The other day I went into Helzberg Diamonds at my local mall to get my wedding ring cleaned. I was surprised to see a sign that read: Elope here. (No, really. We have ordained associates.) Elsewhere in the store, a banner read: We’re not saying you should elope here. We’re just saying you could elope here.
Call me old-fashioned, but I was a little shocked to think of a newlywed couple tying the knot in a store located right next to a Taco Bell. I asked a nearby associate if anyone had actually done it, and she said, “Oh yes! I haven’t married anyone yet because I still need to get my credentials, but other associates have.”
There’s […] a survey Helzberg Diamonds conducted over the summer of 1,000 young adults ages 23 to 38. Ninety-one percent who hoped to get married said they would consider eloping. The top three reasons were to save money, avoid having to plan a ceremony, and keep their ceremonies more intimate.
Also, 56 percent said they preferred to have someone other than a religious figure officiate.
I am all about the idea of small weddings (I even wrote an article about it), but there’s a lot to unpack here. While Helzberg’s survey of 1,000 young adults isn’t conclusive by any means, it does reflect a general mentality. For broke, burned-out millennials, a one-stop-shop for marriage holds some appeal. Perhaps more troubling, according to this survey fewer than half of young adults desire a person of faith to conduct the ceremony.
Here are three not-so-good things I think this ring-store elopement says about our view of marriage.
Marriage is convenient.
The whimsical, quirky messaging Helzberg is putting out about marriage is, “Hey, it’s easy. Come in for a ring, leave married. We’ll do all the work!” It has a real YOLO vibe that makes marriage akin to buying a new pair of shoes or taking a surprise trip to the coast.
It’s like Helzberg created the iconic “Easy Button” for getting married. The thing is, marriage isn’t easy. By embarking on matrimony in such a flippant way, couples may not be counting the cost of the actual commitment.
Marriage is not worth planning for.
I’ve heard it said that couples should spend as much time planning for their marriage as they do planning for their wedding. I heartily agree! But the idea of buying a ring and getting hitched with zero planning (apart from obtaining a marriage license) demonstrates an impulsiveness that I think devalues the weight of the marriage vows.
I’m not saying it’s always wrong to elope. Marriages in the Bible were nothing like the elaborate, expensive events we have today. But if you are choosing to elope or have a small wedding, make sure you’ve put significant thought, prayer and effort into the marriage and making your relationship successful.
Marriage vows and God are mutually exclusive.
Of course, this is not a new phenomenon. Vegas “quickie weddings” have been a thing since the 1930s, and four percent of U.S. couples opt to get married at the courthouse. And while an alternative wedding option isn’t wrong, I find it troubling that a majority of young adults surveyed would say they’d rather not have a person of faith officiate.
Leaving the Creator of marriage out of marriage is asking for trouble. We all know from observation (and at times personal experience) that even wedding vows made before God can be difficult to keep. However, like swearing on a Bible in a courthouse, there is a certain weight and seriousness to making your wedding vows before God. Plus, a marriage between two Christians has a purpose that goes far beyond the bride and groom.
To-dos for saying “I do”
I don’t think it’s surprising that young adults find the idea of elopement enticing. Less cost, less planning and less people involved. Simple weddings have their place. But couples are also wise to plan for their relationship before making this sacred commitment.
They will need loved ones and community to succeed. They will need God’s help to love each other as husband and wife in the way Ephesians 5 prescribes. Not to mention, I can think of plenty of more romantic locations to marry than at the mall.
Copyright 2020 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.