Starting off my new weekly Wedding Wednesday slot, I thought I would begin where people ought to – with questioning why anybody would want a wedding at all.
Getting married for the right reasons is like doing anything for the right reasons – it’s a good, strong foundation on which to build. For sure, we could build our house on poor foundations, and who knows? It might stay up and last the test of time – but it’s less likely. So if you want the best possible chance of having a happy and long lasting married life with your significant other, you need to introspect and ask yourself why you even want to get married.
Here’s some answers the Internet gave me when I researched this for myself a couple of years ago, and my responses to this. I may come off as an opinionated asshat about weddings. I feel quite strongly about them:
1. For the ring.
…Or you could just go to a shop and use that Personal Loan to buy something REALLY nice from Tiffany & Co, instead of wasting time and effort on the rest of the wedding.
2. For the dress
…Why not hire one and have a wedding themed fancy dress party instead?
3. For the one “Perfect Day”
What about the day after? Could you really live with the rest of your life knowing that the one “perfect day” had already passed you by? The idea that we only get that one “Special Day” and that all the other days are dull is very depressing. I’ve had my share of perfect days but they were never the “One Perfectest of All Perfect Days” and they sure as hell weren’t my wedding day. Throwing money at a specific point in time can’t actually perfect it – soon you’ll find yourself throwing more and more money at it for smaller and smaller gains (in maths, known as an asymptote), until even the most patient bridesmaids will wonder whether those seat covers were worth £500.
4. For money/financial security
Could you spend your time and energy doing something productive and contributing to your own financial security by … I don’t know… getting a job you care about and earning your own money? If you want a wedding so you can become dependent on someone else, you’re going to struggle when they get sick of you sponging and leave you to fend for yourself. This is NOT the same as taking time out to raise kids, which is more altruistic and assumes that at some point in the future you will get a job. HOWEVER this is something you should discuss before you get married to be sure you’re on the same page. A marriage is a 2 way street not a way for a needy dependent person to get their claws into a “good catch.” Seeking Arrangement is there for that.
5. Because you’re pregnant
This can be a really good reason to marry the right person – my Aunt was 15 when she got pregnant and she got married about two days after her 16th birthday. She is still married now she’s hit the big 5-0 and has three kids, a great career as a nurse practitioner (she started her nursing training after giving birth and worked her way up), a beautiful garden… none of this is because she got married at 16, but it’s the life she and her husband have built together, because they were thrown together by that one unfortunate act.
Conversely, I know someone else who got married at 19 because she was pregnant and thought it would make the father commit. It didn’t. Marrying someone doesn’t give you control over their actions and people will do what they like whether you’ve had a wedding or not. If they’re a no good scoundrel, they aren’t going to change just because they’re married. Guess who was divorced at 23 and is now struggling to pay childcare? She would have been a single mum if she hadn’t married him anyway, it just delayed the inevitable and caused everyone involved a lot of stress and drama in the meantime.
6. One of you is terminally ill
This can be a lovely reason to get married, but make sure both parties are onboard, and that the commitment to care is going both ways. Living with someone who is terminally ill is very difficult and caring for them can get very harrowing towards the end. Make sure the person who isn’t terminally ill has a good support network, that they maintain contact with friends and family outside the relationship, and that their physical and emotional needs are getting met. If you’re the carer, remember the best thing you can do to take care of your partner is to keep your own self in good working order 🙂
7. For the romantic fairytale experience
Go to Disneyland.
8. For the wedding presents
Um… the money you spent on the wedding could have been used to buy yourself nice presents instead.
9. For the honeymoon
Book a holiday.
10. For your parents
Parents often think they are doing the right thing by “nudging” people in the right direction but you should marry when you’re good and ready not when someone else wants you to. Likewise, if your future spouse isn’t ready, take the pressure off by waiting until they’re ready (and stop pestering them about it) because respect goes both ways.
11. For love
Is love enough to get married? Some people think so. Others point to the fact that there are two stages that all relationships go through – the infatuation and the cooling off period. If your relationship is still in that stage where you get chills EVERY time he or she walks through the door, you might want to wait a bit to make sure you haven’t gone off each other, it could be an expensive and stressful mistake.
12. After spending days of research on this, and trying to come up with a better answer, I finally arrived at my own reason for wanting to get married: To honour, in the eyes of the law, a commitment that you are making, to stay by the side of another person, even if you’re geographically far away, to always keep a place in your heart for them. For me, then, the wedding was meant to be a reflection of this, not froofy dresses (you know, they look like they belong in a fairytale… or on top of a toilet roll in an old lady’s bathroom, depending on your point of view), rings or anything else. Those were the garnish on a salad of marriage. Throughout planning my wedding, I found myself remarking several times to my future husband “can we just skip the wedding and get to the part where we’re married to each other?”
I am pro-wedding but I believe that people should do what’s right for them and that too many people lose sight of what’s really important when they start to plan their wedding – and who can blame them, with the overstimulating wedding industry and the average wedding costing over £17,000 now (including honeymoon, according to The Telegraph and The Guardian newspapers) or $25,000 (excluding honeymoon, according to http://www.costofwedding.com/, a free wedding cost calculation tool), it’s big money for people to make you want more than you need on your “Big Day” (as if you’ll only have one big day in your life). I am very concerned that people are taking on debts they can’t afford to repay in order to buy their wedding, and that they are doing so for all the wrong reasons.
But what if you’re SUPER EXCITED about all those other reasons, to the point where you’re starting to worry that, according to this very list, your reasons are all wrong?
Ask yourself: Do you love your partner? Do you see yourselves getting older together? Do you communicate with one another and have you both discussed your future plans and your opinions on things at length so you know whether there are any sticking points or areas of compromise? Do you at least mutually care about each other the same amount and get both of your needs met through your relationship?
If that’s a no to all of those, you probably shouldn’t get married. If you had at least a couple of “yes” answers, then maybe you just need to hash a few things out and check that you’re both on the same page. Getting crazy excited about your wedding is natural. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, providing you’re not causing yourself (or other people) financial difficulty, and as long as you are getting married for the marriage, not for the wedding, and that you know that on the day after your wedding, you’re going to wake up with a big smile and say, “I married you.”