Seven Myths About Getting to the Altar

A reality check on the expectations of engagement.

Kyle got down on one knee, and I told him to get up. He couldn’t possibly be proposing. It was neither the time nor the place I had planned for my perfect proposal. The poor guy insisted that this wasn’t a joke and that he was, indeed, asking me to marry him. It took a few moments, but I eventually believed him. Oh, and then I said yes.

That was my first clue that being engaged was going to be complicated. And not just because we’d have to make tough decisions—like choosing between double chocolate and butternut cream cake—but because being engaged is unlike any other life stage. It comes with unique stresses and unique challenges. And unique opportunities to grow closer to God.
But first, we have to get past the myths that can creep in and distract us from reality. We have to stop thinking like Hollywood script writers.

Are you believing myths about engagement? Here’s how to confront and overcome them.

Myth #1: My wedding day is the most important day of my life.

Well, it is an important day—you’re pledging to share a bathroom with someone for the next six decades or so—but it’s not the most important day. If your life’s crowning achievement is getting a wedding band, then the road up ahead will be pretty anticlimactic. If you think about it, your wedding day isn't even as important as the day you commited your life to Christ. After that, you’re a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) and every day becomes an important adventure filled with purpose. Yes, getting married is one of those important adventures, but it won’t be the last.

Perfection is unattainable, and the more you expect and strive for it, the more your wedding day will be filled with stress and anxiety.

Myth #2: Every detail must be perfect.

Spoiler alert: Things will go wrong at your wedding. The caterer will serve gouda instead of brie or some kooky relative will wipe out during “Love Shack.” Perfection is unattainable, and the more you expect and strive for it, the more your wedding day will be filled with stress and anxiety. Philippians 4:6 says to “not be anxious about anything,” and that includes your wedding. At the end of your wedding day, the only detail that really matters is that you and your new husband or wife said, “I do” to each other. Besides, mishaps really will be the stories you remember and tell for decades (like when Aunt Mildred does the Worm.)

Myth #3: The bachelor/bachelorette party is a free pass.

Movies like The Hangover perpetuate the myth that our “last night being single” is also your last chance at having any kind of adventure in your life. It’s tempting to assume there won’t be consequences for certain decisions—it’s all in the name of an American rite of passage, right? But the reality is that you’re still accountable for your actions, and your fiancé deserves to know about every one of them. There’s nothing wrong with cutting (a little) loose—I’ll freely admit to riding a mechanical bull at my bachelorette party—but your actions should still honor and respect your fiancé. Nobody wants their wedding day to take place under the cloud of a guilty conscience.

Myth #4: I have to lose weight.

I had no problem with my body until a co-worker took one look at my pasta lunch and asked, “So, when are you starting your wedding diet?” That’s when I started believing I had to lose weight. Slimming down for the big day is a common goal, but keep in mind that your fiancé pledged to marry you just the way you are—not 15 pounds lighter or with flatter abs. In Song of Songs, the woman is insecure with her appearance, saying, “Do not stare at me because I am dark, because I am darkened by the sun” (Song of Songs 1:6). Her groom-to-be reassures her, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you” (Song of Songs 4:7). Accept the blessing that your fiancé already thinks you’re hot stuff— belly and all.

Myth #5: We have to work out all our quirks before getting married.

Every couple has issues. Sometimes it’s baggage from past relationships. Sometimes it’s poor communication. Premarital counseling is a healthy tool to acknowledge and sift through these issues, but they won’t just—POOF!—be resolved. And that’s okay. Getting married isn’t the end of a journey; it’s the beginning. Learning to love and forgive is a continuous process. It’s an everyday choice to be patient, kind and enduring (1 Corinthians 13:4,7) with your true love’s quirks. If your relationship was perfect from the get-go, you wouldn’t have any room to grow stronger together.

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Though you can’t please everyone (and you shouldn’t try), being gracious and generous with your wedding day is will help set the tone for the rest of your marriage.

Myth #6: It’s our day. No one else matters.

Yeah, it’s your wedding, but your parents, grandparents, pastors and friends helped to make you the lovable person you are today. Yes, it’s annoying when they expect stake in your wedding—like your parents inviting 50 of their closest friends whom you’ve never met—but it’s gracious and generous to consider their requests. Though you can’t please everyone (and you shouldn’t try), being gracious and generous with your wedding day is will help set the tone for the rest of your marriage.

Myth #7: Planning a wedding would be easier if we had a bigger budget.

You know what Biggie says: Mo money mo problems. And Paul agrees: “Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10). Money is often a sticky subject while planning a wedding, but the solution is not to have more. The more there is, the easier it is to become slaves to stuff, craving prettier and more expensive things. The answer is to be content and grateful for every cent, remembering that the pretty things of your wedding are fleeting and will have no impact in the greater scheme of your marriage.



Preacherjt commented…

I'm sorry, I read that everyone wants "steak" in your wedding in myth #6. Maybe I was just hungry at the time.

Renee Fisher


Renee Fisher commented…

I love Myth #4 because that is something I struggled to believe before I got married. I didn't drop the 15 pounds until almost a year after we got married. Good stuff, thanks for sharing.



Becky commented…

Great timing on this article for me, since I'm about 7 1/2 months away from getting married--this is a great reminder about what my perspective should be on this. Especially #5, since that has been one of my biggest fears about going into marriage. Thanks for writing this.


Anonymous commented…

Love this article. Reminds me of conversations I have with
my daughter. I always lament that we have things backwards in our culture. We
try real hard when we date and then relax when married. We shouldnt try as
hard in dating. Thats the time we should be screening, using reality as a
filter. When married, the work begins. Its good stuff when honed well.

And as far as things being perfect Ive gone to many
weddings, planned one and sang at a bunch. No wedding is perfect. In fact, the
best part of remembering is recounting all the bloopers. Just yesterday I
listed all the things that went wrong at my wedding to my daughter. She gasped
at a few and we laughed hysterically at the others. Great memories!!!


oceanspray commented…

We were married 5 months ago. My parents lived in another state until exactly one month before the wedding. I bought a dress that initially I thought was going to need to be taken in. I ended up having to do an intense 3 week diet/exercise plan to fit into it at the end. We were conservative on our guest list because we didn't want it to spiral out of control, so we ended up under inviting people and had extra invitations left over. There were miscommunications, wrong shoes ordered, so on and so forth. I chose not to have my future sisters in law in my wedding party and that caused some tension (to be fair, my groom chose not to have my brother). Parents caring more about some aspects than I did caused some tension.

BUT, I look back at that day and I look at the people who were with me and I wouldn't have changed a thing. We had a Christ-honoring wedding that incorporated things that my husband and I had each wanted to be in our wedding. He wanted to wash my feet, I wanted to walk in to a meaningful hymn or song (I ended up with In Christ Alone, an instrumental version that I found three weeks prior to the wedding). I let the florist have somewhat free reign with the flowers with a few stipulations. But most of all, I walked down the aisle excited to begin a new chapter in my life with my husband, the partner that God chose, made for me and brought to me.

Your wedding day isn't the end. And it's not just YOUR day. It's a day for people to celebrate what God has done.

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