We attended a wedding this past weekend. It was the first wedding we've attended since getting engaged, but I wasn't really worried about comparisons or gathering inspiration, perhaps because the high end, more traditional wedding context was so far removed from our own more casual future celebration, and perhaps because the context was so besides the point for a couple I adore so entirely.
After being steeped in all the glorious inspiration here in the less bound-by-tradition wedding world, I think I actually appreciated their more classic event all the more. There were certainly small touches that hinted at the couple's personalities, but there was no angst about floral centerpieces over handcrafted non-floral options or her designer dress over a personality-infused perfect dress or the semi-religious egalitarian Episcopalian service and the Corinthians reading instead of a personally written ceremony. It was simply a wedding, exactly how you might picture it progressing from a fortunate Southern California beach-view vantage point. It's the sort of event that some of us might write off as "cookie cutter," particularly if we're the sort who might consider slaving away on a pile of whimsically gocco'd programs.
We'd be wrong.
After all of my concerns about making the day entirely personal and a full reflection of our values, their wedding was a solid reminder that the most personal aspect of a wedding is the promise made in the vows. It didn't matter that the readings and (mostly) Episcopalian ceremony didn't include handpicked poetry and wasn't a self-written reflection on their relationship and future. It didn't matter that their vows were minimally personalized, instead relying more heavily on the ritual of egalitarian Christian vows. The moment they said "I will" and I saw their faces light up with the full comprehension of their incredibly personal promise to each other, I burst into tears.
There couldn't have been a more personal and intimate moment, regardless of the words and ceremony used to frame it. And when I gave the groom a giant hug on the dance floor later that night, he was still beaming from the impact of that moment. This man was entirely overwhelmed with joy from the sheer act of his promise. He was still filled with that moment as he said to me, hours later, "This is amazing. I'm married. I'm just trying to take it all in. It's all rushing by so quickly. This is just so incredible."
As I talked it over later with our friends who were married a year and a half ago, they both nodded along in perfect understanding. He recalled the incredible feelings from his own wedding upon realizing you're marrying this other person, knowing that you're entering into the rightest decision of your life, and of wishing the ceremony could have lasted even longer.
And that's the heart of the matter. That's the feeling we're really chasing throughout all our planning and budgeting and angst. And that moment will happen. It may end up looking like a DIY craft fest or a Martha Stewart masterpiece, and either will be stunning and will simply add an extra touch to the intrinsic beauty of the day. On Saturday, we were privileged to witness the marriage of our dear friends and to share in the raucous joy of their 12-piece band reception party. They got engaged a week after we did and, with only six months of planning and a different social context, they didn't have time or interest in the intense personalization (of either the vow-related sort or the aesthetic detail-focused sort) that's been so easy for us to get caught up in. But, whereas they had only six months to prepare for the wedding, they've had seven years to prepare for this marriage. The wedding was both the public promise and a party to celebrate their commitment. And that's all that mattered on Saturday.