Budget As If You're Not Budgeting

Today's post was written by Abby Murrish, a blogger and agriculture writer who has some really great thoughts on applying the gospel to a wedding budget (but really it's great advice for any event).

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It’s a movie scene that my family and I have laughed through for years. An exhausted, tuxedo-clad George Banks (i.e., Steve Martin) sits in his disheveled living room and begins his famous monologue from “Father of the Bride:”

“I used to think a wedding was a simple affair. Boy and girl meet, they fall in love, he buys a ring, she buys a dress, they say I do. I was wrong. That’s getting married. A wedding is an entirely different proposition.”

Experience tells me a wedding is indeed “an entirely different proposition.”  My husband I recently celebrated three months of marriage. Our wedding planning months included making lists, selecting vendors, writing emails, and spending money.  

We had a wedding budget (graciously gifted by my parents) and wanted to stick to it.  It was a generous sum, but still less than half of the national average.  Wedding planning can be stressful.  Period.  Throw in limited funds and you have a challenge on your hands.

During my engagement,  I was a guest blogger on “The Budget-Savvy Bride,” which made me think about the role between money and my Christian wedding.  What role does a budget play in a Christ-centered wedding?  This question is a tricky one because every story and situation is different.  But through my planning process I realized one guiding truth that applies to every couple: A budget can be an idol or a tool.  

Your Budget, An Empty Idol

Regardless of your budget’s size, the amount you spend (or don’t spend) on your wedding can become an idol.  

Christians would never say their weddings and subsequent budgets are more important than God.  We just act like they are.  In his book “Counterfeit Gods,” Tim Keller encourages people to identify the idols in their lives by asking themselves where they find their worth.  

Honestly ask yourself how you measure your wedding’s worth. The experience you’re creating for your guests?  Your ceremony and reception venue?  Maybe you’re on the other side of the spectrum and you take pride in how you’re doing so much with so little.  I often measured my wedding’s worth by how I spent money, whether that meant getting a bargain on flowers or hiring an amazing photographer.

Your idolization may present itself in insecurity instead of pride.  Without a hefty budget, you feel inadequate and self-conscious.  You knew you wouldn’t get married at Westminster Abbey, but everything would be fine if you could at least have a sit-down dinner instead of cake and punch in the church gym.

As I would talk to my friends about our weddings, I often felt alone and afraid that my wedding would be inadequate.  We weren’t having steak for dinner.  We weren’t getting married at a popular venue.  A lot of our corsages and boutonnieres were from Sam’s Club.  

I find no fault with my friends for these feelings.  It was my own desire for approval rearing its ugly head.

My wedding budget was my greatest wedding planning idol. By God’s grace, it became my greatest tool.

Your Budget, A Powerful Tool

Your budget is the tool by which you can cultivate personal joy and focus your wedding on what matters. We know budgets are good things.  Your greatest wedding planning asset after Scripture and community is your budget.  It forces you to ask: “Do our beliefs coincide with our spending?”   

A budget makes couples consider their decisions, which should spur joy. I had to work for thankfulness in the wedding planning season.  My budget forced me to make choices intentionally.  I realized I could be frustrated and settle for whatever I could afford, or I could be excited about the decisions I was able to make and the options I did have.  The more I chose the latter, the more joy grew in my heart.  

Couples should embrace (not fight) budgetary limitations so they can focus on what matters.  My budget made a lot of decisions for me because I could only afford certain things. You should certainly be wise with your money, do your research and dabble in some DIY if that’s your thing.  Don’t spend all your emotional and physical energy trying to stretch every dollar.  Save those resources for the decisions that matter.  Yes, the details are important. But we should invest ourselves in the aspects of our weddings that have meaning beyond this world.

Your Budget is Passing Away

If there’s one passage of Scripture I would share with couples planning their weddings and spending money, it’s this:

“The appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let... those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:29, 30b-31).

And so it is with our wedding budgets.  They are of this world.  They are temporary and fleeting.  We should be a people who deal with wedding budgets as though there are no weddings or budgets.  

John Piper’s commentary on this passage offers wedding planning couples rich wisdom:

“Christians should deal with the world… But as we deal with it, we don’t give it our fullest attention… There are unseen things that are vastly more precious than the world... We use the world, but not as an end in itself. It is a means. We deal with the world in order to make much of Christ.

There are few things as glorious as living out an image of Christ’s great love for his people.  Our weddings give a picture of this “unseen” thing. It is fitting that we spend money on our weddings because they reflect the greatest of marriages. Our budgets, though, are merely tools to help us rightly prepare for, honor, and celebrate these unions.  So use your money wisely.  Keep your eyes on The Groom who won’t congratulate you on getting a great deal on your flowers, but will delight because you you made much of him at your wedding.

About Abigail Murrish

Abigail (Abby) Murrish was born in raised in the suburbs of Indianapolis. She is a graduate of Purdue University where she studied agricultural communications, worked in a coffee shop and was involved with Reformed University Fellowship. Currently, Abby works with ag organizations and small businesses to help them reach their communications goals. She writes at abigailmurrish.com.

For more on wedding budgets, read Are We Spending Too Much on Weddings?