I’ve been there.
I have been to this point, the point that I believe most brides and grooms reach when they are ready to throw in the towel on all the planning. They can grow cynical of all the hoopla surrounding their big day. They can grow weary of the lists: guest lists, to-do lists, gift thank you note lists, phone call lists, and packing lists. Then there can also be the lists they can’t accomplish but thought they could: ideas for romantic prenuptial dates, prayers together, and quiet audience-free moments with no talk of wedding plans…
At every turn almost it seems as if the world and family are out to get the soon-to-be-wed couple, what with all the expectations, demands, and to-do’s. Everything associated with the day has a cost involved either monetarily, time-wise, and/or relationally.
People’s character is revealed as plans are perused and pursued.
The romance of all the basking in the asking for her hand is but a distant memory as the big day draws near.
Why, it’s enough to make the engaged couple wish they had eloped or at the most, involved their parents and the preacher in a short ceremony followed by petit fours and a hand-ful of tossed bird seed to send them on their way to a life of married bliss.
So, how does a couple in the midst of all this blessed stress come to terms with going ahead with it anyway?
I don’t know. It seems so trite to just say, “Hang in there!” It’s trite because for me, saying that is usually followed by, “So, is everything ready?” Ugh.
While walking recently, I’ve tried to come up with some way of encouraging marrying couples to not poke at the pomp behind the plans. I’ve been thinking about Jesus and the symbolism behind traditions and our Western way of doing weddings.
First, I think Jesus likes weddings. After all, He was attending one when He did His first miracle at His mother’s concern for the hosts running out of wine. He turned water into the best wine served last at this wedding. When He was teaching, as Matthew lays it out in his gospel, He didn’t hesitate to liken the kingdom of heaven to examples of wedding feasts, those invited to weddings who don’t show up and those not formally invited at first but who get invited and dressed by the king for the event (one who refused the outfit got kicked out), and let’s not forget the five attendants who prepared themselves for the groom’s return and the other five who slacked off and missed his return.
Regarding our Western way of weddings, we impose the responsibility on making the home and preparing for the wedding onto the bride’s family most often. Fortunately that seems to be changing into a more balanced sharing of the responsibilities among many families, but even that is not the way weddings were done in Jesus’ day.
Jesus talks about His going away to prepare a place for His bride and then returning to take her home at a time that only His Father knows. That’s what a man did then. He got engaged, returned to his father’s home, prepared a place to bring his bride home to right next to his family, and when the room met his father’s approval, he would leave and bring his bride home for some days of alone time and then all the parties began. While he was preparing a home for his bride, the bride was preparing herself for his return. She did not know when to expect him, but she knew to be ready at a moment’s notice.