The Tragedy Of Planning A Wedding And Neglecting The Marriage

Every year in the United States, there are approximately 2.5 million weddings, and the wedding industry has grown to an empire of 40 billion dollars per year. Brides will spend more money on that one day than they will any other day of their lives.

These are staggering statistics. The wedding day has absolutely eclipsed the actual marriage. People spend more time preparing for the wedding day disturbingly much more than they prepare for the marriage which hopefully will last a life time.

Please do not misunderstand me. I know that planning a wedding takes a ton of work. I know because I watched my wife (then fiancé) plan, prepare and coordinate every single step of our beautiful wedding that occurred a little over six years ago. A properly planned wedding does not necessarily equal neglecting to plan a great marriage.

There are of course various exceptions. But you cannot make a blanket statement and say that a well planned wedding is undeniably a marriage not properly prepared for. There are properly planned and opulent weddings that give birth to a great marriage. There can also be a poorly planned wedding that produces a rotten marriage. I am sure there are countless examples of either side of the spectrum.

Regardless of what you think about how your wedding should be or how your wedding was, we must look at the bible and use principles that are written for us to plan out events that will become a part of us. This is going to be the main thrust of this post.

Yesterday my friend Brandon Vaara updated his Facebook status with the following quote from John Piper. A healthy discussion ensued following the status update.

In the comments section, Brandon listed eleven items for people to consider regarding wedding budgets. I thought he did a great job in being very practical and highly analytical. I asked him if I could share what he wrote here on the blog. He was happy to spread the love. Here is what he said:

Here are some thoughts to consider regarding wedding budgets:

1) Within the Christian church, a lot of the people who are getting married are twenty something’s. Many of these young adults are either in college or are working on paying off credit card and student loan debt. Most of these people either have lived with their parents or are renting a place as they probably do not have good enough credit or monetary resources to buy. In this scenario, it would be very unwise for these young adults to take on more debt or deplete all of their cash on hand in order to have a decadent wedding.

2) If they are not paying for their wedding, then their parents are most likely paying for the wedding. When spending someone else’s money it is always wise to be frugal and responsible and spend a fair amount of time in researching the best prices. A bride can make smart decisions and save money in the department of flowers, dresses, photographer, hair, decorations, etc. If it isn’t your money, don’t spend it like it is! That’s why my boss put me in charge of ordering supplies and other goodies at our company – she knows I will spend wisely.

3) The spiritual aspect of a wedding is far more important than the appearance of the wedding itself. A man and his bride become one and enter into a covenant with God for better or for worse.

4) Save your money (or your parents money) and invest in a home or a college education or both instead.

5) My sister works in the wedding business as a wedding consultant. I do not dispute the facts that the average wedding in many towns of America costs 20k+ I know for a fact that if I told my sister my budget is 10k for everything, that she could put a package together for that price.

6) Russians have a financial advantage from the get go. Americans pay top dollar to hire American caterers who charge $30-$40 a person for food. This food is usually a choice of either steak or chicken with some sort of side dish and veggie. Most people leave American weddings feeling hungry. Russian caterers charge significantly less and you get a big bang for your buck. We saved thousands by hiring a Russian caterer.

7) The same goes for photography. Shop around, hire someone who offers a package for a good price. It will save you thousands.

8) Stretch limos, elaborate escalades, and Mercedes Benz AMG S55 are all cool, but they are unnecessary expenses for a wedding party. Drive your normal car and you will save $1,000.

9) The same people who will drop $1000 on an Escalade do not want to spend a penny on compensating their pastor for devoting his entire Saturday to their wedding. Although your pastor is very joyous for you that you are getting married, he is a person with his own life and financial obligations, and deserves compensation for his time.

10) Glorifying God and pleasing him is far more important than pleasing your friends and family. The bottom line is, does it really matter if your uncle is offended that you hired an American caterer instead of a Russian caterer? Does it really matter that your mother in law is upset that you didn’t spend 1-2k to bring in a band? No, it does not matter and all these people who were offended will forget about it and move on. Keep your mind on God.

11) My last thought – avoid debt at all costs! Do not start your marriage with credit card debts. Store your cash away, as life is hard for young people these days and you will inevitably need some cash for a broken down car, broken hot water heater, tuition costs, etc.

He then shares specifically and transparently about what he has experienced in his life relating to this topic:

1) My wife comes from a poor single parent (widow) home. My wife saved up for our wedding for years tucking money away by not buying expensive clothes and toys. I didn’t have to convince her to be reasonable – she was used to getting by on very little already. Might I add this life experience (poor) helped make her into the classy, kind-hearted, compassionate, and generous woman that she is today. This allowed me to take a passive role in the financial aspect of our wedding planning.
2) I confess, she is the exception that proves the rule to be true. Most women dream of an extravagant wedding and telling your fiancé ‘no’ to her dream wedding is not an easy task.
3) From a pastoral perspective, I would counsel the couple to save their money and not waste it on the wedding. However, this is not an issue (like living together or sleeping together before marriage is) that would cause me to refuse to do a wedding. I would gladly enjoy a week in Hawaii on someone else’s penny in order to do their wedding
4) At the end of my wedding day (which flew by at an astronomical rate of time) we both asked ourselves ‘that was not worth the stress’.
5) Hindsight is always 20/20

I loved what Brandon wrote. He writes very practically, pastorally and transparently. I believe he served/serves the body of Christ well with his insight. For this I thank God and thank him.

I did however have a minor quibble with one of his points. Here is what I said in response to point two from above:

Now it is your turn to respond!

  • Do you think the above comment is true?
  • Is there valid justification to have an over the top wedding?
  • Are couples really getting prepared more for the wedding day rather than for the marriage years?
  • I want to hear from both sides of the spectrum.
  • Whether you are planning on getting married or have been married for a while.
  • Is this a cultural thing intrinsic to the Russian community?
  • What does a distinctly gospel-centered approach look like when planning a wedding?


17 responses to “The Tragedy Of Planning A Wedding And Neglecting The Marriage”

  1. I was reading patiently through the end, patiently waiting to find what you promised: “we must look at the bible and use principles that are written for us to plan out events that will become a part of us. This is going to be the main thrust of this post” – but didn’t find support of your point.
    All I found, was a recollection of one’s wedding day memory and a few very well known budget ideas.
    Im still waiting to hear in depth discussion of true Biblical principles for having a beautiful wedding day. Why stop on just that day – I challenge you to talk about the main characteristics of a godly family and what are the greatest challenges a family faces in our day and age. Let’s go beyond limos and flowers….

    1. Mariya — interesting perspective — I thought Brandon did a great job laying out a gospel-centered foundation for a wedding day — albeit drawing from his own experience but undoubtedly and visibly rooting all of that in Scriptural truths. After all, what he said would not have been made manifest if it were not dripping with Scriptural principles. I did write about what I learned from being married for six years, you can read that post by clicking here. In that post, I go in depth in describing or at least scratching the surface of “the main characteristics of a godly family and what are the greatest challenges a family faces in our day and age” Thank you for the push back though — really excited to learn all I can from all who is willing to interact! 🙂

      1. Bogdan,let me explain why I asked for more Scriptural evidence to back up the “main thrust” of this particular post: as an author (of a book/blog/twitter/etc.), you can not assume that all your readers are perfectly familiar with the Bible. You can not assume that if you write your idea, without stating the Scripture quote, that readers will undoubtedly think of the Bible quote you had in your mind.
        Please, let me know if I am being clear in relating my concern.
        Thank you.
        PS: my children (15 and 13 y. o.) told me that I take things too seriously (after they read the interaction on this blog). May be….

        1. Mariya — I see your point — and I appreciate the feedback — you are right — I cannot simple assume anything — I think with writing, this craft begins to develop over time – so thank you for the grace (: And regarding you being too serious, well, I will let your kids be the final arbiters on that question 🙂 Loving this interaction!

    2. Brandon Vaara Avatar
      Brandon Vaara

      Mariya – Here are some scriptures for you to think about:

      Purchasing decadent dresses, the best flowers flown in from Hawaii, the most talented (and most expensive) photographer, and a ridiculous 50ft long Escalade are not outward manifestations of a Christians contentment.

      “11Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:11-13

      All of creation belongs to God including money. God expects the resources that He gives to us to be used wisely. I would council a young couple that a decadent wedding is a very poor use of resources.

      “8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts.” Haggai 2:8

      Again, the main point of pastor John Pipers post and my subsequent list is that newly married couples have so many financial obligations that it most beneficial to them that they spend their money (or parents money) wisely and avoid wasting it.

      “20 Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling,
      but a foolish man devours it.” Proverbs 21:20

      Racking up credit card debt in order to enjoy a beautiful vacation in Maui or to purchase a brand name wedding dress are both examples of behavior which God prohibits and will undoubtedly have a lasting negative impact on the newlyweds. Studies have shown that finances play a major impact in the lives of newly weds and that many fights revolve around this topic.

      “7 The rich rules over the poor,
      and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” Proverbs 22:7

      Hopefully those scriptural points will solidify where I was coming from and give greater credibility to Bogdan’s blog post.

      God bless,


      1. Brandon, you have fulfilled what I was looking for. Thank you for going directly to the Word in supporting your points (with which I agree 200%).

        1. Mariya — sounds good!

      2. Brandon — wonderful feedback — thank you! As always, right on point!

  2. Great stuff Bogdan, I recently got married and I know my wife managed to do amazing things in terms of saving on the fluff and we were glad to reap the benefits by investing our savings into a 15 day honeymoon. For comparison two of my friends got married this summer and spent more to make their weddings grandiouse, but both only had honeymoons lasting at or under a week long (5days and 7 days).

    1. Yuriy — thanks man — thanks for stopping by and commenting — I really appreciate it! Congratulations on the big day, I am happy for you two! That is really cool — the extended honeymoon must have been great! You know, this concept of saving more for the honeymoon and “saving on the fluff” seems to be a common theme among the discussions that have been spurred on over this post. And I agree with you — spend less on the wedding and more on the honeymoon — if you have to choose between the two. Usually the wedding guests forget about the wedding the minute they leave or the day after — it is a harsh reality but nevertheless the real truth — so why not invest into something that will benefit the both of you — for an extended amount of time — doing this for the glory of God by the grace of God!

  3. We let just hope this post wont put me out of business;-), but again I myself wont ever spend that average of 30k in south calli regardless if I have that money or I dont, there is always a better place to invest it in when it comes to brand new family!

    1. Arina — LOL — I am sure it wont — and I am glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  4. Bravo! 🙂 Great post. YES! THERE ARE RUSSIAN BRIDES that will agree to cut it and instead purchase a home or pay off school loans as suggested! (Or instead have a really long and cool honeymoon somewhere other than typical Hawaii, lol)
    On a more serious note, my friend and I were just talking about how serious of an issue it is that couples are pouring out their time, money and energy into a PERFECT wedding, but seem to put NO thought into what will happen afterwards! 🙁 It seems to be even a RACE of a sort, who gets engaged/married and has it presented more romantic, expensive & perfect! More and more divorces spring up in Russian churches, something unseen before. I think its a very big realistic issue, not just financially. (Sorry for a long comment).

    1. Yuliya hi — your comment is very insightful and much needed — it is not too long — Good observations — I share every concern you mentioned — it is a huge issue — there needs to be (and it is happening) a resurgence of biblical theology and gospel-centered preaching and discipleship that exalts the person and work of Christ in our communities — until we realize that at the foot of Christ’s cross are found all solutions and answers to the complexities we face — there will not be a healing that takes place in our communities, marriages and churches.

      Until the aggressive pursuit of God’s glory eclipses selfish desires of individuals — we will not see restoration — neither on a personal nor on a global level.

  5. […] there have been any new concepts introduced about marriage. I have written a bit about this topic here and here. Most everything that we need to know about how to have a God honoring marriage is already […]

  6. Carmella Avatar

    I loved this article! I, too, was looking for more scripture and biblical backing, however, was still encouraged by the post itself. My engagement is the opposite though. I’m uber frugal and my fiance, if he had his way, would spend every last penny we had…and then some lol. And, while I’m not russian, I bought my flowers as bulbs and am growing them myself, my cousin is doing my hair and make-up (no charge), I’m having my dress made my a MUCH cheaper seller on etsy, and I’ve gone to freecycle and DIY for almost all of my decorations. I am also doing a buffet and have VERY gracious friends making the food for the day. I intend to have the wedding of my dreams on a budget of less that $5k. I live in the Washington DC area. Thanks for the post!

    1. Thank you for the feedback Carmella!

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