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marriage preparation

American brides and grooms spend, on average, $33,391 on their weddings, according to The Knot's 2019 Real Weddings Study.  The cost varies, depending on where they live, from $19,700 in Utah to $39,000 in California to $53,400 in Massachusetts.  The amount includes the engagement ring, but not honeymoon expenses.  The Knot study shows that there's a trend in hosting fewer guests, largely due to the desire of couples to offer a unique and memorable experience for all those invited

Many couples put so much emphasis on the wedding while the focus should be on the marriage. The dresses and decorations, hors d’oeuvres and food, etc., may make a wedding beautiful and stunning, but what is more important is a lasting marital relationship. 

The same thought is emphasized in the motto of the Catholic Engaged Encounter: "A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime."  In other words, a wedding is only the beginning of a journey that requires love, trust, honesty, partnership, patience, hope.  In that sense, as Fawn Weaver said, "The beauty of marriage is not always seen from the very beginning—but rather as love grows and develops over time."

A parish marriage preparation typically takes six months, involving paperwork and documents, guidance and reflections, planning and prayers.  In the broadest sense, you already learned something about love and relationships, marriage and family, etc., early on in your upbringing in your family, the first school of love.  Your idea of marital love is also influenced by other relatives, friends, the culture you live in.  Hopefully, you also learn about love and marriage from the great treasures of the Scripture and Church teaching.  

All of that being said, a wedding is still important!  It's about the pledge of love in good times and in bad that you make to your beloved - with a lot of trust.  In making that promise, you look beyond the wedding,  without knowing what the future will hold.  What should that pledge look like?  "The love they pledge is greater than any emotion, feeling or state of mind, although it may include all of these. It is a deeper love, a lifelong decision of the heart" (Pope Francis' exhortation "Amoris laetitia" or "The Joy of Love").

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