I went to a wedding this weekend. It was a beautiful affair. The bride was breath-taking in a lovely gown that was silky and rich. (It made me think of vanilla ice cream.) The bridesmaids wore Grecian style dresses in dark blue, hair was perfectly styled. They looked like goddesses! Flowers and ferns were in place with burlap draped over the arch. The smell of ham and chicken wafted in from the fellowship hall.
Weddings bring out a number of different emotions. Most of the young people, bridesmaids especially, looked at the young couple with happy, dreamy faces as they held hands and repeated their vows. (Most young ladies have seen a lot of Disney movies and are hoping to find their handsome prince, too!) I’ve been there and done that, too, though it was before Disney movies.
When I was in my 30s and my kids were small, going to a wedding was a big accomplishment. I was glad to have made it to the occasion with everyone dressed. I only heard every other line of the vows back then. Raising kids and staying in love is tough work. I looked on the wedding couple thinking, “Good luck!” and that was about it.
Many years have passed. My beloved and I have been married for 35 years. I look at weddings totally differently now.
Some of the vows are sweet. “To have and to hold from this day forward…”. I love that part! But they are serious, as well. ”For better, for worse”-that means good days and bad days; PMS for girls and UMS (Ugly Mood Swings) for guys. “For richer, for poorer”-when you have a dollar or more in savings or are living below the poverty line. (Pot pies and tater tots may be involved.) “In sickness and in health”-includes all joint replacement surgeries, stomach viruses, gall bladder attacks, kidney stones, etc. plus the days when you are feeling great. “To love and to cherish”-to care for and treasure when the hips get a lot bigger (my case) and the hair falls out (my beloved’s case). “Until death do us part” …that’s to the very end, no matter what.
I don’t usually cry at weddings, but at this one I did-just a little. At the end of the ceremony, my beloved-the pastor encouraged them to love the Lord most, about all else. If they did, he challenged, the groom would be the husband she needed him to be and the bride would be the wife he needed her to be. That’s when I got teared up. It’s all true. There’s no way you can keep all those promises without God’s help. Now when I witness the vows, I’m thinking, “Please love the Lord! He will help you!”
I met the sweetest couple the other night. They are in their 80’s and have been married 65 years! Ho-o-ly smokes! Sixty-five years! That’s a whole lotta time! I love asking questions to people I meet. If I don’t ask, how will I know their story?! This is what I found out…They had gone to high school together at Prestonsburg. He had joined the army as she finished school. He told me he came back after a year to get her because he was afraid someone else would snatch her up. He served in Vietnam, coming home when his baby girl was eight months old. (She whispered that to me.) She talked about how good God had been.
After being married all that time, I asked her what she would say to young couples who are getting married now. She thought for only a moment. “I would tell them to just love each other,” she told me. “Just love each other,” she said again and nodded her head. It’s simple and profound at the same time. They had overcome many obstacles and were still together, speaking kindly to each other and finishing each other’s sentences. What a sweet example of ‘to have and to hold’, ‘to love and to cherish’!
There are lots of verses in the Bible about love. Many of them are used in wedding vows. 1 Corinthians 13 sums it up pretty well: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…”
The marriage commitment is serious and may be difficult at times. With the two simple words “I do,” lives are changed forever. But with God’s help, together “We can!”
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.