Weddings are a big deal. In our modern culture, couples will put off the ceremony for years to save more money for the perfect dress or for all the bells and whistles. There is an effort to impress, to wow. Brides turn into bridezillas, insisting that the day is all about them.
I think that much of the reason for this is that as marriage has lost significance in our three-year-engagement, shacking-up, our-kids-can-be-flower-girls culture, the ceremony, for many, has become the marriage. Then on Monday it's back to life as they lived it before. (Well, the Monday after the Caribbean vacation dressed up as a honeymoon for the couple who has been playing at marriage for years.)
But not all weddings are like that. Some couples still fall in love, get engaged, and wait until they are joined before God and man to act like they are married. And those weddings seem to me to be especially joy-filled.
We were privileged two years ago today to have one of those weddings. Our daughter met the brother of one of my friends very briefly when he was in town before he deployed to Iraq. They communicated via computer and letter during his deployment. He came and stayed with our family a few times while on leave and after he got back. They went out on a couple of dates in November and December, and he spent Christmas with our family, then she went to Wisconsin to spend Christmas with his.
When he came for a visit for Valentine's Day, he brought a ring, and asked her father's blessing before he proposed. She said yes. And gave me six months to plan a wedding for almost 300 people.
Perhaps because everyone involved--the bride, the groom, her family, his family, the pastor--had the same understanding about what this day was about, there was no drama. This was a day about joining a man and a woman in the union that reflects the union of Christ and his bride the Church. This was a day that was about creating a new family.
And, once the ceremony was over, this was about throwing a party at which our family and friends could have an awesome time without driving her father into penury. And the bride was okay with that. She was looking forward to being married!
So we used a simple rubric to determine where we should spend money and where we should cut corners: Will this expenditure add to the enjoyment of our guests? If the answer was yes, we did it. If the answer was no, with very few exceptions, we didn't. And it was a great party. Certainly not the fanciest: paper plates and plastic cups are far cheaper than renting china and glass. The table decor was containers from thrift stores that were filled with flowers from Sam's Club by the bride and her friends. And lots of friends helped with preparations, allowing us to keep costs under control.
Am I saying that there is anything wrong with china, gorgeous flowers, etc.? Absolutely not! If we could have afforded it, I would have loved to have done things in a more elegant way. But it becomes a problem when couples put off marriage to save up for the show, or when families go into debt for a bash that they can't afford. We've been to lots of weddings over the years of all different levels of simplicity. We've been to receptions that were formal sit-down dinners at a country club and those that were snacks, cake, and punch in a church hall. They've all been lovely, but some stand out in my mind as having been permeated with a joy that comes from the fact that the vast majority of those present understand that something more significant than a legal check mark was happening there.
And today I am happy to celebrate the second anniversary of one of those. Happy anniversary, Bethany and Evan, and wishes for many many more.
Bonus: The other benefit that comes after an awesome wedding. . .