Monday, March 15, 2010

The Heart of the Matter

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.

27 comments:

  1. You're absolutely right. The moment we say, "I do," is really the only part that matters.

    It's funny how much thought we put into the types of flowers and dress we'll have, when people really only pay attention to those few, very special, very profound promises.

    Reading this was a breath of fresh air this early Monday! Loving this blog, thanks for the share!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, exactly! This is what it felt like to me, and you realize that whatever your decisions about what your wedding will look like, the most striking thing will be the feelings that come out of the commitment you're making. Which you can't plan, and which will happen even if you have the most cookie cutter wedding ever. Best.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This post made me cry. Thanks for the reminder of what it's all about!

    ReplyDelete
  4. runrgurl beat me to it. this post made me cry too. again, another excellent post.

    i can't wait to say "i do."

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love, love, love.

    Can't wait to stand in front of our whole world and make that promise.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Fantastic post. I, too, experienced a similar wedding this weekend, and balled like a baby during the ceremony (okay, maybe not balled, but I teared up for most of the 30 minute ceremony).

    ReplyDelete
  7. Excellent post. I think most of us here in wedding-blog world are guilty of devoting countless hours to make our own wedding somehow different from the millions that have come before it. But fact is, many, maybe most, weddings are not soaked through with the couple’s personality from favors to vows to photobooths. And they’re in no way “worse” than the DIY-tastic affairs we see online. If only we all knew this from day one, I can’t imagine how much bridal anxiety we’d avoid.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yup. Indeed. Exactly. That's what I mean when I say none of it matters but what matters.

    Side note: we both personalized and didn't personalize our ceremony. We wanted The. Timeless. Jewish. Service. Had II not married David, I would have had the timeless Baptist service, I suppose. But we chose music (on classic Hebrew love song for the aisle walk, one sung prayer you know by heart), and added our own readings. Three modern, one Psalm. Done. More than enough.

    But when it came down to what mattered - the vows? That we were going to do in the timeless way, linking us to everyone that had gone before. It was crazy powerful, and would have been either way, but I think there is a fantastic argument for not personalizing. We didn't WANT our wedding to be different than all the weddings that came before it. We were getting married because we wanted to tie our selves to all that came before us. Not that we were different, that we were the same. That we were tying ourselves to an institution that was bigger than our individual likes and dislikes, feelings and whims. That was our why.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you for this wonderful post! When I first started looking at online Wedding literature, I was surprised how much "cookie-cutter" was tossed around as a dirty word. Cookie-cutters make COOKIES, one of the most delicious things in the world, after weddings.

    ReplyDelete
  10. So true - step back from judging a bit (I feel bad for feeling that way at the last wedding I attended) and just feel happy for the couple and their beginnings, our presence as their witnesses, and a party.

    ReplyDelete
  11. @hitchdied - aaand now I want a cookie. And you're right, when did we start hating on tools that assist with sugary deliciousness? Or weddings, for that matter?

    ReplyDelete
  12. And maybe they are the sane ones for not devoting so much brainspace to the matter. Just the vows and the chicken dance. Works everytime.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Mildly related, but wanted to share. A fun sanity check about wedding details.
    http://themessage-board.blogspot.com/2010/02/message-board-great-std-stamp-debate.html

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love this post. You have articulated what everyone else is trying to- it really is just about becoming husband and wife- nothing else matters.

    ReplyDelete
  15. hey I live in the southbay! and i had jordana do my boudoir and forever after shoot!! she is amazing :) we personalized our entire ceremony and it was perfect for us!!! wouldn't have done it any different!

    ReplyDelete
  16. That post was so beautiful!! I got all teary eyed! You are absolutely right, thank you for articulating it so well. Bravo.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Aw. Yes, even High WASPs have strong feelings amongst the lilies-of-the-valley. Thanks for the mention. Much appreciated, especially in a such a heartfelt and beautifully written post.

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a very beautiful ode to the importance of the marriage part of the wedding. While we were planning I used to say, "as long as we're married at the end of the night, we'll be happy". And we sure had ourselves a fabulous time...and some shockingly blissed out moments after the vows. I love appreciating the many flavors of weddings for the ooey gooey center, Love.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Yes that it absolutely true! It's the most important part of the wedding...that's what matters most. Looking back on my wedding, that's the part that I remember the most...the rest was a beautiful blur of excitement, love & celebration but I was extremely present during the vows and remember them clearly.

    ReplyDelete
  20. You always nail it - to use your words - get right to the heart of the matter. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I agree. I can honestly say that I've loved every wedding I've ever been to, and they run the gamut from complete package deal with no personal choices to entirely self catered, self decorated, alternative ceremony type affairs. The common denominator is the genuine emotion.

    ReplyDelete
  22. This is a great post! The best BEST part of the wedding is that it is the beginning of a marriage. There is nothing more beautiful than that. Not even hand made silkscreened invitations with embossed stamps.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thank you for writing this! Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning in personalized weddings. My fiance and I are having a pretty traditional Catholic wedding, and I am just not a detailed oriented person. As long as I am looking into his eyes at the alter and speaking vows to him, I will be full of joy. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Yup pup. It's a tough, over-observed row to hoe these days. Almost the easiest might to be do that cookie cutter thing:).

    ReplyDelete
  25. the most moving wedding i've ever seen is here: http://www.romainblanquart.com/bride

    there are no diy details, no tablescapes, no gocco invites. just a really strong woman who had cancer who married the guy she loves.

    ReplyDelete

I love active conversations, including (civil) disagreement. I don't love spam or people who use internet anonymity to be rude and disparaging. Spam and rudeness will be deleted.