The Knot recently did a study and found that over the past seven years, weddings in churches have dropped from 41% to 26%.[i] Wow. Did you hear that? Only a quarter of weddings now take place in a church.
This fact in and of itself isn’t catastrophic. I don’t believe that one must get married in the church for it to be a “real” wedding. However, it does speak to a secularizing trend that is becoming more and more apparent. The more disconcerting fact for me is that 43% of weddings are now officiated by a friend, up from 29% seven years ago.[ii] While the Bible doesn’t say you need a pastor to officiate your wedding, choosing a (non-pastor) friend to officiate your wedding makes a statement.
Essentially, what you’re saying when you have a friend instead of a pastor officiate is that your wedding is about celebrating your relationship with friends. While that’s a wonderful part of what a wedding should be, but it shouldn’t be what your wedding is primarily about.
If you are considering marriage at some point in the future, let me urge you to consider making your marriage about something bigger than just a great party with friends.
Which leads us to ask, what is bigger than celebrating your relationship? There is one thing bigger: it is celebrating what marriage is really about: Jesus’ love for the church. In Ephesians 5, Paul explains that marriage is ultimately a pointer to Jesus’ great love for us. He says, “This mystery [of marriage] is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” The most important thing about your wedding (and marriage!) is that it should point to Christ’s love for the church even more than your love for one another. Your love for one another should point to Jesus’ love for you.
Here are 8 practical things you can do to have your wedding point to Jesus:
1) Meet with your pastor or a Christian counselor before you get engaged. Hardly anyone does this today. However, seeking God-honoring Christian counseling beforehand is a powerful statement that you are seeking godly wisdom in your relationship before anyone or anything else.
2) Go through your church’s premarital classes or go through premarital counseling with your pastor.
3) Have your pastor officiate your wedding. Ask your pastor how you can best honor Christ in your wedding.
4) Read a book on marriage with your fiancé. I recommend Timothy and Kathy Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage, Dan Allender and Tremper Longman’s Intimate Allies, and Gary Thomas’s Sacred Marriage.
5) Be a good financial steward with your wedding. The average wedding costs over $35,000[iii], more than 85% of the average American salary.[iv] Starting your marriage in a financial hole doesn’t honor Christ.
6) Use the traditional vows. I know, this makes me sound like a fuddy duddy, but anchoring your vows in vows that have been spoken millions of times over hundreds of years instead of your feelings for your significant other at a particular time and place points to the reality that you are entering a covenant bigger than yourselves.
7) Speak of the importance of God’s love wherever you can: your invitation, bulletin, and in personal comments during the service and reception.
8) Pray! Pray that Christ would be glorified through your wedding. Include prayer in your time with your wedding party and in your reception.
A wedding is a beautiful thing! What a joy to consider marriage. I would love to hear your thoughts on how you think you can best honor Christ in your wedding.