I have wanted to blog about Marie McKinney Oates for awhile and her Pause the Pretty campaign makes me want to even more. She is the mastermind behind Nashville Marriage Studio, a not-your-average pre-marital/marital counseling studio in Nashville. (She also has a super cute little son named Otis.) Well, today we are taking her advice and stopping the pretty. Stop obsessing over all. the. details and remember what is truly important, the vows and the marriage.
If you have been around us long you know we are really pro marriage. I mean, we love the beautiful details but we also realize that blue mason jars can not make you happy for fifty years. Marriage is hard, it just is. Sometimes it gets messy and love feels distant and work, diapers, cleaning, you name it, feels close and gets in the way of till death do us part. We did a styled shoot recently (that we are not ready to show yet) titled “Yes”. What we are asking is that you say “yes.” Yes to richer, to poorer, to sickness, to health, to better, to worse, to each other. These vows are important, even if the traditional vows are not your thing.
I think the vows, the promises you are making to each other, become sort of an afterthought. Choosing the centerpieces, the DIY projects, the flowers, the cake, the photographer, the venue, the farm tables, etc. etc. come first and a few weeks before the wedding you think, “oh crap, what about the ceremony?” These promises are not to be said flippantly on your wedding day when love is easy because one day when you wake up and you feel like you don’t know each other anymore you will need those vows to resonate in your heart. “For worse” is a lot harder than you could possibly imagine but getting out of “for worse” and back into “for better” is far better than you could imagine on your wedding day.
So, how can you make the vows a priority? If you want to get really personal, you can write your own. This is an intimidating feat and something hard to start but will really give your ceremony a personal, “you” feel. Don’t try to memorize them, just put them on paper and read them on your wedding day. (Hey, maybe laminate them because sweaty palms can make ink bleed.) Guys, don’t stress over them being perfect. I know this is hard, but say what is in your heart. You can say things like, “I am so glad you don’t make me shave for no shave November” or you can say deep things like “So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, everyday. You and me… everyday.” I did just steal that from The Notebook, but it’s so good! We had a bride and groom write their own vows recently and their ceremony was truly one of the most heartfelt I have seen.
If you don’t really want to write your own, take your vows from some experts. There is one guy I know who knows a lot about love, Jesus. If all else fails, go to the book that is constant with ways to love each other, the Bible. (Yeah, sorry, I went all biblical on you.) Read Song of Solomon and tell me there is not passionate love in the Bible. For instance, Song of Solomon 3:4, “I have found him who my soul loves.” My soul loves my husband and truth be told, my soul needs him. It needs him to stand next to me through all the amazing things and all the crap in our lives. My soul wants him to be next to me on our children’s wedding day. My soul wants to hold his hand on my death bed or be next to him on his.
If the Bible is not your thing, you can take quotes from all sorts of other literary works like Bronte or Austin. Even Shell Silverstein has some nuggets that you could work in there. “… and she loved a boy very, very much– even more than she loved herself.” The Giving Tree. Reading literature is a great way to get you feeling romantic even if your idea of romance is eating dinner by yourselves and going to bed at 9:00. (Can you tell I have young kids?)
If you know the officiant it can really help to make your ceremony more personal, therefore making you feel more connected to the vows and the ceremony. At a wedding recently the officiant asked the bride and groom’s family to give stories about them growing up or their relationship together. This was really touching and made everyone laugh and cry. Let’s be honest, we all really want to get to the reception and dance, party and have fun but if you make the ceremony more you and about you it can be fun and meaningful and not just a means to get your groove on at the reception.
You can also have your friends and family affirm you. Have them say that day in front of God and everybody that they will stand by you, they will keep you accountable in your marriage. This means when you show up at your best friend’s house with your suitcase she will give you wine, talk about it and send you packing back home to your husband.
So, vow to make your vows a priority. Make each other a priority and set the stress about finding the perfect font aside. When you count the things you are thankful for this week, count each other twice.