The Tragedy Of Planning A Wedding And Neglecting The Marriage

December 26, 2011
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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?

Bogdan Kipko

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Founder & Pastor of Forward Church In Irvine, CA & host of the Fuel For Life Podcast which is listened to in 50 states & 118 countries. Join the FFL nation!