“Now, I’m going to tell you what could be the most important thing to discuss with the bride during wedding planning.”
He had my attention. As a young new minister, my first wedding was coming up, and I was clueless. Luckily, the Lead Pastor had officiated at hundreds of wedding ceremonies. Having taken copious notes as he talked me through the steps, I paused to look up at him.
“You have to make sure the bride knows that something will go wrong on the wedding day. No wedding is perfect. And actually, it’s the things that go wrong that we look back on most fondly.”
My own experience has proven this to be true. Something always goes wrong with a wedding. Here are just a few examples I’ve seen: candles won’t light, screaming flower girl, caterer messes up the food, powerful thunderstorms or extreme heat, members of the wedding party get way too drunk before the ceremony, bride has a five-minute laughing attack during vows.
At my own wedding, I was left in charge of bringing my bride’s dress to the church (she was getting her hair done). I was also responsible for the wedding rings, a photo display, and the marriage license. Looking back, no one knows why we thought this was a good plan. I forgot everything but the wedding rings. Then, when I changed into my tux, I took the rings out of my pocket, set them on a table, and walked out of the room. This was followed by a panicky half-hour period in which the whole wedding party searched for the missing rings.
One particularly memorable wedding mishap occurred when I was in the Philippines at my wife’s cousin’s wedding. As we entered the elegant reception hall, my children’s eyes lit up with wonder as they discovered dozens of monarch butterflies fluttering around the room. It was such an exotic and unexpected touch of beauty.
Unfortunately, the room was lit with these big, fancy gas lamp chandeliers. Wonder and delight turned to helpless horror as every one of those large, delicate winged creatures drifted up to fry itself on the lights above our tables. Burning butterfly is not a pleasant smell.
But my mentor was right. Today it is a memory we all look back on and laugh/cringe with fondness.
Here is something else I’ve learned about marriage. Catastrophes don’t stop on the wedding day. Life is full of disasters large and small. The important thing is to find someone who makes those not-so-great times a little more enjoyable.
One more story. In 2008, Cedar Rapids, IA experienced the worst flood in its history. Our home was hit with seven feet of water above ground. As my wife Emmy and I endured months of mucking, cleaning, and rebuilding our home, we both were often on the edge of breakdown.
It was Emmy who kept me sane, and vice versa. One thing we said to each other countless times was, “If I have to go through this, I’m glad I have you with me.”
The photo above is from one of those moments. That particular day, we decided to inject a little humor into our dire situation and take photos as if we were advertising our “occasional water-front home” for sale. Here I am showcasing our “earth-toned color scheme”.
Things will go wrong, but if you find someone to share love with, you’ll discover joy even in the midst of disaster.