Thursday, May 5, 2011

"The Wedding" vs. the Marriage

There is a big difference between a Wedding and a Marriage.

Why is it that so many people (women, really) get so caught up in the Wedding that they lose sight of the more important thing -- the relationship and the Marriage?  Is it something in our culture?  I wonder if women in other countries spend the time and effort planning the "perfect" wedding that American women do.  And I would love to know how much money women in other countries spend on their weddings, when compared to what women spend here.  Personally, I could never justify spending even half of what the average American bride spends on her wedding.  And notice I said, "her" wedding.  Unfortunately, that seems to be what it's all about -- the bride.  It's HER day.  Well, I say, what about the groom?  Doesn't he have a role other than just to show up and do what he's told?  Doesn't he realize that when he steps aside and allows his bride to take complete control that he is setting a precedent for how things are going to be in the future?  For so many men, this is, indeed, the direction things go.

The Wedding is just one day.  The Marriage is (supposed to be) for a lifetime.  Wouldn't it make sense to focus at least as much, if not more, time and energy on the partnership rather than on the planning of a "perfect" wedding?  In the end, when all the excitement of the very special day wears off, what will a couple be left with?  Where will they find themselves?  If the relationship was strong to begin with, they may do alright.  If it wasn't, however, keeping up the "appearance" will become increasingly difficult.

A Marriage is supposed to be a partnership.  When one person in the relationship is making all the decisions, when one person is slowly severing the other from his/her family, friends, and what were once favorite past-times, when you see them changing into someone you don't even recognize, what are you supposed to do?  What if you are expected to stand by this couple on their wedding day in support of the union, but in your heart, you have some concerns.......what then?

When it seems as if one person is controlling and manipulating the other, and the other person is allowing him/herself to be controlled and manipulated, it IS concerning.  A relationship that's built on solid ground does not look like this.  It is true that grown adults are capable of making their own decisions.  They are also capable of making their own mistakes.  But I think it's important for couples to realize that you set some very important precedents at the beginning of a relationship -- ones that can remain well into the future.  In a healthy and fulfilling relationship, I think it's very important that BOTH people have an equal share in the decision-making.  If, as a couple, you aren't able to be flexible, to communicate, to negotiate, and to compromise while planning the Wedding, then how in the world are you going to be able to have flexibility, communication, and the ability to compromise in the Marriage?

When you see all of this happening to someone you have known and loved for their entire life -- when you see him/her behaving like a stranger -- someone you don't even know anymore, it is painful and heartbreaking to stand by and watch.  And the all-to-difficult question comes to the forefront......At what point is it acceptable to step in and speak your mind?  Is it ever acceptable?

And if you do, will there be a price to pay?


  1. Janine, this is a really good post. I very much agree with what you wrote about some women planning the perfect wedding and losing sight of everything else that matters. I have seen that happen many times. And yes, the amount of money some people spend on a wedding is just astounding/ridiculous. So here it goes: In June of 2005, I asked Ricardo to marry me, and he said yes :). We both wanted a small wedding. I even suggested the possibility of eloping. In the end, we decided to have a small wedding with our immediate family and a few friends. The official wedding was performed by a justice of the peace, at her house in Coventry. It was on a Friday afternoon (August 12 2005), just Ricardo and I, and the Justice of the peace. Right after we were done, we drove to Montreal. The next day (Saturday August 13 2005), we had the wedding party at Ricardo's parents' house, in their back yard. Ricardo's mom and sisters prepared all the food - it was their wedding present to us. We had about 25 people in all at our wedding. It was a beautiful sunny day and it was all very relaxed. And that was it. Our wedding. I wore a white dress which I bought from Target for 30$. The wedding ring was a silver band which we bought from Harvest Beads in Manchester for about 15$. Ricardo does not wear rings, so we only bought one for me. We did not have an engagement ring. The total cost of the wedding was about 50$ (for the ring and the dress) plus whatever Ricardo's parents spent for the food.

  2. Wow! Thanks for sharing that, Roxana. I can't say we only spent $50 on OUR wedding, but we probably spent about 1/2 of what most people spend today.
    Brandon and I met in June 2005. He asked me to marry him in December, and our wedding was the following July, a little over a year after we first met. Our wedding ceremony was in the sunken garden at the Hillstead Museum in Farmington. At the time, we lived pretty close to there. We kept things pretty small, but I think there were about 80 guests (small by most people's standards). Our reception was at a restaurant in Bolton. Everything was pretty much exactly how we wanted it -- nice but not over the top. We skipped a lot of those typical wedding reception rituals like throwing the bouquet and garter. We just didn't see the point in those things. The wedding was about US joining together as a couple and we wanted to keep the focus on that. According to my father-in-law who is a retired Episcopalian minister, we did an outstanding job. He's seen and done a lot of weddings in his time, and he STILL maintains that our wedding was just about the ONLY wedding he ever attended that the couple really stayed focused on what was important. I'm sure there was more than one in all those years, but his point is that he was very impressed with how we did everything. I should also tell you that my marriage to Brandon is my second marriage and that I did learn a lot from the mistakes of the past. Don't we all?

  3. I think that when someone we love is making what may be a huge mistake, we can try saying this once - but only someone very close to that person should attempt this. After that, we need to let him/her do what is going to be done. We can be there if or when things fall apart, offering our unconditional love and support.

    In my case, I have always regretted that my family saw me as too independent and headstrong to tell me what they saw as red flags in my relationship. I wish someone had tried. But isn't hind sight 20/20? I would have been furious at the time :)

  4. Ya, Marci. Me too. I'm a firm believer that your life takes a certain course for a reason. I don't regret my past (the majority of it, anyway). I learned so much with each experience and wouldn't be who I am right now, if not for some of those "mistakes."