Photo by Todd Ruth on Unsplash

Your Wedding Is Not Your Marriage

Having a wedding is awesome, but it won’t define your marriage.

My wedding day was over five and a half years ago, and despite the fact that I’m not even married anymore, I still hear comments on how beautiful the wedding was.

My wedding was amazing. Most weddings are. I have yet to attend one that doesn’t turn out to be a beautiful celebration of love that brings tears to the eyes of half the guests, and leaves the other half flat out crying. Weddings are not just about love, they’re about the hope that a happily ever after is possible.

Hopeless cynics apart, most of us attend a wedding believing we are witnessing the first day of happily ever after. We eagerly listen to the happy couple exchange vows, and we’re sure every beautiful promise of love and companionship will be fulfilled.

I never felt more loved than I did on my wedding day, not only by my brand new husband, but all my family and friends. We celebrated as if we were all drunk on the love that outpoured from every guest. It felt like my husband and I were beacons of hope, shinning our joyful light on every face that looked up to ours.

My wedding was, in many ways, a lot more than I had expected. I had never had big dreams about my wedding day, but I had dreams of a happy marriage and harmonious family life.

In the end, I got everything backwards. I got a bigger, better, more beautiful wedding than I had ever wanted or thought I would get, and a marriage that was the exact opposite of everything I had always dreamed of. While the wedding was amazing, the marriage deteriorated quickly.

People discuss weddings in terms of the pros and cons, of the amount of money they think it’s reasonable to spend, who should foot the bill (parents or the bride and groom), how many guests they should invite, what presents to ask for and so on. There are wedding deniers and wedding enthusiasts, apparently, and the discussion between both camps can go on and on.

But here’s the truth about having a wedding: it’s damn fun, it makes you feel special, it yields you more beautiful pictures than you know what to do with, and if you psyche yourself enough for it, it can be the happiest day of your life.

(Not to mention that the sex you have right after is amazing.)

For a long time, my wedding was the happiest day of my life.

It still kind of is, if I’m being honest, because I don’t remember ever feeling such bliss, such peace and pure happiness as I did the day I got married, either before or since. I had every hope for a beautiful future, and I was certain we would be the happiest couple in the world, forever.

Even though the marriage is over, the wedding was amazing and I only have great memories of it. In fact, remembering how happy I was at my wedding makes the divorce sting twice as much. When I mourn the loss of my marriage, I also mourn the loss of that beautiful bride, so young and so full of dreams, and of that groom, so emotional and so at peace with his choices.

Weddings are amazing, but your wedding is not your marriage, and the sooner you tackle the difference between the two and figure out exactly what it means to you and your spouse, the better.

I thought I had that down. Even though my wedding was great, a lot of it was done to please other people, not to fulfill any lingering adolescent dreams I might have of being a princess for a day. I thought the fact that I didn’t care about my wedding as much as I cared about my married life was enough of a sign that we were good, all set for marital success. It turns out, it wasn’t actually enough.

There were a lot of factors that contributed to the dissolution of my marriage, but none of them has made me a cynic towards the beauty of having a wedding, because it is an amazing day. It can not only make you feel special, and your love, blessed; but it gives you and your spouse a wave of enthusiasm for your relationship which you can ride for months.

The important part to remember, however, is that as amazing as having a wedding is, it’s not enough of a foundation for a marriage. Wedding planning can get quite intense and even hectic, and it’s tempting to let it distract you from assessing the real situation of your relationship and its readiness to evolve into something as serious as a marriage.

Weddings are amazing, but they’re also full of little sparkling details that can blind you to what really matters in a marriage. Don’t let them.