What are Weddings Made of?

In the merry month of June I attended two weddings. Although poles apart, they will both be remembered for years to come—for reasons that represent both ends of the spectrum.

The first one had over a thousand guests and over a million peso budget, if one were to make a quick guesstimate of the limos that ferried bejeweled guests from the church to the reception; five glitzy Audio-visual presentations; flowers flown in from Holland; couture gowns; celebrity performers; vintage wine and champagne from France; an 18-course lauriat; articulate wedding organizers; a cake that reached the ceiling; and party favors costing as much as the dinner. The program was flawlessly generic—and ten times more lavish. I sat with guests I never met in my life (they were clients flown in from various parts of the globe) and will probably never meet again.

The second one was intimate, creative, unrehearsed, and anchored on the Author of love.

The Minister’s charge: “You are making a double dedication—to God and to each other, in a lasting and indivisible union that shall endure for the remaining years of your lives.

“Consider that your promises to each other are made in the presence of a God who remembers your pledges and who holds you responsible for performing them. They must be kept inviolable before Him.

“Keep in mind that each of you is the object of Christ’s redemption and should be valued accordingly. . . Esteem each other as God’s gift for mutual aid, comfort, and joy, and as a repository of complete confidence and trust. . .

“Make your home a place where you will have a refuge from the storms of life not only for yourselves but also for others who may be your guests. Let it be a haven for the weary . . . and a convincing testimony to a cynical world.”

An artist, Nixon and his groomsmen were in black, hand painted denim jackets and black rubber shoes! Joan, a book editor, who once worked in a museum in Manila, wore a white gown that was partly hand painted in red, matching the graphics painted on the men’s apparel, and even on the red invitation.

A baby boy, not yet one year old, who “took twelve years to arrive, just in time to be the ring bearer,” lay in a dressed-up swivel chair with the ring cushion, and pushed to the altar by his dad. He was wide-eyed all through the ceremony and smiled to the cameramen and doting bridal entourage.

The music was provided by office mates and family, and the ministers are long-time family friends. The guests knew each other by face or by name, and will meet each other again at some point in time.

Laughter was abundant, as were tears. When the bride walked down the aisle to a jaunty gospel song, the joyful mood peaked. Contrasting with the modern, artistic touches, the backdrop of the ceremony is the oldest Protestant Church in the Philippines, founded in 1899 to minister to the thousands of American soldiers and civilians residing in Manila.

The reception was held, naturally, in a house of art—the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Instead of numbers, each table had an artist’s name assigned to it. Awaiting each guest was a postcard featuring the table’s artist and on it, we were requested to write a message to the couple.

Nothing was generic; every single element was stamped with the couple’s common interests, love for each other and for those who have touched both their lives. Stories of how their love blossomed, as part of the reception program, came from a minister, bosses, college friends, and family.

Their one message: it has been, from the very beginning, a grace-filled relationship because it sought the guidance of God.

The couple’s prayer and ours—those who were privileged to witness it all—Ephesians 3: 16 to 21:

“We pray that out of the Father’s glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts, through faith. And we pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

I will look back to this second wedding as a model for my own marriage’s golden milestone—a renewal of vows—should the Lord choose to grant my husband and me the years, and grace, to reach it.

(Top photo by Getty Images)

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