Being a principal sponsor or witness (ninang) in a wedding is, for me, a big responsibility.
I take it seriously especially because the pastor usually asks during the ceremony, “Will you promise to counsel, guide, pray for, and act as second parents to the couple?”
Due to life’s roadblocks, I have not been totally faithful in carrying out this responsibility. But in some areas, or when there are red flags, I try.
There was that one couple who held modest jobs and lived modest lives, but with plans to include all the frills that shape modern weddings today: fresh flowers, well-known caterer, pre-during-after videos, fancy invitation, new clothes for the entourage, etc.
I invited both the groom-to-be and bride-to-be to dinner and there I spoke about my own wedding.
I held a single yellow rose in lieu of a bouquet.
That symbolized the beauty of simplicity that would define my wedding and married life. We only had immediate family members in a small church plus the pastor, who declined to join us for dinner. Thirteen people. Thirteen photos.
Our savings and gifts allowed us to fully furnish our first apartment with enough left-over for emergencies and for helping others in need.
“Focus on what’s important. A wedding is a ceremony of two people committing to stay together and to love each other, before God. Beyond that, everything else is luxury to impress the guests,” was the essence of what I said through dinner.
I re-enact the same scene (in a different restaurant) with other couples—as needed—hoping they at least half-listen and will consider leading a simple lifestyle.
This concept of simplicity has been affirmed time and again in Sunday school when we study stewardship: that the owner of everything we have is God, even if we think we earned it all through our own smarts and hard work; we are only His managers. We should not lavish ourselves with what we don’t own.
At the risk of being a fuddy-duddy, I advise young couples who choose me to be their ninang not to squander the grace that comes to them on the day they say their vows before God, after which they become one, “till death do them part.”
“. . . aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands - ” 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (ESV)