3 cities. 4 weddings. 9 days. That’s been my last two weeks. (No, this isn’t a humble brag about my thriving social life.) Attending four weddings in rapid succession led me to a realization: I need to spend more time celebrating the people I care about. Let me explain how I got there.

I always dismissed weddings as not worth the investment. For an event that lasts no more than two days, they are incredibly expensive, time-intensive and stressful.

The wedding industrial complex is real - the standard expectations can burn a serious hole in your pocket. “It must be grand.” “It has to stand out.” “It needs to be memorable.” (Because otherwise it’s forgettable?) Many weddings can cost as much as a down payment on a house! What’s the responsible thing to do - set yourself up for your future or throw a lavish party that ends after 48 hours?

It also requires meticulous planning. Such an elaborate event doesn’t materialize on it’s own. It takes months to finalize every small detail, from your entrance music to tablecloth colors to floral arrangements. This can be so involved that there are full-time jobs for just planning and logistics, e.g wedding planners and event managers. I’m not even touching on the billion-dollar industry of vendors and services that cater to the actual event.

Throughout the process, stress is a constant. With so many decisions to be made, clashes are inevitable. Everyone has a different vision for the event. When they don’t reconcile, it results in conflict. This continues up to the big day. As a host, you rarely enjoy the festivities because you’re preoccupied making sure everything is going according to plan. Those months of planning weren’t all for nothing, right?

To be clear, I still believe the above - they cost an inordinate amount of time, money and peace of mind. However, the last two weeks exposed a side of weddings that I neglected before.

Weddings are a celebration of pure, unadulterated love. Not just love between the couple, but for them. Individually and together. Love that emanates from everyone that’s important to them. Parents. Siblings. Best friends. Extended family and friends. Love that’s professed in many ways. Through an enthusiastic performance by a self-conscious friend. Through a heartfelt speech by a stage-shy sibling. Through the mere attendance of a relative from another continent. The emotion is infectious. Even as an outsider, it’s difficult not to be moved by it. I can only imagine the experience for the couple. Is there anything more beautiful than having your whole world come together to share in your joy?

This celebration is the essence of weddings, not the grandeur. (Many have lost sight of this in their blind effort to preserve the status quo or one-up each other.) Though it’s a beautiful ritual, it’s only a one-time event (ideally). That made me realize I should actively celebrate the people that matter to me. After all, they are in your life forever… why wait until they make an arbitrary life decision to convey how much they mean to you?