Congratulations!  You have met someone very special - so special  that you want to spend the rest of your life with them.  Marriage is a  marvelous gift from the Lord.  Both the marriage and wedding service  deserve careful, thoughtful preparation.  Because it is YOUR wedding,  I want you to be deeply involved in planning it.  Because it will be  performed in the presence of the Lord, and in anticipation of His  blessings, I also want to help in the preparation and share some of  the wisdom I have gained through my involvement with many Christian  weddings through the years.  

Preparation includes both premarital counseling and planning the  wedding service.  The former usually involves a number of sessions  where couples meet with the pastor to discuss topics like marriage  readiness, relationships with relatives, what marriage is,  communication, decision-making, finances, children, and practicing the  presence of Christ in a home.  

This WEDDING PLANNING KIT focuses on the second part of planning  the wedding service.  Each couple is unique, and each wedding service  can be specially tailored for them, their family, and their guests.  Early in the planning stages we will want to discuss what kind of  service and reception you want to have, and what we can include in the  plans to best accomplish your goals.  

The KIT includes basic information about the elements involved in  a wedding service, plus a listing of many elements commonly used in  weddings.  Select what you like from those listed and copy them into a document in your word processor. Then rewrite them, or experiment with  writing your own.  Pastors will reserve the right to do final editing.   

Before you select the elements, read the following information  for a clear understanding of areas to consider in preparing the  wedding.  

Your wedding and marriage really involve more than you two, and  it is important to plan with others in mind.  The most important guest  at your wedding will be the Lord, Himself.  By planning a Christian  wedding you are recognizing marriage as a gift from God.  It is  important that your lives, your marriage, and your wedding service are submitted to Him.  As the Creator of mankind and the inventor of  marriage, it is God alone who can enable us to fulfill our wedding vows and live our days in joy, peace and fulfillment.  A wedding  service is more than the initiation of a legal social contract.  It is  an act of worship where two lives are united in God's presence with  His blessing, to fulfill the purposes for which He created them.  Make your wedding service more than a 20-minute formality before  the reception.  Begin your celebration with the Lord, in His Presence.   As you plan your reception, see that the elements included also bring  honor to Him.  

When God established matrimony, He decreed that the first  ingredient of marriage is to "leave your father and mother" (Gen  2:24).  When God's intended plans are not properly understood,  relationships can sometimes be strained between the couple and their  parents.  Parents and children should not view this leaving as  rebellion, rejection, or "free at last!", but rather a releasing and  commissioning into a new stage of life.  It is an event of transition, climaxing the process of growth to adulthood where honor and respect  for parents replace childhood obedience and parental control (Eph 6:1- 3).

The people invited to your wedding are special to you and your  family.  You will undoubtedly want them to enjoy themselves and share  in your joy.  Be sure you invite them early so they have plenty of  time to schedule the wedding into their calendar.  Assist those who  come from a distance in finding accommodations.  

Planning a service can often become much more complex than  necessary.  There are two opposite errors which sometimes entrap couples as they plan.  One is to shape their wedding plans according  to family pressures (Aunt Bessie would be horrified if we didn't have  a runner, and Uncle Joe won't come if we don't have an open bar at the  reception!). The other extreme is to disregard all family and  cultural traditions, and not explain the reasons for changes couples do make.  The sooner a couple can work out their plans and let people  know what they are, and the rationale behind them, the longer time  families will have to adjust to changes and the easier time they will  have accepting changes.  

Some traditions in our culture dictate that weddings be under the exclusive direction of the bride and her mother.  I think it is more  appropriate for the couple to work out the plans with both families, settling on plans that honor God, bring joy to the couple and their  families, and fit the constraints of location, time, and money.  

The insights and experience of pastors can be very beneficial to  couples planning their weddings.  Couples should check with the pastor to learn the policies of their church.  Some pastors and denominations have clear rules about the order and content of the wedding service. Couples should not automatically assume they can plan their wedding on their own.

Among the many details of planning, one in particular must be  done on time.  Without it, there will be no wedding!  Get the wedding  license.  Information on obtaining a license, necessary blood tests  and necessary time intervals is available from the town, village, city, or county clerk's office.  Be sure to acquire this  information soon enough to allow adequate time for satisfying the  requirements.  Pastors should have the license in their possession one week  before the wedding.  

Careful planning is very important.  Nevertheless, it is rare that weddings occur exactly as they have been planned.  That's OK!   Pray, prepare diligently, relax, enjoy, and trust the Lord.