First comes the wedding. Then comes the marriage.


Hey Hannah!

I am two months out from my wedding and I wanted to see if you had any advice for self-care and creating balance amidst the craziness. I never like to hyper focus my efforts on one thing, so I don’t want to get too wrapped up in the wedding things because life keeps going outside of that! My fiance and I also just bought a house in January so we have been in the process of making it a home. Things have been busy!!!

Basically, I want to know how you would go about savoring these big and exciting moments while also making space for myself and my normal, everyday life things? I know the wedding stuff will be over before I know it and will never happen again, but I can’t help but think that there is more to life in these final 60-ish days of our engagement besides wedding planning spreadsheets and minute details that likely nobody will notice when the day comes. I always like to be working on making myself the best possible version I can be, so I don’t want to lose that just because I have a lot going on. 

Thank you for listening to my ramblings!

Best,

H.


Sweet H,

Here is a list of things I remember about my wedding day:
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1. The look on Lane’s face as I walked towards him. 
2. A swarm of my favorite people crowded around a burger truck outside. 
3. The way the room felt during the ceremony: we got married in an old library and I just remember the room being drenched– absolutely drenched– in the presence of God. It’s a hard thing to explain but it’s a feeling you cannot shake. 
4. Wishing I could sit with every guest and talk for two hours. 
5. Ditching the heels for Adidas sneakers before my dress was even on. I bought these beautiful Nine West heels and they never even made it out of the box. 
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I remember the little details. I remember what the letter board signs said. I remember the wildest dance floor that I had ever experienced in my life. I am not kidding you, this thing was wild. I remember the countless hours Lane and I spent leading up to the wedding day writing handwritten notes to every guest in attendance. I wanted everyone to feel chosen. Hand picked. Letters have a way of doing that for people. I remember sending out a Starbucks gift card to all the wedding guests the week before the wedding and people emailing us back selfies with lattes.
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A lot of the big details are a blur for me. Some are captured in photos. I don’t remember a thing I said to Lane during the ceremony, only that I cried quietly in the business area of the hotel that morning as I wrote my vows (yea, I waited until the last minute).
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I remember the way we exited the venue. How everyone dunked their palms into buckets and pulled out a handful of fake snow. I remember Lane and I running hand-in-hand as people threw the snow on us. It was magical. It was one of those rare days where everyone gathers in one place to celebrate love.
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Savor the little things, H. As the days crawl closer (or maybe they are running at this point), savor the tiny things between the two of you. Make space to laugh. Talk about things outside of the wedding planning. Remember: the wedding is just the beginning. It’s a single day. What follows after the wedding is the thing that takes the real work.
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It’s easy to get swept up in seating arrangements and the color of tablecloths but there is something more serious, more important at stake here. You are getting married. You are making a covenant in front of people. You are choosing a hard pathway, a pathway that ends 50% of the time in our culture. I remember telling myself as I planned, “Don’t think for a second this is about a dress or a cake. This is about a partner.”
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See your future partner above the party. Plan the marriage as you plan the wedding because that plan is going to matter very soon.
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Lean into building the strongest foundation for your future marriage. This is the part more people should write about. People love to write about the extravagant details of a wedding. I think we need more commentary on the extravagant details of marriage because they do exist.
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I’m not a marriage expert so I won’t pretend to be. But I do know this: the wedding sealed us, bound us together, but it is every day after that wedding which makes us who we are as a couple. We are defined by our love. We are defined by how we handle conflict, how we resolve the arguments. We are defined by whether we stay or run, whether we keep promises or keep secrets.
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When the day is over, all that is left is a dried up bouquet and the vows. Invest in the vows daily. I believe this is incredibly essential within a world that tells us, “Do what feels right.” I think we have feelings for a reason but if I listened to those feelings of mine all the time then our fights would never be resolved, I’d always get my way, and we wouldn’t grow closer in love.
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Vow to choose one another daily. Say to one another, “In this crazy world where it feels impossible to choose a coffee option off a board at Starbucks or choose a laundry detergent from the cleaning aisle at Target, we are choosing. Hallelujah, we are choosing!”
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One last note: What I remember most about that day is that the dance floor was filled with every person in my life that I loved and cherished. All in one place. Never to happen again. I remember going up the grand staircase in the middle of the party and just watching everyone down below. I remember my brother and cousins lifting Lane into the air during the crowd surfing and me thinking, “Wow, this is the best feeling in the world. How, in moments like this one, do I ever doubt God?”
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I think the very best thing you can invest your time and energy into before the wedding, during the wedding, and after the wedding is the same: people. Other people. The people who helped you build your love story brick by brick. The people who will be sitting in the chairs. The people who are lifting you up to heaven right now without you even realizing it.
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Yes, people will have their eyes on you that day. But be sure to look around at everyone gathering with you on that day. These are your people. These are the ones who choose your love story. Some of these people will be pillars in your story. Some won’t stay forever. Whatever the outcome, these people matter.
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I am learning if I spend every single day seeking to make people feel loved, chosen and special then I can never lose. I can never really say a day is wasted.
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Invest in yourself. Invest in him. Invest in the future marriage. Invest in the people. I don’t know much but I know these are the things that matter.
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Have some sweet advice for H? Please write a comment below. I know she will be reading and it’s beautiful when we can use a forum like this one to connect with one another.

15 thoughts on “First comes the wedding. Then comes the marriage.

  1. Unfortunately, my first marriage failed. That being said, when I became engaged to my current husband, I was grateful that God had given me a 2nd chance, and therefore, I kept my focus on truly enjoying every event, every moment, and every opportunity that arose during our engagement. I knew that it would be over before I knew it, so I savored the experience, and I’m so thankful I did. We’re getting ready to celebrate our 12th anniversary in June, and I have no regrets from that season in my life.

    God Bless!
    Amy

  2. Love this. I’m getting married around the same time as H and am eagerly looking forward to reading the rest of the comments. 🙂

  3. Hannah, thank you so much for this post. I just got engaged 2 and a half weeks ago and iv’e been so overwhelmed by the planning and decisions included in putting a wedding together. My joy has been kinda stolen. Reading this made me cry because I needed to read it and I needed to know these truths.

    H, I know how it feels to be overwhelmed in this stage of life, even after only a few weeks. I don’t have much advice, but I can say that I understand how you feel and that you are not alone!!

  4. H,
    In the middle of the reception, STOP. Take it all in, and enjoy all of your guests and all of the festivities. Try to see it as an outsider and you will be amazed by how wonderful your world really is.

  5. Hannah, thank you for writing this! My wedding is also two months out, and your words are so true, so wise, and so encouraging. I wish H and everyone in the same boat a beautiful rest of your engagement and a lifetime of love.

  6. Welp. I had an entirely different experience but landed at pretty much the same conclusion: Be intentional about how you are investing in the ten million days AFTER the wedding.

    Honestly, my wedding was a disaster and the six months of engagement leading up to it was probably the worst and hardest six months of my life. I’ll spare you the details but guurrrllll I could tell you some tales! I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade, but for the ladies out there that are NOT living the fairy tale – there’s hope. 🙂

    The last 313 days of marriage have been wonderful and infinitely better than the one wedding day I survived. Weddings have so many moving parts and families and opinions, etc. etc. But none of those people or opinions have had a voice in the last 313 days. They don’t have a say in what we have for dinner or how quick we are to forgive. So make sure that you make time pre-wedding to build and invest in the life you’ll live post-wedding. Practice whatever team dynamic you and your spouse want to carry thought out your marriage. Continue to date. Talk long term plans with your man. And pray pray pray! It’s amazing the clarity and sanity the Lord will give you when you ask. For me, this became my mission. I ditched wedding planning for marriage planning and I’m still reaping the benefits. 🙂

  7. H! I’m so so happy for you. It seems like you’ve got a solid head on your shoulders. When we were married for 4 years, and I was pregnant with our first child, and dutifully freaking out about whether I will be a good mom or not, my own mom gave me this advice: The fact that you’re worried if you’ll be a good mom or not, actually means that you will me a good mom. Bad moms are the ones that don’t even think about it. The fact that you’re worried means that you are an intentional, humble, caring person.
    So, I’ll say the same to you: the fact that you’re concerned about keeping perspective and balance in your relationship, means that you’re going to be a good wife. It’s a humble perspective that considers your needs as a couple above the needs of the wedding itself. I think you will be just fine. Lean on each other and on the Lord through this busy time, forgive his annoying shoes in the entryway, and you will come through this closer than before. As you should. Enjoy!

  8. I am discovering that I am one of many “June Brides” who are completely overwhelmed with the idea that my wedding is actually happening in a month. I could relate to these feelings, and most of all the desire to maintain a grip with reality while my mind keeps wandering to backdrops, groomsmen’s shirts, and how many people have sent in an RSVP. But through this crazy emotional process (tears are quite frequent) God is teaching me so much about myself, about my future husband, and about his insane love for me. Ultimately, the day will come and things will or will not go according to plan but the important thing is that we will be married. And every day after will be spent building a life in Christ together with my best friend.

    We can do this!

  9. These are some really good pieces of advice in here! I just got married a month ago, and its true, the day goes by in such a blur. You’ll wish you could slow it down as it goes. The best piece of advice I received before that day was to treat it like a piece of your favorite dessert – like the best and only piece you’ll ever have! Take it in as slowly and as thoughtfully as you can and savor every bit 🙂

  10. I was one of those brides (almost 11 years ago!) who was more excited about being married than getting married… the wedding kind of took on a life of its own. I was lucky that my mother did such a good job with the planning, and even so the last month was a whirlwind. I love Hannah’s response.

    A few more things: take breaks with your fiancé (not vacations, I mean 10 minutes lying on the carpet staring at the ceiling, or sitting on a bench together, or reading books on the same couch. Something quiet and shared, where you’re not really talking, you’re just emotionally leaning on each other. The lead up to the wedding is stressful, it’s a smart time to start practicing being the calm for each other when the world is swirling around you. Something you’ll use many times down the road.

    Cancel the things you don’t need, and don’t get sucked into the trap of “more” at the last minute — a lot of people start leaning into pinterest or all sorts of things in the last few weeks. (Stress, maybe?) Don’t keep raising the bar, let it be where it is. It will be easier, and cheaper, to just keep with the plan, and your wedding will still be lovely.

    If something is especially stressful (for me it was the whole first dance bit), opt out. It’s okay to skip parts of the tradition.

    Check in with your wedding party, and your family, and anyone traveling a long way with small updates. You found your shoes, finally, or you can’t wait to see the flowers, etc. And you can’t wait to see them. A small thing, but it makes people happy.

    Write thank you notes as things come in — so much easier to write a few a day instead of feeling them loom.

    And plan food for the wedding day. You will be nervous, and the reception is so busy you won’t have a chance to eat. But plan food beforehand so you aren’t starving and your wedding party isn’t either. 🙂

    Good luck, it will be over before you know it, and then you’ll be married.

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