This is based on an article in the Wall Street Journal dated Oct 5, 2014 (sorry cut off the page number). The average, AVERAGE wedding in America costs $29,858. That is more then I made when I started my first job at Chase Commercial Corp. ( one wedding in ten cost between $50,000 and $100,000! This is not a typo) I’m going to say it and I’m sure someone won’t like it, but that’s insane! Turns out that the article would tend to agree. The author Brett Arends quotes research done by Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, two economics professor at Emory University in Atlanta (A Diamond is Forever and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration). Their findings were, at least to the current culture of excess and overkill, that: “We find evidence that marriage duration is inversely associated with spending on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony.” That is, the more you spend on the wedding/engagement, the more likely that you will not stay married.
The authors found that “women whose weddings had cost more than $20,000. ended up getting divorced 60% more often than those whose weddings were cheaper. And men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on their engagement ring got divorced 30% more often than those who spent between $500 and $2,000.” Mr Arends talks about the likelihood of an expensive wedding raising expectations, etc. He also writes about the very real possibility that the couple may feel trapped into the wedding after a lot of money has been spent and maybe now they’re having second thoughts.
The upshot is this: “The evidence suggests that the types of weddings associated with the lower likelihood of divorce are those that are relatively inexpensive but high in attendance,’ write Messrs. Francis and Mialon.” Didn’t see that coming didja? My translation; there is a lot more intimacy, a lot more feeling of being together with a modest cost wedding. You don’t start your married lives already trying to outdo people or impress people, creating problems right from the start. Instead you have a nice group of those you want at the wedding and you treat them nicely, but hey, who’s kidding who and trying to wow everyone? It’s just not the way to start a marriage.
Now I think I have a different perspective on this than most people and for that matter most clergy. I think even clergy have fallen into the trap of conceding the ceremony to other people and really just being a prop. I get it, most important day, want it to be perfect, everybody look at me, yada, yada. Feeding into the immaturity and narcissism that is so prevalent in today’s society. I think we all know a bride that felt the entire event was about her, center stage, look at me, with very little understanding of the fact that there was going to be a marriage after the wedding. The marriage is supposed to last for decades, not months.
I am a Lutheran pastor and I would probably be smitten if George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin came to me and asked me to perform their wedding. Nonetheless, it just is not going to be at their level, at least not for the ceremony. Yea, a couple is going to do what they want for a reception, but in the church I pastor, that ceremony is going to be about them coming before God and understanding that their marriage is all about living a Christian life, in all they do.
Ladies you aren’t going to like this, but a Lutheran wedding is about worship, the pastor is the center of attention, not you. You will get your moment, but the pastor’s responsibility to you and frankly to the rest of the people in attendance is to impress upon all, the seriousness of marriage and the commitment you are making before God. Isn’t that the way it should be, isn’t that the way you want your marriage to start? Versus a big show “it’s all about me”? The wedding ceremony isn’t especially long, but there is no mistaking the emphasis. You have come together before God and these witnesses to make a sacred commitment and take sacred vows. You better take them seriously from the start. It is a reminder of what marriage is about, and yes, between a man and a woman. It is entirely what God’s intention is for marriage, the union between two complementary persons, man and woman, how God created us and how we should live that union together, one flesh.
It is also worship for those attending, many of whom have probably not been in worship since, well let’s be upbeat and say since Easter or Christmas. It is a reminder to them that marriage is sacred, it is important, it’s about all the trials and tribulations of life and marriage. It’s not about giving up the first time things don’t go your way, it’s about living through all those things to God’s glory, not yours. Towards the end of the ceremony I close with this prayer and it is not just for the two who are now married, but for all the married couples in attendance: “O God, our dwelling place in all generations, look with favor upon the homes of our land. Embrace husbands and wives, parents and children, in the arms of Your love and grant that each, in reverence for Christ, fulfill the duties You have given. Bless our homes that they may ever be a shelter for the defenseless, a fortress for the tempted, a resting place for the weary and a foretaste of our eternal home with You; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.” (Lutheran Service Book Agenda p 70, Concordia House Publishing) And then the Lord’s prayer. So ya, this isn’t some Hollywood movie, this is about marriage that is for all the right reasons and things and that’s the way it should be. Sorry to my brother pastors, but if you have a couple whose purpose is something else, just shut it off then. I didn’t go into the ministry to be popular, I am a minister of Jesus Christ and I serve Him and am here to help and serve those that I come in contact with to know Him and His will. Not to be someone’s prop at a Hollywood wedding, so George and Amal, I’d have to respectfully decline if the wedding is anything other than that. The reception, hey, you’re on your own on that. And now I get to start wedding counseling with a couple tonight and that’s is so great and they know the drill. I can’t wait to help them start this exciting adventure to a wonderful life in Jesus and to the glory of God.