Planning a wedding is a lot of pressure. Everyone you know is invited, it’s (hopefully) a once-in-a-lifetime event and it’s the most formal occasion of your life. That in itself can make any bride or groom a little antsy. Yet more than that, in the modern world, it is a life goal that is right up there with finding the perfect, high-paying job. Just watch Say Yes to the Dress to see how much money is spent and how much of a big deal having the perfect, most beautiful wedding day is.
In some ways this obsession can reflect our natural desires: finding one’s vocation and living it should certainly be the happiest occasion in life. It should be a happier occasion even than a college graduation or a first job. However, in the Christian perspective, marriage is one of seven sacraments. The vocation for marriage is social and almost secondary to our primary vocation to communion with God. A wedding day is a happy occasion, but the reason it is happy is because it is the first day of marriage, uniting two people in order to show Love to the world and serve Love through one another. A priest is called to serve his bride, the Church, and care for his spiritual children, and a married couple is called to care for their domestic Church and build up (literally and figuratively) the People of God:
“Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are sacraments of Christian initiation. They ground the common vocation of all Christ’s disciples, a vocation to holiness and to the mission of evangelizing the world. They confer the graces needed for the life according to the Spirit during this life as pilgrims on the march towards the homeland.
Two other sacraments, Holy Orders and Matrimony, are directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so. They confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1533-1534)
A wedding day is also important because it points to our final destination and our deepest desires. Heaven is compared to a wedding feast in the Bible and our union with God many times compared to that of a bride and groom, especially in the literature of mystic saints. Looking back at my wedding day, even though it was a short three months ago, I can’t help but feel nostalgic and as if it really was the day in my life that most showed me what heaven must be like. Almost all my friends and family were there, I was adorned and prepared as in no other day in my life, I felt loved and united to my spouse and at the start of a great adventure.
A dream wedding should not be a goal in our life. A dream marriage perhaps, in which “a domestic Church” (CCC 1655-1658) is really created. If there is a crisis in priesthood vocations, it could very well be because there is a crisis in Christian marriage vocations. If anything should be our goal, it is certainly a dream saintly life. However, all that is good is given to us by the grace of God and too much planning and perfectionism is the opposite of surrender and sainthood. Although it is our responsibility to hear and respond to vocation, it is foremost a calling from God and always something we are ourselves unworthy of. Although it is our responsibility to care for the “soil” of our soul, the seed is the Word of God and God is our gardener.
So don’t plan a perfect wedding. Don’t plan a perfect life. If you must, plan the perfect marriage… especially the one with your Eternal Spouse.