As you’ve probably gathered by now, I’m not really one to stand on ceremony. I had no real plans to attend my high school or college graduations, my birthday “parties” usually involve eating out instead of cooking, and I think I would have been just as happy to elope as I was getting married in a church with witnesses.
But I came to realize something by the time I started sending invitations to my college graduation. The reason these celebrations are so important is because they’re not just about you. I invited all of my friends and family to my college graduation because, in some way, they all helped me through it. I did the work and acquired the knowledge, but they supported me throughout, whether financially, or by writing me letters, or sending me the occasional encouraging email or phone call.
When it comes to marriage, it’s about SO MUCH MORE than the couple getting hitched. Yes, you’re making your own new seed family, but in doing so, you’re also joining two previously separate families, two groups of friends, neighbors, pets, what have you. The wedding ceremony is important because you’re saying to all the people you’re going to be living with for the rest of your lives, “We’re making this promise, staring a new life, and every single one of you will be part of it somehow. Ah yes… and you’re also to keep us accountable.” And nobody likes that last part, and we don’t really think of it during the ceremony, but it’s true all the same.
When I got married, I would have been happy to get married in a courthouse as long as I could’ve worn my awesome dress. But it wasn’t just about me. Or about me and Steve. It was about our parents who raised each of us and will one day help us raise our kids. It was about our grandparents and the wisdom and support they can share. It was about family–not just the one we’re starting, just the two of us–but the one we were starting by joining two clans, the Cardens and the Shallahamers.
At the end of the day, we’d have been married either way, true. But having our friends and family there has made all the difference. And I imagine that difference will only be more pronounced as the years progress.