The Wedding is just one day but Marriage is for a Lifetime

A year ago I wrote a blog for marriage week 2020 looking forward to my wedding, with lots of uncertainty about when it would be allowed and what it would look like. So, where are we now?

Well our original date passed us by, and then after what felt like months of no news, the Government suddenly announced that weddings were legal again. It was strange they ever weren’t but that’s the world we’ve lived in over the last year. You know your expectations have been totally shifted when it’s announced that you can have thirty guests and you think ‘how exciting, that’s double what we were planning!’

Last year I wrote about my and Lizzie’s expectations and what we really valued as we looked forward to our wedding and married life.

‘Coronavirus has forced Lizzie and me to come back to the things we think are most important for our wedding day. Our commitment to getting married has meant we don’t have the option of doing the wedding we had originally planned, but whatever the specifics of the day end up like I know that it will be a joyful and happy celebration of our love for one another and the beginning of a new life together.’

There is no doubt that whilst coronavirus tipped our wedding plans upside down, looking back what I wrote then remained true. We both have joyful and happy memories and would make the same decision again. That’s not to say the day isn’t tinged with a little sadness and loss. My family wasn’t able to make it from overseas and it was disappointing not to have all our friends with us in person to celebrate.

We can’t pretend that coronavirus didn’t happen and that was exactly the decision that we wanted to make. But it was a good decision. And it was a decision that our family and friends supported. It was a good decision because eight months later, I write this now as a husband and not in a state of uncertain limbo about my relationship and my life. Coronavirus may have disrupted our lives in unforeseen ways, but for so many of us we can’t just put our lives on hold indefinitely.

I cannot wait for the joyful day we can celebrate as we intended with our family and friends. That day will come at some point, but until then I am glad that I have someone beside me who is as committed to me as I am to her, and will be with me whatever happens.

Looking back eight months on has brought me a few thoughts about marriage and weddings.

Should we have waited?

Some might ask, why didn’t you wait? Couldn’t you have just held off a few years until this has all blown over and life is back to normal?

My first response to that might be to say, hasn’t the last year shown us that life isn’t that simple and it certainly isn’t that predictable?

My second response, after a little more reflection, is to say that marriage is important, weddings are less important.

Marriage is increasingly seen as a capstone in life in the UK. It happens after moving in together. It happens after buying a house. It happens after the kids arrive. And in the capstone view, a wedding is seen as the prize at the end of the race for people who really love each other, with a big party to celebrate.

But for Lizzie and me, marriage is a cornerstone in our relationship, and our wedding was the beginning of that. Our marriage is built on the lifelong promises we made to one another, in front of friends and family, and before God. Rather than our wedding being a prize, it was the first step in our race together. Marriage is what is important, that’s what we live day to day. A wedding only happens once, but marriage lasts a lifetime.

Forced to have a cheap wedding

Having a pandemic wedding (and having to plan it in three weeks, thank you Boris) really did force us into having a cheap wedding. There really aren’t that many ways you can spend lots of money when you can only have thirty guests, it has to be outside in a public space, and a dance floor and buffet are totally off the menu.

We certainly don’t look back and think we wished we’d spent more money. And I think if our wedding had been in a normal time, I’d want to tell myself not to get caught up in the many small decisions that all gradually add up and make many weddings very expensive. As I wrote last year ‘What defines a wedding is the commitment and promises that are made, not the cost of the table decorations or what vintage the wine is.’ We didn’t have any wine, or any tables to put the wine on!

Our pandemic wedding may not have been what we originally planned, but it certainly showed that you don’t have to break the bank for a wonderful celebration.

Depending on others

The speed of our planning also meant that we were forced to be dependent on others. We have so many generous family members and friends who did innumerable things to make the day happen. Many of our most special memories of day are things people did for us and ways they generously loved us.

We were forced to be dependent on others, and that was really helpful to see right at the beginning of our married life. Because we are all constantly depending on one another and being married doesn’t make that any less the case. Depending on others is wonderful, it’s how we were made to be.

Eight months in, Lizzie and I look back on our wedding day with joy – joy because of the day itself, but even more joy remembering that first day of our lifelong journey together, muddling through the ups and (lock)downs of daily life side by side, before God, and surrounded by our loving and supportive family and friends.

Jonathan Williams

Jono lives in south London with his wife Lizzie. They got married in a lockdown wedding in the middle of 2020, making the most of the beautiful July weather. Jono is a civil servant and previously worked for CARE. Jono and Lizzie both enjoy cycling, cooking and seeing family and friends, and are looking forward to when they are able to travel beyond their local area again.

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