Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Reflections on a Wedding...

My first post on this blog was right after the engagement of my daughter. This past weekend, she was married. As the father of the bride, I’ve given myself a couple days to reflect on this new stage of life (as much for me as for her) and try to process some of the emotions I’ve been experiencing.

Things that surprised me…

Father of the Bride - I have either sung or officiated at about 350 weddings (in fact, I think I’ve only “attended” about 3 or 4 in my life.) So, I’m pretty familiar with how they are supposed to run. I know where people are supposed to stand or sit, what they are supposed to say, and nearly every other minute detail of how things should go. I was surprised with how much I didn’t know about this wedding. I became the stereotypical father of the bride who only knows he is to take that long walk down the aisle and proclaim (or quiver) “…her mother and I.”

Worship - Most weddings are the biggest day of a bride’s life. It is a day she has dreamed of since childhood, and we all encourage the fairy tale aspect of a wedding. One local wedding chapel advertises on its website “…well Cinderella, you’ve found your price charming! Now all you need is the perfect ballroom…”

I’ve been in other ceremonies where the couple’s desire was for the event to be one of worship. And so, they have a worship band lead the congregation in singing. They have the elements many would associate with worship. And, I believe, God honors their intent.

However, in this wedding, there was no “congregational singing”, no opportunity for response. Katy & Renjy stated in their program that all the attention on them makes them extremely uncomfortable and that they did not want to do anything that would steal any of God’s glory. In other words, this event was to be all about God. The music, the message (one of the best I’ve ever heard), and every element of the ceremony pointed to God, His supremacy, and His goodness. Not even a single love song to each other.

What surprised me was that more than any wedding I’ve ever been to (and more than most church services) worship happened. Looking back, I say “of course, that’s what we wanted”… but it still surprised me – caught me off guard, in a wonderful way.

No Tears, Just Joy - For the past several years, whenever I have seen the bride walk down the aisle, I’ve gotten choked up anticipating the day when I would walk Katy the aisle. I pretty much knew I would be a mess when the time came. However, when the moment came, I was so caught up in worship – so overwhelmed with a profound sense of God’s goodness and His pleasure with this event, that I could do nothing but join that “celebration dance” and escort my daughter down that aisle with greater joy than I can recall in years… perhaps since that precious daughter was born.

A bit of advice on how to marry a daughter…

I realize that most of you don’t know my new son-in-law. Renjy is an amazing addition to our family. When they became engaged, many of my daughter’s girlfriends said “wow, he’s hot!” My wife’s friends all talked about the beautiful children they would have one day. There was no shortage of young women at this wedding looking mighty forlorn, wishing it was they who were walking down the aisle with Renjy. And, no shortage of young men wishing it was they who were waiting at the front of the church for Katy. I have been the envy of many a father with a marriageable daughter. Many of them have asked me “how did you get so lucky to get Renjy as a son-in-law?”

Here’s what I know… from the day she was born, we began praying for who Katy’s spouse would be. Praying that he would be a devoted follower of Jesus. Praying that his parents would model for him what a godly marriage relationship looks like. Praying for his purity in relationships, and that he would save himself for Katy.

We also taught Katy from a very early age that beauty, true beauty, comes from the inside, not from the outside. Not from dressing a certain way, or having a lot of makeup on. True beauty would come from her Spirit-driven compassion for people, and from the light of Christ shining out of her. Her name means “pure” and we were convinced that a character of purity would be an attractive light others. And we prayed that God would cause her to live out that purity. She has done that. And in his own words, that character is what drew Renjy to Katy.

Raise them to love and follow God. And pray for them everyday. Simple. Ha! Not simple at all. It’s a lot of hard work. But sitting back, reflecting on this day, it was worth it.

Thanks God, for pouring out Your blessings on us.



Tom Mulkey said...

When you say "more than most church services," is that like USA church or like us church? And if it's the latter, should it be that way? I would agree that it was a very special awesome would it be for every weekend gathering/service to be special just as well? Just a thought...but I am so glad that you could enjoy that day so will be exciting to see what their lives look like in a year, then 5, then 20, etc.

Kim G. said...

It truly was a worshipful wedding and Katy and Renjy's commitment to Christ and to one another were the anchors. You and Becki done good . . . :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I hope the precious memories of the day bring joy to you all in the years to come.

Anonymous said...

Dean -- wish we could have been there but the commute from India is a little long... Like your insights. It truly is a struggle in USA culture to balance the "fairytale" wedding expectations of family and friends with a Heavenwards-pointing ceremony...and the expectations that go with that choice as well. 2.5 years ago, Libby and I talked a lot about what to include and not include in our wedding. Finally, we also chose not to have "congregational response" with a worship band. Still can't articulate all the reasons behind that, but I guess it comes down to each couple being sensitive to ways they can adapt their wedding to be most God-honoring. And being sensitive to the community that raised them and what will help those people look at God more clearly. Getting wordy here, but I guess I'm pleading for original, intentional thought by those planning weddings. Ask questions. Don't feel obliged copy others. And don't be afraid to try something new. Sounds like Katy and Renjy have set an example in doing just that for their community!
-Ben S

Libby said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. I am envious to have missed the wedding, but the joy I feel at experiencing it through your words is enough. ... And yes, they WILL have beautiful children :)

Jenn said...

It was beautiful! It is great to read the thoughts of the Father of the Bride. I enjoyed it and it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for the reminder of how to pray for our children when we have them.
Both of your families are very lucky. Renjy and Katy are special people!

sajini said...

Mr Dean,
I am a cousin of Renjy's. Im so glad that the wedding went well. I'm really sad that I missed out on a beautiful wedding! I hope to make it out there sometime this year. grace and peace