Preparing for marriage more important than preparing for wedding

Curtis K. Shelburne

The setting Jesus chose for his first miracle is almost as amazing as the miracle itself. He changed water to wine at a wedding feast (John 2).

I’m told that when my maternal grandparents decided to get hitched, they first hitched a horse to a buckboard and bounced and rattled down the dusty dirt roads one evening to the preacher’s house. He came out with his Bible, stood beside the wagon, said a few traditional words, and asked the pertinent questions. Each one said, “I do,” and . . . they were. Married, that is. That’s pretty much all there was to it. That wedding kicked off a marriage that lasted over six decades.

Whenever today I hear a couple say, “We just want a simple wedding,” my first thought is, “Oh, dear people, you don’t know what simple is. That beautiful beast is extinct, and I’ll guarantee you, unless you’re married almost immediately, the whole thing will grow, and grow, and grow. Simple is a worthy goal, but we’re more likely to end up with a simple tax code.”

Simple is the last thing a wedding I read about a few years ago was intended to be. From the very first, the bride’s family pulled out all the stops. Picture this in your mind (and then double the glitz): Lavish pre-wedding parties, the biggest and most ornate church in a big city, a wedding dress that cost more than the annual budgets of most small countries, a full orchestra, and every wedding “trimming” known to womankind. It was a bona fide occasion of state of which most royal families would be envious.

Perhaps that’s why the bride was even more nervous than most brides. Nervous, she nibbled—a lot—during the hours before the ceremony. As she walked down the long aisle in her lavish dress, the gown was white, but the guests noticed that the bride herself was distinctly green. Just before she reached the altar, she stopped, emerald green by now, bent over, and . . . tossed her cookies, chiseling in stone the one memory every guest would carry with them forever from that royal occasion. Had Elvis himself later shown up to sing, the bride’s retching would be what everyone remembered.

When an engaged couple sits in my office, I always try to remind them that a big wedding and a big marriage have nothing at all to do with each other, and that most of their effort should be spent on preparing for the marriage!

I’m not sure what sort of miracle Jesus might have worked to save the day at the wedding I just told you about, but the fact that Christ cared so much about a humble couple and their special time so long ago at Cana says a lot about the scope and the depth of his love. As he enters not just our feasts but every aspect of our lives, he loves and delights in us, and his mercy and grace are always with us.

May we never forget to invite this most loving Guest to be marvelously present in each moment of our lives.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at