by Dave Wise
It was a while ago now that I got married, 14 years to be exact, but I still remember the conversation I had with my father about who pays for the wedding. I was aware of the tradition: the bride’s family paid. That always struck me as odd and I still think it’s strange. The bride’s family must be really keen to get rid of her if they’re also willing to pay so much money out to do so; if I were a little more cynical I might take that as a warning. The tradition is a little antiquated today; I think it’s fairly safe to say those days are well behind us. Of course George Clooney allowing his bride’s family to pay for his wedding seems a little of a farce in this regard–I wonder if her family also paid the legal fees for the prenuptial agreement?
My father said to me “If you want to take this girl into your life, then you should start as you mean to go on. Rely on nobody apart from yourselves, and your lives together will start exactly how they will end: together.”
My father was right, my wife and I planned every element of our wedding together, counted every penny and prepared to become husband and wife from the very outset. As he said, we were together. As much as our funds really didn’t like the idea, we began our union long before the actual wedding day. Marriage is after all a series of never-ending compromises as two people learn to operate as one. Of course we remain individuals throughout it all and in reality, with the exception of each other, our personal interests lay in very different places. We still joke today about some of the silly things we spent money on for our wedding, mostly for other people’s benefit and not our own. We do still agree that the show is important and the support of our family and friends has been and continues to be essential.
Today as society and the world, in general, starts to come closer together, and traditions from each party are often very different, fending for yourselves from the outset becomes not just the norm, but essential. Each new generation teaches the previous generation new values, whilst they may at the time baulk and complain at the breaking of tradition; over time they realize that what you’ve done is create a firm foundation for your new life of negotiations that lies ahead of you.
If you’re lucky enough to have both sides keen on contributing in some fashion to your special day, then find something of equal value and standing for each to contribute towards, you do not want your day remembered with resentment. You will undoubtedly be reminded of that every day by each aggrieved party. That additional strain is not helpful when just being married is hard enough. We got around it by simply not taking from either side, if we couldn’t afford it, it didn’t happen. There should be no regrets, so each person in the union being very much in control of their own destiny not only stops feuds before they start but allows each of you to understand the compromises being made and why.