When Nathan proposed I was 26 years old and 4 years late on the timeline projected for my life. Like all good little GRITS (Girls Raised In The South) I was supposed to be engaged 2 months post college graduation and happily settled into marital bliss 10 months later. Heck, I should have been birthin' babies by 26! When Nathan finally put the ring on the finger elation soared. And so did the wedding planning.
In our culture preparing for a wedding is a full time job. The amount of time spent registering, planning, shopping and photo shooting is some astronomical number that my brain isn't large enough to compute. I cast no stones. My own wedding was beautiful and required loads of preparation.
But the temptation during engagement is to put all our eggs in one basket: The Perfect Wedding Day. And who can blame the modern bride? Everything from magazines to full blown reality shows brainwash us into believing that that day should be nothing short of a fairy tale. The perfect dress. The perfect flowers. The perfect setting. Guests should leave thinking that was the Pinterest wedding of the year!
Don't get me wrong. To some extent the celebration should reflect the significance of the event. Marriage is a big deal. Designing the ceremony to reflect the weightiness of that divine union is appropriate. Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding.
There is a problem, however, when we focus on the Day to the neglect of the Institution. If hours are spent walking venues and trying on dresses and tasting cakes but zero energy is given to focusing on the actual marriage, we're centered on the wrong thing. A perfect wedding becomes the idol. I call it Wedding Worship.
So what's a God fearing girl to do? Throw away the Bride magazines and planning checklist? Skip the big wedding and elope to the courthouse? I don't think running to extremes is the answer. But a little balance and a few gentle reminders might be.
Here are five ways to keep perspective as you prepare for your big day:
1) Set up premarital counseling. Many couples are suspicious of premarital counseling because they assume the pastor/counselor is going to evaluate whether they should be getting married. Not true. Premarital counseling is designed to help you prepare for marriage, not talk you out of it. Nathan and I were both working on our masters in counseling when we got engaged. But by far the most helpful thing we've ever done for our marriage was attend premarital counseling. It will be worth the time and any cost involved.
2) Restrain the crazy. Yes, it's frustrating when you can't find the exact earrings you envisioned to go with your dress. Aggravating when bridesmaids don't show for a fitting. Irritating when the seamstress can't get it done by the date you want. Downright maddening when people don't GET how big of a deal this is. Honey baby, keep in mind that your wedding is not what most people's lives are revolving around. And that's as it should be. The more you go all Bridezilla on people, the more you perpetuate the idea that the wedding is the all in all, and that others should be bowing to it too. You only succeed at causing resentment and turning others away from you. Take deep breaths. Move on. And let it go. If the wedding is making you crazy (and mean), it's likely taken an unhealthy turn and it's time to put it in it's place.
3) Consider Christ. As you plan the wedding day (and your life after) make sure Christ is at the center. Filter every decision through how it reflects on Him. If He has taken a backseat during the busy engagement, carve out some time to spend with Him alone. Remember that He is your first love, not a wedding. Without intimacy with Him, there will be no peace and joy in your heart no matter how elaborate that day is.
4) Give and take. Most women have dreamed about the wedding and setting up house since we played baby dolls and Barbies. Once the ring is on the finger we can be tempted to leave our husbands-to-be out of the planning process entirely. We assume we are the ones who care about towels and duvets and tuxes and ceremony logistics. I was surprised to find that Nate had thoughts on those things. And when I relinquished enough control to consider them, his ideas actually enriched the planning. He had great thoughts on making the ceremony Christ centered. And even though we didn't go with his choice on the comforter (a hideous University of Kentucky thing), I'm glad I listened to him on the mattress decision. King size all the way, baby.
5) Remember that disaster lurks. No matter how you much you plan and prepare and seek to spoil-proof your wedding, something WILL go wrong. But, you get to decide the effect it has on you. If the perfect wedding has become your idol, you will likely whine and wig out and make everyone around you miserable. But if you've put that false god in it's place, you'll have the grace to make peace with the imperfect and walk down that aisle with joy regardless. I pray your day goes smoothly with nary a cloud in the sky, but if a tornado hits your wedding the way it did mine, may God make it well with your soul, too.
Darling Bride-to-be, choose a beautiful dress. Have gorgeous flowers. Plan a stunning setting. But above all of that, get married with grace. Lead your guests to marvel at the sweet spirit of Christ as He makes two become one.