I often read blogs or hear brides talk of their desire to just throw the wedding plans out the window and run off to some intimate, romantic getaway to elope - some even just think of the traditional Vegas wedding.
Thinking of you and your honey whizzing off (preferably in a convertible) with the wind in your hair and not a care in your head is a beautiful fantasy. No invites to print, no music playlists to be determined, no frustrating gown alterations, no constant fights with the fiance over how much money this wedding is costing you...ah, wouldn't it be nice to just let Calgon take you away? (Yes, I dated myself with that question.)
It's totally understandable to want to avoid all your stress, tension, nerves, anxiety and frustrations that bubble over during the engagement phase. Sometimes, it's the mere fear of having 'all eyes' on you that makes a shy, introverted bride just wish she could meet the local justice of the peace up close and personal and be heading for the airport on a honeymoon.
I, unfortunately, feel really sad when I hear these desires from brides...mostly because it does seem to come out of their frustrations and not because the couple truly wants a small intimate little affair. I completely relate to the stress and anxiety...
And I completely respect those couples who want that little ceremony on a beach with their parents and best friends and their little dog as their ring bearer. But I know there is absolutely no way I could ever do the 'elopement' thing...and it's not just because I'm an extroverted, love to entertain, doesn't mind being the center of attention kinda girl.
No, the reason I would never do this and feel sad when I hear other brides longing for this is because the truth of the matter is a wedding is meant to be a HUGE celebration. Haven't you ever heard the phrase "I want to shout about our love from the mountaintops"? Where do you think that comes from? It's the excitement and joy of knowing that you have found that special someone who makes your toes curl, your heart melt and your giggles go silly whenever someone barely mentions their name! Why would you want to deny the opportunity for family and friends to wish you their blessings, shower you with gifts and most importantly, support you in your decision to unify your lives in love for all of eternity?
As brides, we often give some thought, but not a ton to the ceremony details. And then we spend months and months planning the attire, invitations and reception. We look for photographers, shoes, place cards, flower choices and amazing menus. And though our vows are important, we forget about what really matters at the ceremony:
** Who are those people sitting in the front row? Your parents, who gave birth to you and raised you and tried to turn you into 'marriage material.' Your father is in tears as he 'gives you away' because he recognizes the gravity of this momentous event. Your grandparents gaze at you and long for great grandchildren. They are most likely the patriarchs of your family and this is a blessing you cannot believe for them to watch the grandchild they got to spoil turn into a lovely young wife (and hopefully new mommy which never happens fast enough for them).
** Who are those people standing beside you at the altar? Your siblings, cousins, best friends, mentors...they have probably spent the better part of your life with you laughing, crying, burning memories into your mind. They were there when that ex boyfriend broke your heart and were ready to curse him to the ends of the earth when he showed up to a party he knew you were going to be at with a new girl. They were there when you had to pull all night study sessions to realize your dreams of working towards your goal (and possibly careers). They know every nook and cranny of your past...good and bad. And you know what? Today, on your wedding day, they are not standing there beside you because you asked them to wear a dress and throw you a shower. No, they are there because they know this man you have chosen and they watched him court you and grow to love you and they know that he is the man who will in fact, love and cherish and respect you til death do you part. They stand next to you to affirm that yes, this is the man we believe you should marry.
** Who are the guests sitting in those pews/chairs? Your co-workers, alumni, neighbors, friends...they see you day in and day out. They watch your favorite tv shows with you and celebrate Halloween parties with you. They appreciate all you do for them and at one point or another in your life, they were a daily, necessary and major influence in your life. And now, they get to sit here as you take your vows and promise your heart and soul to this man and they agree with your decision and support your marriage. They sit here today with their own vows...vows that are necessary for any bride and groom embarking on the great unknown path of marriage. They will vow to support you as a husband and wife and love and encourage you as you grow together. They vow to not interfere in your relationship...to not ever lead either of you astray...to babysit your future children...to remind you (when you feel like running or are in the biggest fight of your lives) that you will get through this and need to humble yourself and truly remember to love one another. They are your biggest fans...and will prove it by soon toasting you and partying down on the dance floor (even dancing those lame crowd dances like the chicken dance and electric slide if you ask them to).
Ladies...the next time you think you want to just run away and elope...try to remember what the day is really about...remember that it is always most importantly about people: not flowers, not gifts, not your venue. It's about your parents, siblings, family, friends, and you and your groom. Don't deny yourself this celebration and these vows...embrace them and try to grasp the emotion that lies in them. It is beautiful, solemn, liberating and oh so lovely.