In my job, I often miss my favorite part of a wedding: the ceremony. While my clients are tying the knot, I'm off making sure the final details of their cocktail hour and reception are taken care of. I think I can recall witnessing two ceremonies of the weddings I have planned, so far.
Why is it my favorite?
It's the reason for the day. As fun as it is to throw a big party, and as much as I love to dive into the beautiful details of a reception, none of it would have a purpose without the ceremony itself. The ceremony is what begins a marriage - the lifelong promise to be with your person through it all.
Before a couple gets to their ceremony, I encourage some reflection and preparation for the next step. Regardless of the journey that brought them to their wedding (whether they've dated 3 months or 10 years, long distance or living together...) becoming a married couple is a life change.
My preferred method of preparation for anything is reading various material from experts and those who came before me in the subject.
I know I may have lost some of you with the idea of "homework"... studying for some is something you've sworn off since leaving college. But hear me out. Think of this as something you and your fiance can do together. Take a chapter or two to spark a conversation over dinner. Skim the topics that seem interesting. Talking about your next big leap in life can be fun and full of anticipation.
Matt and I still bring up books and topics we covered in the year leading into our wedding (and some of the books are on my yearly "revisit" list to keep what I've learned fresh in my mind)
Here are some of my favorites:
The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller
This is a pretty faith-based book, but no matter your beliefs, I think the foundation is universal. There is no perfect mate, or soul mate for that matter. But by sacrificing the concept of "me" and working toward "us" your marriage can find more friendship, closeness, and intimacy for the long run. It's a great read with a ton of good applications.
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
An oldie but a goodie. I even used the older cover image here that my 10 year old copy has (the latest edition looks a little less '90s). This book begins with addressing the importance of working toward your relationship and gives a little perspective on why it won't always be as easy as it is in the beginning. Don't worry, it picks up with explaining that we all have a unique way of expressing our love to others. This book helps you understand your way of expression (your love language) and learning the language of your significant other.
Love Does by Bob Goff
While not technically a marriage book, this is one of my all time favorite reads about loving others (and one that I read every year). The chapters are a compilation of life anecdotes from the author's life (making it easy to pick up and continue reading at any time). He finds simple yet meaningful ways to live bigger, love better, and give more of yourself to those around you.
Beating 50 Percent by Audrey and Jeremy Roloff
This is a blog (though I think that they have a book and journal for sale as well). There are many posts dedicated to preparing for marriage and the first months/ years of marriage covering topics ranging from date nights, handling disagreements, supporting your spouse, and the day to day life in a marriage (BONUS, they have a vows page featuring some of the unique vows from couples, which might help get the creative wheels turning for those who are writing their own vows)
A few more worth mentioning:
Our Gratitude Journal
One Question a Day for You and Me
Our Q&A a Day
For those currently engaged or married, what are some of your favorite books and resources to prepare for marriage? I'd love to hear!
First photo, Matthew Land Studios, reading resource photo credits go to the book or website they reference.