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Fairy Tale Wedding
Mom with a View

Fairy Tale Wedding

Your wedding should not be the happiest day of your life.

by

"...no bride in her right mind, if nature could produce such a wondrous creature, would want her wedding to be the Happiest Day of My Life. This would mean that everything from then on, such as the marriage itself would be downhill."

You gotta love Miss Manners. She tells it like it is, unafraid of attacking a multi-million dollar industry that is built around this dangerous and deceptive idea. The line between fantasy and reality has gotten seriously crossed.

The proof of this is that the latest company to hop on the bridal industry bandwagon is none other than Disney. The idea of a fairy tale wedding seems to take on literal significance as dresses are fashioned in accordance with favorite characters such as Snow White or the Little Mermaid. The line between fantasy and reality just got even muddier -- the line between a child's dream and (what should be) an adult's sober vision.

I don't want to be the wedding grinch. I don't begrudge any bride her wedding finery. But when the wedding is seen as the end, not the beginning, we're all in trouble. When marriage is sold as a Disney fairy tale, coping with daily challenges can be intimidating, especially since they are so unexpected.

Of course there should be happiness and joy on a wedding day. But it is the excitement of unrealized potential, of the possibilities unfolding. It should not be the thrill of achievement.

With our wedding day, the real work begins.

A wedding is not an accomplishment; it's a gift. A successful marriage is an achievement. With our wedding day, the real work begins.

It may be a labor of love but it is labor nonetheless. Our real life Prince Charmings are flawed creatures who frequently fall short of our expectations. I suspect that, despite our imitation of a Disney character in our gown, our behavior is also less than ideal.

So we adjust our expectations, we dig in our heels, and we work a little harder. And surprisingly enough, if we're really working at it, if we're not critical of our spouse but focused on the positive, if we are constantly look for ways to give, if we stop to take pleasure in each other, then we find ourselves happier and happier as the years go by.

We look back at that young couple on their wedding day and we marvel at their naiveté.

Yes, it gets better. Yes, your wedding shouldn't be the happiest day of your life. But unlike Cinderella, it's not magic.

The benefits are only enjoyed by those who make the effort. They're unconnected to gowns and flowers and photographers and fantasies, and directly correlated to our exertions. It's not a fairy tale vision. It takes more than dramatic rescues to create a lasting relationship.

But with constant effort, with constant attention to the needs of your partner, with constant focus on creating something special, with a constant evaluation of mistakes made and with resolutions to improve, with serious attention to this most important relationship in our lives, it is possible --despite the many challenges we will face -- to live happily ever after.

Published: March 10, 2007


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Visitor Comments: 11

(11) Anonymous, October 9, 2013 9:28 PM

When I got married, I had only a few priorities for my wedding. I wanted our friends and family to be there (even if it meant that our parents would have to cut some of their social obligations). And I wanted good photos. As for the rest, I told my husband and our parents what I preferred, and that was it. B"H, everyone got along beautifully and there were very few disagreements. Our wedding was fabulous. But more importantly, the good feelings have continued. We're still happily married after 11 years, and the parents are friends. Yes, we did have a wonderful wedding, but it is more important to have a wonderful marriage. Meanwhile, I know people who went crazy putting together elaborate weddings and got so stressed out that it left a bad residue on their marriages.

(10) Sandra, March 17, 2007 1:59 PM

Enjoyed your writing on your wedding not being the happiest day.

(9) Anonymous, March 16, 2007 1:03 PM

comments wedding day fantasy

It is wonderful to have a wonderful wedding day, but to make it into a fairytale fantasy is pushing it unless the couple involved are mature enough to realize that the fairy tale fantasy is just play acting. I have seen couples act out fantasy weddings and do just fine in life. Examples are arriving on horseback, leaving in carraiges, getting married in a horse drawn sleigh, etc. It can all be very romantic as long as the couple is aware of what hard work comes afterwards.

Another note, some couples overspend theirs and/or their families financial resources and that is a poor way to start a marriage. Better a simple inexpensive wedding than beginning a life together with unmanageable debt.

(8) Anonymous, March 16, 2007 3:57 AM

Needed by all of us.

I think marriage is very hard work for everyone. If you look at happily married couples you would never know that every single one of them had a very hard time at the beginning, and some for their whole married lives. At first the motivation to stay married may have been just determination, then it grows to trying to be forgiving and good despite the other's obvious flaws, and finally one realizes that there are quite a number of areas in which one oneself unwittingly contributed to the problem.

All this cannot just happen, but often is a result of a lot of prayer, belief in G-d's ability to help, and practical steps. Practical steps include trying to see yourself from your spouse's point of view, and speaking with a GOOD marriage counsellor.

One begins to learn about one's spouse, one motivates them, what they love, what they can't stand. One also learns gradually these things about oneself! Then one takes steps to stop standing on each other's toes so often, and marriage improves dramatically!

My friend is a daughter of a Rabbi, to whom many people come to ask advice on marriage and spouses. Not all Rabbis offer this service, not all Rabbis perhaps have such an understanding of human nature, but my friend's father does.

I once asked this friend: Does your father look down on people who come complaining about their husbands, or asking petty things? Does he remember this against them forever?

She was horrified by my question, and replied: My father RESPECTS people who ask advice about marriage! Marriage is not a thing that can be taught in textbooks - every couple is so different. So how CAN they be expected to know how to do things right? He thinks it is fantastic when people care enough to take advice!

Emunah, I want to thank you for this article, and so many of your other articles about marriage, because they reinforce such a positive attitude. Nobody loses in a good marriage!

In particular, in this article you have helped me bury a sad thought I've been nurturing for so many years, that my parents decided they would not pay for live flowers at my wedding. It was the only luxury I asked for, and they refused. Since I viewed a wedding as the symbol of my marriage, a little corner of me has felt deprived about this ever since. But Emunah, you are so right! It's was just a day at the beginning of my marriage - and, live or fake flowers - why did I care so much???!! Thank you!

(7) deb, March 15, 2007 12:31 PM

If people would get as excited about graduating from college

Sad to say but my daughters friend are getting married at age 24, the mom's are complaining about spending 30 grand for a wedding party, I am having a college graduation party for my daughter...

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