As a wedding officiant and relationship guide, I’ve worked with hundreds of couples who are madly in love and want the wedding of their dreams. Sounds familiar, right? My job is to translate their love into the words, rituals, and feel of their ceremony. With so many details to focus on in the planning process, the emotional experience and spiritual rite of passage inherent in the wedding are often unintentionally overlooked. Remembering to honor the essence of the relationship throughout the process and in the ceremony will make your engagement, wedding day, and marriage more spectacular and rich than you can imagine!
Here are my guidelines for how to have an extraordinary wedding.
Some of the most important questions in life revolve around identity. Regarding marriage, the questions are: Who do you want to be for your life and this marriage? Who do you want to inspire your partner to become? Who can you be together? These are great questions to write about, turn your answers into wedding vows, or to get to know each other more. I guarantee you’ll feel a heightened level of openness, connection, intimacy, and love.
Perhaps the most forgotten question is this: What is marriage? For me, my fiancé, and for us together? Remember, the details of your hearts are way more spectacular than the most glamorous wedding. Be willing to be bold in your exploration. Be willing to not know everything and let the question delight you. Live into the answers.
Let’s talk location, and I’m not just speaking of venues. If your relationship were a map, what would the destinations be called (i.e., becoming incredible parents, passionate sex, travel, physical fitness, etc.)? How would you explore this map and what vehicles would you use (i.e., setting certain goals, committing to taking care of yourselves, prioritizing green veggies over ice cream, etc.)? This is a metaphor for how you will live your life, but also invites a more conscious conversation about your dreams and shared reality. I suggest that couples actually create a visual map because it is a constant reminder and inspiration to live into the man/woman and couple you want to become.
For some reason, many have subscribed to the notion that during the planning process and then during the wedding itself, there will not be enough time, people will be frantic, act nuts, and be overwhelmed. Take a deep breath. There is no rush. Slow down and tune into what is most important to you about becoming married. Make your choices with patience and ease. Most of all, during your ceremony, take it easy and take it slow. This is the time capsule that is marking a whole new life cycle for you. You are bound to feel a lot, so when you do, be ready. Face it and embrace it. You’ll be glad you did.
If nothing else, take the time to connect with yourself and your fiancé to articulate why you are getting married. The answer “because we love each other” is not why you are getting married. Be specific. You can call this your intention, mission, purpose, or whatever feels right to you, but come up with something. You may want to speak this during the ceremony or else just hold it in your hearts. Whatever you choose, it will set a foundation and a touchstone for you to lean on during the planning process, wedding day, and marriage itself.
The way you do one thing is the way you do everything. Give yourself the gift of an open-hearted planning process, nurturing conversations with friends, nourishing food and habits, beautiful sentiments and curious adventure. This is your marriage and this is your life. Give it all you’ve got. You deserve it.