I am in a Christ-centered relationship that is moving toward marriage. However, my boyfriend and I are from opposite sides of the world. I am from Europe but spent a year in South America, where we met.
We are both serious about our future and are open to live wherever God will lead us. But when it comes to talking about a wedding, we have a conflict. We both want the wedding to be in our home with our families and friends. It seems that either way one side will be hurt. And we don't know how to proceed even in the discussion, because it is not financially and physically possible for all of one party to travel to the other location.
I know the ceremony is not the most important thing, and we are trying to be reasonable, but we are struggling. At the moment we are both studying in our own countries. Please help us with some practical advice.
I think I can relate to your dilemma a little bit.
When Steve and I met in graduate school, we were both living in Virginia, while our families lived in different states. When we decided to get married, we had the wedding in Virginia and those family members who were able to make the trip did so. Many of our friends were there, because we'd met them in school. But many more weren't. After our honeymoon, my parents threw a wedding reception in my hometown and more of our friends and relatives attended.
Obviously your situation is far more challenging geographically (as we were talking about the distances between Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio). But the principle may apply. We chose Virginia as our wedding site, because it was the location common to both of us. And, because we were both living there, we would be able to plan our ceremony (as opposed to relying on our parents to do it). Plus, Virginia happened to be closer to his family, and his family had older, feeble relatives who would have found it harder to travel to Ohio.
Would it be possible to have the wedding in the place where you met and lived for a year, and then travel to each other's home countries for post-wedding celebrations (perhaps even as part of your honeymoon travel)? Or could you have the wedding in one of your home countries, with a small cake and punch reception, and then a bigger reception in the other location?
Some say, "Where there's a will, there's a way." I believe that where God is at work to join a man and woman in marriage, He will make a way. There's no guarantee that it will be easy, and there's certainly no assurance that your wedding will be of the sort Hollywood dreams up, but that's not the vision for Christian marriage. Your coming together is about a sacred vow; it's so much bigger than the two of you. And if you can't agree on where to hold the ceremony, I wonder if you'll be able to agree about things that really matter. The wedding is great practice for the challenges and joys ahead. Though many in our day see it as the finish line, it's really only the beginning.
As I wrote recently in “How can I keep our wedding affordable?”
This is a great opportunity for self-sacrifice, servanthood and demonstrating the fruit of the Holy Spirit. … This test is a chance to see what you, and your fiancé, are made of. Will you work together to meet challenges? Are you capable of working as a team - indicative of your ability to become one? Are you willing to leave your parents and their expectations and demands, in order to cleave to one another?
That's what's at stake.
In this season ahead there will be many challenges and obstacles, each of them an opportunity to trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5), abide in Him (John 15:4) and rejoice in Him (Philippians 4:4).
I don't think there's only one solution to your dilemma; likely there are several. This is the time to think creatively together about what will work best for your circumstances and finances. It's a great time to pray for wisdom. Don't stop at trying to figure it out in your own understanding. This is an issue you should pray about together. Scripture encourages us saying: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
Start asking. You won't just be praying for insights about planning your wedding, but for building the rest of your lives.
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures” (Proverbs 24:3-4).
Copyright 2010 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.