Here Comes the Bride: Why I’m Not Having a Church Wedding

Whenever someone hears me say I’m not having a “Church Wedding” they always gasp, eyes popping wide open and hands flying to the chest. Some think I’m deliberately trying to be contrary, to go against convention. After all, EVERYBODY has a church wedding! It’s just the way it’s done. How can you NOT have one?

Unless of course you are pregnant, in which case it is the church that has refused to wed you (and in which case, I suppose, you are DOOMED). “Are you pregnant?” they ask. No I’m not pregnant yet, and I don’t plan to be before the wedding. The thing is, as far as I’m concerned, the day my fiancé and his kinsmen come to pay my bride price, and my father and the rest of my family give me away to this man and his family, I’m married. That’s my wedding day. That’s the day I was married, the day I truly became my man’s wife; the day I will celebrate as my wedding anniversary for the rest of our life together. While most girls from a very young age (I’m told) dream of walking down the aisle in a long white dress, with bridesmaids and confetti, I never did. White is my least favourite colour, so bland and so boring, it’s almost physically painful to imagine spending a whole day wearing it.

However, I understand that we live in a society governed by laws, and I realise I have to sign papers. And my husband and I will do so after our wedding, in a registry with our friends and family present. I will take the necessary vows. “Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband? Will you love him, honour him…” I will say “I do.” My husband and I will exchange rings as tokens of our love and commitment. We will be pronounced “Man and wife” and my husband will be asked to kiss his bride. We will eat, drink and celebrate this ceremony with loved ones.

After this, I will NOT take off my ring, put on a “wedding gown”, go to church and pretend to be just getting married. I will NOT take those vows again; I meant them the first time, thank you. My husband and I will not be “pronounced” man and wife again, when we are already man and wife. I will not do any of all those things people do simply because they do them.

Although my dad, himself an elder of the church, always says “the church has no business joining people”, I understand the desire for solemnisation which is undeniably deep-seated in every spiritual person. I do not deny this need in myself. That’s why a minister will be present on my wedding day, to bless our union after it has been sealed between both families.

I love church weddings. I love them because of the deep meaning they hold for the people who choose to have them. I’ve been on countless bridal trains, with joy and gladness and a very merry heart. These friends and loved ones honestly consider this day to be their wedding day, and I’m always glad and honoured to share the joys of a day so special to them. However, having such a day holds no such significance for ME. I attempted to plan a church wedding sometime ago. Lord have mercy, I never went through drearier motions! Only the happiness of my intended made it worth while.

Alas, that wedding never held; that marriage was never meant to be. Weeks have rolled into months and love’s flowers have bloomed again, only this time so divinely beautiful and so steeped in God’s peace. As I prepare to spend the rest of my life with my soul mate, I thank God daily that he not only understands the way I see weddings, he sees it the exact same way.

So, there will not be a church wedding. I am vaguely aware that there are some who will be disappointed, though I’m not sure why. I do not intend to apologise for being true to myself. Still, I can’t help but wonder, if I were to apologise, to whom exactly would my apology be directed anyway?

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