Saturday, July 30, 2016

Community Based Weddings

My wife and I married each other four days ago, surrounded by family and friends, taking in every bit of it, on a peaceful, cool, late summer evening in Prescott Valley.  The honeymoon has taken place in Oak Creek Canyon and Flagstaff, and we are now rounding up the last, playful, financially carefree evening before rolling back down the hill to our Phoenix home.
There is something I want to tell you about our wedding.  Primarily, the wedding was born through a mixture of creativity, initiated among the dreams of my wife and God himself, culminating in a crisp, peaceful, early evening wedding.  Secondly, the wedding and honeymoon were produced through a collective outpouring of family, friends, church community, and even friends of friends.

Our community delivered a cornucopia of talents, abilities, service, financial contributions, and guidance that culminated in a wedding we could not have construed on our own.  The financial aspect alone expresses our fortune due to services rendered by family, friends, and even friends of friends, the value of the wedding likely ten to twenty-thousand dollars higher than our budget.  Here are some of the flat-out pro bono services:  The venue was free.  The photography was free.  The sound equipment was free.  The musicians and singers were free.  The food was free.  The set-up was free.  These are just to mention a few.  In addition, people sacrificed their entire day to help set everything up, some experiencing dehydration and exhaustion.  Oh, and the wind kept busting lights and luminaries until the Lord told the winds to be still just prior to the wedding.I simultaneously experience gratitude and sorrow as I reflect upon the fact that the cost of the average wedding puts so many engaged couples into debt even prior to being married.  Our silent culture of isolation, lacking clusters of networks of grace-giving communities, forces engaged couples to go-it-alone in their preparations.  Yet, the love of God is expressed in this - when we risk entering community and all of the hurt and pain that may ensue, we create a situation in which it is God's desire for us to experience their hearts as they help us.

The story of our wedding is a story about a divine interplay of the creator, community, and gratitude.  Our story prior to marriage already contains difficulties, and our marriage will contain even more difficulties and pain, yet the value and magnificence of the story is about faith, hope, and love which trump everything.  The story we write with God, the connection we feel to God in the midst of it, this kind of joy we experienced in the midst of the community that surrounded us.

Photo by Photos by Lanty on Unsplash