Let’s forget it all and just elope! Big blooming bouquets, 4-tiered cakes, rustic chic DIY decor – it all seemed overwhelmingly unnecessary staring me down on my Pinterest feed.
Ever since I can remember I longed to be a wife. I am blessed to have parents who have shown me what love and commitment look like my whole life. They worked through every trial, every setback, every disagreement and have held onto their marriage of 27 years. I can’t say for certain, but I am fairly confident seeing and receiving their love as a child drove me to want a marriage for myself (sooner than later, as I was ready at the age of three to marry my preschool crush – I’m so glad mom made me wait!). In my teen years, I made a “dream binder” with magazine cutouts and drawings of what my wedding and future home would look like. But later in life there came a point I rejected the importance wedding planning.
It seemed frivolous and irresponsible to spend so much money – on just one day. It seemed superficial and insignificant to spend that much time deciding on little details – who would even notice? It seemed exhausting to think about how to feed and entertain guests – weddings are supposed to be about the bride and groom anyway!
Something was missing: the key to unlocking all of these wedding lies I began to believe as an adult. But it wasn’t until I found myself planning my own wedding with my now-husband that I figured this one little secret out that would change my view of weddings and return to me that joy I had as a little girl – for good.
The one truth I needed to break all of those lies? Weddings aren’t ultimately all about the bride and groom. The true purpose of weddings – and marriage – is to glorify God.
Myth #1: Weddings Are All About Me
It all makes sense now: anything that’s all about me is bound to become superficial at a certain point. It doesn’t matter if it’s the most important day of my life, a wedding day centered around me is bound to disappoint: I’m simply not the one worthy of ultimate worship.
But the reality is, weddings have more than just the earthly value that’s so obvious to most – their eternal value is the glorification of God that happens at a wedding that is designed to do just that. When I started praying over our wedding that first and foremost God be glorified, the important things gained more significance, and the bumps along the way were no big deal at all.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
You see, marriage is sacred because God created it to be a small picture of Christ (the bridegroom) and the Church (the bride). Weddings are special because God is worth worshiping, and marriage is worth celebrating. Marriage is deeply sanctifying – it is not for those who are comfortable where they are and have no desire to become better and grow closer to the Lord, and closer to another human you become one with.
But for a wedding to fully glorify God, there’s someone else your wedding is all about: your guests.
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. (Mark 16:15, ESV)
What better way to start your marriage than to fulfill Jesus’ command recorded in Mark 16:15? Your wedding is a beautiful picture of the gospel, of sacrificial love (foot-washing), and of God’s grace in his wonderful design of marriage. I remember sitting with our Pastor who married us, telling him he had free reign so long as the gospel was preached. “How much Scripture are you wanting to be read?” he asked. My husband’s reply still melts my heart. “We want as much as possible!”
Over and over we prayed that our wedding day would point people to Jesus, that people would hear the good news of the cross, that he would be glorified. It was our first desire of what our wedding day would accomplish, and he was faithful to answer our prayers.
ALSO READ: Why I Ditched the Bouquet Toss
Myth #2: It’s a Waste to Spend All That Money on One Day
I frequently ask Silas what he thought about our wedding (he always comes up with something different, I love how he has such a different perspective than I do). His most recent reply made me laugh out of how unexpected, yet plainly accurate it was. Without missing a beat he simply replied, “We didn’t spend too much, we didn’t spend too little.”
We didn’t spend too little. I have to admit, this is a novel concept for me. I had an original goal budget that I eventually increased when I realized spending as little money as possible (when I actually had a little more to spend) wasn’t nearly as fun as a game as I was trying to make it. I set a tight budget for our wedding and stuck to it. We determined a very small wedding (there was 45 of us total!) would work best for us. We forwent and compromised on some popular wedding choices, and we splurged in areas that were important to us where we could.
One of those splurges was the food. Silas didn’t care too much about our color scheme or the flowers that decorated my hair and were pinned to his suit, but he had a big opinion on what we would serve our guests at our wedding. There is something so profound about sharing a meal with people you love: I see it in my own life and I read about how it was an important aspect of Jesus’ ministry. Having a meal to share with our loved ones, a meal Silas proclaimed “this represents us”, the first meal my new husband prayed over – there is something so significant about it that we didn’t mind putting a little extra money in that category.
We hired a local Kansas City restaurant to create amazingly delicious fusion street tacos that our guests still talk about. Those whose palates were fortunate enough to come to the taste test with Silas and I had the misfortune of painfully waiting two months before tasting them again. (My father-in-law literally told me “Now I really can’t wait for you all to get married so we can have those tacos again!”)
I’m all for encouraging frugality in all aspects of life – including weddings. Living on less than you make is a principle that is not only responsible but a crucial spiritual discipline. But while we don’t need to take loans out to pay for unnecessary extravagances, there shouldn’t be any shame in saving up money during your engagement to celebrate your marriage.
Don’t be apprehensive to spend money on just one day: marriage is something worth celebrating. Don’t feel discouraged if you have a small budget to work with: weddings that focus on God’s glory hold a beauty that surpasses all things money can buy.
Myth #3: Nobody Notices Those Tiny Little Details
While it’s important to be preparing for the marriage during your engagement, the decor, entertainment, and food shouldn’t be undervalued and frivolously thrown together. Take time to plan these out with your future spouse! One friend once told me “I love planning my wedding with my fiancé. It’s the first big decisions we’re making together!” Planning your wedding with your future spouse is the first taste you’ll get at managing your finances together (the wedding budget), hosting a celebration together, and learning how to compromise. The truth is, those little details you choose together add tangible moments that allow you to visit that sacred day in your memory.
The flowers were probably my groom’s least care of all the details. When I was showing him all of the options I had in mind, he took the phone, typed something into the browser, and started telling me all the differences between the seemingly identical nail guns on Google. Point taken. I smiled, knowing this was my free ticket to do as I pleased. Just a few months before our engagement, I saw a brilliant idea while watching my favorite show to watch with my dad – Shark Tank. A woman pitched her business to the group of investors, holding the most beautiful bouquet of homemade flowers I’d ever seen. I knew I wanted them for my own wedding; the day after Silas proposed I placed my order. Eco Flower was perfect for our floral needs. Not only did I have a limited amount of flowers to buy due to not having a wedding party, but I wanted those who did get a corsage or boutonniere to have a forever keepsake from our first day of marriage. To top it all off, I got to make the flower crown I was envisioning beforehand. (And I actually nailed it on my first try!)
My mom is just about the craftiest person I know, but when antiques became trendy again her skills really shone through all her chalk-paint and rustic masterpieces. My mom knew well more than I did how much work goes into planning a wedding, and she offered to help with what she does best: decorating! I’m not even kidding you when I say I showed her a photo of a centerpiece I liked on Pinterest, and the very next day she made one for me to approve that fit our style, from the hand-painted jars to the lavender flowers! The special touch of her crocheted flowers was unique and added just the right touch of vintage romantic to our decor.
Also Read: I Lost My Best Friend’s Wedding Dress
Silas’ esteem on the food was equal to mine for the desserts. I wanted a unique selection of desserts that everyone could enjoy. My groom’s only request was to have a personal tiramisu cake for us to cut, and my new cousin-in-law (totally not sure if that’s a thing, I could just say best friend, but I love the fact that we’re now related!) baked it all from scratch! She also made homemade macaroons that we displayed with my mom’s homemade chocolates and pretzels. We also served an array of baked goods from the local Hy-Vee: mini cupcakes, cookies, baklava, cannolis, mini brownies, and truffles. I thoroughly our guest’s joy when they discovered an unexpected favorite on the menu!
Even the “imperfect” details of the day hold dear memories. The call I received while I was driving away with my groom to take pre-ceremony photos. “Where are the cups for the drinks, Emily?” I almost laughed. “I totally forgot them. I’m so sorry.” My dad saved the day – with red solo cups. My mom was so upset that he didn’t get something more classy for a wedding, but it reminds me of the pure joy I had seeing my groom happier than I’d ever seen him, and the treasure of those moments alone with him and my two amazing photographers who captured all of our joy.