By Amy Glynn
2020 dawned, and my fiancé and I were closer than ever to our wedding day in May. We couldn’t wait to be married, and we couldn’t wait for our wedding! I was up to the neck in planning details - which drinks to greet our guests with? Where shall we seat everyone? What colour should we print our orders of service? What thickness of card? Paper, gloss, matt??
Maybe this is familiar to you: maybe you’ve planned a wedding yourself, or alongside a family member. Perhaps this brings back stressful memories, of clashing opinions, stretched budgets, guest list arguments.
Or perhaps it reminds you of joyful times – the excitement of planning a brilliant celebration of the gift of marriage. And how wonderful to be able to celebrate alongside all of your closest friends and family! If you’re a Christian and have been to a wedding, I’m sure you’ll remember the joy of seeing a couple united in love, just as Jesus has loved his bride, the Church. I’m sure you’ll remember the encouragement seeing the bride and groom commit to love each other sacrificially, just as our heavenly Father has committed his love to us in the sacrifice of His son for us.
Or maybe you’re reading this and rolling your eyes – such a waste! Such materialism typical of this generation! A wedding is just one day. Yet the average spend in the UK on a wedding is £31,974 (Hitched.co.uk, 2019), and the average American couple spends a whopping 528 hours planning their day!
But whatever your approach, weddings are exciting and monuments life events. And I was incredibly excited for my rapidly approaching day! I couldn’t wait to have many friends and family with us for the biggest party of my life! We’d planned an all-day party, a marquee banquet and an evening of dancing. It was all I could have wanted.
But, of course, COVID-19 intervened. This is not a surprising story to any of you, and I can’t promise any unexpected twists and turns.
By 23rd March, I knew my cherished plans were going to have to change rather drastically. Boris announced national lockdown across the UK. The government instructed us to stay at home. Non-essential shops shut. Social events prohibited. With the phrase I dreaded hearing: ‘including weddings’.
I was gutted. I knew that realistically we were not going to have our 200-guest wedding any time this year.
I didn’t even know if we’d be able to get married with our immediate family present – the anticipated changes were that weddings would be maximum 5 people – the couple, the vicar and two witnesses.
I was bitterly disappointed.
Maybe you’re still rolling your eyes at this. For goodness sake, it’s only a wedding, a few months wait and you’ll be married soon enough – you’ll be wishing it’d been delayed a few more after a year or so of marriage!
But I’m more interested in what this whole process revealed about me.
I was disappointed because my wedding day wasn’t going to look as I wanted it to.
My guests wouldn’t get to take cute photos to put on their Instagram. I wouldn’t have hundreds of friends handing me congratulations cards. I wouldn’t have wedding photos comparable to the thousands I’d saved to my Pinterest boards.
My disappointment lay in realising my treasured wedding wouldn’t be as beautiful and cool and aesthetic as I had hoped it would be.
It made me think of Jesus’ words in Matthew chapter 6:19-21
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I quickly realised my ‘treasure’ was in my own plans. I treasured what people thought of me, whether my plans were ‘acceptable’. I’d stored up my treasure in what my wedding was going to look like!
And the COVID pandemic certainly did ‘break in and steal’, ruining my plans. I was made aware just how crazy it is to pin my hopes on plans made on earth.
Things we treasure on earth are so fragile, be it popularity, money, fitness, appearance, social media presence, a beautiful wedding day. If it hadn’t been COVID, any number of things could have ruined my ideal – even a rainy day would have ruined a glorious spring wedding in the country! But what is our alternative hope? Are we all destined to face a life of dashed hopes and disappointing plans?
It’s the hope my wedding planning should have pointed to. The hope of treasure in heaven. The treasure and hope that one day I will be united with God forever. One day, I will spend eternity with my saviour Jesus, in a party even better than a pre-COVID wedding!
My disappointment showed me I loved people’s approval and how my friends viewed me above all else.
But if my heart was in loving Jesus above all else, how would that have changed my responses to these cancelled plans? How would that have changed what emphasis I placed on my planning?
By July, me and my fiancé were able to get married. God was exceedingly kind – we had 30 friends and family with us and enjoyed an incredible day celebrating. It was vastly different from the plans we had originally made, yet was wonderful.
I don’t know what disappointments you’ve experienced over the last few months. Maybe they are deeper and more painful than delayed wedding plans. But my prayer is that the disappointments of ruined plans would help me, and you, treasure Jesus more – his plans cannot be disappointed. His plans are never going to fail. And his plan is to bring me to be with him forever, in a wonderful future.