I soon discovered this was not J. R. R. Tolkein’s hippest elf queen, but the wedding of Facebook and Napster founder Sean Parker and his ethereal bride, singer song-writer Alexandra Lenas. I flipped through the pages of pictures, mouth agape at the majestic fairy-land they had created with bazillions of dollars, about 30 rabbits “for cuddling,” and more bolts of velvet than an Elvis impersonator convention. It was stunning.
Apparently, Mr. Parker has since been eviscerated in the press about the implied ecological impact of their Big Day, to which he gave an arduous rebuttal.
I marry people for a living. That always confuses my five year old – “aren’t you already married?” What I mean is, when I’m not writing books, I’m a minister. And truly one of my greatest joys of that calling is performing weddings. It is a sacred, beautiful, and fearful honor to be the one binding two souls ‘til death do they part. Just pure bliss. But the more weddings I attend, the more I see many couples spending so much time, money and energy making that Big Day a fantasy, they forget what the day is there for in the first place: to start a marriage. And marriages, even the happy-ever-after ones, are not fairy tales. Sorry Disney.
Now look, I don’t want to be the downer. I'm not against artistry, or mason jars filled with various hipster accouterments. Go ahead. Throw a party. Make your music video to the latest sappy pop love song that will make you cringe on your 10th anniversary. Release doves or butterflies or rabbits. Invite Gandalf.
But remember this: that day, that glorious day, is just that.
And after you’ve made such a big to-do, there’s nowhere to go but down. What marriage – real in the mucking through of life marriage – can stand up to fantasy?
After The Big Day, you must put all the puff clouds of toile behind you. You must focus on the death do us part. And that means choosing – every day – choosing love. Because love is not a thing. Not a noun. Love is an action, a verb. It is not to be taken lightly and discarded in moments when you don’t feel giddy about your spouse. When she looks more like Nanny McPhee than a elven queen – which she eventually will – you must choose love. But choosing love, even when the feelings of love aren’t there is the tough part. There’s no fairy godmother to make it all better. To speak a gentle word to each other instead of the harsh one that rushes to your lips , to remember to say those three little words, “ I was wrong,” to clean up the dirty dishes again – even when it’s not your turn – and to do this without slandering your spouse in your heart. To forgive, even if the other doesn’t deserve it. This is work. This is Cinderella scrubbing the proverbial floors and Prince Charming mucking out the stables. Keeping a marriage with this type of vigilance and humility takes effort. It takes devotion. It takes steely-eyed determination.
Indeed, if the Parkers put the same imagination, wrangling, negotiating, money, time and talent into their marriage as they did their wedding, that would be truly magical to behold. Especially in the celebrity culture that surrounds them. And if they can do that, perhaps they'll have that happily ever after, after all.
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