Thoughts from a church

This past Sunday I got to spend time as the only man in a limo full of bride's maids and champagne. Hmmm... It was not what "those" movies made it out to be. Don't get me wrong, I had a fun time. It was made better because I was with my girlfriend. (Definitely not one of "those" movies.)
Her best friend got married and as she was part of the wedding party I spent time alone in the pews of the church pondering what ever it is people ponder during a wedding ceremony to keep their minds of how slow the service is going. "Holy matrimony blah, blah, blah, blah...kiss the blah blah....Oh my, did the pregnant woman just go into labor" (Actually the priest(s) were not that bad it was just long and the pregnant woman did not go into labor but I swear the girl who did faint is anorexic.) But anyway like I said pondering. The main question I thought about was, "Who the hell does this man in the collar think he is?" or to put it nicely, "At what moment does the 'marriage' take place"? Is it the entire service? Or the service and the reception? What if you have no service? Just you, her (or him depending on what gender) and a "justice of the peace" and a shotgun to your back? But seriously. If this is the only (relative word) recognizable function then where was it during the relationship.
"Now I realize that I am thinking of this in an "Western/American" context but hey I'm American. I am sorry in advance.) In a religious setting you are "wed" when the vows are exchanged and the officiating body pronounces you. But this is mostly symbolic because even then you must get your paperwork completed and recorded by the state which, in America, is the "official" pronouncer. But who the hell are either of these two bodies? The only purpose they serve is to give ceremony to a choice that the two of you made. (Funnily enough this is also the reason why I think the debate for Gay marriage is ridiculous.)
Were the officials there when the two of you met? Did they mediate between the both of you when you argued? or was glad when you made up? Did they care when medical emergencies happened? or smiled when you realized that all the times you were mad as hell at the other person but that did not change the fact that you loved them (albeit still making them suffer awhile)? I figure a marriage happens along the way through a relationship. A real relationship. One that is based on friendship and complete openness (wait I take that back. DO NOT TELL HIM/HER ABOUT ANYTHING DONE DURING A BACHELORETTE/BACHELOR. some secrets are fine). Not on if you have the "upper hand". The kind where you realize that the other person is someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with regardless of whether somebody tells you that it is okay. Be it parents, religions, or friends. The "wedding" with all of its pomp and circumstance is really a way of declaring it to the world. Or as I like to say it "Making it official". Without you and the other person would still feel the same way about each other.