January 6, 2023
The way you approach planning your wedding should be similar to the way you approach life in general. Make your decisions based on your personal values and what matters to you, from the clothing you buy to the wedding vendors you hire to the way you choose to invest your money.
But what if you’ve never defined your personal values? If you’ve never sat down to really sketch out what truly matters to you and guides your life, this article will help you outline the basics.
Defining Your Personal Values as Individuals and as a Couple
If you and your partner haven’t had a deep convo about what you both want out of life, the way you see the world, and the things that matter most to you… why are you getting married?
You might assume that you and your partner are on the same page. That you love each other so much that you can face anything together. But if you’re not aligned on some of the fundamentals, it could spell trouble for the future stability of your relationship.
So how do you define your personal values? Well, first of all, we should define what a value is. Essentially, a value is a principle or standard of behavior or a judgment of what is important in life.
To live your life in alignment with your core values, you need to understand and honor what is important to you– i.e., your priorities. Clarifying your values gives you access to an inner compass that will point you in the right direction no matter what life throws at you.
Couples who share a religious affiliation or spiritual belief system may find this process a bit simpler or encounter less roadblocks. When you come from a similar mindset and value system, making a sacred vow to one another has an added element of a higher power. Many couples of Christian faith believe that their marriage is an example of a holy trinity– with God serving as a glue between each spouse.
Whether your bride or groom is religious, most individuals enter into a marriage expecting to be lifelong partners. Having that extra divine assistance to back you up can be a wonderful source of support and comfort in a marriage, especially when things get tough. A shared faith can help couples navigate life’s ups and downs and get them through the moments of struggle outlined in traditional wedding vows, such as times of sickness or sorrow.
Exercises for defining your values
It’s important to know that values aren’t always chosen or selected consciously by you. Our values often reveal themselves to us based on how we make all the other decisions in our lives. Look at your habits, how you choose to spend your free time, and the things you prioritize in your life. Those things likely align with your values. (If they don’t, it may be time to re-evaluate your choices.)
For more help with this exercise, check out the resources below on defining your values.
How to Apply Your Values to Your Life, Wedding, and Money Decisions
Once you get clear on your personal values and goals, you can apply these principles to every aspect of your life– including your wedding plans! This means being conscious of the decisions that you’re making daily and if those decisions align with your values. Examples might include where you choose to live, the choices you make in your career, and especially how you spend your time and, of course, your money.
You can ask yourself, how can I live my values…
- via my work or career?
- in my relationship/marriage?
- as a citizen or neighbor?
- with my friends + family?
- in my self-care routine?
- through creativity?
- in the purchases I make?
- via the ways I spend my time?
Your Spending Habits
Spending habits are often one of the tell-tale signs of what someone values. Typically, people tend to splurge or invest in the areas of their lives that are most important to them. For some of you, that may mean choosing to live in a major city where rent costs are high because you thrive in a progressive and vibrant community.
Others’ values might be reflected by spending money ordering ready-made meals or takeout most nights because you either don’t have time to cook or just prefer not to. Most of us tend to spend money on the areas that matter to us.
Have you thought about the things you spend the most money on and realizing there is a disconnect? Now might be the time to consider alternatives and options that are more in alignment with your values. Obviously, there are extenuating circumstances.
Some of you may find that the things you spend more money on are somewhat out of your control. You also might spend money on certain things due to certain inequalities or systemic failures in our society. These are very unfortunate realities that impact many people. I challenge you to think about small changes you can make to live more in alignment with your authentic soul every day!
Your Wedding Planning
Before you get started with wedding planning, you should have a good idea of your values for your celebration. Having a defined list of values will help you make decisions along the way that align with what matters most to you.
Aligning your wedding plans with your values
You can apply your personal values to your wedding planning in the following ways:
- The products you purchase. From your wedding bands to your wedding dress, choose ethical suppliers and sources for your wedding attire.
- The vendors you choose to hire. Seek out professionals who are socially conscious, inclusive, and who have sustainable practices in their business. Is supporting female or BIPOC-owned businesses one of your values? Seek out those businesses to bring together your vision for your wedding day.
- The food you serve. You could opt for a vegetarian or vegan meal to do your part to reduce emissions from your wedding. Or, you could choose a caterer who gets their produce from a local farm. You could also send home leftovers with guests and compost your food waste.
- The gift registry. Perhaps you don’t want a house cluttered full of stuff, and value experiences over things. Consider an experience or honeymoon registry instead of asking for a new breadmaker.
- The favors you give. Instead of another decorative tchotchke, consider making a donation to an organization you care about in lieu of guest favors.
- The areas of the wedding day you prioritize. Consider the areas of the big day that you will choose to allocate your focus, effort, and money. What matters to you? What is most meaningful? Put more emphasis on areas like the wedding ceremony by writing your own wedding vows rather than obsessing over centerpieces.
Sustainability in wedding planning
Is living a sustainable lifestyle important to you? Let your wedding reflect those choices by opting for eco-friendly tableware, even if it’s disposable. Consider products like Dtocs sustainable line of palm-leaf plates, bowls, and serving dishes. These items give you the convenience of disposable items while being earth-friendly. Plus, they look really cool and earthy!
Living in accordance with your values takes honesty, integrity, and intention. Apply those traits to your wedding planning as well to create a meaningful and authentic celebration of your love.
Making conscious investing choices allows you to apply your personal values to your money habits beyond your day-to-day spending. Seek out causes, projects, and products that are meaningful to you. It’s even better to choose projects seeking to make an impact on building the world you want to live in. This concept is known as Impact Investing, and it’s a way to invest your money that can have financial rewards as well as major personal, heart-centered rewards!
You may decide to invest in something for personal reasons rather than financial gain. No matter what or why you decide to invest, be sure to do your due diligence on any nonprofit organization. Check out Charity Navigator, GiveWell, or Effective Altruism.
Embody your values to give life purpose and meaning
Living according to our values is the best way to give our lives meaning and purpose. If you can identify and embody your values throughout all the decisions you make in your life, you will live a happier and healthier existence. We hope this post inspires you to take the time to talk through your values, dreams, and goals with your partner. Use this special time of engagement to make a shared vision for your future together.
If you’re planning on and hoping for a lifelong union with your spouse, making sure you share not only mutual love but similar values is a key to relationship longevity.
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