I literally stumbled into the world of wedding planning after college, tripping through the doorway of my interview. Lucky for me, my lack of coordination didn’t stop a friend of a friend who ran an event venue from hiring the recent grad with the curly hair and big smile. That job turned out to be so much more than just a job, and some days I would feel like I joined a sorority, full of the bubbly women who were my coworkers and clients. I guided hundreds of couples, Christian and non-Christian, and I will forever have a tender spot in my heart for those who are recently engaged, full of earnest hugs and wide smiles, ready to show the world their left hand.
Yet we must acknowledge one fact right out of the gate: The wedding industry is not designed to lead us towards God. The wedding industry wants to convince us that our wedding needs to be bigger, better and more expensive. Pricier flowers, fancier cake, brand-name dress. More guests, a high-end, natural light film photographer and of course, a late-night food truck.
Most engaged people and their families give high priority to the standards set out by the wedding industry, but as Christians we need to assess whether those rules are the same ones God wants us to follow in planning our weddings. The wedding rules we find in magazines and on Pinterest are created by a world that idolizes image and perfection, but as people of faith, we don’t want to participate in idolizing those things. We need to find a balanced way to walk in the world of weddings, and not be consumed by it.
We can start by remembering two important truths:
1. Remember that weddings are about marriage.
Do not let your adorning be external- the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:3-4, ESV)
As a Christian wedding planner guiding couples through this season, I would find myself coming constantly back to that passage.
To be in the world but not of it in this beautiful season involves reminding ourselves that our weddings are not about perishable beauty. The flowers will die, our dress will go out of style and the photobooth we spent extra money on will one day be considered tacky. Those things can be fun and delightful, but we don’t have to expect our joy to come from them. In every wedding day a few of the details will go wrong. But for the Christian, that doesn’t need to be a fear or a problem, because we are not putting our hope in how smoothly the day runs. We are focusing on the imperishable, wrapping our wedding in prayer for our marriage more than we are covering it in tulle, preparing our hearts and minds for our union more than we are preparing our bodies for photographs.
The flowers will die, our dress will go out of style and the photobooth we spent extra money on will one day be considered tacky.
Before I offend too many people, let me say that none of the items I claimed above as perishable beauty are in themselves bad. In complete transparency, I did the whole thing myself in my own wedding: Almost two hundred guests, floral centerpieces, the most expensive dress I’ve ever purchased — and I had a blast on my wedding day. It was amazing to have an entire day where everything was exactly what my husband and I had picked out.
But at the end of the day, it wasn’t the number of guests, the centerpieces or the dress that made the day so amazing. The end of the day meant I left with the man I now call my husband before God. The end of the day was the start of a process that is designed to be a picture of the gospel to all who will encounter us, a process that we now spend every day walking in. When we walked out of our reception, we walked into a much grander story, albeit one with less glitter.
A wedding day is about so much more than just the physical decisions being made around us. The wedding day sets up a lifetime together, and to avoid forgetting this, we constantly need to be leaning into the Spirit and asking Him to remind us what the wedding day is about — marriage.
2. Remember that marriage is about Christ.
‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33, ESV)
The key to all of this, of course, comes back to our Lord and Savior. Marriage is about Christ, which means that if we are followers and believers, the wedding should reflect that truth and be about Christ as well. Keep in mind that to make a wedding about Christ means so much more than reading “Love is patient, love is kind” at the ceremony. Everything that we do, every decision that we make in planning can be brought back to Him.
Are we working with our families in a way that glorifies Him? Are we planning with our vendors in a way that displays Him? Are we spending money in a way that honors Him? The answer to those questions looks different for different people. For some, purchasing something extravagant might bring a joy and delight to the event that reflects that of a King giving a gift to His child. To another, spending the same money might be a distraction from the Lord of Lords.
For a Christian, when we make our wedding day about God, the result is a wedding that looks different than those of non-believers. We are supposed to be light in the darkness, and our weddings should stand out as that same light. I have witnessed hundreds of weddings, and it is obvious who is making the day about God and who is making it about themselves. It is obvious not only in their ceremony, but also in the reception, which has a greater presence of the fruits of the spirit woven in, from the “I do” to the dance party.
We are supposed to be light in the darkness, and our weddings should stand out as that same light.
There was one particular couple I remember who took thirty minutes after dinner to personally thank each person on a microphone and tell them why they were thankful for them, in front of all their guests. Another couple hand wrote individual notes on the back of everyone’s place card for dinner, ensuring that everyone who came had an individual message from the bride and groom. I worked with a mostly non-Christian staff, and when couples did things that emphasized love and respect so strongly, they were blown away.
In the end, the people who had the most Christ-centered wedding days were not the ones who spent the most time planning the event, but the ones who spent the most time during engagement preparing for a lifetime that would glorify God together.
So if you’re planning a wedding, remember what is going to be imperishable at the end of the day: your wedding is about marriage, and your marriage is about Christ. For when the glitter is gone, He will remain.