The ceremony should serve as the base camp of a mountain, but far too many people treat it like the peak
We attended a wedding a few weeks ago.
The venue was stunning. The food was delicious even if the alcohol was nonexistent (it was a Muslim wedding). The groom was handsome and the bride was gorgeous. They looked very happy and very much in love.
It was our first wedding in almost two years, a shocking drought considering we attended upwards of fifty in just a five year period at the end of the last decade, a significant number of which included one of us as a groomsman or bridesmaid.
We will celebrate our own wedding anniversary in October— our ninth — and every time we have the pleasure of watching others tie the knot, my wife can’t help but talk about how great our wedding was.
“Let’s get married again,” she said a few times during the reception.
While I agree — it was an awesome wedding, our guests loved it, and photos from that day still adorn the walls of our home — I had a different thought that kept bouncing around in my head.
A wedding is not a marriage.
That is not meant as a critique, but merely as reframing of what the ceremony is and what it represents.
In certain sections of the United States — such as the greater New York City area, where I reside — weddings have becomes extremely extravagant (and expensive) affairs that often take years to plan and cost the equivalent of a four-year degree at a well-respected state school.
With that time, money, and effort, do people really consider what they’re signing up for?
Do they realize that those vows entail making a commitment to fifty years of morning breath, farts in your sleep, and bumping into each other in the kitchen? Do they understand they’re signing up for decades of deciding what to make for dinner, whose turn it is to get up with the kid, and coordinating extracurricular activities? It’s a life of stressed out vacations, toys on the floor, hair in the tub, and pee splatters on the toilet seat.
Sadly, there are some people that are so blinded by their desire to have their own wedding day that they simply choose the closest or most convenient person that can fill the role, like a stand-in for a Broadway show. They then immerse themselves into the planning, spending a year or more creating the ultimate wedding day, while the person that is “co-starring” is thought of as little more than a bit player.
The engagement is exciting, the planning is fun, and the actual day is idyllic.
Everything goes perfectly according to plan and that euphoria continues for the next two weeks while the happy couple is lying on an island beach.
Life is bliss.
Unfortunately, the honeymoon eventually ends. The flowers have wilted, the luggage has been emptied, and all that is left is the two of you.
That’s when reality sets in.
You now have to live with this person. Every day. For the rest of your life.
They may not admit it — even to themselves — but there are people that realize in that moment that they didn’t want a marriage at all. They wanted the wedding.
A wedding is a day; a marriage is (hopefully) a lifetime.
A wedding is a party; a marriage is a progression.
A wedding is a snapshot; a marriage is an ongoing film.
A marriage is meant to provide you with the person to accompany you on this long, complex journey called life.
That person is going to be with you during your highest highs and lowest lows, your greatest triumphs and most crushing failures.
That person is the one with whom you share your hopes and fears, your elation and struggle. You tell that person the things you’ve never told anyone else — from your weird idiosyncrasies to your sorted familial history.
That person is also the one that is there for the mundane existence of day-to-day life. Maybe they put the milk back into the fridge with just a smidgen of a sip left. Or perhaps they put on the toilet paper roll so it unfurls from under while you are adamant that it should only go over. Maybe they leave their wet towel on the bed.
If you didn’t love the person before, there’s no way you’ll be able to love them — or keep your sanity — through all that.
A wedding is meant to be the beginning of a journey, not the culmination of it; it is the base camp — the strong foundation on which to build — but too many people treat it as if it’s the peak.
Thus, if you’re with the wrong person, it’s a rude awakening to poke your head out of the tent after celebrating to realize your arduous journey has just begun.
Enjoy the wedding. Make it the greatest day ever, but also make sure it is the first great day in a lifetime of great days with that person.
Say yes to the dress but, more importantly, say yes to the rest of your life.
Christopher Pierznik is the author of nine books. Check out more of his writing at Medium. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.