (maybe it’s more like a collaborative game. Pandemic, for example) can help to make the game run smoothly and positively towards its objectives.
The bride and groom both looked intensely happy and proud. I think we may all have done a good job at playing our parts, and helping to win the wedding game!
An invitation to a wedding invokes more trouble than a summons to a police court. – William Feather
Ease of play: 8/10
Resemblance to play: 3/10
Aggression: Low-to-Medium (mothers-in-law!)
Potential frequency of play: Low (but regular!)