Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My wedding tips for engaged couples

Here are my hints and tips for engaged couples about weddings. These points are only advisory. I have based them on my years of experience in officiating at weddings.
  • A wedding service is a worship service which includes your wedding. Because your wedding is taking place inside our church’s sanctuary, sanctified to the worship of God, please keep in mind that music, decorations, vows, dress and everything else needs to evoke a worshipful spirit. This doesn’t mean the service need be dull! But it does mean that it must be respectful of the context and place at which it takes place.
  • Less is more; simplicity is a virtue. Keep decorations and flowers simple, especially candles. By the time the wedding day arrives, a high level of the fatigue factor has set in. Often, fancy or elaborate  wedding settings that seemed so wonderful when envisioned three months earlier become burdensome by the wedding day.
  • Take at least some photos first. More and more wedding couples are having the wedding photography completed before the wedding rather than after. There are a number reasons this idea is a good one:
> The bride’s and her attendants’ makeup is fresh and hasn’t been cried on yet. Same for the mothers of the bride and groom. 
> Couples often find that the end of the ceremony finds them emotionally drained. This is no state to be in to pose for good photos. 
>The quality of the photographs is almost always much higher. Photos taken after the service are inevitably more rushed compared to those before. 
>The guests won't cool their heels waiting for the bride and groom to arrive. When guests must wait, it is a very awkward time for them. You will always keep them waiting longer than you planned for – usually much longer. Increasingly, guests these days believe that keeping them waiting like that is simply rude. Personally, I think they are correct. 
>But it is your call!
  • Play or have sung your “special song” at the reception rather than the service. Many couples want the service to include someone singing or a CD-playing of their special song. Most of the time, there’s no problem with the song itself being included in the service, but there is no natural place in the order of the service to insert a musical interlude. The song becomes a disjunction in a carefully assembled worship service. Also, remember that “your song” really is not meaningful to anyone but, well, you. The guests will not “get it.” That doesn’t mean you mustn’t play it (it’s your wedding, not theirs!), but my experience is that the bride and groom actually become uncomfortable about halfway through the music as they realize the song doesn’t really fit the service. However, if you really do want a special song included, I am agreeable to it as long as the song is suitable for a worship service.
  • Select your music carefully. Video recording weddings is common these days, so you may be listening to your music for decades to come. Pop music, contemporary religious and most current gospel music won’t age gracefully. Classical religious music by Bach, Mozart and others has been played at weddings for centuries and will be played for centuries to come. If you use their music you will never cringe when you hear your wedding, and you will never wonder why you wanted their music played.
  • Select your wedding apparel carefully. Certain styles and colors have endured for decades. Bridesmaids’ gowns with simple lines and classic design never lose their appeal. Cutaway tuxedos in gray and black for men have been worn since the 1700s. If you wear this kind of clothing, your grandchildren won’t think you look funny when you show them your pictures – and more importantly, neither will you.
  • About alcohol. While it surely goes without saying that alcohol may not be brought onto the church’s premises, the wedding party, especially the bride and groom, should avoid it altogether the night before. Sobriety is mandatory during the wedding service! Believe it or not, a wedding conducted when either the bride or groom is still under the influence of alcohol or "hung over" from the night before is not a legal wedding! Why? A wedding is not only a spiritual union but also a legal contract between bride and groom. Valid legal contracts require consent and vows freely given and received, which civil case law has historically said is nullified by influence of alcohol. I have never had to refuse to officiate a wedding for this reason, so please do not be the first! As for attendants, their condition does not affect the legality of the wedding, but it sure makes for a bad ceremony if they are not in prime condition for the sanctity of the wedding.

  • “Top Ten” Rules for Weddings 

    1. This is your marriage, but it is not only your wedding. The wedding service should be the way you want it to be, within the bounds of Christian worship, our church’s tradition, our denomination’s guidelines and the dictates of good taste. Expectations of family and friends are not necessarily the most important ones. Remember that a wedding service at our church is primarily a worship service where two people get married.

    2. The only things necessary for a wedding in Tennessee are a bride, a groom, a license, someone authorized to perform the service and one witness. Anything else (dresses, flowers, etc.) is really ornamental and not essential for a beautiful and moving wedding ceremony.

    3. Relationships are more important than ceremonies. A wedding lasts 20 minutes. A marriage lasts a lifetime. My primary concern is with your relationship with each other under God. Hence, if all you really want is someone to lead the vows and sign the license, I am probably not your guy. That would be much more appropriate role for a civil official.

    4. A Christian wedding is supposed to transform two individuals, not merely into a couple, but into a church. A Christian wedding service is done under the grace of Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all of life, including the households of married couples. Christian commitment cannot be realized without a mutual commitment to holiness of life.

    5. Couples must worship together to maintain a mutual spiritual foundation. Participating in the life and work of a church makes marriage stronger. Attendance at worship is necessary for the vitality of a relationship both before and after a wedding. Couples who wait until they have children to become active in a church wind up with “kiddie” religion.

    6. Weddings should be fun. If you are not enjoying the process of planning your wedding, you are doing something wrong. If you and your spouse-to-be are frequently disputing about the wedding, then there is almost certainly a problem in your relationship!

    7. Something may go wrong at your wedding. Something usually does. Don’t let it bother you. You’ll still get married. It will give you something to talk about for years.

    8. Many couples miss their own wedding. The swirl of emotion and excitement tends to obscure a couple’s ability to enjoy the wedding. Take great care to work on calm centering before the ceremony so that you may enjoy it fully.

    9. Everyone gets the jitters. But feelings of dread, regret, remorse, or depression may indicate a deeper problem. Call me and we’ll talk about it.

    10. Alcohol and weddings don’t mix. See above!