Wedding Planning: Aim for Substance, Not the Show

By Jonathan Moseley and Chelsea Morris

As of now, we are five days out from getting married. The planning has been super easy and we’ve breezed through all of the details with little to no stress. Actually, that’s not true at all. At times, there have been disagreements, family pressures, occasional tears, and the hustle and bustle that naturally comes trying to plan such a major event in four months (we really believe in short engagements). But looking back over the past few months, we are filled with great thankfulness and joy. We have had a wonderful church community come around us, special moments created by friends and family, and through it all, God has been and will continue to be our gracious guide. We decided to include “It Is Well” in our ceremony for that very reason. No matter what God’s providence brings during the course of our lifetime together, our souls will find comfort in his overarching goodness.

Planning With a Vision

As we have planned for this big day, we have committed to a vision. As imperfect as we have been in our planning process, we always come back to it. And in times of stress, it’s been our anchor. It’s helped govern our ceremony, our guest list, our budget, and everything else in between. It’s a vision that matches our vision for life:

We want to make Jesus famous.

Anything that might overshadow his significance must go, and everything that will enhance his value and worth, we add. This is our opportunity to share the Gospel and to show his love. We didn’t want an expensive wedding. We didn’t want to overdo it with décor and flowers. You could say, we didn’t want the show of the wedding to detract from the substance of it. What a tragedy and waste it would be for the guests to come and enjoy the food and the company and the aesthetics and miss out on Jesus.

The bride and groom are not the main attraction for the day. It’s easy to slip into the temptation of thinking, “This is our day.” This kind of thinking only allows us to justify our selfishness. If anything, this process has taught us how naturally selfish we are. The day of Nov. 12, 2016 is a day where we say like John the Baptist, “I must decrease. He must increase” John 3:30.  We want Jesus front and center.

Our hope is that these few hours will have a kingdom impact. We want our guests to come and sing with us as we worship the One who has made this marriage possible. We want to extend God’s love to our wedding party and to our family and to our attendees by honoring them with our attention and our words. We want modesty in our wedding—not just in clothing, but also in style and in content so as not to deflect any attention away from what this wedding is really about. We didn’t want anything elaborate or fancy. As people come and experience the vows and the worship and the message and the love, we don’t want them to remember the show. We want them to see and feel and taste the substance of God’s mercy, grace, and love. We hope that everyone present might move beyond the experience of a wedding ceremony into an actual encounter with God.

Our Prayer Moving Forward

We’ve been told marriage is not easy. Though still five days away, we’re quickly learning that a relationship this close and involved requires a lot of work. But we desperately want marriage to resemble what it was invented for, namely, to visually and tangibly show the relationship between Jesus and his bride—the church. The husband should gladly embrace the role of a sacrificial servant. He paves the way in his selfless service. No matter what it takes, he provides and protects her and takes on the responsibility to lead his wife and family spiritually through all of life’s seasons always keeping in mind their good. That’s what Jesus does for us. And the wife joyfully follows his leadership--as the church does with Jesus. She is the supportive helper working to carry out the vision of her husband by offering her skills, gifts, and wisdom. It’s not always easy. Our sinful nature gets in the way. But when done right in the sight of God and man, we see the beautiful design God intended for marriage and the greater beauty it’s meant to display. We know the wedding day is a big day. And as we check off the last minute details, we continue to fight for this vision of making Jesus famous. We want this for the wedding and for the rest of our lives.

Jonathan Moseley is the Director of Community and Operations at Renewal Church