With all the emphasis on a wedding being the so-called best day of one’s life, it’s no wonder many of us feel pressured to live up to the hype. But in between planning a kick-ass reception or a simple, sweet ceremony, it’s important to remember the reason for celebrating in the first place: the marriage itself. Here are five reasons to keep your focus on what comes after you say “I do.”
1. You’re vowing to show up for your future, not just your present.
When you get married, you’re promising to stick together for better or for worse, through sickness and in health — which means you’re committing to your future more so than your present. You may have the best wedding ceremony ever, and a party for the ages, both of which can serve as long-lasting, sweet memories that showcased your love.
But with marriage, you’re committing to much more: building a future together, or a continuation of your life together thus far. That could involve children, pets, homes, travel, aging parents, lost jobs, cross-country moves, illness, loss, and much more. Those vows? They aren’t just words. They’re guidelines to shape your relationship over the years.
2. A marriage license doesn’t define commitment.
People get married every day. They also get divorced every day. So I hate to break it to you, but just because you throw a stellar wedding under all the right circumstances doesn’t mean you’ll stay married. You could also meet someone, get married within two weeks, and celebrate your 50th wedding anniversary. On that same note, you may decide to skip marriage altogether — and still be fully capable of wholeheartedly committing yourself to the person you love. The point is, commitment is a choice, and it’s one you gotta make every day — not a piece of paper.
Plus, there are very real legal elements to getting married that have nothing to do with delicious cakes or sweet tuxes – like social security benefits, tax deductions, making medical decisions on behalf of your spouse, and health and employment benefits. Those things may not be sexy, and they’re rarely mentioned at a wedding, but they function as the practical part of marriage in your everyday life way past twirling on the dance floor.
3. Weddings are practice for planning big moments — together.
These days, weddings can quickly become a huge production: custom letterpress invitations, personalized cookies, flowers shipped in from across the country, and dresses for both the ceremony and the reception. And yeah, weddings are technically events, hence the entire industry of wedding planners.
Don’t get carried away. By all means, make your wedding memorable in a way that feels authentic to you and your partner (i.e., if you want to obsess over handcrafted signature cocktails, dooooo it), but let go of the desire to impress others. Instead, focus on what matters to the two of you. And regardless of the details you decide upon, consider the relationship skills you’re building by planning a wedding – like learning how to communicate better, budget appropriately, make joint decisions, compromise, listen to one another, etc. Take your wedding as a chance to learn how to work together as a team day-in and day-out down the road.
4. The people you invite serve as your community.
One of the coolest things about weddings? They are one of the few gatherings in life where almost all the people you know and love have an opportunity to be in the same room together. Now, this isn’t always the case — some couples elope, have a family-only ceremony or celebrate with a reception months later — but no matter if you invite 20 or 200 people, those who bear witness to your celebration in any form are special.
And later in life, in your marriage, you’ll likely rely on some of the people who showed up for you at your wedding: when you go through an eventual rough patch, when you’re struggling with a crisis, when you’ve gotten off course, and when you’re feeling on top of the world. So on your wedding day, think about the fact that the community surrounding you may be just as important to your overall well-being as the person you’re marrying.
5. Ideally, you’ll have many “best” days of your life.
In my opinion, claiming your wedding should be one of the best days of your life is like people who say high school was the best time of their life: yeah, okay, but also not really. Because wouldn’t that be depressing, to only have a few declared “best” days of your life? I think so.
Consider your wedding day a happy kick-start to a new chapter of your relationship together, where ideally, there are more best days to come. Aim for your marriage to be as beautiful as your ceremony and reception, and plan on devoting the same amount of time, energy, and intent to holding hands on your anniversary as you do to walking down the aisle.