What Does the Wedding Say About the Marriage?

What Does the Wedding Say About the Marriage?



After 11 years of marriage, I don’t really think about my wedding all that much.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful, meaningful and special day.  To be honest, it was pretty much the opposite of what I had imagined as a child and a young adult.  I always dreamed of the church wedding with a large, formal reception in a beautiful venue in Phoenix.  The event I just described could be defined as an elaborate form of torture for my husband.  His introverted personality wasn’t compatible with the hosting duties that are typically required of a bride and groom.  Matt made it very clear to me that although he didn’t want a big wedding, he would participate in whatever event would make me happy.  Not wanting my future husband to be miserable the day we started our lives together, I decided on a compromise.

Our wedding was held in a small chapel on the beach in Hawaii.  We invited approximately 75 to the celebration and 15 people made the trip.  I had the traditional wedding gown with the tiara, cathedral length veil and a bouquet of red roses.  For dinner, everyone sat at one long table with rose covered topiaries as centerpieces and leis for all the guests.  With so few people attending, we were able to serve beef tenderloin and lobster.  We spent meaningful time with our guests, everyone danced and nobody left early.  It was small and personal.  Reflecting back, it was perfect.

After returning home, I had a lingering disappointment that more people didn’t attend our wedding.  I felt as if nobody really cared that we got married.  I realized that it was a huge financial burden for some, but there were many who had the means and chose not to attend for various reasons.  I still had that young girl nagging at me that I needed the big wedding.  Why?

It was ridiculous for me to be upset about how few people chose to attend my wedding when it was a perfect day and I married a wonderful man.  It took me years to come to my senses.  As I get older, I think about those feelings and worry about the next generation of women (two of which I am currently raising).  They are constantly bombarded with images of these lavish weddings that give them unrealistic expectations and focus on things that aren’t important.  One of our babysitters says her favorite show is, “Say Yes to the Dress”.  She then told me how she can’t wait for her wedding so she can pick out her dress.  She’s 16, and I was just like her.  Some people have put themselves into major credit card debt so they can have an extravagant wedding.  They’ve decided to start their lives on shaky financial ground so they can have a fancy party.  Then there are the brides that spend a year planning their weddings and can’t talk about anything else – the dress, the flowers, the bridesmaids, the shoes.  The future husband and the marriage are never mentioned.  It’s misguided and annoying – and I was one of them.

It seems to me that when I discuss this with people my age, a lot of them share my perspective.  My sister in law tells me, “I should have taken the money instead of having that wedding.”  With some of my friends getting married a little later in life, they are choosing more intimate ceremonies.  The big party just doesn’t seem as important.  I had a friend once tell me that she had two co-workers getting married around the same time.  One had a huge wedding weekend in San Francisco that was over the top in every way.  The other woman went to the courthouse.  Someone asked my friend, “So is she any less married because they went to the courthouse?”  They just wanted to be married, none of the other stuff mattered (FYI – The San Francisco couple are now divorced).

I’m not saying that we all should head to the courthouse to get married.  But, I’m going to spend a lot of time talking with my girls about marriage and relationships and less about the party.  I’m using those wedding shows as jumping off points for conversations about love, respect and focusing on finding the right person.  In the end, it doesn’t matter how you got married.  The true measure of a successful wedding is the life you lead together after that special day.

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