24 days to the royal wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William. Of course their wedding is getting more attention than the average late 20-something will receive but it sheds some light on the need to balance the attention between the wedding and the marriage. It’s a topic many 40-somethings have hindsight on and worth sharing as we approach the spring and summer wedding season.
For many 40-somethings, their wedding was a highlight of their 20s, but they don’t hesitate to add that it’s just the beginning. Not that you shouldn’t put a lot of effort into the wedding but that shouldn’t come at the expense of thinking about the person you are marrying.
This from a woman who has been happily married for many years and finds that the real lasting power comes from the laughter she still shares with her husband.
“Focus on the end not the beginning. Instead of putting all your effort and thought into the wedding up some thought into is this the person you want to be across the breakfast table from him when your are 70? It’s about companionship.” –40-something, Manhattan, New York
This from a woman who called off a wedding realizing she was more into the event than the ever after. For her, the moment of clarity came when thinking about the morning after.
“Don’t get caught up in the event. You have to get past the idealization of “I’m wearing this beautiful dress” and connect to that feeling of “Am I doing the right thing?” If you don’t get past that, the wedding itself all of a sudden becomes an event and it’s not about the marriage.
Think about the day after the wedding — when you wake up. I was very cerebral about ‘this is a wonderful party where I’m wearing a pretty dress and looking nice.’ But you have to be grounded about what happens the next day when you wake up. The seriousness of marriage is very real. You want to do this forever. – 40-something, wife, mom, executive, Los Angeles, CA
This from a woman who was the first of her friends to get married and with blissful ignorance threw an extravagant bash. She her husband had a blast but her hindsight she begs you to consider what else you could be spending money on.
“I highly recommend a very sweet and small wedding even though I love big parties. In hindsight I wish I had had a smaller wedding. My parents actually said wedding or money? Split it up however you want. And we spent it all on the wedding because we had these visions we were going to earn our millions in the next year or two. Now I think, OMG, if only we didn’t spend all that money on our wedding and all that extravaganza, we could have had a kitchen. – 40-something, wife, mom, Cleveland, OH
This from a woman who married later in life and learned from all the weddings she had attended what she wanted for herself. Less stress. For her, less stress for the guests meant more happiness for her.
“Some people want to have the ten bridesmaids and the whole thing and that’s fine. But don’t let it get too far away from what it is supposed to be. I had one friend who didn’t talk to her father for three years after her wedding. It became all about who was paying for the wedding and who was invited. I was like “Wow! If that is the result of a wedding then that’s not what I want.
So I picked the easiest option. Even though it wasn’t my initial dream wedding in the country in a barn and whatever, it was so simple. I was like OMG that was so manageable and I was able to have all of my family and guests there. I let the bridesmaids choose their dress. I sat people with who they wanted to sit with. I let my husband deal with the music because that is what he cared about. It was really about not dictating everything.
If it’s too complicated, it’s going to be stressful. It’s going to cost more. It’s not worth it. It’s one night and you want it to be beautiful abut you don’t want it to be stressful. Don’t get too caught up in the details. You have to let go of things because what color the linen napkins are is not important in the end.” — 40-something, San Francisco, CA
And lastly, here is a guy’s eye view on what the perfect marriage is. Well put. When you and her are right together, the wedding will be right.
“Just enjoy it for yourself. When you are with someone you are genuinely interested in and he gives it right back to you then you are okay and you don’t need to worry so much about how big your ring is or do you look cute together or what will our wedding photos look like? There is no one more important than yourself and if you found someone who shares that opinion and things that about you then you’ve found the perfect match. The perfect wedding doesn’t matter.” – 40-something guy, NY and LA, been to many a wedding and now engaged himself.
In the end, make your wedding as big or small as you like, but just remember not to let the moment eclipse the meaning.