*Not to be confused with defining your marriage
I think by now I’ve made it quite clear that I love talking about my opinions. I love telling other people what I think. And I think a lot. But for right now, I’d like to redirect the conversation: I want to talk about what you think. More specifically, I want to talk about what you think you’re accomplishing with your wedding.
This is about to get philosophical. Maybe even a little existential.
Are you ready for some sweet, juicy introspection?
When you’re planning a wedding for yourself and your partner(s), I honestly believe that the very first thing you should do is define what this event means to you. What are you even doing? What are you accomplishing? Why are you having a wedding in the first place? Why is this event important to you? Why does anyone need to be involved, other than yourself, your partner(s), and the legally obligatory witnesses? Why?
I honestly believe that the largest, most common reason we have weddings is because it is expected of us. It’s just what people do. Of course, people get married for plenty of reasons… including this one. But why plan and execute an event? I’m willing to bet that most people don’t even think about it. We just do. It’s expected of us. And for most (Western) weddings today, the expectation has a two-part foundation: The why, and the how.
Why do we have a wedding? We just do. It is expected of us. Everyone we know and love has done it or will do it.
How do we have a wedding? Ceremony. Cocktail hour. Reception. Photographs. Flowers. Décor. Cake. A meal. Alcohol. Music. Dancing. And these are just the broad strokes. The Wedding Industry pushes one template for a wedding. One. It may come in different flavours, but rest assured, it is fundamentally the same dish. And the recipe usually calls for a lot of consumption and a lot of money.
I’m not going to tell you not to have a wedding. If you’re reading this and starting to think that a wedding might not be for you, that’s great- I’m glad I could help! But the vast majority of you are probably still really into the idea of a wedding. And what I want to encourage you to do is examine why you want one. Again, why is it important to you?
Is this a religious or spiritual event for you? Are you forging, solidifying, or formalizing a bond with your partner(s) in the eyes of your deity/deities/object of worship/religious community? Are your religious or spiritual views directly relevant to your relationship with your partner(s)? Does this wedding affect your beliefs regarding what will happen with you and your partner(s) in the afterlife?
Is this event important to you for legal reasons? Is being legally married in itself a cause for celebration for you? (Marriage inequality is still real, and this is a very valid reason for those who have not always had, or continue not to have, the right to marry their partner and maintain an equitable relationship under the eyes of the law).
Does this wedding serve as a statement of commitment to your partner(s)? Is it also a statement of commitment to their family and loved ones? Who are you making this statement to- yourself? Your partner(s)? Their children? Your families? Your friends? The world? What exactly are you committing to? What does the commitment entail, and how long is it expected to last?
Is the wedding serving as a rite of passage? Does this mark or formalize a transition to a new life stage or era? Is it about personal growth or an evolution in your relationship? What is changing? Do you feel that this wedding should feel ritualistic in nature? Who should be involved, and in what capacity?
Maybe this wedding is about celebration for you. Is this a celebration of your relationship? What aspects of it are you celebrating? Are you celebrating something in particular, or just celebrating for the sheer joy of it? Do you just want to have a big/special party? (No judgment, I love this reason!)
Maybe one of these potential answers speaks to you. Maybe all of them do. There are no right or wrong answers… this is meant to be a tool for self-discovery. Maybe you and your partner(s) have different answers. That’s okay, too!
If you’re feeling exploratory, try this: Make a pie chart. Try to create a visual representation of how you feel and what you think. Think about (and I encourage you to do this with every aspect of your wedding) what you want and why you want it… then ask yourself if you do still, in fact, want it.
This can get really complicated, really quickly. But I still encourage you to do it. Take breaks when you need to. Have fun when you need to. Acknowledge when the answer is “I don’t know”, and just let that sit for a while.
When you know what your wedding means to you, it becomes a hundred times easier to separate the substance from the fluff.