After years together and months of planning, your wedding day may seem to pass too quickly. I recall seeing my soon-to-be-husband waiting for me at the end of the aisle and thinking that I wanted to run to him. I also wanted to walk as slowly as possible to make that moment – and that day – last.
Later, while leading a conga line on the dance floor, I had a flash of simultaneously thinking, “I never want this night to end” and “I can’t wait to talk about today tomorrow.”
While the wedding day is the official and glorious start of a couple’s new life together, the deeper celebration of matrimony can be found in the day-to-day. From the moment you wed, wherever you go and whatever you do, you will be married.
The idea of celebrating it forward helps remind you just how precious and joyous your marriage is. Following are a few tips.
Find relationship models
Collect physical reminders of the great love stories shared by family members. Ask parents, grandparents, siblings and other couples you admire to loan you a framed wedding portrait. Place the photos on a table at the reception.
In front of each photo, place a card detailing one aspect of their relationship that you marvel at. Include perhaps something about the quirky way they met, the number of years they’ve been together or an example of what makes their love unique. For example, my Great-Uncle Ben and Great-Aunt Helen slept in a tiny bed their entire 65-year marriage. Surrounding yourself on your special day with the great loves in your family fortifies your own new life and reminds guests of past weddings.
Leave note cards out for guests to write what they appreciate about you and your spouse’s relationship. Place the cards in a scrapbook afterward to cherish their words in the future.
Create a travel bucket list
I’ve seen creative ideas for designating table assignments that go well beyond just numbers. At our wedding, we named each table after different languages’ word for “love.” Each language meant something to us: We incorporated Gaelic because my parents are Irish, Greek to honor where we got engaged and Fijian because we would honeymoon there.
While each language had meaning then, the collection of words can mean even more later in life. We’ve used them to create a travel bucket list. When we selected “Amore” to label the table where my sister-in-law of Italian descent would sit, we had no idea that we would subsequently visit Italy.
If you want to create your own travel bucket list but naming tables doesn’t appeal to you, create a private list that you vow to fulfill. Or if travel isn’t a shared passion, create a list of other goals you aspire to achieve as a couple.
Host an after-party
One of my favorite weddings was a destination event for my college roommate. After a beautiful ceremony and spectacular reception that went late into the night, the couple flew to Europe. We bridesmaids visited our friend’s parents before we flew home.
We gossiped for hours about all the wedding-night fun, reliving the beauty of the ceremony and discussing the striking chuppah. We were in hysterics recalling the dancing antics of one uncle and the fact that two seemingly incompatible wedding guests were caught kissing. But missing in our joy-filled story session were the bride and groom.
When it was my turn to marry, my husband and I decided to leave for our honeymoon a few days after the wedding. Doing so allowed us to spend time with family. A get-together following the wedding day doesn’t have to be formal or costly. In our case, we invited my new in-laws, who had flown in for the wedding, to my parent’s house for breakfast to discuss the wedding and open our gifts.
Celebrate an anniversary
The custom of preserving the top tier of the wedding cake for the couple to eat on their first anniversary has a practical history – food was once too scarce to waste. We morphed the tradition a bit by sharing the cake with family unable to attend the wedding.
We spent the Christmas following our wedding with my in-laws in England. We brought frozen cake in our carry-on and enjoyed it with my husband’s grandparents. It was genuinely special.
Another way we commemorated our special day was by saving our wedding reception toasting flutes – a shower gift – for occasions down the road. For our first year of marriage, we used the flutes to toast one another on the date of our wedding each month. We haven’t sustained these mini-celebrations monthly, but every now and again we’ll remember to pull out the flutes for a quick toast.
Many of my suggestions for extending the specialness of the day fall outside standard traditions, but in an era of ultra-personalized weddings, why not make your post-wedding revelries personal, too?