In the last few months, it feels like everyone and their second cousin is getting engaged. Facebook is full of sparkly rings and engagement pictures that complement the colors of fall. You’ve probably lost track of the wedding hashtags that are popping up, right?
It can feel like everyone else is joyful and happy because they’re engaged. Regardless of whether you’re single, married, or somewhere in between, it can be impossible NOT to compare or get distracted by pretty wedding-related things.
The odd thing about this, though, is that we put all of the emphasis on the wedding, and very little on the actual marriage. Logically, this makes zero sense. A wedding is one day, while marriage is (ideally) a lifetime.
I like weddings. Really, I do. It’s great to be reunited with people you don’t typically get to see, and it’s fun to see how couples personalize the ceremony and reception to fit their relationship. My husband and I’s wedding is the nerdiest wedding I’ve ever attended, which I’m proud of.
I also really like when couples break the mold of serving wedding cake, which we personally didn’t do. I’m a big fan of weddings that serve pie or cheesecake, because who wouldn’t be? I’d love it if someone had a dessert-only wedding reception. I would DEFINITELY crash that.
All of this is to say that I really do like weddings, but I hate what the build up to weddings has become.
In the age of Pinterest and Instagram, wedding ideas are more easily accessible, and there’s more pressure than ever to have a picture perfect wedding. We get caught up in details that don’t matter long-term (not that they aren’t fun and pretty) rather than focusing on the commitment involved. Not only that, but we tend to obsess over details like rings, dresses, and venues before it’s even time to do so—it has become commonplace for people to have strong opinions about their wedding when it isn’t even on the horizon. In my opinion, this is really unhealthy and will only lead to comparison, discontentment, and frustration.
I’m reminded of an episode of Friends after Monica and Chandler get married. Before going on their honeymoon, Monica laments that there’s nothing to look forward to now that their wedding is over. How backwards is that? Culturally, we emphasize the wedding day to an extent that there is a let down after it ends–even though the marriage is just beginning! The episode is great, though, because it leads Ross and Chandler on a ridiculous quest to recreate all of the wedding pictures from the disposable cameras they thought were lost.
Anyways, moving on.
The wedding industry has become this ridiculously expensive distraction from preparing for a lifetime with another person. Really, why spend $20,000+ when you could put that money toward school debt (real life) or a future down payment on a house?
The wedding has become the biggest focus, and marriage is the afterthought.
The obsession with weddings also downplays that getting married is in some ways, a sacrifice. Marriage is committing to love another person more than yourself and continually choosing them. You are now mixing your own mess with another person’s. When you get married, you sacrifice your individual desires in the vein of working as a unit.
One piece of advice we were given while engaged was being asked the question, “Do you want to have a spouse, or do you want to be a spouse?” This question is about being willing to give of yourself–is marriage about gaining a husband or wife, or about BEING a husband or wife? It once again illustrates marriage as a sacrifice.
One of my favorite passages about relationships is Colossians 3. One excerpt says:
“Therefore, as God’s people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
There is a lot of goodness in that passage, and it applies to all relationships, including marriage. This is not a casual passage–we are called to compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Super easy, right? Nah.
One of my favorite aspects in this passage is the picture of forgiveness, and specifically the phrase “forgive as the Lord forgave you”. That is a really big task. HUGE. I certainly don’t do this perfectly, and my husband has to forgive me a lot. It’s pretty normal—we both tend towards what we want and our own personal needs, but marriage is a call to sacrifice that and move forward in unity.
I’m thankful for our time being engaged and the many people who emphasized the marriage rather than the wedding day. We had a wonderful couple guiding us through premarital counseling, and great friends who made sure to talk about things other than our wedding. This was so, so helpful.
Additionally, in our premarital counseling, we were given a long list of questions to discuss as an engaged couple that helped us process our expectations and potential conflicts. The questions, along with a few additions, can be found here.
So, if you are engaged, congrats! Remember that this is a brief season of time—so wedding planning shouldn’t take up all of your life until the wedding. Months and years down the road, you’ll value the friendships you continued while you were engaged rather than the table settings you chose. I look back fondly on my wedding, but I don’t remember a lot of the details from the day—and that’s okay. Instead, have fun and focus on making memories in your marriage that will last years down the road.
And, if you’re close with someone who is engaged, help them out: Ask them about their life beyond the wedding. One of the biggest ways we perpetuate the obsession with weddings is that we tend to only ask engaged people about wedding planning, not other areas of their life. Come alongside them to help them prepare for their marriage, not just the wedding day.
So, the next time your timeline shows another four people getting engaged, take a moment to pray for them, and when you see them, ask how they’re doing, instead of what their wedding colors are.
P.S. A few great books that are helpful no matter what type of relationship you’re in are The Five Languages by Gary Chapman and Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. Check them out below!
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