After realizing I wasn’t going to “find my husband” in college, I held the idea of marriage somewhat loosely, not sure if it was something in God’s plan for me. With that, I also tried not to think about any potential future wedding plans. Of course, I did make some mental notes here and there, but I wouldn’t let myself get too carried away.
Then I met an amazing man, fell in love, and a little over a year later, we were engaged and planning our wedding! Six months after that, we were married.
I must say that, all in all, I had the wedding of my dreams: all of our friends and family surrounded us on a gorgeous California day, we said our vows in a beautiful and meaningful ceremony, and then we danced the night away.
But, if I had it to do all over again, there are certainly a few things I would do differently, and there are a few things that I would never change. Since wedding season is upon us, I thought I’d share some of my lessons learned through this experience. I hope they can be of some use for anyone engaged or who may be engaged some day, knowing that every couple is unique and special just as every wedding is unique and special.
- Everyone imagines your wedding a certain way. I had my own idea of what my wedding would be, and I thought that this, along with my husband’s, would be the only ideas that mattered. I was wrong. Everyone has an idea of what your wedding will be like – especially your parents. I wish I would have sat down with our parents and asked them what is most important to them, and then try to see how we can all be happy, knowing everyone will need to make compromises. As much as the wedding is about the couple getting married, it’s also about the parents letting go of their children.
- Different roles mean different things to different people. I think my husband and I both damaged some relationships because we didn’t involve some close friends in our wedding. We tried to honor all of our close friends by involving them in meaningful ways, not seeing one way as better than the other. However, our friends did not all share this same perspective, and it caused a lot of hurt and pain to all involved. It’s something that, two years later, we are still working through. If I had it to do over again, I would err on the side of inclusivity as much as possible.
- Accept help. Be humbled. My husband and I had been to a number of weddings before ours where we helped out a lot – setting up, running errands day-of, cleaning up afterwards, etc. We always said that we would never do that to our friends and family for our wedding. Guess what? We did. As much as we planned, on the day of our wedding, my mother-in-law and all the groomsmen’s wives were decorating the reception venue, friends and family were setting up ceremony chairs in the afternoon heat, and my dad was fixing our ceremony backdrop 10 minutes before we needed him for photos. Even though I cringe thinking about that now, I also think it’s a beautiful picture of our community and how much we need them – and a reminder to accept help and be humbled by the service of others.
- It’s about the marriage, not the wedding. The most important part of engagement is not planning the wedding, it’s preparing for the sacred covenant of marriage. One thing that helped us make a smooth transition to marriage was couples counseling. We went to a counselor a few months before we were even engaged, and then throughout our engagement. It was so important for us to talk through family issues, behavior patterns, and expectations about sex and married life so that we could learn how to communicate and understand each other better. I highly recommend this! It’s so worth it.
- Let it go. I thought that once the wedding was over, it would be just that: Over. What I didn’t realize, is that in this world where there are a million wedding blogs and everyone’s wedding has a hashtag, I was still comparing my wedding to others. I wish I had that dress. I wish we had that photo. I wish I thought of that. The Internet can be a dangerous place, my friends. To be honest, I’m still letting go of my wedding. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved my wedding. But I need to let go of the fact that it wasn’t “perfect”.
Most of all, my best advice is to HAVE FUN. It’s your wedding day! It won’t be “perfect”, but, actually, it will be perfect in it’s own way: It will be the perfect start to your journey of marriage because it will begin with sacred and holy vows to God and to your husband. And that is all that really matters.
Photo credit: Christa Suppé Photography