Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (Hebrews 13:4, ESV)
When it came to wedding traditions, my husband was much more adamant about keeping them than I was (up until I accepted help from my family and friends, I just wanted to forget all the wedding planning stress and just elope!). However, the more I learned the symbolism behind many traditions, I grew to appreciate them . . . Well, the ones that reflected the gospel, anyway.
The father giving away the bride, just as God gave away Eve.
The bride wears white, just as Christ washes his Bride white.
The bride and groom exchange vows and enters into a covenant relationship, just as the Lord does with his people.
And so on and so forth.
But not all Western culture wedding customs have Christian roots, and although they can be relatively harmless, there are a few traditions that many would appreciate if we forgot them altogether.
Calling All Single Ladies
I could just hear my friend cringing on the other side of the phone. “It’s just so awkward!” she exclaimed. Unlike myself, she had been to (and been in) many weddings. She loved celebrating others’ marriages, but she loathed being pushed on the dance floor, urged to push past other women grabbing for flowers flying through the air so that she could be the lucky one to get married next! “It’s just like calling out my singleness. I’m not mad about it, but it’s just not something I want in the spotlight at every wedding.”
Singleness is definitely one of those hot-button topics that can be very sensitive to people in certain seasons of their life. Maybe they’ve been waiting years for a spouse, maybe they’re going through a very rough breakup . . . maybe they’ve been widowed.
And then we call them out, categorizing them based on their marital status, “come and get it!”
Every person’s story is different, and some people definitely enjoy this game. But I for one know the pain of having to wait for marriage, and it was really difficult to fight back jealous thoughts I had about other friends who tied the knot before me. I wanted what they had with my own person – but God knew what he was doing when he made me wait a little longer. I know this now that he’s strengthened and sanctified me, but I wasn’t truly aware of it while I was struggling through.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with throwing a bouquet at your wedding. In fact, one of the cutest proposal ideas I’ve seen involves a bride getting ready to toss her flowers, but instead turns around and hands them to her best friend, right as her boyfriend gets down on one knee! (And that’s totally something I would’ve wanted to do if I had the chance to!) Another adorable idea was passed around on social media of a bride breaking apart her bouquet and giving one flower to each single girl and praying for their purity with them.
Honoring a Faithful Marriage
At our own wedding, I did give away a bouquet – but a different demographic of guests was up for the grabs. Instead of calling out my single family and friends who were attending, I decided to call out the couple who had been married the longest.
I made a little impromptu speech right before we all got street tacos, about how Silas and I believe marriage is something worth honoring – and faithful marriages deserve to be recognized. I announced that my grandparents have been married 54 years, and their eyes welled up with tears. “Their faithfulness to each other has been so inspiring and is something that will encourage me in my own marriage.” My sweet little grandma looked at me in disbelief, I really get to keep this bouquet? My grandpa bawled. Thanks a lot for making me cry!
Ditching the bouquet toss gave me the opportunity to have one of the most sentimental moments at our wedding. I loved calling out a marriage that has told the world “this works!” and has fought through tough times, and loved well during joyful times. When things break, we have a tendency in our culture to throw it away instead of fixing it – but my grandparents have been a testimony of how unconditional love can last a lifetime.
As a future bride, you’ll have to determine what will work best for your wedding, whether that’s ditching traditions you deem corny, awkward, or insulting – or taking into account your guests’ needs and providing encouragement in a special way. Maybe calling out the longest marriage in the room would leave someone on your guest list feeling down and upset, and perhaps the single relationship status doesn’t sting for your friends. Whatever it is that you decide, I can guarantee that if you put a little thought into how your guests will react, the traditions you keep or make will be much more meaningful.