Are weddings all about the bride?

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AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
Hey all,

My sweetheart and I are scheduled to be wed on May 11, but I've become a little frustrated lately with the concept that the wedding is "all about the bride" and that my role is basically to facilitate what she wants, not to have much input myself. This isn't a complaint about Rebekah though, it is a complaint about some of the people counseling her regarding it. You see, my thoughts are marked by my upbringing which taught me that a wedding is a celebration wherein the Lord is the most honored and cherished treasure and we, the couple to be wed, make covenants of fidelity and love knowing that we are an image of the relationship of Christ and His bride, and we make these public vows in the presence of our family and friends so that we can share our blessed union with those dear to us. Thus, imprinted in my heart and mind is the thought, "THOSE things are most important, and decor and setting are secondary."

My frustration then is in the fact that several Christian people counseling Rebekah have told me and her that the wedding is about her and that my role is to meet her desires, rather than what I think is a more balanced approach of us working through details together and me trying to be as flexible as possible to suit her desires, though we have a small budget to work with and I can't guarantee that every jot and tittle can be conformed to. In response to me saying, "We have a small budget to work with but I'm trying to do my best to suit her desires," we were told that maybe we just need to put the wedding off for several months and save so that we have more money to get exactly what she wants. My response was basically this: :duh: .

Am I off base here? Obviously all of the details can't be explained on the inter-webs, but is the wedding really all about the bride? My best guess is that this is the result of wedding marketing over the decades, but I would really like to work through details together and plan our wedding as a team, knowing that even if all the small things aren't perfectly realized, our joy is in the big picture, the large details, of our Lord, our covenant, and our loved ones.
 

TexanRose

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think that traditionally, the bride and her family host the wedding, plan it, and pay for it. Traditionally, no, you would not be equally involved in the planning process, though of course a loving bride would consult her husband on details that concern him directly. But if you're helping pay for it, you're already parting with tradition, soooo...I guess it's between you and your bride to figure out who's running things. :)
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
Take your thoughts from Scripture not society and culture and tradition.

The wedding in Scripture is a week long event, in our culture it is a one day event. Note that time period is very short compared to the complete marriage. It is but the start of marriage not the marriage itself. Couples can have a very cheap wedding, my wife and I did. It was grand, but I believe it honored Christ and that's what is important. You have to work at it, but it can be done. Do you want to go into debt for the start of your marriage? One of the greatest trials of a marriage deals with finances (don't let it be your marriage). It seems like you have your head on straight and the answer to whether you should start out in debt for your marriage would be no. Putting off the marriage should not be an option either. Passions will continue to rise, especially if you are engaged. Temptations will come up if marriage does not happen soon.

The best way to go about this is the following, based upon Scripture (willing to interact on this):

1) Sit down with her Father and the bride to be (Rebekah) forget about what everyone else says and focus on what God says.
2) State what you are dealing with and your thoughts as you've put them forth here, including your concerns about finances (going into debt) and putting off the wedding (temptation, etc.). Your love for his daughter and the longing for her well-being and to start out marriage on the right foot.
3) Biblically speaking, I would also bring to the table a humble spirit before her father and seek out with him what principles from Scripture do we have concerning the focus on the Bride and/or Groom. I would say, in one sense, the picture must be of Christ and the Church.

The focus then must be to give glory to Christ. The wedding is as much about the bride as it is the groom, but I would say focus actually of the wedding should be instruction to the groom, from the Father of bride or his designee (elder). Why? Because the Groom is taking the place of the parents of the bride, he will now be head of the bride. Just some thoughts, plenty more we could have from Scripture.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
Sharon, would you happen to know about when this "traditional" form of wedding planning started? Those are some details I've been looking for but have thus been unable to find. In any case, I'm paying for the wedding.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
The best way to go about this is the following, based upon Scripture (willing to interact on this):

1) Sit down with her Father and the bride to be (Rebekah) forget about what everyone else says and focus on what God says.
2) State what you are dealing with and your thoughts as you've put them forth here, including your concerns about finances (going into debt) and putting off the wedding (temptation, etc.). Your love for his daughter and the longing for her well-being and to start out marriage on the right foot.
3) Biblically speaking, I would also bring to the table a humble spirit before her father and seek out with him what principles from Scripture do we have concerning the focus on the Bride and/or Groom. I would say, in one sense, the picture must be of Christ and the Church.

The focus then must be to give glory to Christ. The wedding is as much about the bride as it is the groom, but I would say focus actually of the wedding should be instruction to the groom, from the Father of bride or his designee (elder). Why? Because the Groom is taking the place of the parents of the bride, he will now be head of the bride. Just some thoughts, plenty more we could have from Scripture.
Her father is an unbeliever and cares very little for her, and he also lives 800 miles away. Thus far we have been trying to plan the wedding with the help of my mom and sister, and we are doing our premarital counseling with one of our elders. I really resonate with what you are saying here, but Rebekah seems to be convinced by some other people in her life that have counseled her in the way I mention in the OP. I'm trying to convince her otherwise, but to no avail. Thank you for your input.
 

TexanRose

Puritan Board Sophomore
Sharon, would you happen to know about when this "traditional" form of wedding planning started? Those are some details I've been looking for but have thus been unable to find. In any case, I'm paying for the wedding.
Hi Andrew, I don't know much about the history of wedding planning. I do remember reading about it in an Emily Post book of etiquette from the 1950s. The book seemed to assume that it was the woman's role to worry about things like food selections, linens, and so on. And it was the woman's family that paid for the wedding because the wedding would presumably be paid for prior to the wedding day, and it was a woman's family that was responsible for her expenses up until the moment she became a married woman. It was considered inappropriate for a man to give any financial support to a woman who was not yet his wife.

Of course, it's also my understanding that wedding receptions were often held in the wife's parents' home, so presumably were much smaller (and less expensive) affairs.

The "traditional" way of doing things obviously only works if the bride's parents are both willing and financially able to plan and pay for a wedding. If not, you kind of have to wing it, I guess. :)
 

Frosty

Puritan Board Sophomore
The first thing I have to say is that everyone already knows that the bride is the star of the show. I don't know that it really has to be built-in to the day in the way you describe. Even having the God-centered, Christ-honoring wedding that you desire still provides for her being the star. I can see why your situation would be a bit frustrating (especially when you, like me, appear to be paying for all or a good bit of it). I was blessed in that the little lady wanted my input and to have that God-centered day you mention. She knew we had a budget, and respected that. It was still just what she wanted and certainly Christ-centered.

As far as planning goes, I didn't plan or do anything with the exception of the church service, of which I had a lot of sway in some areas. I think that's typical.

I think an important thing to determine (and not asking you to share) is who is giving her this counsel. That would weigh greatly on how it is to be received. For example, is this from an elder, or some older married Christian ladies at church who really aren't that close to the situation? I think you got some bad advice, if it went as you presented it in the middle paragraph. That seems to be something for the two of you to sort out. Might be a nice unplanned marriage prep activity!

Also though, keep in mind that you can have a Christ-honoring wedding and still get the decor and whatever other bells and whistles she wants.

Sorry for rambling. 12 hour workday does that to me sometimes.
 

Miss Marple

Puritan Board Junior
He who writes the checks, writes the rules.

That said accommodate whatever is special if you can. Girls, unlike boys (correct me if I am wrong, gentlemen) grow up dreaming of their wedding day. Socially, it is pretty much the highlight of our lives. We look back on it often when times get hard, to get the strength to continue. So do consider her (and just her) opinions as much as possible.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
We live in a culture of 100,000 dollar weddings and 3 year marriages....

Me and Teresa found that our wedding and having/raising kids were two areas where people (without being asked) freely wanted us to hear all of their opinions about what we should be doing (this has resurfaced a bit now that we are considering adoption as well).

But...since you asked for opinions....here is mine:

Teresa was content with something simple and we actually made money on our wedding, which we used to go on a really cool honeymoon in Cozumel. I would rather spend several thousand on scuba and hotel for two weeks than on a 3-tiered cake anytime! I was notoriously frugal until I had children.

One of the reasons I married Teresa so fast without a lot of waiting was because she did not try to exert her will overly much about the wedding or the price of the rings, etc. only desiring that our marriage be before the church and that the Gospel be proclaimed during the wedding so that our families could hear. We purposely chose very cheapskate wedding bands.

You stated,
I really resonate with what you are saying here, but Rebekah seems to be convinced by some other people in her life that have counseled her in the way I mention in the OP. I'm trying to convince her otherwise, but to no avail.
If you are trying to convince her...but to no avail...this might be a red flag to consider.

This could get very problematic if, after you are married, there are many other voices vying for influence over our married lives besides yours. You might want to get rid of those counselors or find a way to shut them up or consider what post-marriage life will be like if the influence of these outside counselors remain this important to her.

Not to bring your spirits down, but until the day of your wedding, you should be seriously considering whether you can spend the rest of your life with your spousal-candidate.

For several divorced men I have talked to, the first inklings of trouble later on was when their future wife exhibited an unbending spirit over her wedding day and maintained an attitude of "it WILL be this way."

Call me a Neanderthal but any influence upon my wife that challenges my influence must go. I don't want a 50-50 marriage or decision-making by a committee of me plus wife plus friends and relatives; I want a wife that is my help-mate and follows me.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
Our culture has built up the idea of the bride's perfect wedding day to the point where it's easy for a woman to feel that if the day isn't exactly what she imagined, her life is ruined. That's a shame, but you do need to be understanding of this. She's probably under much pressure, with others telling her what to do and telling her what she wants. She needs you to be different from the others and to really listen to her, not add to the pressure by telling her what you want.

If you're paying for the wedding, I think you need to sit down with her, show her the budget, and ask her what's most important to her within the budget available. Don't tell her what you'd like. Ask her what she'd like (within the parameters of the available money). Really listen to her and agree to whatever she wants. Let it be her day... not because it has to be that way, but because you understand the pressures and expectations thrust upon her and you care and you love her. Then when others tell either of you what they think she ought to have for her wedding, you can nicely but firmly tell them you've talked it over with your bride and are following her wishes. It's good practice for when you're married and these same people will still be trying to run her life, and you'll have to be firm.

Delaying the wedding is, of course, a bad idea. If your bride brings it up, you can look her in the eyes and explain to her that there's nothing in this world you want more than to marry her as soon as possible.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
Are weddings all about the bride?
They are usually about the bride's mother.


we were told that maybe we just need to put the wedding off for several months and save so that we have more money to get exactly what she wants.
Perhaps the wedding should be postponed; not until you can gather enough money for a bigger party for her friends, but until she is more mature about money and what marriage entails. An alternative solution would be to invite her 'advisers' to contribute $500 each toward the festivities.

My wife and I paid for our wedding. She realized that it was our money, not someone else's money, that was being spent. Saving for a house was more important than music at the reception.

Edit:

Or just read Pergy's post. He said it better.
 

JoannaV

Puritan Board Sophomore
People have given you a variety of good advice. In general the wedding day is very important to the bride in our culture. Unfortunately I can't help you much because I'm one of those weird exceptions; it was my husband who dreamt of weddings and spent more on his wedding clothing than me :B (I wrote the service though lol.) (And my mother wasn't even at the wedding, Edward!)
Will be praying for you and Rebekah!
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I'm saddened by the responses here on the Puritanboard that the wedding is all about the bride. In fact if you look throughout Scripture the weddings are mostly about the groom. What will you choose: God's Word or man's word?

Thank you for more information to go on, I'm saddened that her father is an unbeliever. My wife and I went through that too. But an elder is a good one to sit down with and talk through.

Great suggestion by Jack above, about saying, "Here's the budget." You can't spend over that. I'd do this with the elder there, and he should concur with you in being a good steward of what God has provided. Again, don't go into debt to have a 1 day party. Stick to your guns, but be gentle and kind.

Ps. 45:

My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
[SUP]2 [/SUP]You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.

[SUP]3 [/SUP]Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One,
In Your splendor and Your majesty!
[SUP]4 [/SUP]And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
[SUP]5 [/SUP]Your arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under You;
Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.

[SUP]6 [/SUP]Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
[SUP]7 [/SUP]You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
[SUP]8 [/SUP]All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
[SUP]9 [/SUP]Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.

[SUP]10 [/SUP]Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear:
Forget your people and your father’s house;
[SUP]11 [/SUP]Then the King will desire your beauty.
Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him.
[SUP]12 [/SUP]The daughter of Tyre will come with a gift;
The rich among the people will seek your favor.

[SUP]13 [/SUP]The King’s daughter is all glorious within;
Her clothing is interwoven with gold.
[SUP]14 [/SUP]She will be led to the King in embroidered work;
The virgins, her companions who follow her,
Will be brought to You.
[SUP]15 [/SUP]They will be led forth with gladness and rejoicing;
They will enter into the King’s palace.

[SUP]16 [/SUP]In place of your fathers will be your sons;
You shall make them princes in all the earth.
[SUP]17 [/SUP]I will cause Your name to be remembered in all generations;
Therefore the peoples will give You thanks forever and ever.
 

Caroline

Puritan Board Sophomore
I think what is getting lost here is that the first rule of married life is never ever EVER ever EVER drag marital disputes into public--especially not in a situation wherein your wife is not there to tell her side. This really is a question for premarital counseling, not for internet forums. Unless this is something Rebekah agreed to having posted, I think you should have kept it to yourself.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
I think what is getting lost here is that the first rule of married life is never ever EVER ever EVER drag marital disputes into public--especially not in a situation wherein your wife is not there to tell her side. This really is a question for premarital counseling, not for internet forums. Unless this is something Rebekah agreed to having posted, I think you should have kept it to yourself.
She knows. It's not an issue. :) I wanted further input from Christians and she was fine with me looking for it here, especially since most of y'all are more objective outsiders to our situation.
 

Caroline

Puritan Board Sophomore
That makes me feel a little better, but still... internet forum? Premarital counseling, dude.
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
That makes me feel a little better, but still... internet forum? Premarital counseling, dude.
I don't think this is something that must only be talked about behind closed doors; after all, the issue I have is with the counsel of well-meaning friends, not Rebekah. In fact, today as I talked to her about this thread and various opinions on the matter, she explained how the input was helpful and then expressed a much more balanced view on the matter than our counselors/friends did. So sure, some things here are "personal", but it is respectful and has in view questions that are broad and about weddings in general.
 

Dearly Bought

Puritan Board Junior
(This is Summer, Bryan's wife, by the way...)

I completely agree with T.E. Barnes' statements regarding the biblical focus of the marriage ceremony and would add the following.

Our culture has warped the minds of both sexes when it comes to weddings. Women (in general) feel as though their wedding day is solely about her and the man's devotion for her. Many men believe the same and, as the groom, that they should be out of the spot light. The groom assumes this role much too willingly. Husbands know that they are entering into a covenant with their wife before God. Does it not follow that they have equal claim to center stage? The bride isn't at the front alone!

The now normal view of weddings to be a large and expensive affair is a relatively new development for non-noble (and non-Catholic) couples. Accumulating unnecessary debt before marriage may bring additional strain to the usual adjustment period of first living (and sharing everything) with another person. Our situation was like yours in that my father is an unbeliever and my family is poor. For our wedding, Bryan and I budgeted very little money and planned nearly everything together. From my hand beaded simple gown, to Bryan's suit, wedding party gifts, flowers and decorations, wedding cupcakes, ginger ale, and wedding favors, our total cost was just under $1,000. Friends who were also musicians gave gifts of live music instead of something off our registry. The photography professor at our college took the photos and gave us all rights. Perhaps a wedding is easier for you and your bride to plan on your own when your budget is minuscule as no one else has much room for additional suggestions.

Because this is a very important event, I would encourage you to speak with your future wife soon and come up with a plan to gently dissuade friends and family from any unwanted interference. For those that you both trust with tasks, delegate exactly what you would like them to do and set them to it - don't do everything alone.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Snowflake
Andrew -

No one has ever accused the PB of being a bastion of romanticism. Concerning your wedding... don't be an idiot. Tread carefully lest you prove to be penny wise and pound foolish.

I have a couple comments to note before I give you practical advice.

1. Marriage is an ordinance of God for mankind, not the church. The church participates in marriage because it is composed of people who are part of mankind. The church does not have a monopoly on marriage. Of course, because of biblical revelation the church is in a place to have a deeper and fuller understanding and appreciation of marriage. But that does not negate the fact that marriage is for humanity. And that is a good thing too! This is why we can call society to recognize marriage properly. But because marriage is a cultural institution, cultural forms of expression are proper and acceptable. The Bible is NOT - I repeat NOT - a manual for how to acquire a spouse nor is it prescriptive for what a wedding should look like. Different cultures have different ideas. So it isn't inappropriate that a person have a culturally conditioned idea of what a wedding should be like because, frankly, that's all any of us can have.
2. Every wedding in the Bible (that I can think of) is a big deal. That's because marriage is a big deal. We forget that the pomp of a ceremony conveys a sense of the gravity of the event. (Whether that be an ordination service, a graduation ceremony, a presidential inauguration, the coronation of a king... or a wedding.)

That said - the wedding is the time for the bride to shine. Even in biblical weddings the language speaks of the radiant beauty of the bride being presented to the husband, the emphasis is on the radiant beauty of the bride because she is giving herself to her husband as a gift and so she looks the part. The wedding ceremony focuses on her because she's the one who's being transferred from one (her family of origin) to another (you). Typically - yes, typically - the man couldn't care less about the ceremony. Let's skimp on the ceremony so we can spend more money having fun! Her silly scruples about the ceremony being wonderful are just an unnecessary drain! When a man puts it like this, as often as not the woman will go along... for the time. But don't let her words kid you: you are dashing her dreams. Many are the men who went this route who find that their wife eventually views this as the first in a long line of examples of him not caring about her feelings. If you love her, when it comes to the wedding day I say give her as much as you can.

I realize that some in our culture go to ridiculous lengths, and we all operate with a different idea of what is ridiculous. IF your bride-to-be is a "bridezilla" then I really and sincerely think that should be a flashing warning sign of what her personality will be when she is not getting what she thinks she should be getting. But I doubt you've got a "bridezilla" on your hands. I'm guessing it is a classic case of a young woman who grew up dreaming of her wedding day - the one day where she gets to sparkle and shine and look beautiful and have frills - and her beau who thinks that all that stuff is a silly waste of resources.

I happily admit that I've counseled people to wait until they have the money to marry. If she would really like a nice wedding, and if you are paying for it, it is better to wait a few months than to go into debt.

In short, to sum this up: You can win the battle of the pocketbook now and end up doing longterm damage. You can easily run roughshod over her feelings and set the precedent that what she wants is silly and what you want goes regardless.

I say take the counsel of Rehoboam's old counselors - give her what you can and you will win her affections forever. (The fact that she knows money is tight and that you are doing all that you can to balance things enhances the awesomeness of your benevolence.)

But what do I know...

Hey, you might find tomorrow's blog post beneficial. Stay tuned.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
(And my mother wasn't even at the wedding, Edward!)
My inlaws weren't, either. We saved the top tier off of the cake, froze it, and then had it when they were able to come over for a visit a few months later (after watching the video).
 

PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
Andrew, first off let me say Congratulations brother. You have my sincere prayers. May God richly untangle any knots that will frustrate and tie any cords that remain lose when they shouldn't be. It is a hard and wonderful life. But nothing compares to doing it with God. Everything, though hard, is better when done with the King. Even when it is attached to sinful people who fail.

Be Very Encouraged,
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I have some warning bells going off, and here's why: the person officiating in your wedding will not be able to wave a magic wand and have you suddenly able to exercise leadership (and love!) in your house and your wife able to treat you with respect. These aspects should be growing along with your relationship, now. You need to be able to operate as a couple in making decisions and seeking with all your hearts to glorify God in all that you do.

Note that I'm not saying that a big wedding is necessarily a bad thing. I was terribly concerned about having a big to-do about me at our wedding, and potentially missed the beautiful picture that can be presented in a Christian wedding -- one that will be fully manifested at the end of this age. But we do need to resist the message from the wedding industry that the more you spend, the happier you'll be.
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
No one has ever accused the PB of being a bastion of romanticism.
HEY! I resemble that remark! :lol:

Andrew, as a probable participant, Lord willing, in a PB-derived wedding, I can say that this is an example to a certain young man whom I hold in very high esteem as to how NOT to go about seeking marital advice. There's lots of great counselors on PB, to be sure, but there is also no lack of curmudgeons (myself as an example) and the like that may make comments that your bride could find hurtful and demoralizing. I would recommend that private messages to those more qualified to give direction may be a better route to take. And of course, your Elders should be a primary source.

There's been talk of red flags, and as one who is presently viewing such matters from a different perspective than your own, the red flags I would see would be in regards to a man's qualifications of temperament in seeking my daughter's hand. Not huge, but certainly bothersome. I would prefer to see even her failings, much less cultural idiosyncrasies, jealously guarded rather than aired on a web forum, even one so fine as this. I guess I'd place it in the category of protection. But remember, this is just the opinion of a mere layman whose only Offices of import are those of husband and father. A grain of salt is certainly called for in hearing it.

My only counsel would be to love your future wife as Christ loves the Church. I really don't know how that plays out in this current situation. May the Lord richly bless this wedding and marriage. Congratulations to you both!
 

dog8food

Puritan Board Freshman
Just sayin' if my wife was more concerned about the ceremony than our marriage, I would've had huge question marks go up in my mind. We had a simple (under $700) wedding on a beach. I planned it all. Some people wanted more, but my wife and I just wanted each other. We got what we wanted.
 
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