A recent article in the Huffington Post states the average cost of a wedding these days has risen to $30,000, based on a survey of 13,000 brides and grooms across the country, released by TheKnot.Com. That number is alarming, no doubt, and it compels one to wonder why in the world getting married is so darn expensive?
The cost of living is not cheap and even when you are trying to be frugal, putting on a wedding is expensive. Heck, putting on a 5-year-old’s birthday party is expensive! We can all empathize with a couple, especially the bride, who wants her wedding to be unforgettable and is faced with these extreme costs. But this places undue pressure on the couple to please and perform, and completely overshadows the sacred covenant being entered into.
Carley Roney, co-founder of TheKnot.Com says, “Couples are more focused than ever on creating a unique, personalized and once-in-a-lifetime experience for their guests.” This is a very revealing statement in that the couple is moving heaven and earth to entertain their guests. This is not a bad thing in and of itself, but it does render two major problems: first, couples are going into debt to finance their dream weddings which is not a good way to begin a marriage. Second and more importantly, the focus of the wedding is the entertainment factor and the sacramental element gets lost in the shuffle.
There will be enough challenges in the years of married life ahead without starting out your life together with a mountain of debt weighing on you. Being formerly divorced, myself, I’ve planned a wedding both the right way and the wrong way and putting on a show that your guests won’t forget is far less important than creating a sacramental bond. The most critical element of a wedding, the one that needs to be perfect is a bride and groom approaching the altar with free will and the intention to create a permanent, exclusive, life-long union that is open to new life. Everything else is secondary and adjustable.
That being said, the natural desire to have this one special day be unforgettable for both the couple and the guests is still important. Here are some ways to make your wedding an incredible event and these ideas don’t cost a dime! If you incorporate some or all of them, you will likely send your guests on their way feeling fantastic about having witnessed your wedding celebration.
- Get your guests involved beforehand by asking them to pray for you.
You and your spouse-to-be can compose a brief prayer, or find one you like, and send it out with your wedding invitations, asking your guests to pray for you as your big day approaches. Some couples have the prayer printed on the back of holy cards that can become keepsakes for your guests, but if that’s too costly, a prayer printed at home on ivory card stock is just as nice.
- Create an atmosphere of true and holy love.
Free food and liquor will always draw a crowd, let’s be honest, but I believe most people attend weddings because they want to see a couple that has “the real thing”; true love. That’s what they really are hoping for and what they won’t soon forget. So begin by creating an atmosphere of true and holy love. For example, opt for a candle-lit wedding Mass in church instead of under an awning at the golf course or in the banquet room at the local aquarium.
- Let your love for each other be revealed in the way you exchange your vows.
The highpoint of any wedding ceremony is when the bride and groom exchange vows. Everyone is focused on you and your guests will marvel over the sheer love and excitement they see when you exchange vows. I’m not suggesting you should be dramatic, but when a couple truly in love takes their vows, it is emotional. Brides who laugh awkwardly or grooms who let profanity slip because they messed up make guests uncomfortable. That’s not the memory you want them to take home. Instead, let them see the splendor of your love revealed in these precious moments by how you speak your vows to each other.
- Take advantage of this rare opportunity to receive three sacraments in one day.
I saved this one for last because it is my favorite. Arrange things so you can receive three sacraments in one day; confession, matrimony, and the Eucharist. This was one of the things I loved so much about my husband’s participation in planning the wedding. He arranged it so the priest presiding at our wedding visited both of us separately before the wedding and heard our confessions. It was exhilerating to stand on the altar after that and receive the sacraments of matrimony and the Eucharist. I cannot recommend this enough.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Send your comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org