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When God Plans the Wedding

July 10, 2014
It's about to begin!

It’s about to begin!

Those that know me, know I don’t like details. Let me dream up the big picture or help imagine what’s possible, but I’m much more comfortable letting someone else deal with the details to make it happen. This reality is what made the announcement of the upcoming marriage of my daughter give me great joy and strike dread at the same moment. I was so excited that Stephanie was marrying such a godly man who adored her and she him. They had dated for over three years so we all knew that their relationship was leading to this moment. I couldn’t be happier for them, but at the same time, I saw this very public event, that demanded skills I don’t possess. I didn’t even know where to begin.

When I got married, things were pretty simple. You selected a dress, ordered the flowers and a cake, and selected a photographer. The location was not in question. You got married in your church and your local pastor performed the ceremony. You didn’t have to worry about decorations because the florist provided them. The reception was usually held at the church and was pretty simple. The biggest decision you might have to make was whether or not to have a grooms cake along with the wedding cake. I may have simplified this a bit because my penchant to avoid details probably goes back to my birth, so I don’t remember doing very much of the planning of my wedding. Luckily my mother was born with a piece of paper in one hand and a pen in the other, ready to make a list. She plans everything, even a trip to the nearest grocery store to avoid as many stop lights as she can.

Stephanie at the door

It’s time.

Weddings in 2014 are a tad more complicated than they were in 1979. Today very few couples get married in churches. Simple wedding receptions are rare. Themed decorations, favors, bands or DJs, dancing, a full dinner, participatory entertainment, and a dress the bride said “yes” to are in the dreams of modern-day brides. This not only increases the cost of the wedding but also the planning. Both of these increased my anxiety as soon as the excitement of the engagement announcement wore off.

The first thing we did was establish a budget we thought was reasonable. Stephanie made it clear that she would do much of the planning. My mother’s ability to make lists passed over my generation and landed in hers. Stephanie is a natural born planner, just like her sister. She makes lists, and then makes more lists to accomplish the items on the first list. But we soon discovered that she made sure there was enough money in the budget for the things she felt were important but left out some of the things that I thought were important. This ended up adding to the cost of the wedding and also to the planning. Although Stephanie gets MOST of the credit for the planning of her wedding, it became apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to avoid wedding planning like I did in 1979. I was going to have to face my dread of making lists if this was going to be the wedding of Stephanie’s dreams.

While the wedding plans were being formalized I was studying the Bible story of Gideon. This is a story of a very unlikely hero who quickly learned that because of his and Israel’s weaknesses, he was going to have to rely on God’s strength in order to win the battle that was looming ahead. I was also working on being more intentional about my prayer life. I had recently read Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker and was now going through his devotional book on prayer. Batterson encourages the journaling of your prayer requests, so in January I began to write down my prayer requests in a notebook.

 

Holding back tears.

Holding back tears.

As the wedding came closer, I began to recognize that God had a stake in this wedding and there is absolutely no one that is a better planner than the Creator of the universe. My weakness in planning gave me a chance to rely on His strength by committing my anxiety of the wedding details to prayer.

At first my prayer requests were very practical. On March 12th I prayed for the decorations and the cake. On the 13th, I added the invitations and the flowers to the prayer list. By the 16th I had put the color of the flowers and the root beer floats on the list. By the 18th the decision about what type of utensils, plastic or stainless, were added. Eventually the hotel selection, where to purchase the ice cream, how to get the tea to the reception, and the exact quantities of the ingredients for a salad for 200 made it

The tea has arrived!

The tea has arrived!

on the list. As I prayed for each task, God began answering them by putting us in contact with friends or experts that inspired solutions to the prayers. As the prayer requests were answered I would either put a PTL (praise The Lord), a check mark, or circle the request to indicate that God had answered the prayer. Each request might be repeated several days until they were answered.

As I continued to add tasks to my prayer list, God began to speak to me about the ceremony. As the expense began to creep up I began to feel guilty. Should we spend this much money for one event? Was I falling into peer pressure? We were doing everything we could to curtail the cost of the wedding. In fact, compared to many weddings, ours was moderately priced. Stephanie and Eric were very frugal in many of their selections. We were also catering it with the help of our friends and family which greatly reduced the cost, but I still worried about the expense. As I prayed about it, I felt God reminding me that He very much cared about weddings. It was at a wedding that Jesus performed His first public miracle. A wedding is how Jesus illustrated His relationship with the church. Weddings are an important public event for Christians. It is an opportunity for those who don’t have a personal relationship with Christ to be in the presence of God and to be exposed to the gospel.

This realization took my prayer requests in a different direction. On March 22nd I began praying that Christ would be the center of the ceremony. I kept praying for the details but the purpose had changed. I began to see that if all the details were taken care of nothing would distract from the sacredness of the event.

This was my prayer request on May 21st:

“Supernatural presence of God at the wedding. Please use Ernest as he performs the ceremony. Please use this event for Your Glory and accomplish Your work in Stephanie and Eric’s lives and those in attendance.”

Yum!

Yum!

As the day approached, the planning began to be implemented. God had worked in ways that were completely beyond my control. My family and friends from both Bryan and the Austin area helped us accomplish all the many details that needed to be done. On the day of the wedding, Peggy and Alexis went to Bush’s Chicken to get the tea, Scott got the ice cream, and Jason set up the root beer freezer which held his home-made root beer. Arlen and Lail went to Costco to get ingredients for the meal. Scott, Matt, Kent, David G, Jason, Dick, and David B. helped set-up the tables. Preston and Amanda put the salad together. Stephane, Debbie, Janis, Mallory, Donna and Sylvia helped Kristin place her beautiful decorations on the tables and around the room. Janis helped coordinate all the events for the dress rehearsal and the day of the wedding. James and Debbie smoked the chicken. Ed and Donnella helped the line move smoothly. Kristy, Meaghan, and Chris created a super fun photo-booth experience and Dana made some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. Jessie and Keely ensured that the guests never ran out of food or drinks. Cassie and John created a beautiful floral and chandelier display for the arch at the ceremony site and Tiffany and Drew’s beautiful music brought us all the presence of God.

There was one prayer request that was prayed with increasing intensity as the wedding day drew near. The ceremony was outside.

Blessing given.

Blessing given.

The wedding was on June 22nd, at 5:00 pm in Texas. 5:00 pm in late June in Texas is hot! I knew that if people were going to be able to focus on the ceremony and whatever God wanted to do, the temperature had to be such that they were comfortable. I’ve been to outdoor weddings where the sun was beating down and pretty much all I remember is how hot I was, so I began to pray for a cool front. The day before the wedding my iPhone app indicated the temperature would be at least 93. 93 is certainly better than 99 but it still would be very hot if the sun was shining. We provided bottled water for the guests and the wedding program was made into a fan so that we could mitigate the hot weather. However, not many people took the water and I saw very few fans moving. There was no need. We didn’t have a cool front, but all day it was cloudy which kept the temperature in the 80s. At 5:00 pm, it was 87 with a slight breeze. It was perfect. While I was inside waiting for the wedding to start, one of my friends texted me this message prior to the start of the wedding: “It could not be a better day!” As soon as the wedding was over, the clouds parted and the sun came out.

Ernest praying

The weather was not a distraction. All attention was on Eric, Stephanie, and the presence of God. Ernest Smith was the pastor chosen by Eric to officiate the wedding. I didn’t know Ernest, but I began praying for him about three months before the wedding. I was so tempted to call him to let him know what I hoped God would do at the wedding, but God checked me. All I needed to do was pray and He would move through Ernest. The moment I met him and his precious wife Sara I knew why Eric chose him. His love for the Father was so evident in not only his language, but the way he interacted with those in attendance. Ernest reminded us that Jesus used a wedding as the symbolism to explain the gospel. The church is the bride and Christ is the bridegroom. We are that precious to Him. This is what God had reminded me back in March. This is the message that I hoped would be heard at the wedding. I prayed that people would feel the supernatural presence of God. Yes, I wanted the focus to be on Eric and Stephanie and it was, but the ceremony also glorified God. It is more than I hoped for. Every single detail was taken care of. He provided everything that was needed, including His presence.

Just for fun, I went back through my prayer journal to review the progression of my prayer list. I guess I do like lists after all! The difference is realizing that I don’t have to accomplish all the tasks on my own strength or ingenuity.

Wedding Prayer List

March 12th – Wedding planning – decorations and cake

March 13th – Invitations and flowers. Stephanie and Eric to find an apartment

March 14th – Cupcakes/cake, invitations, and flowers

March 15th – Finish invitations, and flowers

March 16th – Flowers, colors, root beer floats

March 18th –Flowers, root beer floats, utensils, invitations. Eric – leadership in relationship, 1st steps in his ministry

March 19th – Invitation, flowers. Eric and Stephanie – build a bond that no man can put asunder

March 20th – Flowers, root beer floats, hotel

March 22 – Flowers, hotel, invitations to be sent out. You are the center of the wedding

March 23rd – You are the center of the wedding, hotel, invitations, flowers

March 26th – You are the center of the wedding. Flowers, hotels, invitations

March 28th – Help Stephanie with the anxiety of all the wedding preparations. Ericfinish well (college), spiritual leader, draw him to You

April 2 – flowers for wedding decision made (thank you)

April 6th – send invitations out

April 7th – hotel

April 16th – Give Eric wisdom as he plans for Stephanie’s and his future.

April 26th – finances, stamina to accomplish everything, and that it is Christ centered

April 26th – finances, stamina to accomplish everything, and that it is Christ centered

May 4 – Finances and  details (drinks, plates, etc.)

May 5– Help Stephanie and Eric find an apartment in their budget in a safe neighborhood

May 7th – Help Stephanie and Eric finish the year strong. Help Eric as he prepares his sermon (for a class). Help them find a place to live.

May 9th – Stephanie and Eric – prep for wedding and beyond

May 21st – Finalize wedding tasks to be accomplished

Supernatural presence of God at the wedding. Please use Ernest as he performs the ceremony. Please use this event for Your Glory and accomplish Your work in Stephanie and Eric’s lives and those in attendance.

May 25th – Outline details so we can accomplish them.

Eric and Stephanie – bless their marriage and may their ceremony lead others to You.

May 31st – Please be with us as we make plans with Janis.

June 2 – Stephanie – wedding preparation, Get ice cream, ice, tea, flowers to event in good shape. Those in attendance would feel your presence – leading to salvations.

June 3 – Help Stephanie feel in control of the wedding prep.

June 5 – programs

June 6 – Programs

June 9 – Stephanie and Eric – have a wonderful honeymoon. They would leave their parents and cleave to each other, they would put you at the center of their relationship The wedding surpasses their expectations.

Your presence is felt by all in attendance. Nothing distract from the sacredness of the event. 5 people would come to know and surrender to you because of your presence at the event.

We have the finances to pay for the wedding.

June 16th  – All the details be taken care of so the focus will be on You and Stephanie and Eric.

Your Presence will be felt in a supernatural way. At least 5 people will be stirred which will eventually lead to new life in you. I‘m believing in expectation. Please let me know who they are are in due time.

We will experience pure joy that only comes from You.

Safety for travels. Health for all members of the wedding party. The heat not be so stiflingnoI pray for a cool front. Ernest as he conducts the service. Janis as she manages the event. James and Debbie as they manage the meal. Dick and I that we make everyone feel welcome and loved

June 19th – Help me figure out the quantities needed for the salad.

The Tulgas and Nickles get here safely.

 

And now we party!

And now we party!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Brenda johnson permalink
    July 10, 2014 11:47 PM

    Thank you for this insight!! I so wish I could have been there! Praise The Lord for His faithfulness!! Love this and you all!

  2. July 11, 2014 11:29 AM

    Amazing! Love every bit of this!

  3. Jamee permalink
    September 25, 2015 5:07 PM

    Just found this and read it. What a beautiful post!!! I am SO grateful for your example. Love you!

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