I think everyone should be married before their wedding day.
Weird thing to say? Probably. Still, there’s something incredibly freeing about knowing that everything doesn’t hinge on stuff going well on a wedding day.
How do I know?
I got married on November 25, 1988. Our wedding wasn’t until almost three months (and a broken jaw) later. So, when everything imploded the night before the wedding, I realized… wait. This isn’t going to make sense without backstory.
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My Crazy Wedding Day Idea… and How It Worked for Me
Okay… here’s the deal. I was eighteen when I got married. Young, stupid, and I’d been to exactly two weddings in my whole life. Two.
One was my brother’s very informal wedding at a hotel with about fifty people there. I stood up by his bride with the other two bridesmaids and just smiled. What else does a token bridesmaid do? I danced afterward. Done. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
The other came a year later. I don’t remember anything but the bride’s super-cool 1920’s inspired dress. That’s it. While I’m pretty sure I went to a reception, I only remember the bit where we sneaked away to go play pranks on their townhome. We short-sheeted the bed, Saran-wrapped the toilet bowl, peeled all the labels off the cans in the pantry.
So, when it came time for my wedding, I knew nothing about how that worked. I bought a dress, ordered invitations and flowers, bought food, and ordered a cake. Done. Right?
Some in the wedding party—okay, really it was just one gal—weren’t impressed with my plans. When the constant nagging for more decisions on things that I really didn’t care about (so what if the tables don’t have centerpieces! They just block your view of the person you’re trying to talk to!), I suggested she take her misbehaving and over-tired children back to the house we were staying at. We’d handle the rest.
Things got… ugly. I don’t remember what she said, but I distinctly remember thinking, “Walk away. Don’t engage. Don’t respond. This isn’t worth it.”
So, I told everyone that I was walking to where my husband (not fiancé, husband) was and took off down the road. It was about a mile walk.
Kevin passed me about halfway, but he didn’t see me, and the story he received when he got to the church freaked him out. Apparently, I’d “stormed off into the desert” and they had “no idea where” I could possibly be.
I got to the house where he’d taken the groomsmen to stay and talked with their hostess. She’d been a bit of a mentor during my high school years, and I knew she’d straighten me out if I was out of line for being frustrated by the nonsense. Assured that I wasn’t nuts, she drove me back and prayed for me all the way there.
Seriously, I’ve got good people in my life. Always have. God is so good to me.
The moment I stepped out of the car, this gal started in on me. I was ready to walk again, but Mrs. H. took care of it. Gotta love that woman. I remember saying to Kevin, “If your parents, brother, and the Cochrans hadn’t driven all the way from Iowa, I’d say let’s leave now and forget the whole thing.”
See… we could have done that. Because we were already married.
You know, even after Mrs. H. went to deal with the stressed-out woman, it all started up again later. And once again, all I could think of was, “I just want this over. I want out of here.”
Is it just me, or should weddings not be that stress-filled and frustrating?
Don’t get me wrong. I have zero doubt that my inexperience with weddings and total cluelessness as to what “needed” to be done stressed out my “friend.”
But seriously… “all the things” had become more important to her than the people those “things” were supposed to bless. By the time that wedding was over and we were back from our honeymoon, there was nothing left of that “friendship.” I loved and cared about a sister in Christ, of course. And I didn’t care to spend time with her again.
Weddings shouldn’t divide people. I mean, isn’t the whole point of a wedding to unite?
A few years later, a friend of mine met the love of her life.
Taking a page from our story, she and her feller went off to Las Vegas and got married months (and possibly over a year) before setting an actual wedding date. Almost no one knew. Certainly not her parents. They weren’t exactly thrilled with the man she chose.
Funny story… sort of. Her father wept the night before her wedding, begging her not to marry him. She couldn’t exactly say, “Well… you see…” And considering they all lived together for a while, I kind of think her father came around to the idea, no?”
They’ve been married for almost thirty years now.
So yeah… there are some serious advantages to getting married before your wedding.
Sunday is another milestone in our family.
#3daughter’s reception in Corona del Mar. So far, my kids have gotten married in order of birth. We’ll see how long that lasts, but I find it interesting, anyway. Another marriage. Another reception. I don’t even think they’re doing an actual “wedding” in the traditional sense, although I’ve heard conflicting stories on that.
What I do know is that she had the same idea that I’ve come to respect over the years. She’s investing her time and money in a celebration rather than a show.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with having a traditional, lavish wedding. I don’t want to pretend there is. Weddings are often full of beautiful imagery and meaningful traditions. And, sometimes they’re just things people do because it’s what everyone expects.
That is what I object to. And #3daughter seems to, too.
What matters is the commitment. The oneness. I couldn’t care less if a bride has a fabulous gown, ten bridesmaids or flower girls… or none! Is she marrying the man the Lord wants for her? Is the groom committing to her for life? As long as those answers are yes… “decorating the doorway,” as Douglas Wilson puts it, is just a lovely thing to do if it means something to you. Otherwise… who cares?
Meanwhile, I pray that the Lord will guide my daughter and her new husband wherever He wants them to go. I pray that they live a life of service to Him. Furthermore, I pray that they know we’re always here for them—to love and support them wherever we can.
Of course, I pray that for all of my children.
For thirty years or so, we couldn’t remember our anniversaries if we tried. We kind of have no excuse anymore.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, weddings, and #3daughter, I’ve set Speak Now to FREE. It starts on Valentine’s Day and ends on our anniversary. Fitting, no?
Especially when you consider that it’s the only one of my books to have a wedding dress on the cover (so far) and #3daughter took the picture. She also hates what I did with it. I blew that thing out so much. Her original photo was gorgeous, but I wanted it the way I did it. She may forgive me someday.