You might have guessed from the title – I will get married! With my long-time boyfriend (now fiancé!), within a few months’ time. This topic is often on my mind these days, as I just jumped into and paddling around in the large pool of wedding planning activities… It came to me that forming this union is actually a form of giving, in many ways.
Giving to each other
First and foremost, our wedding is about us two. It is about us giving the gift of commitment to each other. Even more so, when we share the planning experience and create enough breathing space during the wedding day to truly flow through it together.
The road to a wedding and marriage is already filled with a lot of giving, in the form of a (long-term) relationship: our attention to each other, lots of hugs and kisses, and also washing dishes and being compassionate and calm, even when it is hard. I found that my preparedness to give is the foundation of making the relationship work and not just that – the balance of giving and giving the things that are truly needed are crucial. I am happy to cook for my love and wash his clothes and I am also excited when he does the same thing for me. In the same way, as he usually freshens up the litterboxes or repairs something, he is also happy if I do these things once in a while. Balance right there! (And of course division of tasks, nothing old fashioned ‘the lady of the house does all the housework’ in this home, people!)
Beyond the daily tasks, having ‘we time’ to just listen to each other while sitting on the couch or have a stroll in the neighbourhood are feeding our true needs of feeling connected and being together.
Becoming married means that we make a commitment, giving our word to each other that we intend to be in this relationship on the long run. The way to make such a commitment work though, is through the little things… Our wedding will likely be much richer and more successful by planning it together and creating a shared experience by taking into account each other’s needs.
Giving to our loved ones
As we are not planning on having an elopement (I did not know until recently what it means, and according to Wikipedia it is ‘a marriage conducted in sudden and secretive fashion… in which a couple runs away together and seeks the consent of their parents later’), we will say ‘yes’ to each other in the presence of our parents and further loved ones. We’d better have them around on our big day, otherwise beware of their anger… We will keep it nice and polite and harmonious in the family and invite them to the wedding.
It will be the perfect opportunity to give to them. Giving them the joyous and warm feeling of seeing their daughter/son/niece/nephew/best friend/nicest colleague getting married and having a jolly good time (at least at the end of the day, during the party…). Giving them the recognition that they are an important part of our lives, simply by including them and sharing this important milestone. Even before the day itself, we will give some of them the opportunity to influence this event by asking for their experience, inviting them to join the preparations or to play a key role during the day as an official witness or best wo/man (I am sure there are best women out there too!).
Another way to give to our loved ones might be in the form of following traditions, thereby honoring our heritage. As we are an international couple, born and raised in two different countries, there are already some areas where our cultural background plays into the way we see our big day. For example, as I come from a country where food is an important social link between people, it is essential for me that we eat a festive meal together with our (closest) relatives. I am sure that as we get deeper into planning, more of these expectations and traditions will come forward.
Giving to the world
So what are we giving to the world through our wedding? Much more than we would think.
The way I look at it, getting married in itself is a happy happening, a ray of light, a reason for joy and hope. (And a reason to party, equally important!)
How we are getting married is another opportunity to give. With so many people being involved and watching, we can set an example by managing the planning phase well and pull together a fun event that also shows our deep connection. Letting some of our personality shine and sharing some of our story (let’s see how the details of the ceremony will come around) will give people an exclusive and private look into our life.
Our wedding will likely involve a wedding officiator/minister, a restaurant owner, a DJ and maybe more people and businesses who are new to us. By choosing them, we give a signal. What do these businesses represent, how do they deal with people? In the case of the restaurant, do they source their ingredients locally, are they prepared to make a plant-based meal for us? It might seem like a little detail, but every time we spend our money, we are voting for something. With a wedding being a big expense (although doing our best to keep it low, by shopping around and DIYing a lot), it counts even more to whom we give our money to and which businesses we put into the spotlight.
This blog would not be called AGivingJourney, if I would not talk about the increasingly popular charitable giving as part of a wedding. Friends of ours have done this by asking for donations to two of their favourite charities as wedding gifts. This couple said in their invitation that they already ‘have it all’ and what would truly warm their hearts is seeing these organisations succeed in their missions. I really appreciated this gesture and also that there was a choice between two NGOs, so people could support a cause that was also meaningful to them. Beside the donation, most guests still gave the newlyweds a present, as a remembrance of the day.
I still need to see if we will go down this road of asking for donations… I am uncomfortable with asking for money from our guests to begin with. As my fiance and I also feel that we ‘have it all’, I am equally unkeen on material gifts. Maybe some DIY, personal gifts, help with the wedding itself? We still need to see, and make up our minds latest before sending out the invitations.
Where I do think that our wedding will surely involve charitable giving is our honeymoon. We are both big believers in dedicating our time and skills to causes we care about, most importantly protecting the environment and animals. It might sound weird to some that my ideal honeymoon scenario is ‘working’ together with my new husband, possibly doing physical work, struggling and getting dirty sometimes, under not-always-so-comfortable circumstances… This is what actually would make me happy. The joint experience of giving back, rather than zipping cocktails and hanging out in a warm jacuzzi (which could certainly be an option on the last day, after all the hard work!).
So pondering this, there are so many ways that we will be giving through our wedding, and surely later on, through our marriage…