It's been just a couple of days since Ashley and I tied the knot, and whilst in the process of preparing for that joyous day I sat down a few times to try to capture the experience and share a bit of what it was like from where I sat. The trouble is, the process was so overwhelming that at no point could I find words that adequately expressed the flood of sensations that accompanies such a momentous occasion.
But we are married now. We are far from settled, but we are married and perspective on the experience is coming a bit easier. I feel a bit of a disclaimer is needed before I go any further: my perspective on a wedding/getting married is that of a guy: in no way is this a rendering of what the Bride's experience may be. Also, I am speaking in broad generalizations in most instances so of course exceptions will exist to the conclusions drawn below.
First of all, I will say that I don't think most guys have any idea that when they say "will you marry me?", it is most often answered with "oh boy, we're going to have a wedding!" Absolutely the two of us want to get and be married for the rest of our lives: but never did it cross my mind when I asked Ashley to marry me that we would embark on this journey of THE WEDDING. And it is a journey to say the least. There are peaks and valleys along the trail: the weather can turn rough despite the forecast and whilst there are many a sherpa along the way, few know the way better than the two of you standing at the altar on your wedding day.
Now that the question has been asked, and the wedding snowball is gaining gerth, let's get to what happens as the wedding approaches. For me, I found it to be a troubling time in terms of identity. Somewhere along the way I ceased to be "Josh" and became a bevy of other forms of "guy who is getting married." As if the re-designation of worth by friends and peers isn't challenging enough, there is truly a sense that life is about to change and I found myself trying to become more comfortable with what "after-marriage Josh" would look like than I care to admit. The over-whelming challenge here is that in the time when I most needed to be checking on, acknowledging and dealing with my emotions, far too often I tried to frame them into a new "me". I actually found myself in the rear-view mirror a few times, as I sped along towards our wedding.
Here's a thought that you may not have considered previously, but became profoundly clear to me the day prior to our wedding: I found getting married to be, at times, belittling. I'll say that I may be a bit more in touch with my emotions than most other fellas, so perhaps I am more susceptible to this rendering of the experience. This experience stems from the in-numerable comments that my life (as the guy) is about to get fixed/changed/repaired/set straight since a woman is now coming to live with me. It's one thing to say things are going to change: but that something about the way I live is going to get FIXED? Well I found that fairly insulting. I've been doing just fine with the scratched-up pots and pans everyone cheers my wife for throwing away . . .
This one's going to be a bit subtle as well, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention (and this is the broadest of generalizations) the roles I found friends and family played in the wedding events. I found family, for the most part, seeking to be involved and friends seeking to support. Family members were more likely to approach myself or the bride and offer a suggestion, observation or proposed role for themselves as we moved towards the actual big day. Friends tended to just ask what I needed, or in the most amazing cases observe something that needed to be fixed and simply fix it without any fanfare. Both roles definitely have their place.
The overwhelming joy of the actual wedding stemmed from our union for sure - seeing my Bride coming towards me up the stairs whilst feeling my heart try to pump it's way closer to her will forever stand out as one of the greatest moments of my life: it's right up there with when I got to kiss my WIFE for the first time! Just behind those moments though is the unique joining of friends and family. I had to stop in my tracks when I walked in rehearsal and saw how many people had gathered to join us in joining together. And this was a group of people that I doubt we will EVER have together again in our lifetimes. All families were represented: friends from near and far that coalesced as good friends do, colleagues from now and long ago - it was simply amazing. We live in a compartmentalized world. I spend time with my family, time with my friends in Nashville, go to community group and have my church friends, and I work with this group of people - but rarely do you see ALL of these folks in one place and realize what a blessing the people in our lives truly are. It was so incredibly overwhelming.
And now, as I write this - all of those experience as still sorting themselves out. The idea of responsibility as a husband is weighing heavy right now. Yet at the same time I don't feel like I'm really married. It's a limbo of sorts. But it's a real limbo and a beautiful one. And I'm grateful for all of it - because never have I felt so much growth descend upon two people in as timely a manner as that which a wedding demands. And we will forever reap the benefits of the experience. Right on into eternity.