A couple of weeks ago, I officiated a non-denominational wedding that had 200 guests. When I arrived on site, the event planner told me that everyone was worried about the bride – “she’s really nervous.” The groom asked me what I would do if his bride couldn’t finish saying her vows. The maid of honor took me aside and asked if I’d ever had a bride faint in the middle of the ceremony. And the bride? Well, she told me she was really nervous – and then threw back a shot of tequila!
Last week I officiated a wedding for an out-of-town gay couple who had decided to combine their wedding and honeymoon. They invited just ten relatives and friends. The ceremony was held in their hotel suite that had a breath-taking view of LA. When I arrived, Frank (names changed) clasped my hand and said, “I’m so nervous, I don’t know if I can say my vows.” I reminded him that there would only be ten people, but he said, “That’s a lot!”
It doesn’t matter if you’ve invited ten people or twenty times ten people.
It doesn’t matter if you’re straight or gay.
A wedding is something of an out-of-body experience!
And while I do “get” why people are nervous, at the risk of sounding obnoxious, I gotta ask:
“Why? Why are you nervous? What are you telling yourself? What thoughts are scaring you?”
CS Lewis, author of “The Chronicles of Narnia,” also wrote a now forgotten sci-fi novel, “Out Of The Secret Planet.” The hero of that tale says this to his beloved:
When you and I first met, the meeting was over very shortly, it was nothing. Now it is growing into something as we remember it. But still we know very little about it. What it will be when I remember it as I lie down to die, what it makes in me all my days till then – that is the real meeting. The other is only the beginning of it.
I know that this is such a heretical statement to make BUT – your wedding day is not “the” most important day of your life.
Your life together is a series of most important days.
I think your wedding day is the great touchstone for all those other “the” most important days.
Your wedding day is “the” day that can become the memory that becomes your compass BECAUSE this is the day you say with emphasis:
This is the person I am.
This is the person I want to be – a person who desires, gives, loves, forgives, hopes, hurts and who is generously human.
The poet Sam Keen observed that:
We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.
If this is true (and I think it is) why then worry about “perfection”?
Your vows don’t have to be perfect.
The day doesn’t have to be “perfect.”
You just have to be bravely generous.
Last month, I did a ceremony on a property that overlooked the Pacific. The view was breathtaking and so was the wind! It was an unusually windy day. Jackie, the bride, had a long veil that dramatically blew high up in the air – to the delight and distraction of guests. Finally, at one point, she grabbed the veil and tucked it under her armpit (strapless dress). Everyone laughed – and we could get on to the matter at hand – the offering of their vows.
I loved Jackie’s attitude – ya gotta do what ya gotta do. . .
That’s the vow you’re making to each other. That’s how you make your vow to one another.
Why be nervous?! You’re marrying the person you love!!
If you want more tips on how to communicate in smart, healthy ways with your partner – during wedding planning and beyond –
check out my book,
How To Plan Your Wedding AND Stay Sane!
Treat you and your partner to a communications coaching session with me.