Planning a wedding is stressful. Everyone tells you this before you begin. What no one mentions is that planning a wedding teaches you some important lessons about life. Sure, you and your partner will grow together in the process and you’ll gain some insight on your strengths and weaknesses. But the life lessons you take away from the experience are truly priceless. Here is what I learned:
People are More Important Than Food
People rarely remember the food at a wedding. They may remember the presentation or the dazzling spread. But they won’t remember the food. And if they do, something has gone terribly wrong.
We didn’t know this. We spent A LOT of time figuring out every little detail of the menu. My husband and I love cooking for people. We carefully plan the menu of every dinner party and holiday. We splurge for artisan foods, high quality ingredients, and pour love into every bite. It gives us both joy to feed a long table of friends and family. We thought a wedding should be no different. We spent too much time and effort in an attempt to create the perfect, pallet pleasing menu.
The good souls sitting at your table are more important than any fancy dish. It is no different in life. Who do you surround yourself with? Are they people who support you, love you, cheer you on, and comfort you? They should be because in the end it’s only the people that we’ll remember. Our memories may be framed by the music, the dancing, the laughter, and the joy. They may be cast in the golden glow of twinkle lights. But they will never rest on the details of a menu.
Life is Not a Solitary Sport
We aren’t meant to go this road alone. Today, you may be planning a wedding. But tomorrow it could be a surprise party, a Passover Seder, or a grand opening. Or heaven forbid, a funeral. Having a community to fall back on is priceless. It’s what makes the good times great and it’s what gets us through the hard times.
My husband and I couldn’t have pulled off a wedding – the kind of wedding we were hoping for – without the help of our closest friends and family. The thing that really left an impact on me was how often people offered to help and how quickly and happily they leapt to take on whatever project I threw their way.
My friends and family were so helpful it actually makes me a little embarrassed at how unhelpful I was when my sister got married and then again when one of my best friends got married. I assumed if they needed help, they would ask. But I should have been more persistent in offering. Better yet, I should have thought up something that needed doing and taken it up as my official job. (One friend offered to make pickles for all the festivities that preceded my wedding. She pickled everything from string beans to cherries. Were pickles necessary? Nope. But were they awesome? Hell yeah! We talked about those pickles for weeks after. And when they were gone, I drank the pickle juice.)
When those close to you decide to get married, start a new business, stage a one-woman show, or whatever, ask what you can do to help. Ask and mean it. Then follow through. At some point you’ll need the help too. When you have a community you’re never alone. There is always someone to celebrate with you and console you. This is how we get through life; as Robert Fulghum says, “it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.”
Either You Both Win, or You Both Lose
In the very early stages of planning our wedding, we sat down with a recently married couple and picked their brains about what to do and what not to do. They gave us tons of great advice that I can’t remember at all. But one thing they shared stuck with me, “If it’s important to one of you, make it important to both of you.” I nodded as if I they had just given us a piece of relationship gold. But I didn’t really get it.
Truth be told, I made it all the way to the altar never really getting it. It’s only in hindsight that I can see how wise these words are – wise and true.
Planning a wedding was fun at first. And then it got really frustrating. My husband would come up with these wacky ideas that were so, so not okay. (Like sending my sister down the aisle in a white gown and veil so he could lift the veil and refuse her as Jacob should have in the Torah.) Sure, some of these ideas were meant to make me laugh and they did. But sometimes he was serious. My job was not to shoot him down immediately, but to find out how serious he really was, to dig underneath the silliness and figure out what was important to him, and to identify what part of his wacky idea I could stand behind.
I have to admit, I didn’t always deal with his ideas gracefully.
What I realize now is that the two of us are a team. And we will always be a team. For life. If I can’t figure out what’s important to him and stand behind it, then we are not playing on the same team. Like teammates, we’re allowed to disagree. We can feel strongly about two different strategies, approaches, or ideas. But we have to find a way to move forward together. One unified effort. It should never be about me shooting him down, proving him wrong, or getting my way. Because if he loses, I lose.
I think if we approached more conflicts in life from this point of view we might actually see more peaceful resolutions. Not everything has to be an “us versus them” situation. Sometimes, no matter how right you think you are or how humanitarian your struggle, either you both win, or you both lose.
Feature Photo by Next to Me Studios
Other Things to Read