Each wedding at our church seems more ostentatious than the last. Brides’ and grooms’ families spend an extraordinary amount of money. How can these displays be reined in and more attention focused on two lives coming together?
Recently, I was driving when a radio commercial for a bridal show played. The most memorable line was uttered by a young female voice, “You will see things you can add to your wedding that you would never have thought of yourself.” A truer confession by the wedding industry never has been spoken. I found the bridal show’s website, and it listed 45 categories of service providers. A bride could choose from bands, dove releases, personal trainers and premarital coaching.
A whole industry has grown up around weddings. And tragically, much of the time, when the word “wedding” is mentioned, the cost of doing business increases. Our older son married this past summer, and I must confess I still am a little tender when the topic turns to wedding costs. So much of the current wedding culture is fed by fantasy weddings staged in movies and magazines. Movie weddings require days to film on sets furnished by multi-million-dollar budgets. Bridal magazines remind young women Celine Dion spent millions of dollars creating her perfect day. These are powerful cultural forces that drive wedding expectations.
In attempting to answer the heart of your question, I would offer that, in a limited way, the church can clearly define wedding policies that will help focus the use of your worship facility and supply a push toward the sacredness of a marriage ceremony. The church’s expectations should carry some weight.
Most importantly, couples need to be reminded that weddings are holy moments in time. They are giving the most precious of gifts, their word. Weddings are about promises.
While I cannot measure its effectiveness, here is something we do in our church from time to time. When a couple in our congregation is celebrating their 55th, 60th or 70th anniversary, I will say, “Tell us about your wedding day.” They will tell a story that begins something like this: “We gathered in my mother’s living room, or under the shade tree or the preacher’s house, or we drove to such-and-such a city. My sister stood with me, and his brother stood with him.” I will push for a few more details, and they usually think of the vows or telling their parents of the event. Much of the time, they reach the same conclusion: “We loved each other then, and we love each other today. And back then, no one had any money to throw away on a wedding like they do today.”
That statement coming from a 90-year-old bride has a much truer ring than it does coming from a groom’s grouchy dad.
Stacy Conner, pastor
First Baptist Church, Muleshoe
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Right or Wrong? is sponsored by the T.B. Maston Chair of Christian Ethics at Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon School of Theology. Send your questions about how to apply your faith to firstname.lastname@example.org.