The Wedding Ceremony and Honeymoon
In the Bible, we don’t really find anything like what we would call a traditional wedding ceremony. After Abraham’s servant to back with Rebekah, we read, “Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (Gen 24:67). Basically, Isaac takes Rebekah, whom he has just met, has sex with her and she becomes his wife. However, McDonald and McDonald point out three aspects necessary according to the Scriptures for a marriage to take place: “A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24).
There must be, therefore, a leaving of father and mother.
In the narrative of Genesis 24, Rebekah demonstrates such. In Genesis 24:58, Rebekah promises to go with Abraham’s servant and leave her family.
The wedding ceremony serves as a public severing of the ties between parent and child. As we have mentioned, this is not a complete severing and you don’t have to move halfway across the country. Yet, there’s a new independence from parents than before.
There must be also a holding fast to the wife. The ceremony provides an opportunity for the husband and wife to make vows to love and to honor one another.
There must also be a becoming of one flesh.
Obviously, this is not a public act as are the leaving and cleaving. However, there is a sense in which the becoming one flesh is a public act. You share a hotel room, and you take a trip together, you start living together. This is the reason the sexual act is often referred to as “consummating the marriage”—it is the final thing which takes place to make a husband and wife “married.”
One other thing which deserves mention in discussing the biblical aspect of the ceremony is that God is actually the one who joins husband and wife together. After quoting Genesis one and two in relation to divorce, Jesus added, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mt 19:6). Thus, while the preacher prays a vital legal role, we must understand that God is the one who does the binding. That’s important, for we understand that we are in the presence of God. Thus, the vows we make are before God himself.
The Ceremony Itself
It doesn’t really matter what form the ceremony takes. There is no right or wrong way to do a wedding ceremony.
Of course, it’s traditional to have a wedding in a church, and most happily married couples had a ceremony in a church.
There is an old saying, “A man does not know how insignificant he is until his wedding day.” Guys, it’s really, really important that your wife has the wedding she wants. This is really a way to demonstrate love and service to our wives-to-be.
Planning a wedding is a very, very stressful event. There is much we can do to lessen the stress on the couple:
As fun as it is to have a large stack of magazines, there is a large amount of help (for free!) at the library and online. In other words, you don’t have to spend a whole lot of money on books to use one time. Look through the books, get ideas, and then decide what you want and get organized. There’s nothing worse than having a million ideas of thing you want to do at the last minute.
Establish a budget—and stick to it!
Decide who is going to pay for what. Are the bride’s parents going to pay for the wedding? Are they going to buy some things and the bride and groom buy some things? Are the bride and groom going to pay for everything? Whoever is paying for the wedding gets the final say on how much money is spent, so it’s VERY important to have that decided early in the planning. Once you have a budget in mind, stick with it. Don’t keep going back to add other things. If you aren’t paying for the wedding, you can ruin solid and good relationships. If you are paying for the wedding, you can start your marriage off deep in debt.
Be firm on major details and flexible on minor ones.
Decide early in the planning what’s really important to you. If something is crucially important to you, be firm. If it’s not important, there’s no reason not to be flexible. You and your parents aren’t going to agree on every aspect of the wedding. There’s no need to do so.
Let others help.
There is way too much to do for one person to do it all. One person cannot pick out the flowers, find the best photographer, find the best wedding dress, cook all the appetizers for the reception, book the band, etc. It’s best at the beginning to start delegating and then you don’t have to worry about nearly as much. You may want to have those other folks come back to you and let you know what they are thinking, but you don’t have to do it all by yourself.
Remember those thank-you notes.
If possible, write notes as gifts arrive. Also, make sure you make a note of the contents of each package. You also want to be very, very careful to check the contents of the package and not end up writing a thank-you note based on the package rather than the contents (sometimes people put fragile gifts in more than one box).
As you begin to plan your wedding, there are some ways you can keep from having headaches later on:
- Decide what kind of wedding you want (large or small, formal or informal) and what time of year you want your wedding. Many other decisions are going to be far easier if you know the kind of wedding you want and the time of year you’re going to have your wedding.
- Once you have made basic decisions, get your date on the church’s calendar and book a caterer and photographer. It generally takes at least three months to get a dress (unless you are able to buy one off the rack).
- Research businesses you’re considering. Talk to other couples to see what their experiences were. Check the Better Business Bureau.
- Review samples of work and service before booking. Attend performances of a band or DJ, look at photo albums or videotapes done for other couples, try sample recipes from caterers.
- Obtain a written contract for everything. The various contracts should say exactly what is and what is not included in the price. E.g., what will the caterer provide?
- Be particularly clear about policies and penalties about changing your plans or cancelling. Make sure the caterer and florist have a copy of the church’s policy for flowers/food.
- Confirm all services one or two weeks prior to the event.
After you get all the pictures taken from the wedding, you get to go on the honeymoon. There are many things I learned from my honeymoon: Don’t have a late wedding, take many pictures, and drive all afternoon to get to your honeymoon destination, be careful about letting family and friends know where you are, and you may not want to go to an exotic spot for your honeymoon.
The wedding night:
You need to learn as much as possible about sex before the first experience together.
Granted, Adam and Eve did not know anything about sex when they began their sex lives together. However, it’s important—especially for us guys—to know some basics of how the opposite sex operates when it comes to sex.
Long before the wedding, the bride needs to visit a doctor to discuss with him or her family planning. The fear of getting pregnant can seriously hamper the joys of sexual fulfillment in the honeymoon. It usually takes about six weeks or so before birth control is effective.
Most young brides will not be able to provide enough vaginal lubrication on the honeymoon.
Therefore, some other lubrication probably needs to be provided. If that is not done, intercourse can be very painful for the bride.
The husband should proceed very slowly and quite gently with tender caresses and verbal expressions of love.
There is a thin line here between a husband’s love and a man’s passion. If a man gets in too big a hurry, he may communicate to his wife that his passion is far more important than his love for her.
Some women will want nice lingerie for the wedding night.
The husband must allow her to enter the bathroom to change if she so desires. The wife will likely be quite self-conscious the first time she is nude in front of her husband; the husband must reassure her of her beauty. I was reading recently an article on pornography on the Association of Christian Counselors’ website. A story was there about a man who had to pull a Playboy out of his suitcase, place it on the pillow next to his wife, and stare at another naked woman so that he could reach orgasm. How do you think that poor wife felt?
Remember also that wives need much more foreplay prior to sex than do we guys.
We must remember that just because we are aroused and ready for intercourse, our wives may not yet be. It is always best to ask if our wives are ready before we enter the vagina.
It is also important on the honeymoon for the husband and wife to feel free to experiment sexually.
This is new territory, and no two couples are precisely the same. You need time to find out what’s best for you and your beloved.
This course was originally taught by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr. at Ohio Valley University.