Christian Weddings and the Bridezilla Phenomenon

I found a link to a post about how Christian weddings should be in contrast to the often tawdry shows of the world. It got me thinking about the subject. The average wedding in America now costs $30,000 and the last few decades of hedonism in America have put the wedding industry on steroids. There are entire television shows dedicated to these circuses where the brides-to-be are screaming at and otherwise abusing those they supposedly love, and where huge debt is incurred for the most lavish festivities possible. Brides on these shows will say things like, “Well, I have a budget of $50,000 I’m working with.” I always wonder if that’s the maximum on their credit cards or if they actually have $50,000 in the bank.

The world says to women, “This is your day. Live it up, do whatever you want.” But as the post link above will point out, it’s not supposed to be all about the bride. Nothing is ever supposed to all about us. In Bible times, the groom would go with his groomsmen to the home of the bride to get her. He had the processional, so to speak. The bride is supposed to adorn her husband, not the other way around. Instead, weddings today are often fashion shows and wild parties, and the couple can miss the entire point of what the marriage ceremony is supposed to mean. A wedding is an hour or so. The rest of your lives together is what matters most.

Out-of-control brides have earned themselves a TV show called, Bridezilla. In one clip on YouTube, which I won’t link to for obvious reasons, a bride on the war path, dressed in virginal white with a demure veil, proceeds to use language so bad that every other word is bleeped out. Pity the poor groom awaiting this lovely specimen who sounds like she wants to punch somebody on her way down the aisle. One quote from the bride has her saying, and I quote, “I feel like knocking the *bleep* out of somebody right now. Anybody.” What a gem. I have also heard stories of brides who are so obsessed with the visual impact of their big entrance that they prohibit bridesmaids from gaining weight before the wedding at risk of being booted out of the wedding party. No pregnancies allowed either in the months preceding the big day for members of the bridal party. Nothing ruins wedding pictures more than an expectant Matron of Honor.

Clearly, Christian brides ought to have a different approach to weddings. Consideration for people involved is a good place to start. How many close friends have been put to expense they could ill afford because Bridezilla says that the $400 bridesmaid dresses are the only ones she wants. One friend of mine had to pay her own airfare across the country in order to be the Maid of Honor, and her family was strapped to pay for it. If it hadn’t been her best friend, she would have said no. It was an awkward situation that was brought about by the bride’s thoughtlessness.

Weddings are supposed to be celebrations, but the idea that you have to spend huge sums of money to celebrate and that you absolutely must have sit down dinners at so much per head and multiple attendants and so forth, is nonsense. My parents were married in their pastor’s home with only family present. It was an afternoon wedding, and they just had cake and punch afterward. Back then, you didn’t go into debt for things you couldn’t afford. Tom and I married in my parents’ home with about 30 close friends and family there.  Afterward, we had a dinner for everyone at a restaurant on a lake nearby. It was as wonderful an evening as if it had been a cathedral wedding. (I would have married Mr. Schlueter anywhere, actually.)

My mother told me about something she used to see done at her church years ago. Couples who wanted to share their marriage with the church, but who couldn’t afford a formal wedding, would come up after the morning worship service. The bride and groom would exchange vows in front of the church, and afterward, there was a pot luck celebration in the church hall with the wedding cake. The church women would bring their best dishes and felt like they could contribute something to the celebration. All their church family could be a part of it, yet the bride and groom were not bankrupted. I think that is a great idea!

If the economy continues to go downhill, which it no doubt will, I think ideas like this may make a comeback. Big church weddings are beautiful and memorable, and if brides can afford them, that is wonderful. No Christian bride, however, should get so caught up in the many details and in the ceremony aspect that she is walking over other people, or turning it into “her” day at the expense of others. That misses the entire point of what the event signifies. Marriage is supposed to be  picture of Christ, the bridegroom, and His bride, the Church. The thought of the church abusing her bridegroom over details of the wedding ceremony is unthinkable. Yet there are videos all over YouTube with brides-to-be screaming at their fiancés and family members because they want their show to be perfect.

What a difference it makes to have a Christian outlook on things. I’m glad that the blogger at Reformed Sheology (clever name) posted on the subject. More discussion along these lines might be helpful to young women.

8 thoughts on “Christian Weddings and the Bridezilla Phenomenon

  1. Ingrid,

    I am very grateful for your ability to expand on this issue beyond my own efforts. If you don’t mind, I would like to link back to this post in the text of my original post so that others may read further on this subject. Sometimes even Christian brides can get carried away in this hype and your thoughts will only add to the proper perspective we are trying to promote on Reformed SHEology.

    By the way, I truly identify with your sentiments regarding your Bridezilla You Tube experience. I had to endure some pretty foul clips while searching for a halfway decent one to use as an example. However, this just demonstrates the warped approach many people have toward weddings these days.

    Blessings,
    Jennifer Guerriero

  2. For our wedding five years ago, I bought my dress at Dilliards, and my maid of honors at JC Penny. (My husband had a “best-woman” instead of a bestman, so her dress matched the maid of honors). Each were less than $100. My sons (one of whom is a chef) made the light sandwiches, fruits and salads, we made a donation to the church youth group to cater the luncheon and help with clean-up. We did our own decorations. The flowers were from a floral shop, but very simple. The cake came from Albertsons food market and it was beautiful…. fresh flowers flowing down the layers, many comments on how lovely it was… everything together, including paying the pastor, church and musician/guitarist… was under $1000… and it was lovely, just lovely. It was not the first marriage for either of us, but we would have done it that way regardless.

    Way too much spent on a day that ends so quickly….

  3. We had a lovely surprise in our little church last Sunday. We knew at the start of the service that something was up because a engaged couple in our church had extra family members with them and the couple was more dressed up than usual. The young gentleman had on his white Navy uniform and his fiance was wearing a simple white gown with a shawl. We all waited expectantly through the service wondering when Pastor would peform the ceremony. Just after the sermon ended, Pastor called the couple to come forward. It was a simple but lovely ceremony that bought tears to many eyes. Afterwards, there was a fellowship dinner with a homemade cake to celebrate. They looked pretty happy to me – no stress, no expense, no worrying about everything being just right. A good way to start a marriage and a lifetime together.

  4. Amen!

    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve often thought weddings are so overdone. There’s a saying about the more you spend the sooner you will be divorced.

    I think of the couples married decades ago with little pomp and circumstance (and expense) that are still happily married 40, 50, 60 years later. And, then compare those to the SHE-ology marriages of today where a couple spends $20,000 and then gets divorced in 2 years. So, so sad.

    Our story:

    My husband and I planned a modest wedding in October of ’06. Nothing fancy and paid for with cash. However, my house sold much sooner than we expected and we married at the begining of August so we could live together.

    We dressed in clothes we would wear to church. We entered into married life in the little chapel with just our parents in attendance. My new husband was so thrilled he kept holding our hands together so he could admire our rings and what they signifed to the world. My Mom snapped that photo with a little disposable camera; it is my most treasured wedding photo.

    It was a beautiful ceremony. It was about us and God. What we promised to each other and to God.

    Take Care,

    Trixie

  5. Pingback: the morning report . . . november 3 « the simple front porch

  6. hello,

    I definitely agree with most everything you say in this post. Christian weddings should ultimately be centered around Christ and not a show. However, I’m certainly not against having pretty things — I think my husband and I had a beautiful wedding, didn’t cost too much, and I’m sure our Lord was definitely honored, and we were honored to have Him there.

    The part of this that I don’t quite understand is this — “One friend of mine had to pay her own airfare across the country in order to be the Maid of Honor, and her family was strapped to pay for it. If it hadn’t been her best friend, she would have said no. It was an awkward situation that was brought about by the bride’s thoughtlessness.”

    I’m not sure why you consider this thoughtlessness on the part of the bride. It is an honor to be an attendant in someone’s wedding, and therefore all expenses that go along with it (including traveling to the location if necessary) are to be considered a gift to the couple. It’s certainly not something you would expect the bride to take care of. If the girl thought the expense would be too much for her, she should have politely declined to be an attendant. Every single one of my bridesmaids flew or drove in from out of town, and I didn’t hear one complaint from them, even though it certainly cost them time and $$$. I guess I just didn’t understand your view here.

    Everything else though — definitely agree!! Thanks for this post.

  7. Mel,
    I disagree strongly. The bride knew full well that her best friend for years barely makes ends meet in her family of 6. The friend didn’t want to let the bride down, but was asked to spend exorbitant amounts for dress/shoes/hotel bill/meals out PLUS airfare. I have repeatedly heard from other women in wedding parties complain at the expectation brides have that because of the “honor” of being asked to be in the wedding, that the expectation is everyone should foot large bills for things they simply can’t afford. The honorable thing would have been for the bride to take care of the airfare for her friend to come. It is outrageous that this particular bride, well-monied as she was, would expect a blue-collar family to do this. All sense seems to have departed because of the diva status of the bride these days. It’s exactly that tendency–that everyone should be prepared to bankrupt themselves for the bride’s ego–that I am talking about in the post. Brides need to be sensitive to the needs of others and to the fact that people will often do far more than they should in these situations financially. The bills above that I referenced did not include a wedding present as well as a lingerie gift for the wedding eve lingerie party at the hotel. It made a bill of over $1000 dollars total for a family that recently had to take their children out of Christian schools because they couldn’t afford it. Ridiculous. Should the bride have stepped in? Absolutely. Should the friend have said no? Yes. But she shouldn’t have had to with a wealthy bride.

  8. I must respectfully disagree. :)

    I would never expect someone to “bankrupt themselves” in order to play a part in the wedding. But I cannot agree that it is the responsibility of the bride to cover additional expenses for one or more of her attendants, no matter how wealthy she may be.

    The dress I had to wear for my sister’s wedding was a little too expensive for my liking, but I came up with the money and never would have thought that my sister should have helped with the cost, even though she definitely had more money that I did.

    I guess we just have different views on this. I still think that if it was such a financial burden for her as you say, she should have politely declined. I had to say no to being in a good friend’s wedding a little while ago because I simply could not handle the travel expenses at the time.

    Thanks for your input. :)

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