I recently shared this with an engaged couple that was considering not having a wedding ceremony because of the trouble and difficulty that planning and carrying out such an event always brings. I haven't attempted to document this - I have simply shared my heart as a one-time groom, as a husband, as a father of several adult married children (with 9 more "unmarrieds" to go!), and as a pastor (who has performed enough weddings to learn). I will add to this with an additional post in the near future, with more thoughts that have come to my mind since I wrote this. ~ CT (picture is of my parents' wedding)
I do believe that a ceremony before other believers is a very good idea.
- Since God ordained marriage, it is a God-thing, not just a man-thing.
- A marriage ceremony is intended to affirm Christian beliefs as two come together. The couple is publicly affirming their belief in God's creation of, purpose for, and design in marriage. (The ceremony may also serve to teach those that are unaware of these truths.)
- A marriage ceremony is a public declaration of the covenant of marriage before others. The couple is surrounded by those that witness their vows, and therefore can attest to and hold the couple accountable for their vows.
- A marriage ceremony often (usually?) precipitates preparations of heart and mind through required counseling. Trust me - You know less about marriage than you think you do. (I would say that to anyone.) You need to talk through Biblical teachings (that you may be fully aware of) and get common agreement and understanding before entering into marriage. I would suggest (and if I had the power, require) all engaged couples to have pre-marital counseling with a seasoned couple (i.e. married for many years) before entering into marriage. I could not in good conscience perform a marriage ceremony for a couple that has not done so. I'm not sure what pastor would do so.
- A marriage ceremony allows an initial bonding with extended family. Though brief, it does allow for the couple to meet the family/extended family of the spouse.
- It blesses the parents to experience the wedding of their child. It is a formality, but a nice one.
- It is something (usually) that a young lady dreams about growing up.
- It is a tradition affirmed by history of the church to encourage (often require) couples to present themselves before God's people to be joined together.
- It lets others rejoice in the union.
- A ceremony of some type is required by Iowa law.
With that said, there is no particular mandate about the size or elaborateness of the ceremony.
- I encourage spending less on the wedding, and more on the honeymoon. Simple is good. (We practiced this by having our men wear dark suits, and I just bought them matching ties. Sounds dumb, but it worked for us.)
- Inviting many or few is fine. I would recommend at least including close family (see #6 above).
- I would encourage the groom to let this be the bride's day (see #7 above). It may not mean as much to us as men, but it does mean more to the gals. It's not just an event, but a key transition. Make it a special day for her.