Two years ago, England's Prince William and Kate Middleton — who just became parents, in case you hadn't heard — were wed in a ceremony that cost around 30 million dollars. That might sound like a lot, but when you consider the cost per person attending — including some 2 billion anglophiles who watched on TV — it comes to less than a penny per person.
Which would make the royal nuptials — yep — a “budget” wedding.
If only American brides and grooms could be so frugal. I just read an article on National Review Online titled “The Blight of Blinged-Out Weddings.” The author, Jillian Kay Melchior, writes that she tried to plan a simple ceremony in which to plight her troth, but found this practically impossible — unless she eloped or “really [bucked] all traditions.”
Sadly, she's correct. One moment of weakness, and you'll find yourself sucked into the spinning, satin-lined vortex of the wedding industrial complex. It's not as bad as sharks falling from the sky, but it sure comes close.
Unfortunately, “Recklessly extravagant weddings have become a cultural expectation,” Melchior adds, and “brides who succumb to the intense pressure to Go Bigger can easily find themselves focused more on planning a wedding than preparing for a marriage.”
How much bigger? Melchior quotes a study done by WeddingChannel.com, which found that the average bride spends more than $28,000 on her wedding, not including the honeymoon!
Why do so many couples spend a third of their joint annual pre-tax income on a one-day ceremony? It's “because [brides] know they're being watched” Melchior says, and believe the “average guest comes to rate the spectacle as much as to celebrate the sacrament.”
How sad is that? And as for those hundreds of hours brides spend planning the wedding of the century — those hours could be better spent cementing the couple's relationship.
There may be a deeper reason so many brides and grooms choose the style of a wedding over the substance of solid marriage preparation — why they put themselves into debt for the food, the flowers, the bridesmaids and the bling — all topped off by a Vera Wang dress.
My old friend Chuck Colson put it this way in a BreakPoint commentary a few years ago. “Scripture,” he said, “tells us that God designed marriage as a physical, emotional, and spiritual union of one man and one woman — a union marked by fidelity and permanence. It's a definition of marriage the secular world has spent the better part of 40 years trying to deconstruct.
“But when secular couples plan their weddings,” Chuck said, “they sense that something is missing. So they grasp at some sort of meaning — ironically, using the very symbols and rituals” — the white dress, the father giving away the bride — “whose meanings they have rejected.”
The lack of deeper meaning may be why so many weddings have a slightly hollow ring to them — even if your name isn't Kardashian.
Chuck quoted social critic Caitlin Flanagan, who suggests that a bride's “white gown and her flock of flower-bearing attendants” may be little more than a “frantic and terribly expensive effort to infuse a wedding with some small measure of the meaning it once had.”
But folks, it doesn't have to be that way. If you or your loved ones are more interested in planning a sacred ceremony than a bling-fest, contact Marriage Savers. We have their info at BreakPoint.org. They’ll help you fend off the wedding industry sharks, and organize the most important part of your nuptials: planning for a lasting and happy marriage.
Your church can help engaged couples prepare for a healthy, holy, happy marriage. Please check out Marriage Savers.
BreakPoint is a Christian worldview ministry that seeks to build and resource a movement of Christians committed to living and defending Christian worldview in all areas of life. Begun by Chuck Colson in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today’s news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print. Today BreakPoint commentaries, co-hosted by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet, air daily on more than 1,200 outlets with an estimated weekly listening audience of eight million people. Feel free to contact us at BreakPoint.org where you can read and search answers to common questions.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Publication date: August 9, 2013