Matched Dior gowns. Orchid covered archways. Spectacular mountain settings. Magicians. Balloon releases. Fireworks. Photo booths. Wii games. Free all-night bar. Casino games. Lobster bakes, island bike rides, "event" stations where you scan a QR code to receive a secret surprise, go cart centers, yard games, massages, a multi-day party on a remote Asian island.
What do they have in common? These are all wedding ideas being sold by wedding planners who will charge up to $30,000 for "a truly unforgettable $250,000 wedding." Brides are told to make it a party they will never forget. In a period where a large percentage of marriages fail, itís remarkable how so much money and time and worry are spent on the wedding, but not a thought is given to the marriage itself. And after the last piece of cake is eaten, the last toast given, the last people leave, the deliriously happy coupleóhaving experienced the wedding of their dreamsóare now faced with making their marriage work. You would think weddings that cost $250,000 to $1,000,000 certainly would result in a fantastic marriage. However, people donít think about the marriage of their dreams, only the wedding of their dreams.
The fact is, a simple wedding can result in a deliriously happy marriage; but a deliriously happy marriage isnít the goal anymore. Only the most spectacular wedding is. Then two, five, 10 years later when everyday is an argument, the kids are failing apart, divorce lawyers are on speed dial and everyone wonders when did it all go so wrong.
Iíll tell you when: the wedding.
The bride and her mother and maybe the groom spend hundreds of hours picking out wedding consultants, choosing the location, selecting the stationary, the save a date cards, ordering the flowers, the music, the caterer, the menu, the wine, the cakes, gift bags and great, great care is given to "How to make this wedding unforgettable." The problem, of course, is this time is not spent in pre-marriage counseling, in quiet times learning how your partner feels about money, kids, in-laws, sex, spirituality. There is precious little discussion about morals and values. Alcohol consumption. This marriage, according to the Chicago Tribune, is doomed.
But the wedding was mind-blowing.
The Tribune reported on a finding by Emory University that looked at 3,100 married couples and found that couples who spent less money on a wedding tend to stay married longer than those who opt for expensive weddings. And couples who spent less than $1,000 on their wedding ceremony were least likely to get divorced.
So how to avoid being one of those couples whose best day in their marriage was their wedding? Bring up the following:
1. Invite spirituality into the relationship early. Some couples find this way too intimate. Sex is ok, spirituality isnít. Donít fall into this trap.
2. Pledge that every hour you worked on the wedding, youíll spend two hours working on your relationship. This involves getting to know each other and talking about your future.
3. Talk realistically about money. Are you on the same page financially? Does one person believe in charge cards while the other abhors them?
4. Make sure you agree on children. Not just having them, but also about raising them?
“The fact is, a simple wedding can result in a deliriously happy marriage; but a deliriously happy marriage isnít the goal anymore. Only the most spectacular wedding is.”
5. Talk honestly about what you love about each other, and what drives you up a wall. Conflict will happen. However, addressing annoyances early on can prevent some issues from ever arising.
6. Learn to stop criticizing your partner. Remember that you're a team, and good teammates encourage the success of their mates.
7. Talk about how you will handle the difficult days that are bound to occur. Establish rules for arguments.
8. Finally, realize your wedding is the first day of a precious journey, one that should be treated as sacred. Or else youíll remember it as the first day of a long mistake.
Iím not in the business of criticizing anyone for an expensive, grand, out-of-this -world wedding. I just want to remind couples thereís more to your marriage than your wedding. Thereís the rest of your life.
Harry H Harrison Jr. is a New York Times best selling parenting†author with over 4 million books in print. "Fearless Parenting. Raising a Child to Face the Adult World" is available for Kindle readers. He has been interviewed on over 25 television programs, and featured in over 75 local and national radio stations, including NPR. His books are available in over 35 countries throughout Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Norway, South America, China, Saudi Arabia and in the Far East. He is a featured expert at kidsinthehouse.com. For more information visit www.fearlessparenting.com.