One of the posts that has received the most views on this blog over the past couple of years is the one that features alternatives to the bouquet and garter toss. Typically a lighthearted tradition to predict whom of the bride's and groom's friends will be the next to marry, these moments at a wedding reception are often the most dreaded for men and women who are not married. In that post I recommend doing away with both traditions in favor of alternatives that carry a deeper purpose and meaning, partly out of service to our friends. I've had single friends tell me they choose not to go to weddings based solely on this tradition--they can rejoice with their friends upon the occasion of their marriage, but being pushed and prodded out in front of the crowd to fight for the bride's bouquet is just too much.
Obviously this is not the case for everyone, but the fact that some friends feel this way should give pause to our planning, encouraging us to consider one another more significant than ourselves (Phil. 2:3). And really, it's not just the bouquet and garter toss that should be considered. We would do well to find out how we can serve and love our friends who are not married but who may desire to be.
This may seem strange--it's your wedding, so why should you give so much thought to those who are not married? But when we look at Scripture, we see that God values all people. Each person at your wedding bears His image, and the church is a beautiful picture of image-bearers coming together to proclaim our Creator to the world. This means we take time to know and understand one another. When we practice hospitality (I Peter 4:9), we invite others in to our space in a desire to show them they are loved and welcome. And a wedding is a wonderful chance to practice hospitality.
So I would encourage couples to talk to your single friends. Ask them how you can serve them on your wedding day. And I took the chance to ask my friend Lindsay Swartz for her ideas on this as well, and she graciously agreed to let me share them here:
I honestly love weddings done well — and by well I mean focused on the purpose of marriage, to reflect Christ and His Bride. I'm always blessed by that.
The hardest part about a wedding is coming by myself if I don't know anyone really well. So, I would maybe suggest being intentional about where singles are placed at the reception (if there's assigned seating). My friends did really well with this at the last sit-down reception I attended.
Also, I would say that my friends should not be ashamed if they are the ones getting married; there's no need for guilt there. God has brought this couple together, and they should be proud to celebrate what God is doing, while knowing He is equally at work in a single's life (though it may not feel like it). I would just be intentional to mention the realization that some are waiting or walking through hard seasons (at showers or in the wedding sermon).
I think I would be so blessed just to hear them say, "We know some of you are still waiting for your wedding day, Lord willing. We trust that God has perfect and good plans for all of us, and in the end, we will all take part in the Marriage above all marriages. The shadows will pass away, and Reality will be for all of us."
So how else can couples show love and hospitality to friends who are not married? Or how do we fail at this? If you've seen it done well, or poorly, please comment for the benefit of those who may be planning weddings now.
*Image credit: John Mayer on flickr