Ryan Chartrand

About a month ago, I stood behind one of my best childhood friends (bridesmaid bouquet and emergency tissues in hand) and watched her marry the man of her dreams. A little more than nine months ago, I did the same thing for one of my sorority sisters. And I still have at least three more weddings to go to this year.

For a while, the ringing of all these blissful wedding bells lulled me into a very surreal reality filled with gorgeous, flowing dresses; multi-tiered, to-die-for wedding cakes, sweetly scented flowers and tons of presents.

I loved it.

In order to fully prepare for my bridesmaid’s duties, I started watching almost every wedding-themed television show I could find. I became an expert at deciding which dress style would fit each body type best. I learned all about proper wedding etiquette, and how to save money when it came to hiring a caterer or a photographer. It even got to the point where I had to stop myself from buying wedding magazines at the grocery store.

My boyfriend and I excitedly tore through wedding invitations and checked ‘yes’ in the little “we will be attending” boxes. And when the big day came, we dutifully wined, dined and danced in honor of our friends.

It wasn’t until after I almost got pegged in the face with a bunch of flowers during the bouquet toss that I realized how obsessively goofy I had been acting.

Weddings weren’t about how much the cake cost, or whether or not there was an open bar. Truly, they were about love; promising to cherish and honor another person for the rest of your life.

All of a sudden, the “big party” didn’t seem so carefree anymore. As my boyfriend and I sat at another one of the bridal party tables, he nursing a stout beer and I sipping on Chardonnay, we began to realize what a big step our friends were taking.

These people we had grown up with – who were barely old enough to drink at their own weddings – had stood before their respective gods, families and friends, promising to love one another for the rest of their lives.

And they really meant it too.

All of the young couples whose weddings we attended were deeply and honestly in love. They went through incredibly difficult trials, learned to respect and communicate with each other, and some of them even paid for their own weddings.

Surprisingly, these couples put many of their older counterparts to shame. In a world where the divorce rate continues to skyrocket, many young men and women are learning to examine the covenant of marriage more closely before jumping off the deep end into a matrimonial train wreck.

Despite the common misconception that young college students get married just because “everyone else is doing it,” many couples choose marriage for the right reason: because they love each other.

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