The difference, to me, happened on Friday at the wedding. There really was something magical that happened during the ceremony. We were standing up before our closest friends and saying to them that our relationship was now at a higher level. It was like an act of putting an official seal on a document. Even though there is that thing called divorce, it was making a lifelong commitment. I really felt the power of the symbolism of the rings as we placed one on each others' fingers. The whole "I do" thing is a pretty powerful ritual as well. Swearing of an oath should always have a sense of gravity behind it. It should never be taken lightly.
Being raised a Catholic, my life was full of this stuff. Too much of it, however, and it tends to lose its meaning and the "specialness" of it. I think it's the uniqueness of the event that makes it special. As a sidenote, all of the pomp and circumstance of the ritual of marriage ends on a flat note. Today I will take the signed marriage certificate to a government building where I will hand it over to some bureaucrat to be officially entered into the system. It's the most important part and certainly the least ceremonious.