This week we’re talking about Memory. We’re talking about it in direct ways and in indirect ways. How does the past, and our memory of it, affect how we move through the present? So I knew, without a doubt, that it was time to restart the Wedding Graduates Return series. This is where people who have shared their wedding with us come back, and share what’s happened since and how their wedding and their marriage intertwine. So today we asked Michelle Edgemont to write something. Michelle had one of my favorite weddings ever, designed the Brooklyn book tour party, and now does graphic design for our How To series. But today she’s here talking about something way deeper than that: why wedding planning matters.
Me, to my husband, Adam: “You know how we spent so long planning our wedding and wanted it to be really meaningful and I spent all that time making all the decorations? Don’t you think our wedding day really laid a foundation for our marriage and affected our marriage as it stands today, almost three years later?”
Adam: “Our wedding day had nothing to do with our marriage.”
His brashness caught me off guard. At first, I was a little miffed. I worked for months and months on designing our wedding and crafting the invites and the programs and the decorations. We filled out booklets and discussed our feelings in hours of pre-marital counseling. We spent weekends driving the two hours from our apartment in Brooklyn to the wedding location in Pennsylvania to iron out details. Our wedding day was so much freakin’ fun. We were married in a little suburban church and had the reception in a traditional reception hall. All of our loved ones were there, two of which, my father and grandfather, are no longer with us today. We kissed and laughed and danced. It was the best day ever, and he was saying it has NOTHING to do with our marriage!?!
He was right. I mean, he IS right. (Babe, are you reading this? I just told The Internet that you are right. Where it lives on in eternity.)
Our wedding day had nothing to do with our marriage. Ok, besides the fact that we got married that day and took vows under God to support and love each other unconditionally until the day we die, the wedding day was not a foundation for our marriage. Our marriage doesn’t care what color the bridesmaids’ dresses were. It doesn’t care that our reception was in a super traditional reception hall and not an indie, artsy venue. Our marriage says f*ck it that we didn’t write our own vows but instead used the pre-written ones our Pastor gave us. Our marriage could give a rat’s ass about the heartfelt thank-you letter we wrote on our wedding programs.
It was the months leading up the wedding where the start of our marriage was the most affected. The process is where the real foundation started to build itself. It was in the planning where we learned skills on how to work with each other towards a common goal. Those months were when we first had to manage a budget together, when we had to make decisions with level heads, and when we both had to learn how to compromise without feeling like we lost the battle.
In October, Adam and I will celebrate our third anniversary. If three years ago we married at a country club and I wore Vera Wang, October 24th will still be our anniversary. If we went to the courthouse with only our parents, October 24th will still be our anniversary. If we had decided to fly everyone to Jamaica and tie the knot barefoot on the beach, our marriage would still be what it is today.
My wedding day was one of the best days of my life to date, but it wasn’t that one span of twenty-four hours that laid a foundation for my marriage. I mean, really? If I could get fired up for a hot second, and I’m sure people will disagree with me—heck, I disagreed with myself before Adam lit the light bulb in my brain—a wedding day, as meaningful and beautiful as they come, will not put a magic marriage spell over the couple. Honestly, I don’t remember the exact wording of our vows. I don’t remember what our Pastor spoke about. What I do remember is seeing everyone I love all in one room at one time. I remember my dad, who passed away two weeks before our first anniversary, doing the chicken dance. I remember most of what we discussed in pre-marital counseling and I remember the (painful) feeling of my first real compromise by agreeing to not see each other before the ceremony. I truly believe that wedding days are for partying and planning a wedding is for growing. Maybe that’s why planning a wedding is sometimes so, so painful? It’s just growing pains. Wedding days are for promising love and commitment to another person out loud in a public setting, whether religious or secular, then dancing your face off in celebration. People have had deeply moving weddings, and then crappy marriages. They’ve exchanged vows in Vegas and are now a great example of a strong, healthy marriage.
It’s the process that we should be paying more attention to. The time between “Will you marry me?” and “I do” is where a couple can build that foundation and affect their marriage. For Adam and me, that’s where it started.
Photo by: Gina Zeidler