Somehow, two months has already passed since Andrew and I got engaged. Based off of my experience of wedding planning so far, it seems to come in spurts. During the first few weeks that we were engaged, Andrew and I were constantly making plans for our big day- choosing a date, booking the church and reception hall, finding a photographer. The work was fairly labor-intensive, and the sheer amount of work that needed to be done was overwhelming. It seemed like everyone was vying for my attention- for several weeks straight, I came home each afternoon to find at least one postcard waiting for me. There were notes from photographers, jewelers, and DJs, all of which supplemented the regular emails that I received from varied companies advertising their businesses. In just the first week alone, I must have deleted about a hundred emails and recycled an entire tree.
After the initial whirlwind of activity, my life finally calmed down. I was able to temporarily put wedding planning on hold as I focused on schoolwork and my job. When people asked me how the wedding planning for progressing, I was able to smile confidently as I ticked off every completed task on my to-do list for the wedding. For a while, people seemed very impressed by the progress Andrew and I had already made, and I was pleased with what we had already accomplished. I felt as though I was peacefully floating along, moving at a comfortable pace towards my destination. And then I hit the rapids.
Suddenly, people were asking questions that I didn’t have any answers to: When will you be sending out your Save the Dates? Have you already had your engagement photos taken? Do you know where you’re going on your honeymoon? Where are you registering? Once again, I didn’t have answers, and I knew that these tasks needed to be added to the top of my list of things to do. My life became a whirlwind again, as I struggled to balance work and school with all of our wedding planning. In just a single weekend, Andrew and I met our wedding photographers for engagement photos, registered at our first store (Bed, Bath, and Beyond), and discussed our honeymoon options. Needless to say, by the end of the weekend, I was absolutely exhausted and dreading another week of school and work without the chance to recuperate. Though a few days have already passed, I am still sleep-deprived and struggling to catch up with work, but I am also breathing easy again, knowing how much Andrew and I accomplished. Though our list of things to do before the wedding is still overwhelmingly long, it was such a relief to be able to check just a few things off. With every tasked accomplished, we are just that much closer to marriage, and that fact makes everything worthwhile.
Andrew and I have been very laid back about our wedding planning. We’re working with a pretty tight budget, but thankfully we both believe that simpler is better. Neither one of us is very high-maintenance, and I don’t think that I’ve become a bridezilla- no one has said anything to suggest it at least. And yet, despite our attempts to stay relaxed about everything, planning has been overwhelming. There is just so much to do, and so little time. We have already opted out of so many superfluous tasks, but our list still seems impossibly long. There are just so many details to be considered. So many tasks to be completed. So many traditions to be incorporated. Amidst all the specifics, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture.
And what is the big picture, you ask? It is this: Andrew and I are not just planning a wedding; we are preparing for a marriage. Surrounded by the myriads of details that go into planning a wedding and reception, it’s easy to forget that we’re not just planning a one-day event. When we’re debating colors, favors, photos, and cake flavors (alright, that wasn’t really a debate- it’ll be chocolate), it’s tempting to throw myself into the work at hand. It’s easy to get lost in the details. But in the end, none of those things will matter. You won’t remember the exact details of your bridesmaids’ dresses. You won’t remember that the DJ accidentally played a song from you ‘no-play’ list. You won’t remember who couldn’t attend your wedding. You’ll remember the promise that you made, the joy on your husband’s face as he beheld you in all your snow-white glory. You’ll remember laughing with friends, but you might forget what the joke was. You’ll remember what it felt like to give yourself to another person for the rest of your life. And eventually, you’ll realize exactly what that means.
The vows that I will make will extend throughout my entire life. I will promise to be faithful before God and man on the altar on May 23, 2015, but then I will make the same promise every single morning for as long as we both shall live. Despite the nerves that might arise that day, it will be relatively easy to make those promises on the altar. But life won’t always be easy. There will be days where I will be frustrated with Andrew, and I will have to work harder at upholding my vows. No one ever said that marriage was easy. But it’s definitely worth it. And I won’t be alone. Andrew will always be there to support me, and I will always be there to support him. Because that’s what it means to be married. That’s what we are preparing for. We are not just planning our wedding; we are preparing for marriage. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that people who spend more time planning their wedding than preparing for marriage tend to get divorced. In the midst of the excitement of planning, they lose sight of the big picture. They forget what they are preparing for. They can’t see the forest for the trees. They are so absorbed by this one event that they leave no room in their busy schedules for true marriage preparation. They know how to navigate various wedding day blunders without having a hair fall out of place, but they have no idea how to actually be married. They don’t consider that marriage is more than a white wedding dress, the perfect photo shoot, or hosting the wedding of the season. Marriage is a life-long commitment that demands that you give the whole of yourself. It demands sacrifice, dying to yourself and your individual wants. It means potential economic hardship and many sleepless nights. But it also means a life filled with love, with joy, with laughter. It means sharing your life with the one you love. We can’t lose sight of the beauty of marriage by focusing too intensely on the wedding. It’s tempting, but your wedding day will only last 24 hours. And yet during those 24 hours, you will make a promise that will extend across a lifetime. If you think your wedding day is going to be the highlight of your life, just wait. There’s so much more to life. Your wedding day-and night- are just the gateway to a life filled with love and joy. We can’t lose sight of this fact. We can’t let society reduce a lifelong promise to meaningless words. We can’t let society reduce marriage to a wedding. Or to two people who love each other. Or to a social contract. Or to whatever other notion we have of what marriage “should be.” We should just let marriage be what it was created to be, and rejoice in the fact that the Lord has given us a way to do the impossible, because by the grace of God, we can promise to love one another forever. And forever is a long time.
Now I’m sure you’re wondering, why am I still having a big white wedding? Because I’ve dreamed about it since I was a little girl. Because I’ve always wanted to wear a gorgeous white princess gown on my wedding day. Because I realize what this day means- it’s the first day of the rest of my life and I want to be prepared. Because I finally get to be the blushing bride, preparing to begin her life as a wife, and God-willing, one day a mother. I never said there was anything wrong with the big white wedding. Well, I guess it can be too big. And maybe too white. But I’m hoping that mine will be “just right.” And yet I know that my wedding day is just the first step. I have my entire life with Andrew to look forward to.
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!