Planning A Wedding, But Not A Marriage

We’re nearing wedding season. I’ve already seen numerous couples get engaged and a few marry within the past year. As I’ve heard random chatter about wedding planning, I began to think (surprising, I know). I hear people making plans for dresses, colours, flowers, venues, music, etc. “Every girl dreams of her wedding day.” I get it. It’s a big deal.

I’ve been involved with a few weddings to date. From my experience I would, with respect, point out that a lot of the things you place such importance on, aren’t actually that important. By all means, it’s a big day and is definitely cause to celebrate. Make it as special as you want. But, don’t focus so much on impressing people with a lavish party that you end up forgetting what is truly important.

One wedding I attended comes to mind. It was in a large church. The bride wore the fluffiest white dress I had ever seen. Flowers and candles filled the sanctuary. The wedding party… had a lot of people in it. Far too many people had inputs into this day. The venue was inarguably beautiful, but all of the faces were sour. It won’t matter how nice your pictures look if all anyone remembers is how miserable they were.

GROOMS: Tell your mothers to… stand… down… This is not their chance to redo their own wedding. This day is about you and your bride. Yes, your families are important and should be included. But, if Aunt Whoever throws a fit and stomps her feet because she wants to sing her one special song, keep in mind that she will survive if she doesn’t get to. You don’t want to suffer everyone through your families pettiness. I’ve been to those weddings. No one enjoys them. And, you don’t want the first day of your marriage to be spent with your wife scowling at you.

BRIDES: I know, “every girl dreams of her special day.” I would urge, at a distance because I have been at the receiving end of bridezillas, this day is not all about you. It’s about you and your future husband and the life you’re starting together. Don’t loose sight of that.

People spend a lot of time and money planning their weddings these days. Today, the average wedding costs around $30,000. Which, to me, is ridiculous. That’s more than a years salary for many Americans. I know this is a once-in-a-lifetime event, but if you spent that much every day, that would be the equivalent of spending roughly $11,000,000 every year. Tragically, a large number of people start the marriages off in debt because of their wedding day. According to this survey by LendingTree, 45% of couples go into debt to pay for their wedding. Of them, almost 50% of them considered divorce because of debt. What percentage of couples who incurred no debt considered divorce based on finances you ask? 9% Nine!

I’ve been looking over a breakdown of individual costs. As I’ve been transitioning to living a more simple life over the past few years, I find theses numbers staggering. Average cost of a wedding dress; $1600. That’s twenty days of work for a full-time employee on minimum wage in my state, or this 2000 Audi A4 Quatro. For a dress you will wear, once. Catering cost per person; $70. The USDA estimates that a family of four that cooks at home has an average food cost of $7 per person, per day. Wedding favours (souvenirs?); $400. Four, hundred, dollars, on something that will likely end up being thrown away or discarded by most people at some point. Why not let the experience be the souvenir? Average cost of a wedding cake; $500. I know not everyone will like the idea, but you can get a fine cake at Sam’s Club for under $20. (40 If you want the two tier unicorn.)

The point I’m trying to make is that people put too much emphasis on trivial, materialistic things to try and impress people, or as one woman put it “live like a Kardashian for a day.” Ladies, how much the ring he presents to you doesn’t compare to the fact that he is asking you to allow him to lead you and your future family. The weight of laying his life down for you as Christ did the church now rests upon his knee. And, if we move from the poetic to the practical, diamonds are actually worthless. I know every bride wants to look nice on their wedding day, and that the dress is important. But, is it not more important that you are presenting yourself humble and modest before your soon-to-be husband, prepared to show him the reverence you would Christ? That is worth more than any dress. How elaborate and expensive your cake is isn’t as important as the people you’re sharing it with.

Moving on from the financial. I was listening to a podcast earlier this week of someone who works in ministry that I follow. He was speaking about weddings, and his experience as a pastor. The topic of premarital counseling came up. He talked about the steps a perspective couple goes through, and how at times in the past he has bowed out of performing a wedding. His argument was that he is spending a great deal of time at no cost to said couple to help them prepare for the life they want to start together, and give them the best tools to help them in the future. If he feels they aren’t truly committed to that process, then he feels compelled to walk away.

I thought about some people in ministry that I know who just say “Hey, give me fifty bucks and I’ll marry you.” I began to wonder, ‘Is that enough?’ Should the role of a minister be reduced to a financial transaction? I would say ‘no.’ I won’t get in to that rant today, though. I then thought, of all the weddings being planned today, how many of the prospective couples put in the work to not only plan for the day, but also the future?

Have you had the deep, sometimes complicated, conversations about the intricacies of being married? Or, are you just hung up on the idea of being in love, and hope it will all work itself out? Books like ‘101 Questions to Ask Before You Get Engaged’ (amazon link here) can be a good resource. Have you discussed who will work, or if both will? Will one contribute more than the other? If one contributes more, do they have a bigger say in financial decisions? Will you have children? Consider adoption? Will one of you stay home and raise them, or will you pay someone to raise them so you can both have careers? Will you send them to public school? Private school? Perhaps there is a Christian school near you? Considering the state of current affairs, would you homeschool? (My preference.) Do you really want to get married, or is that just “what people do?”

Are you prepared to care for each other in times of illness? How will you handle a death? Will you move on and remarry? What would your spouse want? Are you truly committed to staying together forever, no matter how bad things get? Do you even entertain the idea of divorce? What if one of you is unfaithful or becomes abusive?

Have you met with couples who have been married for decades and learned what has helped them last so long? Have you met with divorced couples to learn from their mistakes? Have they shown you the importance of choosing the right person, and spoke about areas where they could have tried harder? For reasons I’ll never understand, divorce has become an accepted option within the church today. When you make your vows before God, how seriously do you take ‘for better or worse?’

A problem I see today is that many young couples are very idealistic about love. We live in a very fast paced, right now, disposable society. Many forget that in romance movies the couple may end up happily ever after, and their final scene when they run out the church married is great. But, in the real world, life goes on after the credits role.

My blog leans heavily on religion and philosophy, so you could argue that I see things through a distorted lens. If you’re wanting a secular wedding that is nothing more than a business transaction, all of this likely won’t matter much to you. Many people today see marriage as nothing more than a way to get a tax break. But, to the Christian, marriage is sacred. It’s a Christ centered union of two people, vowing before God to cleave to one another for the rest of their lives.

I’ve only been at this for a few years. In comparison to other men in ministry, I’m still an infant. I’ve never been in a position to perform a wedding, and I’m not in a hurry to do so. That is an incredible responsibility, which I don’t know if I’m ready for. When I started this, I told myself that if I was ever going to officiate weddings I would likely be very picky about the ones I did. I don’t want to have a hand in a wedding if I feel that the marriage won’t last. Commitment is a big deal to me.

I’ve touched on what would or wouldn’t make a good partner at times. Asking men, do you lead her to God? Asking women, does he pray for you? Or, should wives submit to their husbands? I’ve spoken about my support of the head-covering movement, and things that make a good wife. My post about seeking Ruth and finding Sophia has done better than I anticipated. While all of these things may be helpful, they don’t speak to the main issue I see with people haphazardly getting married today.

The main point I want to drive home is that, while it’s understandable for you to want to have a beautiful wedding, that isn’t the end goal. If I took all of the wedding photos I’ve seen lately and put them in a collage, they would be nearly indistinguishable from each other. Everyone wants a “Instagram worthy” pictures, or to look like the ones on Pinterest. But, you see those things everyday. A few likes on your pictures is a false, and ever-fleeting sense of joy.

If you’re ever lucky enough to go to a wedding with multiple generations of people, or perhaps you will see this at your own; There will likely be children running around, to which you can think of starting a family of your own. Your peers will be there to celebrate with you, reminiscing about all of the days that led to this one. But, I urge you to look for a very specific elderly couple. I mean, ancient. They are incredibly rare, but can be seen if you watch for them long enough. They’ll barely be able to walk. Hunched over, struggling to see. You may even see a nurse behind them with a concerned look, worried that they’re going to fall over. They will, ever so slowly, make their way to the dance floor. Likely laughing about how they don’t move like they used to. They’ll clasp hands and wrap their arms around each other. The sound of everything around you will muffle, but if you listen closely you’ll almost hear the echo of a song that came out seventy years prior as the lights dim and the world around them stops and fades to darkness. As they turn under the only light in the room, you’ll see a shimmer of their younger selves. For a brief moment, you’ll see a glimpse of the time-transcendent union of two people who have devoted their lives to each other.

To watch two people shaking with age, barely able to life their feet off of the ground as they move across the dance floor, the same way did on the day of their own wedding, is truly a sight to behold. That, is something you don’t see everyday.

That, is your end goal.

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2 thoughts on “Planning A Wedding, But Not A Marriage

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