It’s that time of year when numerous starry-eyed pre-marital couples make their way to my office to complete their obligatory counselling sessions, in hopes of obtaining the ‘thumbs up’ toward a blissfully-long, happily-ever-after life together. While I do listen intently about the exciting wedding plans, it doesn’t take long for couples to realize I’m not that crazy about their wedding. (What I really care about is their marriage!) As a matter of fact, I think there is something seriously wrong with how weddings are marketed in our modern culture. My philosophy of weddings and what they are about goes something like this.
Weddings should be enjoyed, not just endured. Yup. While I do anticipate some stress and the need to invest a tremendous amount of energy and detail (and no doubt, cash) into my three daughters’ weddings some day, when it comes right down it it, I hope the experience is fun and the event is relaxed enough for everyone to have plenty of laughs and good times to be had by all (including myself)!
Weddings are about blending families and not just a bride and groom (it’s not all about you!). Make it about family. Make it about getting to know each other better and make it about accommodating each others needs as much as possible. After all, since the rest of the marriage is going to be about knowing and accommodating, you might as well practice with the wedding!
Wedding vows are serious. Vows are not sentiments of love, romantic words or inspirational thoughts. Vows are sacred oaths; to solemnly swear, pledging to keep promises made, forever. Vows are made from the heart in the presence of God and witnesses hopefully sincere enough to keep the couple accountable to them. They start with ‘I promise’ and end at the time of death, with every day in between presenting a serious opportunity to make them a tangible reality. Even if it means swearing to your own hurt. Seriously.
The wedding party is a celebration of a couples commitment to each other. It’s a great time of honoring and blessing new love, hope and purpose. Please, please, please…..do not dredge up embarrassing stories of past love, mistakes made or secrets the newly-weds should know about the other. The wedding is not the time or place for that. Celebrate, honor, bless. That’s the rule.
The wedding guests are guests. They should act like guests and be treated like guests. Mutual feelings of respect, love and appreciation will be remembered much longer than the table centerpieces or take home favors. (As a matter of fact, forget the favors and give the money that would have been spent to a charity).
Weddings are about a marriage, not just a day. I always ask my pre-marital couples to estimate the number of hours they have spent in preparation for their wedding. For most, the number is somewhere around 200-300!! Then I charge them……yes, I impose a duty upon them, to invest that same number of hours into their marriage prior to the celebration of their second anniversary. This is not time working out or at the movies together. This is time spent reading books about marriage, attending marriage conferences or workshops, or talking about ways to make their love stronger. It’s amazing what a task (and expense) that seems to present, and yet…..
The wedding can be big, small, in a church, in a park, at a hotel, in the morning, at noon or night. The size, place or time really doesn’t matter. What matters is all the above!
Finally, if at some point in the wedding planning, you realize you’ve made a mistake, that something just isn’t right and you seriously question the whole thing, don’t just keep pressing on though the ‘thumbs’ are down. Be brave enough to talk it through with someone you trust and if necessary……. call off the wedding! Believe me, it’s much easier to call off a wedding than to call off a marriage.