I am at wedding central. My lovely niece Sarah marries the love of her life on Saturday, so the army of helping hands has been called in. I arrive at the house to buckets of flowers and the smell of a florist shop. There are Rubbermaid tubs stacked all around, with labels like “cake table,” “bride’s room”, and “reception” on them. The counter is covered with a maze of Post-it-note lists. In moments, we have created a cookie-bag-stuffing assembly line, and in short order conversation fills the air of hope and the future. There is just something uplifting about the new beginnings that weddings bring. Checking things off each different list continues. Table layouts are next up with each one discussed and packed, in even more labeled boxes.
The main event of this day begins slowly at first, but with the arrival of the grandmas, grandpas, and aunt, floral arrangements begin to multiply like rabbits. Starting as buckets full of flowers, each stem is carefully chosen, cut, and placed with loving care into an arrangement. Three generations of family are humming around like bees in a hive. As we work, three generations of wedding stories are told.
The bride, who is wise beyond her years, states, “I think I will appreciate and enjoy these flowers more since I helped make them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t care as much because someone else would have just brought them in and set them up.”
A discussion follows of how weddings used to be events which involved family and friends all coming together to help the couple get a good start. There is much laughter and picture taking as the table fills up with each new floral creation. An atmosphere of love and warmth, permeates the room. Everyone has a job and in no time, all of them are complete. Boxes are loaded into a plethora of cars going to a plethora of places, and whisked away to await the big day. I am taken by the ease with which it all comes together. The old proverb that ‘many hands make light work’ is proven true on this day, but it should also say many hands make ‘fun’ work, as well.
Preparation for a wedding has gone to a whole new level since my day. It has become a billion-dollar industry that leaves pockets empty as it promises a fairy tale ending. The wedding itself is seen as the goal, without much thought to the marriage. It is refreshing to see my niece and her fiancé have not taken the bait of “the bigger the better,” but have opted for simple elegance. So many of these events are over the top, which leaves couples in debt and wondering what to do once the wedding is over. It starts things off in an unhealthy way from the beginning, because the focus is in the wrong place. The alternative is to cohabitate rather than to marry. It is cheaper and more practical, and not nearly as permanent. I totally understand why many couples are choosing that route, because after all, ‘it is just a piece of paper.’ Weddings are not thought of as sacred much these days. They are more of a cultural tradition, or a requirement to get a legal status.
Call me old fashioned, but there is something about a wedding that is more than just a ceremony. It is the joining of hearts with love and commitment; taking vows before friends, family, and God. It is a sacred act, and the foundation of relationship. It is a joyful occasion worth celebrating. The birth of hope, which then grows into trust, which results in being fully known just as you are. You can’t get that with just a piece of paper, or with a venue full of flowers. It requires a supernatural intervention that comes when invited, and stays long after the I-dos are said. The wedding is the beginning of an adventure, not the end.
I don’t think it is trivial that the gospel is compared to a wedding. The bride of Christ is pursued, chosen, and invited into the mystery of supernatural love. She is adored by her groom. She does not need the perfect venue or flowers. She doesn’t need a cathedral. She rests in the simplicity of his love for her. She gazes into his eyes and she has no doubt that she will be loved forever. He assures her of that by his sacrifice. He is unwavering. He is steadfast. All that is required is the union. The scared vows. The commitment to trust. The love to be received. There is a wedding feast scheduled. It is the beginning of a great adventure. It is the fullness of joy.
Our weddings are but mirrors of the spiritual truth. It is why we come together as family to create floral arrangements. It is why we fly across the country to attend weddings in the first place. We make the trip to bear witness to the union. To see hope born. We are drawn to it, because we long for it. This joining of souls is a sacred act of love on which relationship and belonging are built. The preparations are meaningful and fun, because they set the stage for deep love to be on display. The intertwining of two lives becoming one can only be accomplished with supernatural joining the two strand cord and making it three. The preparation is complete. The waiting time is here. Tomorrow is the day for love to be made known.
Happy Wedding Day Sarah and Ryan!