This morning, after an early-morning swim session, I enjoyed a leisurely chat with a friend over coffee. We were talking about investments, and I mentioned that I’d have a piece of land over a car or home any day. A lump of earth gives you freedom to grow and be self-sustaining.
By far, though, my greatest investment in this life is that of what I have put into raising two daughters with my husband (the younger child is 18 tomorrow!). I feel a sense of achievement, and relief, that we’ve managed to raise two daughters to adulthood.
Soon our baby will leave the nest and head off to university like her sister before her, and left in the family nest will be my husband and I (and cat!)… And do you want to know the truth? I’m so excited about the years ahead for us as a couple. Almost 21 years together, and despite the comfort and contentment that comes with a long-term harmonious relationship, there is still, for me, a level of newness about who we are. My tummy still gets butterflies when he walks into the room and smiles at me. I’m in awe of his ability to make me laugh regardless of the time of day or situation. When I walk down the street and see a man who catches my eye…it takes me a second to realise: that’s my husband! I love that feeling.
In the past few weeks I’ve attended two wedding fayres to exhibit my business as an independent celebrant. The marriage industry is HUGE, and if I’m honest, makes me more than a bit uncomfortable. Just a couple of days ago I was chatting to a bloke who’d been to a wedding which cost £45 000. Yes, you read that right. I could buy my daughters a tiny cottage with that sort of money… What I can’t understand is why anyone would spend that amount of money for ‘one day’. But more importantly, if that level of cash is spent on the wedding, what are the couple missing out on?
I first officiated a wedding ceremony back in 1995 (when I had my first daughter growing in my belly). What I can say without any doubt is that the most ‘beautiful and heartfelt’ weddings are those which have next-to-no budget. Why? Because when we pare back the extraneous expenses and extravaganza we come back to what is most important: the celebration of love.
Marriage is a lifetime investment which requires a daily input of intimacy, authenticity, honesty, respect, kindness, friendship, love and gratitude. These values NEVER cost money. Is it possible that when couples spend big money on their wedding day that the essence of their relationship gets lost beneath the dazzling array of unnecessary expenses? I hope not, but I suspect in many cases that the answer is yes. I would always recommend that a couple start with their ceremony and words first, then build up to the other wedding elements after that. If you start with what is most important and meaningful, then everything else will fall into place.
In speaking to many couples who are planning their wedding day, it would seem that the majority have given no thought to the actual ceremony but are focussed on the reception party afterwards. As one young man said to me: all I care about is that there’s enough beer for me and my mates.
My goal as a wedding celebrant is to create a ceremony that will be the best investment a couple can make to honour their love as they begin married life. I would even go so far as to say that they could turn up without the dress, cars, hair & make-up…with a small posy of flowers in her hand, and love in their hearts, and have the most beautiful wedding ever. Why? Because the sacred word medicine of a personalised, heart-felt ceremony is the same energy that they would take into marriage. That the honesty, intimacy, gratitude and love shared between them, with their friends and family as witnesses, is the blueprint for a lifetime of happiness.
Marriage is a lifelong commitment based on shared values. Our wedding day is a threshold we cross. We don’t linger there in our designer dress and high-heeled shoes (or flat ballet pumps, in my case ~ comfort all the way!)…we keep moving. And like a piece of earth, we plant seeds. We grow. We nourish each other. We harvest.
Our marriage is only ever as wonderful, vibrant, alive, invigorating, comforting, joyous, heart-filled, connected and intimate as the investment we put into it every single day. In many ways, it’s like a plant and both people need to water it. A marriage can never thrive if only one person is investing.
What do you believe is the greatest value you can invest in a marriage?
Veronika Robinson is an independent celebrant officiating throughout Cumbria, Lancashire and southern Scotland. www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant She met her husband 21 years ago. It was love at first sight. She invited him over for dinner, and he never went home again. They recently celebrated their marriage with a renewal of vows.