There are some girls (more power to them) who spend their whole child- and young adult-hoods secretly planning their weddings. I was never one of them. This wasn’t because I was doing anything particularly noteworthy with my time; it was only because I was a ridiculous hypochondriac convinced I was going to die by the age of 20. While most girls were (I suppose) day-dreaming over wedding dresses and cake, I was figuring out what songs I wanted to be sung at my funeral. (And let me tell you, it was a beauty of a ceremony.)
But life is weird and I didn’t tragically die in my teens. In fact, I lived for a good many more years (a comfort to all who might be reading this, I’m sure) and eventually even met a man who fancied spending the rest of his life with me.
At first, wedding planning was really fun. Because of my OCD, I usually work very hard to keep my inner Type A (let’s call her Tonya) locked deep away, lest she escape and wreak havoc on my life. But just this once, I let her free, and she was happily up to her elbows in all the details that even she could possibly want. I had opted out of hiring a wedding planner for cost reasons, but with pinterest and Tonya on my side, I was confident that I could still have a nice and pretty wedding celebration.
And, with the wedding very quickly approaching, I’m still confident that it will be reasonably nice and pretty. Note the qualifier. Because what I (much too) slowly realized is that real life and pinterest are two very different things. Inspired by models in gorgeous dresses and blogs with picture-perfect details, I had formed this idealistic mental image of what my wedding should look like. Reading advice on-line didn’t help, and only added a barrage of critiquing voices in my head. “Oh, you have to do this.” “Oh, you’re only doing that?” “But this [exorbitantly expensive way] is just the way it’s done.”
Here’s the thing, though. “The way it’s done” is a ridiculous way. The average wedding cost in the US (which I just derived from a rigorously academic google search) is $26,444. That’s more than most of the world makes in a year. I get that it’s an important day not only for the couple, but also for the community of which they are a part. I get that for Christians, marriage is a thing of profound theological significance. And I get that photographs last forever (well, until they disintegrate or the cloud goes down.) But… is it really justifiable to spend that much on one day? Especially when there are other people – in our own cities! – struggling to put food on their table?
“Yes!” Tonya adamantly exclaims. The whole wedding industry chimes in their agreement, and reminds me that time is running out to buy my ring bearer’s mother’s aunt’s dog a personalized gift.
Realistically, however, my fiancé and I are financing our own wedding. Our budget is tiny. And honestly, I’m not unhappy with anything I’ve bought so far. I have a pretty wedding dress and a nice cake and a good plan for decorations. But, now and then, discontent still comes creeping in… what if I could have bought a fancier dress? What if I sprang for renting prettier chairs rather than making do with the slightly ugly ones that the church provides? Are people secretly judging me for using an RSVP website rather than sending out cards perfectly coordinated with my invitations?
Really, I guess what it comes down to – as much as I would love to blame pinterest for filling my imagination with unattainable images of perfection – is my heart. Jesus warns us to be on our guard against all kinds of greed (Luke 12:15). The primary problem with greed, I think, is that it’s a grand lie: it promises that as long as we have this thing, and that thing, and, oh, that thing over there, then our lives are going to be great and wonderful. But as Jesus continues, “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (NIV). Yeah, it would be great to have a perfectly pretty wedding, worthy of any pinterest board or wedding website. But will having a beautiful wedding make me a better wife? Will it make people like me more? Will it really boost my self worth the way greed promises it will? Will having a beautiful wedding bring life?
No, maybe (but only the wrong sorts of people), no, and no. So, if you’re coming to my wedding: sorry for the ugly chairs. Sorry if it’s a bit plain at times, and sorry that I didn’t spend two days addressing all my invitations in fancy calligraphy, or pay someone else to do so. But, if you’re coming to my wedding… I hope you leave encouraged by the grace of God in our lives, filled with happiness after spending time with all the other amazing people in attendance, and reminded that at the end of the day, love and relationship (of all kinds) are really what it’s all about. ❤