If you are just setting out in the process of planning a wedding it's easy to become overwhelmed (and stay that way) from the very beginning. So my mom and I developed a list of "10 Ways to Have a Christ-Centered Wedding" in order to aid couples in thinking through options and prioritizing the process.
Now let me tell you what this is not. This is not as simple as checking off a list of “Christ-Centered Wedding Tips” to ensure the gospel is proclaimed and at the heart of the wedding. As with other aspects of life, it’s our hearts that matter. So in the following list, you will see 10 ways to look at your heart as you plan a wedding. We believe a “Christ-centered wedding” flows from these things.
1. Pray. A Christ-centered wedding begins with a Christ-centered heart. So pray for some of these to be realities:
- That God will draw you and others closer to himself during your wedding planning
- That he will drive the beauty of gospel truth deeper into your heart
- That you will reflect his grace and love to others
- That you will, by his grace, better understand your identity in Christ
- That your marriage will begin at the foot of the cross, where you experience the freedom only found through Christ’s sacrificial love on your behalf
2. Know Christ. In order for weddings to reflect Christ, we must first truly know him. Spend time in his Word, learning what it means to be part of the church (Christ’s bride!) and what he has done for you. Your wedding will be a reflection of what you believe about your true Bridegroom.
3. Receive Christ-centered pre-marriage counseling. Begin counseling early, and meet with your counselor often. It’s easy to put it off, but the chaos of wedding planning is easier to keep in check when you are focusing on marriage more than wedding.
4. Make gospel proclamation the goal. Revelation 19 pictures our future wedding--the Marriage Feast of the Lamb--when the church will be gathered with our Bridegroom, Jesus. When we focus on this, our present weddings become pictures of this future reality. One of the benefits of having your local pastor perform the ceremony is the freedom of trusting him to share the gospel during the ceremony. But there are many other ways couples can proclaim Christ to their witnesses, beginning with number 5 below.
5. Have a wedding of worship. One of our favorite things to see in weddings is the bride and groom standing together with the bridal party and witnesses, all focused on the same mission--worshiping their Creator God together. Congregational song worship, Scripture readings, foot-washing, circle prayers--these are all ways to focus the wedding on worship, not of the bride or groom, but of their Savior.
6. Treat others with the love and mercy of Christ. Whether it’s family, friends, vendors, pastors, future family or anyone else you come in contact with during wedding planning, you have a choice as to how you will treat each person. Over and over again, you will have opportunities to lay aside your own “rights,” sacrificing out of love for others. And when you do this, you are giving these people a glimpse of Christ in you, who laid aside His own rights in order to serve and love us (Philippians 2).
7. Look for opportunities to serve others as Christ served you. You will be surrounded by people who want to serve you—vendors, shower hostesses, the bridal party and more. But instead of demanding everything be about you, you have the chance to serve others. Bring gifts to hostesses, talk with friends about their lives instead of just your wedding, get to know your vendors. And when you do this, once again you are representing Jesus, who did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
8. Continue to nurture love for your future spouse. Planning a wedding can take a toll on all relationships, especially with your future spouse. Schedule date nights when you can go through a Christ-centered marriage book, or even fun nights when wedding talk is off-limits. Protect your relationship and don’t let the wedding take over.
9. Prepare for a Christ-centered marriage. Spend personal time in prayer leading to the wedding, asking God to work in your heart through his Holy Spirit to make you the husband or wife he would have you be. Study the life and words of Jesus, and pray for grace and strength to live in the freedom and joy of what He has done for you.
10. Distinguish between the essentials and the non-essentials. When you make the presentation of the gospel the over-riding essential, it’s easier to determine what things are not essential. There is a freedom in letting the other stuff go, rather than stressing over every tiny detail. When you want people to be impressed with Christ, not with you, it frees you up to focus on the most important things, like having a wedding of worship.
These are just 10 things to do in setting out to plan a wedding. For more details and practical applications, take a look at my book A Christ-Centered Wedding: Rejoicing in the Gospel on Your Big Day.