i performed the ceremony in one of them. i was at the other one as a guest.
they were both totally different experiences. one was super informal, in a casual venue, with lots of minor hiccups. the other was very traditional, in an incredibly beautiful and formal venue, done with careful choreography.
the first was filled with phrases of familiarity and unceremonious words and actions, while the other honored the grand and dignified vows and ceremonial formalities…though each had touches that made their moments unique.
one had the feel of a backyard barbeque with friends. the other was like a fine formal dining experience.
and neither event offers any measure of assurance of marriage success. you see, it’s not the start of the marriage that carries the weight. it’s the now.
though every one is unique, there is one thing i say in every wedding ceremony where i’m the ringmaster: “when all is said and done, the only thing you bring to this moment is your word.” no matter how beautiful or formal or emotional the ceremony is, none of that will matter two weeks, two months, two years or two decades down the line.
the only thing that will matter is your word. today. right now.
i believe, with my whole heart, it takes community to sustain a healthy marriage. but none of those people who came to your party and ate your cake and snapped a picture will be there in your moments of intense disagreement or profound hurt. (few couples will ever dare to be brutally honest and transparent in their brokenness with people who can help…before it’s too late. sad.)
no. what you will simply have is your promise to love no matter what. in sickness and in health. for richer, for poorer. in good times and in bad. until death separates you. yeah, you said that.
a fancy wedding dress doesn’t help you keep your word. nor does a tux. sappy music and endless pictures won’t. cool line dances at the reception and the john hancock of the reverend is no insurance…of anything.
in the end…in the moment…at the end of your rope…when all is on the line…when nobody is looking…you are either a man or woman of your word.
and no wedding ceremony can make you into something you’re not.
i know. i’m a wedding curmudgeon.
the moral of this pontification? get help before you feel like you can’t keep your word. none are perfect. all of us struggle with integrity and promise-keeping. it’s in our bones. nobody’s marriage is a piece of cake. there is always more than meets the eye. sometimes there are no easy answers or simple fixes.
so what are you going to do today to keep your word? it’s never too late.