Wedding Planning: How Much is Too Much?

The epidemic of extravagant weddings is seeping into our culture in an unmistakable way. Turn on the TV at any given time and you will find a plethora of shows centered on the concept of achieving the so-called perfect wedding. As if “Bridezillas” weren’t enough, I recently read an article about a celebrity “Groomzilla” who is looking at spending an estimated $9 Million on his upcoming wedding. Yes, this disease is even beginning to infect men.

The wedding planning process includes finding the perfect dress, landing the perfect reception hall, making sure you’ve got the right flowers, food, cake, music, wedding party, DJ, photographer, centerpieces, invitations, ceremony, rings, shoes and more. I’m starting to panic a little just thinking about all these decisions—and my wedding was six years ago!

Don’t allow the pressure of creating the “perfect wedding” to keep you from focusing on what really matters.

There is no doubt that a wedding day is a huge deal. It’s a time of celebration, fellowship, and worship that reflects the sacred union between a man and a woman. It is a beautiful reflection of Christ and His people displayed through the act of covenant and commitment between a groom and his bride.

But although it is a day worthy of celebration, is there a possibility our society has taken it too far? Is there a chance that in the middle of our preparations and planning, we’ve lost sight of the purpose? No matter how big or small your wedding may be, it’s important to examine your motives behind this big day. Here are three questions to reflect upon during your wedding planning and preparation:

Where is my focus?

When it comes to wedding planning, there is a tendency to focus on the minor details while neglecting the main point. I encounter so many couples who are more focused on preparing for their 12 hour wedding than they are on preparing for the lifelong commitment of marriage.

As you look toward preparing for your wedding, don’t get bogged down by details. Far beyond planning the particulars of a wedding day, the time of engagement is a really sacred time. It’s a chance to get to the bottom of who you are and reflect on the person you want to become. It’s an opportunity to connect with and continue getting to know the heart of the precious partner God has placed in your life. It’s a time to begin working, preparing and planning for the marriage you hope to build.

So yes, it’s okay to get excited about your dress, shoes and flowers but not at the neglect of this marriage you are seeking to build. Invest in the building blocks of marriage. Take the time to find a couple to mentor you, a few great marriage books to read and premarital counseling to engage in so you can keep your focus where it really belongs. Do yourself a favor and plan more than a wedding day—plan to build a marriage.

Who am I trying to impress?

I have to admit: I felt some unnecessary pressure while planning my wedding. The kind of pressure I’m talking about didn’t come from all the choices we were making regarding the wedding day, but from my desire to please and impress. I think part of me wrongly believed that somehow, this wedding day was a reflection of my relationship with my husband-to-be. This mentality has done so much harm in the lives of young couples, putting so much weight on trying to impress people who ultimately have no role in your marriage.

Do yourself a favor and plan more than a wedding day—plan to build a marriage.

It’s important to be aware of the lie that deceives us into believing our value comes from anything less than our relationship with Jesus. The size of your wedding, the number in your wedding party or the extravagance of your big day has no reflection on you as an individual or as a couple. Your wedding should never be used to define you as a couple. Rather, you should allow who you are as a couple to be what defines and determines your wedding.

Some of the most beautiful and memorable weddings I have attended had little to do with the design of the program, the color of the bridesmaid dresses or the size of the cake, but everything to do with the fact that the focal point of the wedding was where it belonged—on two individuals choosing to love in each other in a way that reflects the heart of Jesus. Choose that as the theme of your wedding, and you will never go wrong.

What kind of steward am I being?

When it comes down to it, this is a question we need to be asking long before the wedding bells ring. God asks us to be faithful with the money He’s given us and to use it in a way that honors Him. While I would never tell a person how much money they should be spending on a house, a car or a wedding, what I will say is there are some guiding principles that should always lead the way in determining how much money we should be spending. Christians are called to see their money as an instrument by which they honor God—wedding day included.

Here are some things to ask yourself as you manage your wedding day dollars: Have I set aside a portion of this money to give back to God? Am I staying out of debt with these purchases? Have I considered those who are poor and in need? Does this fit within the scope of my budget? Is this purchase causing me to subtract from a more important need (future housing, cost of living, education, etc.)? At the end of the day, there is so much more to a wedding day than simply spending lots of money, because dollars don’t add up to dream weddings. Seek to be responsible with how you spend your money on your wedding day, because these choices play a role in determining your financial perspective as a married couple.

The season before marriage is a rich and joyous time in a couple’s life. Don’t allow the pressure of creating the “perfect wedding” to keep you from focusing on what really matters. Plan your wedding, but most importantly, plan your marriage. Rather than trying to create the most extravagant display, allow the canvas of your wedding day to be a work of art that reflects who you are as a couple. But most importantly, use it to reflect the creative work of our God—a God who brings two people together into the messy, beautiful, miraculous, lifelong covenant called marriage. Now that’s something worth celebrating.

13 Comments

Janna Cardenas

1

Janna Cardenas commented…

Thank you! I needed to read this article today! It's helped me to re-focus on what's important as I'm planning my wedding.

Jeremy Legg

7

Jeremy Legg commented…

I think one reason why the world is desperate to have lavish or spectacular parties at their weddings is because they have already passed the main event that marriage is actually about. By entering a sexual relationship and living together, they have essentially opened their presents before Christmas Day and are now looking for some way of making the wedding significant.
As Christians, we should be a witness in this world by demonstrating that we have different values: celebrating the joining of two people in lifelong union, and by coming to marriage in a state of righteousness and holiness.

lh

7

lh commented…

For better or worse it's become the norm for engaged couples to stress and become frantic weeks and months prior to the wedding. It's true most couples focus on the wedding, that's not to say they don't focus on their marriage. They may not focus on it the way we (pastors) would like for them too. I appreciate Steve Cornell's comment about helping couples maintain and grow to thrive in their marriage. Sometimes we can place an overemphasis on premarital when we need to really help couples after they are married. It's hard for engaged couples to think through all the things they should - they're on cloud 9!

Secondly, there's something to be said about celebration, feasting, and enjoying this moment with a bang with cherished friends and family. After all, the Scriptures all full of lavish and glorious parties, feasts, and celebrations. We will one day have the most lavish wedding and feast set before us.

Maybe it's okay for some lavish celebration and planning, even if it causes some stress. I'm not in favor of aligning ourselves with the secularized glorification of it all because yes, we can lose sight of it to have a show for others. But there is a healthy version. And I'd like to see more emphasis on helping newly married couples, not just workshops, but where it's normal to have post-wedding counseling - 6 months in, a year in.

Laura Bianca

1

Laura Bianca commented…

Thank you for this article. I'm getting married in August, and this helps keep me grounded in the process!

I think that the biggest issue with the commercialization of weddings is that the emphasis gets placed on the wedding being the "bride's special day". It's not all about me, and it's not even all about us as the bride and groom. Ultimately, two are becoming one and two families are joining together under God.

I'd like to think that me and my fiance have done our best to be frugal and keep our budget low. While we are planning a travel themed wedding filled with lots of little details, those little details have helped bring family and friends together. For instance, we are making the flowers and the favors, which has taken a community effort. Fiance (who is a graphic designer) and I designed original invitations to match the theme, but it was fun collaborating together in the process.

That said, we have kept the focus on Him during this process. As part of getting married at our church, we were paired with another couple, and we meet with them for several sessions and do workbook activities from "How to Save Your Marriage Before it Starts" by Les and Leslie Parrott. This has been so beneficial to be able to talk about topics before marriage that are so important. Fiance and I now pray together more, too. We've had a lot of ups and downs (medical and job issues on both ends) and have to rely on Him during the downs and continue to praise Him during the ups.

Stefan Stackhouse

58

Stefan Stackhouse commented…

We kept it simple, and I am so glad we did. Partially it was by necessity - we were just starting out and didn't have much money, and my wife's parents were not in a position to contribute much at all, including money. Also, our values were more into simple and frugal living rather than trying to impress anyone with a show. We had the wedding in the church my wife had grown up in, and the reception next door in the parish hall. She made her own dress. We spent a little on flowers, cake, and photos, but because she knew people she was able to get a pretty good price on all of these. Overall, we kept it under $1000. That was a few decades ago, if we had to do a do-over it might be a couple thousand today. That is still a far cry from the tens of thousands that many people end up spending. We've been married for over three decades now, and not doing a big lavish production did us not one bit of harm. In fact, for a long time we have had a running joke about the duration of other people's marriages being inversely proportional to the amount of money spent on the wedding. We've known quite a few people who did put on big, expensive productions but whose marriages did not last. Getting off to a bad start, perhaps? For most married couples, money is going to be tight for at least the first few years, and in this new economy that might quite possibly be the case for all their lives. Maybe starting right out on a frugal note might be a better way to start.

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