Don’t be afraid to do your wedding your way simply because it’s not “how it’s supposed to be”
Lots of young couples these days, at least in Europe, decide not to get married because they don’t see the value of getting married anymore. Whenever I speak to couples like these, they either have parents who got divorced, friends who have influenced their decision, or maybe they just saw a few weddings and decided that’s not what they wanted.
In Europe, most countries have laws that put married couples on the same level as couples who “officially” live together. They sign a similar contract, they have the same tax benefits and they have the same benefits when it comes to buying a house or having children. So who can blame these young couples that they don’t really see the value of getting married anymore?
I actually had this same discussion with my boyfriend over a year ago. We were at my cousin’s house and we were talking about whether or not we saw value in getting married. As a Wedding Consultant, a lot of people enjoy bringing this up around me, either because they like the concept of getting married, or, as it was in this case, because they don’t see the value and they are curious to hear my thoughts.
Now, you have to know that at that time, my boyfriend and I had been together for almost seven years and in all that time he had always told me he wanted to get married someday (in the distant future, of course). And then, all of the sudden, during dinner, he mentioned that he understood their point and he didn’t think there was any value in getting married. Now, you will immediately understand how hurt I felt at that moment. But, since we were with my family, I didn’t get into it and just started talking about something else.
A few weeks later though, we had a huge fight about it and we ended up in a Cold War situation where I just barely spoke to him. I quickly realized though, that acting this way would make me lose him for sure so, after a few days, I called a truce. He probably had never realized how much this meant to me, so now he knew. And if he loved me, like I knew he did, I knew that I just needed to give him some more time to understand my point of view.
Don’t be distracted by the pretty picture
But anyways, what I am trying to get at here, is that I got it! I understood why he didn’t think there was any value in getting married, and as my bubbly optimistic self, I didn’t realize what was causing him to think like this until it was almost too late.
At that time, I was working as an A-Z Wedding Planner, and so my job was to organize the whole wedding. This meant keeping track of all the little bits and pieces for the weddings I was working on, but it also meant staying on top of things by browsing Pinterest for cute ideas because the wedding world keeps evolving and changing every single year and I needed to keep up.
And so, he thought that getting married, to me, was all about the decorations and flowers and wedding cake and having a nice dress, and less about the person you were marrying. That’s because he only saw the things I was working on for my business. He never saw these young couples who just got engaged and who were so happy because they were finally marrying the person they loved, he only saw the things surrounding it.
To be completely honest, everyone wants a pretty wedding, but that’s not the point of getting married. The point of getting married is committing yourself to another person for the rest of your life, because you truly believe you have found the person you could grow old with. Having someone to share every joyful moment in life with, someone who can help you carry the burden when something bad happens, someone who loves you - flaws and all, someone you trust and believe in, someone you can be yourself with, …
Your wedding day is all about you and the person you’re marrying
Lately, I get the feeling that lots of couples get distracted by the pretty picture though... Just like my boyfriend thought I only wanted to get married so I could have a big and beautiful party, I feel like a lot of people are only looking at that part of a wedding instead of looking beyond it.
Pinterest and Instagram show us these picture-perfect weddings, and when we think about getting married, those are the images we see. However, getting married is about something so much more meaningful than pretty decorations. That’s why I want to help you to get back to the foundation of a wedding: YOU!
Imagine your ideal wedding day…
Now, I want you to do something for me. Close your eyes and think about your ideal wedding day. What is the one thing that is essential to this day? What is the one thing you couldn’t imagine your wedding day without? Except for your partner, of course.
Whatever you find, that is what I call your ‘non-negotiable’. It’s the one thing in your wedding that you should not compromise on, the one thing that you should fight to keep. This will not only help you make all of your future decisions a lot easier, it will also show you pretty quickly if you and your partner are having two very different opinions about your wedding day. This is not a bad thing at all, it will help you clear the air right from the beginning and that alone will be a very strong foundation for your wedding and marriage.
To me, my non-negotiable is my family and best friends. I would love to have a small and informal wedding on a beach somewhere but I could never do that because I want to spend my day with the people I love the most. Now, let’s say my boyfriend’s non-negotiable would be to elope and get married with just the two of us. From the start, it would be pretty obvious we would both have to compromise and find some common ground.
Just to be clear, I’m not telling you to be headstrong and not budge on your non-negotiable when your partner wants the exact opposite. Find a common ground and make a compromise. Talking through things, understanding your partner and compromising are essential to any good relationship so you can use this as practice for your marriage if nothing else.
Don’t let anybody tell you to do things differently
When the two of you have decided on your non-negotiables, and you have reached a common ground, you can start working on the gazillion other details you need to take care of for your wedding day. Most of the time, I feel like this is when most people start to feel obliged to incorporate certain details into their wedding because that’s “how it’s supposed to be”.
Going back to the beginning of this article, most young couples I speak to who don’t see the value of getting married are held back by this part. Usually, they mention they would like to have a party when they’re together for 5, 10 or 20 years. So why not have a wedding? You don’t have to cut a cake if you don’t like that, you don’t have to have a wedding reception for 200 people if you don’t want that, heck you don’t even need to wear a white dress or have an opening dance if you don’t want any of that!
Essentially, getting married is just going to the city hall or to church and signing a paper that says that you commit yourself to another person for the rest of your life. All the rest, is just built around this. If that’s all you really want to do, just go to city hall, invite your closest friends and family and get married. The ceremony lasts somewhere between 5 and 30 minutes (a little longer if you’re getting married in church) and tadaa – you’re officially husband and wife.
If you want to go the more traditional route though, you can still change things so they will fit your personality and desires. Not a fan of sweets? Get something else as dessert, or skip dessert entirely. One of you hates dancing? Don’t force each other to do an opening dance, do something else instead or just have a different concept that doesn’t include a dance party. Not a fan of white dresses? Get a colored dress or even a black dress if you prefer. Not a fan of the more traditional timeline? Create your own!
All it comes down to in the end, is making a commitment to another person and having a nice day. What that means, is different for everyone. So don’t let anyone tell you what to do and what not to do.