If you're planning a wedding and wish you could sit down with a wise newlywed couple and ask their advice, this is the post for you. Today's post is the first in a series of Real Wedding features.
I first heard about George and Becky through one of their pastors, Deepak Reju, who officiated their wedding at their home church, Capitol Hill Baptist in Washington, D.C. They graciously agreed to answer a questionnaire for book research for my mom and me, and gave some great insight into their gospel-focused wedding plans.
Then several weeks ago my friend Sarah of Ampersand Photography featured George and Becky's wedding on her blog. So worlds collided and we now have some beautiful images to go along with a gorgeous, Christ-centered wedding. I could probably do three or four posts on this wedding, but will try to keep myself under control. And be sure to read to the bottom so you can see all the pictures.
The couple wanted their wedding to be a "celebratory worship service," and this comes through in many of their decisions.
We asked how they chose to focus on the gospel in various elements of their wedding, and here are some of their answers:
Our church asks that you print all of the words to any scripture readings/songs and if possible the biblical text being used for the wedding sermon. It was explained to us by Deepak as a way of presenting the gospel to each guest and allowing them to take it away with them at the end of the service.
The back of the program noted how we will leave to honeymoon and return to make our home in D.C. together but that Heaven is our eternal home, and how our greatest joy and affections for each other pale in comparison to God's eternal grace for sinners in the life and death of his son, Jesus Christ. We wanted our programs to magnify Christ's graciousness to us, sinners saved by grace, and be beautiful for their purpose.
Our church has many helpful guidelines for weddings that take place in the church. One of these is that the wedding ceremony is treated as a worship service and therefore corporate singing is a part of each ceremony. We loved this and were so happy to incorporate our favorite hymns into the service. We sang as a congregation the following songs: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, The King of Love, Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. Becky walked down the aisle to The King of Love (instrumental) as it is her favorite hymn. After we kissed, the recessional song was There is a Happy Land. We loved keeping the focus on beautiful songs depicting even more beautiful truth, the truth of God's love for sinners, the hope we have for eternity, and salvation that comes through faith in Christ.
Deepak preached on Ephesians 5:21-33, which speaks about marriage and the gospel. It was a clear teaching that we wanted Deepak to use to teach us on that day our marriage began, and also a great way of distinguishing Christian marriage from this world's misrepresentations of love and commitment. We were eager to hear this message, but also eager for some of our unbelieving family and friends to hear the good news of Jesus Christ and God's purposes in marriage.
Advice for Couples
Focus on the ceremony, it is the ceremony that is the most meaningful part and gives you the greatest opportunity to share the gospel. We were blessed to have generous parents who made a lovely reception possible, but we both remark often that the most meaningful part of the day for us was the ceremony not the party afterwards! Focus on the truth of God's Word for your marriage, not the table settings or color choices!
Short engagements are better than long engagements! We were engaged in early August and married the following January...a nearly 5 1/2 month engagement and by having a short engagement we were able to accomplish the necessary, without giving way to over-thinking the details that can be unnecessary.
Regarding money: Stress can come by having endless supplies of money and having too many possibilities while not having a gospel focus, or it can come by having limited or no funds and choosing to believe the world's message that identity comes through weddings not Christ.
Special thanks to George and Becky for allowing me to feature your wedding, and for the great advice you've shared! And thanks to Sarah for the gorgeous images!
If you would like to recommend a wedding to be featured in a Real Weddings post, please fill out the form here. It can be your own wedding or you can submit someone else's. Thanks!
Photographer: Ampersand Photography
Caterer: The Sweet Lobby
Floral Designer: Greenworks by Shane