How much money should we spend on our wedding? This is one of the questions every bride and groom asks. Today’s post is the longest I’ve written on my blog, but I want to provide as much counsel as possible on these important decisions that often produce stress and conflict in couples and their families.
To help answer this question, I want to point you to a great resource from my church called Real Truth Real Quick (RTRQ). RTRQ is a podcast that answers your questions about life, leadership, the world we live in, the Bible, God, faith, or anything else that’s on your mind. I often share videos from RTRQ and I believe it’s an excellent resource on many questions you and I often have on life, leadership and the world we live in.
In this week’s RTRQ video, I got to join Watermark’s lead pastor Todd Wagner in answering the question on today’s agenda, “How Much Should I Spend on My Wedding?” The video is seven minutes long and provides some excellent guidance for a bride and groom and their families on how to think through financial decisions when it comes to wedding planning.
I’d recommend you watch the video and/or share it with others you know who are wedding planning. In addition, below I include a list of points made in the video plus other considerations I came up with that didn’t make it into the video.
On the date of this writing, the average wedding in the United States costs $26,645 (http://www.costofwedding.com/). For most of the weddings I attend, the costs seems much higher. The pressure of wedding planning is intense: Pinterest, comparison with the weddings of others and the desire to impress and entertain guests lead the wedding planning process to spin out of control financially. This is an area where we need to be thoughtful and considerate.
Here is the video, and below that you will find 14 points to think through when planning your wedding:
1. Make sure you know the purpose of marriage and the purpose of the wedding.
Any wedding should start with a right understanding of what marriage is and the purpose of both the wedding and marriage.
- Marriage is God’s idea and creation (see Genesis 2:18-25) and is intended to be a one-flesh, covenantal relationship between one man and one woman, created to help display God’s love for His people (Ephesians 5:22-33).
- The wedding is intended to be a public (and official) declaration of the commitment between the man and the woman.
- Therefore all wedding decisions should be informed by these truths.
- Two great resources to help you think through the marriage and the wedding are The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller and A Christ-Centered Wedding by Catherine Strode Parks.
2. Enjoy Your Wedding!
There is a time for everything under the sun (see Ecclesiastes 3:1-11). In particular, there is a time to laugh, dance and celebrate (Ecclesiastes 3:4). If ever there was a time to celebrate, the wedding should be that time. Eat, drink, be merry, and enjoy!
3. Do Not Conform to Culture.
At the same time, in Romans 12:2, Paul tells us to not be confirmed to the pattern of the world. The wedding gives the Christian the opportunity to be completely different than the world’s pattern when it comes to weddings.
4. The Church Needs to Step Up.
The church could and should speak into this. Weddings are getting out of control and the body of Christ should be among the loudest voices in helping couples process how to plan their weddings (not to mention the role the church should be in the marriage prep process – Merge: Why we Prepare Couples for Marriage).
5. Decide what you want your guests to remember after they leave your wedding.
Do you want them to remember the bride’s dress, the flowers, the cake (hmmmm… not a bad thing!), or the party? Or do you want them to remember that Jesus is the center of the relationship? Do you want your guests to understand more about the Creator and Designer of marriage?
6. Keep Short Accounts As Your Prepare For Your Wedding.
Keep short accounts as you discuss the wedding and make decisions (Ephesians 4:26). In other words, wedding planning will provide many opportunities for conflict between bride and groom, parents and in-laws. Everyone has an opinion on the wedding, parents are personally invested since their child is getting married and they’re financially invested. We all know finances provide plenty of opportunities to emotionally engage our wallets and our hearts.
- Keep short accounts on who’s paying for what and who is responsible for which decisions. Weddings provide high-stress opportunities for all involved and you will want to take as many steps as possible to be proactive in your decision-making process.
- As referenced above, check out the book A Christ-Centered Wedding. The book offers several resources to help you plan your wedding on a budget and provides many conversation prompts that need to take place between bride, groom and family members.
7. Decide Where You Will Build Your Treasure.
Determine what your treasure is and where it will live (see Matthew 6:19-21). In many ways the wedding can be an earthly treasure. We spend an enormous amount of time and money in the planning process and the wedding itself. Do you want to lay up treasures on earth, in a wedding, where you will receive the praise and awe of man and woman? Or, do you want to lay up treasure in heaven? The problem is that you can’t serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24). You must choose.
8. NEVER go into debt to pay for a wedding.
Proverbs 22:7 says, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” When you choose to go into debt for a weekend party, you 1) become a slave to the one who loaned you the money, and 2) end up paying off the debt for a long season ahead. The wedding event lasts a weekend, but the debt goes on and on.
9. Wage war against your pride.
James 4:6b says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Weddings provide many opportunities for pride to rear its ugly head:
- Sometimes we get a big head from how much we spend on the wedding. We find pride in the flowers, the food, the band and much more.
- Other times we get prideful about how little we spend. The pride instead finds its source in the ways we saved, the cuts we made and the generic brands we chose. In the process, you can develop a ‘holier than thou’ attitude that you think makes you better than the family who spent more money than you did.
10. Look for ways to save money and think outside of the box.
I know most couples want to get married on a Saturday night. But, remember that when you say, “I do” you’re married, whether those vows take place on a Friday night or a Saturday night!
- Look into changing the day of the week (i.e., Friday or Sunday nights), the time of day (morning or mid-afternoon wedding), and/or the wedding and reception venues. We live in a world of so many (too many) options, but spend the time to think outside the box so you can cut some of the cost.
- Be creative and cut costs, but know this could increase stress. Any time you do any DIY projects, while it may cut costs, it will also increase time and stress.
11. For Those Who Are Followers of Christ: Make Decisions Like a Follower of Christ.
This one doesn’t have much to do with financial decisions, but make sure you think through the order of ceremony and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Every decision you make should be to display God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). The wedding order of ceremony and the wedding reception ought to reflect this truth.
- Be thoughtful about how you use your platform as you become husband and wife. This is (Lord willing) the only time you will get married! All your friends, family and co-workers will be in the same place at the same time. Many of them don’t know the Lord. Use your wedding as a chance to display the Gospel, not your wealth.
- Be thoughtful and intentional about your wedding and order of ceremony. Your wedding might be the only “marriage conference or seminar” some of your guests go to this year. Every time I officiate a wedding, I make sure I remind those already married the purpose of marriage. At the same time, I point single guests the model the bride and groom provide of a Godly couple. I want to say, “Follow them as they follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).
12. What’s OK for Others May or May Not Be Okay For You.
Know that the amount you spend is not necessarily a sin for you while it might be for another family. I know it’s not fair, but the financial decisions should be made in the context of community with others speaking into decisions, should keep you from debt, and should be used to display God’s love for His people. What’s sin for one family might not be a sin for another.
13. Ask Pastor John What He Thinks.
Read/listen to this incredible episode of Ask Pastor John by John Piper. In this episode, called Don’t Break the Bank, Pastor John answer the question, “How can we design a ‘Christ-exalting, simple wedding’?“
14. I’ve Saved the Best and Most Important For Last: Choose Wisely!
My last and most important point: The greatest cost and wasted expense is marrying the wrong person and not being intentional about why and who you’re marrying. Whether you spend $2,000 or $200,000, if you marry the wrong person, the cost will be extremely high as you deal with the carnage of a broken marriage and/or a miserable existence together as husband and wife. Figure out the purpose of marriage and the wedding and please make sure you’re marrying God’s man or woman for you. Don’t compromise this decision. The stakes are too high and the cost will be greater than any other wedding you’ve been to if you marry the wrong person.
- Prepare for more than just your wedding day. It’s outrageous how much money and time many couples spend on a one day/weekend event (the wedding) without thinking about the rest of your life.
- To help you discern whether you’re marrying the right type of person, come join us in Merge, Watermark’s premarital class for seriously dating and engaged couples. Check out DFWmarriage.org for more details.
My friends John and Pam got married over 20 years ago. I didn’t know them when they got married, but from what I understand, their wedding and reception took place in their hometown Baptist Church. They hosted their reception in Fellowship Hall and included nuts, punch, and cake. Nothing fancy or over the top. Just two individuals who loved Jesus and loved each other. I have learned more about marriage from John than any other person on earth.
- For the engaged, how will you decide how much to spend on your wedding?
- For the married, who do you know who would benefit from this post or the RTRQ “How Much Should I Spend on My Wedding” video?
- For the married, what counsel would you give to an engaged friend?