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Purposeful wedding

wedding-in-three-months-part2

I’m not a proponent of rushed engagements, let me be clear. Yet, I don’t recommend any particular length of engagement because every relationship is different. I have some questions though that I propose to Bible-believing couples they can ask themselves when making a decision on how long to be engaged for.

What I don’t recommend is deciding on an engagement time frame based on a wedding planning time frame. I believe the engagement (a time of transition to marriage), should be seen as more than just a time to plan a wedding.

I would be happy to write about a wedding planned for two years that prioritised the purpose of engagement and focused on preparing for marriage! So let me know if yours is such!

 

 

Patrick and Laura’s wedding was planned with a short timeline in mind. They wanted to close the distance gap (one living in the US, the other in Singapore) as soon as they get married. Given the legal process they have to go through (this is still in process at the time of this writing) the waiting time involved in that, and a marriage certificate being pertinent, they decided to get married in three months.

On Part 1 of this blog post, I shared about how Patrick and Laura picked their vendors, how they planned their actions, and how they split tasks between the two of them. I was very curious to know about the latter because they had to plan their wedding while being in two different continents! That’s not easy, but they were able to do it.

For this Part 2, they share about the help they needed in planning their wedding, the challenges they encountered, what their wedding budget was like, and what their tips and advice are for couples planning a wedding with a shorter timeline in mind.

 

 

1.  Did you ask help from people when you planned your wedding?

Patrick: Definitely! We couldn’t have pulled it off without the help from friends and family. Laura’s friends in Singapore were gracious enough to volunteer as hosts and coordinators for the wedding day. This relieved us of the burden of having to run our own show.  A few other friends helped with producing some of our decors. Also, my parents blessed us with $5,000 USD for us to use for the wedding at our discretion. We wanted to be financially wise by not taking on a loan, so the gift from them was very helpful.

 

2.  Every couple experiences challenges during the planning stage of the wedding. What were yours?

Patrick: One of them was the distance obviously. I couldn’t physically be there with Laura as she met up with vendors. She had to repeat to me everything she talked about with the vendors so I can still be involved in making decisions. For many other things, I just had to trust her judgement.

The short timeline required us to act fast, which added to the overall stress during that period. But we still would rather go through that than prolong our being apart from each other.

Laura: Our cultural differences, while making our relationship rich and colourful, brought about some challenges too. The most pronounced part of it were the differences in our family’s traditions and expectations especially around weddings. We had to walk each other through the background of those expectations so we get a better understanding where our families our coming from.

 

3.  What was your overall budget for the wedding?

Patrick: We set our venue package budget to USD5000. We made the estimate based on the templates and budgeting tools we found online. They pointed out that around 50% of the expenses will be for food, venue, and decors. Our venue package included all that. Then we set a budget of another USD5000 for everything else including our wedding rings, honeymoon (in Singapore), photography, the wedding dress, and other logistics.

Laura: After the wedding, we ran through our budget sheet against our actual expenses and everything came up to about USD10,000 which was the target we set.

 

 

4.  What is your encouragement/advice for couples planning their wedding with a budget in mind and with a tight timeline?

The newlyweds shared:

  • Create your priority list.

Decide which elements of a wedding are essential to you, and which ones you can do without. If you allow non-essentials to creep in, wedding expenses could balloon out of control. You could take on immense debt to have a grand wedding, but after a certain point, there are diminishing returns to the extra amount you spend.

  • Manage your guest list size.

Make it only as large as you need it to be. You don’t have to accommodate everyone.

  • Begin with the end in mind.

Couples can get bogged down by the details of the wedding. Remind yourselves of the end goal - which is to be married!

  • Seek help.

Asking help from people was probably the most humbling part of the experience. We are both very independent, so we had to go out of our comfort zones to ask help from people. And it was all worth it.

  • Take breaks.

Remember to take breaks from planning and have fun with your partner. Always remind yourselves why you’re marrying her/him in the first place.

  • Have a sense of humour.

Laura: I remember telling Patrick a lot of jokes. Sometimes he just laughed at me while I laughed at my own jokes.  It’s an effective way of reducing stress and overcoming disappointments. It also strengthened our emotional connection by creating a positive atmosphere. The feeling that we get after laughing helped us stay grounded and united.

  • Invest in your spiritual life.

Regular prayer time goes a long way. The wedding provided opportunities for miracles to happen. It was an invitation to our loved ones to be generous, loving and kind towards us and to one another.

 

 

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wedding-in-three-months-part1

I’m often asked by couples what the ideal time frame is to plan a wedding. My answer is always a question, “How long do you want to be engaged for?”

Understanding and agreeing on how long you want to be engaged for puts more focus on your relationship than on the scale of the wedding you’re dreaming to have. Here’s my blog post that talks more about this.

One couple who decided on their wedding planning timeframe primarily based on how long they wanted to be engaged for was Patrick and Laura.

They planned their wedding in barely three months.

 

 

Patrick and Laura met through a common friend. They were put in touch in a chat group. And as the virtual conversations progressed, the common friend decided to drop out of the chat group leaving Patrick and Laura all to themselves to talk. Their friendship grew and soon realised that they liked each other. So  they decided to date exclusively in spite of being continents apart.

They had planned to see each other in their home cities to learn more about each other’s friends and families.

From the very start, they were upfront to each other about their intention - to find a spouse. So it did not take long for them to decide, through their dating relationship of eight months, that they would like to marry each other.

They got engaged in November 2018 in Los Angeles. A few days after, Laura had to fly back to Singapore where she was working. They were very much aware that they had to close the distance gap between them when they get married. Holding different citizenships, one of them obviously needs
to relocate to the other person’s city. They decided that Laura will be the one moving to America once they’re wed. This process involves applying for a spousal visa for her that they can only initiate once they’re married.

Convinced that getting setup for marriage is more important than the type of wedding they wanted to have, they decided to keep their engagement to at most four months.

During the first few weeks of engagement, they focused on setting up their foundations. They prayed and fasted together while also asking for prayers from their church community. They also started researching on the legal requirements for Laura’s visa application, and the legal marriage rites that are available to them. And they also quickly reached out to the church for pre-marriage counselling.

I asked them about their experience in planning their wedding that Michael, my husband, and I had the honour to attend and emcee. Here’s part 1 of what they’ve shared:

 

 

1.  How did you decide on your wedding venue?

Laura: We agreed on our aesthetic vision and our budget before making the search. We wanted it semi-outdoor, with natural light, with high ceiling, with a tropical green garden, and fit for 40 guests. Then we did a Google search using these descriptions. Lewin Terrace here in Singapore showed up as the top result. I visited their space, then showed videos and photos to Patrick as he was overseas. We instantly fell in love with it! We didn’t look for anything else since it matched our vision plus it qualified for our budget.

 

2.  How did you find your other major vendors?

Laura: What’s great about Lewin Terrace is that they have strong partnerships with other wedding vendors. Part of the venue rental package are the florals, decors, and catering. Then they recommended a photographer too. This made the search easy for us because they had most of what we needed.

*Tip from The Asian Mrs. Blanding: I agree that a packaged deal that includes most of the wedding services usually ends up cheaper than finding them individually yourself. Reason is that the key vendor (in this case, the venue) has already negotiated for a long-term partnership price with these different vendors, bringing down the price that gets passed down to you. It’s a great option for couples who have a tight planning timeline!

 

 

3.  You were physically apart when you were planning your wedding. And you had a short timeline - just three months! What were the steps you took to pull it all off?

The couple shared:

     a. Pursuing pre-marriage counselling

This was a non-negotiable for us. We’ve learned from our married friends how important preparing for marriage is. So even with our distance, we sought for a way to go through counselling. Laura’s church pastor and wife from the Every Nation Church Singapore were very accommodating to our request to counsel us over Skype! It was the best investment of our time.

     b.  Constant communication

We had to communicate daily, even several times a day through calls and messaging to update each other of our progress. Communication also assured us of our availability for each other.

     c. Quick decision-making

We established our “guiding principles” first for the wedding (something we learned from The Asian Mrs. Blanding!). This allowed us to make decisions on the details faster. We also had to stay away from Pinterest or Instagram after we’ve made up our decisions. We didn’t want to be swayed to changing our mind with the hundred other options out there.

     d. Organised file sharing

We used Google Docs a lot. This is so much better than sharing attached files. We always have the latest version of our updates with Google Docs on Drive.

     e. Use of available online tools

For setting up our foundations, we read up on The Asian Mrs. Blanding’s posts and downloaded her tools. One that we used a lot was her 7-Day Devotional that helped us through our prayer time. We also used a lot of the planning tools from the Knot.

For free graphic design tasks, we used Canva.com.

     f. Regular prayer time

We prayed at the start and prayed all throughout our engagement. We asked our friends to pray for us too.

 

4.  How did you and Patrick split the tasks?

We split the tasks based on our strengths and capacities. Since Laura was the one in Singapore where we were going to have our wedding, she attended the meetups with the vendors. Patrick took care of the administrative part, accounting, sourcing of wedding rings, planning the solemnisation requirements, and organising our honeymoon.

On part 2 of this blog post, I share about how Patrick & Laura managed their budget, the challenges they faced, and their tips for couples planning a wedding like theirs.

 

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Outdoor weddings have undoubtedly become more and more popular. I’ve been seeing more and more couples taking their wedding party to the backyard, the courtyard, the beach, or wherever else a clear sky can be seen.

We had ours in a garden nestled under tropical trees overlooking the beach. The sun was high up in the afternoon, and everyone without sunglasses squinted throughout our ceremony. My face had collected sweat by the time my groom and I were permitted to kiss, and I didn’t feel as pretty as when I walked down the aisle. We were glad it was a sunny day, but I wouldn’t lie about hoping that it wasn’t THAT hot.

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
While I was indeed “walking on sunshine” on our wedding day, I couldn’t say I had nary a care for the sweltering hot temperature that day. (Photo by Iwan Photography in Bali)

 

If I was slightly unsettled even with clearly good weather on our wedding day, how much more would it be for couples whose outdoor weddings got rained on?

Here’s a post where I wrote about what four of my married female friends felt when the sky sent showers on their wedding day.

Knowing that the weather is out of our control, how can couples prepare for the least-liked weather conditions?

There are logistical steps that you can take to have a Plan B so that you and your guests don’t end up getting soaked in the rain and waking up the next day with a flu. Check out my post on 25 Things to Consider When Planning an Outdoor Wedding.

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
Dust and Carla were able to push through with their garden ceremony amidst the drizzle. Come dinner time, rained cats and dogs and everyone couldn’t step out of the venue. Click the photo to read about their story. (Photo by Oak St. Studios)

 

We all know that a Plan B is a Plan B because it’s not Plan A, our preferred plan. And for a bride and groom, that really sucks.

So how can you prepare yourselves mentally, emotionally, and more importantly, spiritually for any kind of disappointment that bad weather could bring on your wedding day?

Here are 5 steps you can take to prepare for any weather you wake up and sleep to, on the day you say “I do”:

 

1. Think about how you can showcase God’s creativity through your wedding.

I believe that God allows us to bring out our creativity on our wedding day. After all, He’s like a Father who’d like to see His children use their talents. We ought to create excellent things because our God is excellent.

Now, think of how you can make your wedding look just that - excellent. Oh, for sure your ideas abound! The good news is that we all want our wedding day to be superb, and that’s not a difficult thing to do.

Next, think about what a poorly executed wedding would look like. It obviously doesn’t showcase God’s creativity. List down the elements of such a wedding so you can really imagine them with your fiancé.

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

 

This time, ask yourselves these questions:

• If the flowers that you’ve been wanting to use for your wedding fail to bloom on THE day, are you failing God?

• If the sun dries up the lake where you wanted to get married in, are you failing God?

• If it rains on your wedding day, and you have to bring all your guests indoors for their safety, are you failing God?

The answer is definitely no because these things are obviously out of your control. So if you have anything on your “poorly-executed-wedding-be-like” list along those lines, scrap them.

When we end up feeling bad about not getting something we want, is it because we are just too insistent on what we want?

The exercise above is one way to help us check our intentions when we make certain decision for our wedding (or in life!). I know you will be planning excellently for the things that you can control, so be easy on yourself! God is already pleased at the intent and the effort you’ve put into planning!

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
John and Rachelle were all set for a beach wedding reception but it rained. Moving indoors didn’t stop them from delivering great entertainment to their guests - filled with lots of impromptu singing! (Photo by TJ Medrana Photography)

 

2. Use your wedding funds wisely.

Anything unplanned that happens on your wedding becomes too painful to handle when we put in too much of our resources in it.

If an outdoor wedding gets rained on, and you have to revert to Plan B, then the effort, time, and money you put in for your venue and all your outdoor decors no longer give you the full return on investment. And this hurts couples badly. Sometimes we can overlook the cost of effort and time, but not easily money. Why? Because we tend to be more attached to our money, and we earn it through effort and time after all!

So what’s the antidote? Decide wisely where you put your wedding fund into.

When you take a biblical perspective on spending your wedding money, you make wiser decisions. What does spending look like in the Bible? That which will honor and celebrate Him. There are tons of Biblical scriptures on it. Here’s a list of some of them.

An example of how a couple could be spending their wedding fund with God in mind is this:

Lillian and Thomas chose a beach wedding to complement their water-loving personalities (God likes how we embrace our uniqueness.), to showcase the beauty of the natural scenery (God created them after all!), and to share the Gospel during the ceremony even to passers-by (Wow, that’s letting go of any privacy on their wedding day!).

But if you’re telling me, “Hmm, we’re not choosing our venue for all those reasons, just that it’s really pretty and it suits us!” Then that’s totally fine too!

You can now then check your choice against your budgets.

If your choice of venue stretches your budget beyond what you can afford, especially that you will need to spend also on any rainy-day logistics (like tentage or renting an alternative venue--read my post about that here), then it might not be the best choice.

I’d be careful about “praying for that venue that is 40% beyond our budget because God grants the desires of our hearts!” Yes, He grants the desires of our hearts, but only if they are the desires of His heart too! And I don’t think He wishes any of us to begin married life at a deficit. More on the topic of Weddings & Money here.

In the end, whether it’s a church venue, a palace, a garden, or the slope of a volcano where you are getting married, God is okay with any venue, as long as you are choosing it for Him and using the resources that He has given you wisely. And when you choose Him, of course you are also choosing to make it safe for your guests!

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
Eric and Kelly had such an elegant, welcoming and God-honouring wedding that didn’t break the bank. (Photo by 9 Frames Photography)

 

3. Pray and ask God about your choice of venue and setup.

You’ve heard this before: “Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)

When it’s time for you and your fiancé to choose your wedding venue and setup, first, pray about it. Remember, praying is seeking God’s desire for you. And as you both pray for what He desires for you both, He’ll work in amazing ways to speak to your hearts, and make them want what He wants for you.

Then dive into the Word. Communicating with God is a two-way action. Just praying without seeking for His instructions is like talking to your counsellor without giving your listening ears to know what they think. Getting into the Word is also a way to affirm if what you are desiring is what God desires for you both.

 

 

Which part of the Bible do you go to when you’re in the middle of making a big decision? And I’d consider picking a wedding venue as a big decision. It will define most of your other wedding decisions!

I don’t have a prescription on which scripture would help you exactly, because there are tons. I suggest you read this article on How Do I Study a Specific Topic in the Bible. It will suggest to you using a concordance. When you search for topics using an online concordance like Bible Study Tools, I suggest looking up some of these words to study scriptures about them: “decisions,” “plans,” “wisdom,” or “hospitality.” As for why I included the word “hospitality”, read my fourth point below. As you pray with your partner, write down the words that come to mind that you’d want to study.

When you make decisions based on what God wants for you, then it should be easier to heal from disappointments when your plans don’t prosper. What happens if your wedding day still gets a weather that you don’t prefer after you’ve prayed, heard from God and obeyed God when you both decided on a venue? You get full assurance that it’s the weather that God wants for a bigger purpose!

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
Ina’s dream of an outdoor wedding was rained on, which led her to learn more about her now husband. Click on the image to read her story. (Photo by Icebox Imaging)

 

On the note of prayer and studying the word: This whole period of wedding planning is a great opportunity to exercise your praying muscles and develop Bible study habits. You and your fiancé will be making TONS of decisions together. While your decisions would seem to only be relevant to a one-day event, they have long-term effect. So I really believe that this is a period when you really have to prioritise even more your time with the Lord. You will be busy planning the wedding, but prioritising your time with God will realign you with the real purpose of this season. How I wish I heard about this when I was in your place!

 

4. Think of the wedding venue that you choose as your home on your wedding day.

Your wedding venue, every area of it, is your home on that special day. If anything, it’s your first home together as a married couple! You are welcoming your most loved people to that place that you meticulously prepared for their coming.

This said, won’t the way you design the wedding venue similar to how you would get your home ready if you were to invite them to your actual marital home? You’ll probably even pour out more resources on your wedding day than any other occasion you would host in the future. What a great act of hospitality!

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day

 

One picture of hospitality in the Bible is found on 1 Peter 4:9 which says, Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” The next verse goes on to say that, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

In the first point, I talked about how God is pleased with you when you use your talents to plan, organise, and design the venue on your wedding day. The verse above affirms that!

Then I talked about spending your wedding funds wisely on point # 2. And this verse also encourages us to be faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms! I believe that you having money to spend on your wedding is just by God’s grace! Isn’t that cool?

So in the case of your wedding venue and setup, what you need to prioritise is how to make people feel comfortable in the space, how you can make them feel accommodated through your logistics and programme, and how you can do that while using your skills and talent within what you can afford. All of these already showcase excellent hospitality!

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
One of the things we enjoyed the most during our wedding was sitting with our guests. Mike and I enjoyed hosting people for meals in our homes as single people. Fast forward to marriage, we have been doing together what we started on our wedding day! (Photo by Iwan Photography in Bali.)

 

5. Remember that God is the God of all weather.

Undoubtedly, more couples prefer a clear sky and just the right amount of sun compared to rain on their wedding day, given the type of venues being booked nowadays. Even couples who choose to do their event indoors definitely find it more convenient to have a rain-free weather, as going to the venue on a rainy day can be a hassle for the guests (think long dresses getting wet upon getting off the car!).

So I assume that there are more soon-to-be wed couples PRAYING for sun than those praying for rain.

I turned to a friend to seek a counsel on whether or not it’s biblical to pray for good weather. She said, “Yes. It is biblical to pray for anything including good weather for special occasions. But remember that God’s answer is always ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’”

That shouldn’t be a surprise to us, but somehow, it still surprises us and hurts us when bad weather meets us.

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
“This is the day (rain or shine) that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24. *Italics are mine.

 

When we pray for something and God answers it, it is for His glory. If He says “no” and it rains when you prayed for a sun shiny day, that’s also for His glory. It may be difficult to accept because it’s not what we want, but that’s really the deal and is what glorifies God ultimately.

When it rains on your wedding day, God is not punishing you. Firstly, no one punishes someone using something that’s good. Rain is good because He created it. Secondly, God is not in a punishing mode when a certain weather that we don’t prefer shows up at the wedding and marriage that we’ve submitted to Him. He has a story for it that we may not understand immediately, and that’s another reason to pray--so that God reveals to you what His purpose is for the weather that He’ll bring on your wedding day.

 

So, gorgeous bride, take comfort that you can have a beautiful wedding, no matter what the weather becomes. You can also take inspiration from this post.

 

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How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day

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We totally risked not having a rainy day back-up plan for our garden wedding in Bali. But I have to be honest; it was a decision that leaned more towards frugality than faith. And the sun did shine that day. Too much, in fact, that our guests went home with an extra strong tan.

But what would it be for you, if it rained on your outdoor wedding and things don't go as planned?

Here are some reflections from friends whose weddings were rained on.

Our very hot mid-afternoon wedding had most guests moving to the more shaded side of the garden. See those empty seats behind my ladies? (Photo by Iwan Photography in Bali)

 

An Opportunity to Be Served

I had the honour of coordinating for the wedding of my dear friends, Eric & Kelly. Being the planner that I am, I thought I covered all bases--up until I felt a raindrop on my nose. Then I realized that I didn’t have a rainy day back-up plan.

It just totally slipped my mind! After all, among the 30+ weddings I had attended at that time, I have not been to one that had been rained on.

There’s a first for everything.

I remember our team of friends setting up and tearing down the beautiful garden set-up at least three times, as the rain poured and paused on repeat. With thirty minutes off schedule, we had to finally decide to move the ceremony indoors.

 

Friends and family rescuing non-waterproof items at the outdoor setup at Eric & Kelly’s wedding. (Photo by 9 Frames Photography)

 

Kelly recounts her emotions:

“When I saw the rain fall, I wanted to burst into tears. I held it for my make-up’s sake. But inside, I was like, ‘God, how could you let it rain on my wedding day? Did I do something wrong?’ That was my immediate thought, having had a well-planned outdoor wedding that now wouldn’t happen.

Then God reminded me during the ceremony of the time Eric asked me to be his girlfriend. We were hiking, and it started to rain hard. Eric helped me realise that our life together was going to be an adventure involving some ‘rainy days.’ A few years later, it rained again when our first son was born!”

Unbeknownst to Eric & Kelly was how forthcoming ALL their guests were in helping set up the alternative indoor venue. Everyone gladly made sure that the wedding would remain special and beautiful for the couple.

 

Eric & Kelly’s ceremony had to be moved indoors at the last minute because of the non-stop rains. (Photo by 9 Frames Photography)

 

Eric and Kelly are two people who find so much joy in serving other people. They met at Every Nation Church Singapore where my husband Mike and I also attend. I believe God used the rain to show them how much they are loved by the people they have been serving.

God also showed them His consistency! Pastor Larry spoke during his sermon:

"In the Bible God says, 'Man plans his ways, but God directs his steps.' Although this wedding may have been planned as an outdoor wedding, I believe God, in His divine plan, wanted it indoors. A lot of us don't know this, but years ago, this used to be a church (referring to White Rabbit, the wedding venue). And I felt that before this ceremony started, the Lord just whispered to me, 'Eric and Kelly met at church, I want them to get married in church.

 

All’s well that ends well for Eric and Kelly. (Photo by 9 Frames Photography)

 

A Reminder of God’s Consistency

Rain was also a factor in Dust and Carla’s story.

Carla recalls, It reminded us of our first date - it was also a stormy night! So the rain during our wedding day showed us that God was involved.”

At their dinner party, it continued to rain. While this made it difficult for guests to go anywhere (the venue was on top of a hill), it allowed us guests to focus on the couple, and catch up with friends we had not seen in a long time. It was a lovely picture of a big family getting together over fun and food!

 

Dust and Carla had very few empty seats at any point during their wedding dinner because the rain kept everyone indoors! (Photo by Oak St Studios)

 

The Gospel Was Heard More Audibly

“The reason we chose our venue was because of its beautiful outdoor patio. Our wedding was going to lead up to an evening reception at a courtyard, as I had imagined us under the stars. Then it rained, and we had to scrap all of that to move indoors.” recalls Ina Mendez-Tan.

The Instagrammable outdoor dream wedding that was no more caused Ina’s groom to feel very unsettled.

When we had to move indoors two hours before the start of the ceremony, I had peace about it. I learned later on that Edson, my then-fiancé, was very anxious about the idea that his bride won’t get her dream wedding! That made me love him even more! shared Ina.

 

Edson and Ina finally enjoying the outdoor scenery of their wedding venue after the rain stopped. (Photo by Icebox Imaging)

 

After the wedding, the couple reflected on how focused the guests became to the wedding programme when they moved the venue indoors. “There was just too much to see at the outdoor space that our guests would, for sure, get too distracted!” says Ina.

And most importantly, because there was less distraction, the gospel message during the ceremony was more audibly delivered to the audience who were seated very close to each other, according to the couple.

 

A Rainbow and God’s Promises

In the middle of John and Rachelle’s beach wedding, a drizzle decided to pay them a visit. Then, while the pastor was talking about God’s promises about marriage, a rainbow came out.

Sitting as their guest and marveling at the sight of such a beautiful stream of colours, I remembered the rainbow in Genesis 9. God made a promise to Noah after the flood and said, I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.

I’d like to believe that there was at least one person at the wedding that needed an assurance from God about that promise. And Rachelle and John’s wedding was used for that purpose.

 

Rachelle and John still had their dream wedding in spite of having to move their planned tropical outdoor dinner.

 

A Silver Lining and Some Disappointments

While there comes a silver lining to some of these rainy weddings, there’s always a level of disappointment that couples have to deal with.

Just think about all that’s been paid, planned, and hoped for: outdoor lights and decors, seating arrangements, or the sound of birds chirping in the background as the couple says “I do.”

Rachelle, for one, shared, “I didn’t let the rain dampen my mood that day when it caused us to move our dinner plans from the beach to an indoor venue. But I also couldn’t stop thinking right there and then about the costs we’ve incurred having planned it to be on the beach!”

Meanwhile, Kelly and Eric never got to see the entire DIY decors their friends put together.

 

What was going to be the backdrop for Eric & Kelly’s planned outdoor ceremony.

 

There will always be feelings of disappointment to battle with when plans don’t turn out the way we hoped. I’ve not heard of anyone who was absolutely unperturbed on their wedding day, or even the days that followed, when things go amiss.

But here’s some good news: we can control our attitude even when we can’t control the weather!

 

Planning for Any Type of Weather

So what do you do to prepare yourself for the possibility of bad weather on your wedding day, while having to fight feelings of disappointment during such a special occasion?

Well there’s the logistical approach, which I talk about on my post 25 Things to Consider When Planning an Outdoor Wedding.

Then there’s the non-logistical approach that I believe is much more important (think long-term. Check it out on How To Prepare For Any Weather On Your Wedding Day.

 

Do you have a similar story to share? If you’re reading this after getting married, I’d love to hear of your experiences in addressing changing weather conditions on your wedding day. If you’re a bride still planning your wedding, tell me about how you plan to make your wedding day weatherproof!

 

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Rain on Wedding Day

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guiding-principles

….is actually the first step.

Venue or date? Budget or guest list? Theme or venue?

Where do you begin in planning your wedding?

If you pick the venue first, it may not match your theme, budget, or fit the number of people you plan on inviting.

If you work on your budget first, how do you know what to budget for?

If you pick a theme first, you might end up frustrated if your budget isn’t enough to execute the idea you have in mind.

Oh! What a headache! Does it really need to be this difficult?

When we were planning our wedding, we received all kinds of advice from our married friends on how to get started. But amidst all the how-to’s, we heard something resonate in all of them.

Many of them have shared what a grueling process it was to agree on the hundreds of details they had to deal with. On hindsight, they all shared how they wished they had more discussions that dealt with how they really felt about all these big and small details before getting so close to each and every deadline.

The first crucial step that no one really talks about when planning their wedding is the establishment of your guiding principles. My then-fiancé-now-husband Mike and I distilled what our friends were saying, and came to the conclusion that what they hoped they had to start with were some set of these principles.

 

 

Guiding principles are a set of rules, agreements, or philosophies to help you make better and smarter choices together.

These are elaborations of what you, as a couple, believe in - which are pretty much affected by your faith and preferences. Your vision for your wedding day will likewise define your guiding principles.

They are ideally talked about and written before jumping into logistical planning, so your planning could be easily determined by what you’ve already agreed on.

We only really fully realised the benefits of having these guiding principles after our wedding day, and we could even say that these enabled us to actually enjoy planning our wedding!

That’s why I’d like to share with you these 5 things that you can have Guiding Principles for.

 

1.  How you’d like your fiancé to feel after the wedding day

When the dust settles, what will your fiancé remember you by the way you treated him during the engagement period up until the wedding day?

I remember when I went ahead and printed out our wedding programmes without getting my fiancé’s inputs, which made him feel disrespected. I remember when he overhauled the content I wrote for our wedding website, which made me feel insulted. We both just wanted to be helpful, but we couldn't make sense of our own good intentions because we weren't communicating enough!

On a brighter note, I felt really supported by him when he prioritised me over his family. He definitely treated my in-laws very well, but he had to make careful decisions as to who gets time first when we were all in the same town days before our wedding. And that was even with the premise that he only sees his parents a few times a year! I believe my in-laws exemplified it well to him that his future wife would be priority over the family, and he was already practicing this during our engagement.

This will help determine:

  • How you’ll spend time with your fiancé when you’re planning and when you’re not planning for the wedding
  • How you’ll both communicate during this season
  • How you’ll prioritise things

 

2.  How you’d like your guests to feel after attending your wedding

I couldn’t have agreed more with Maya Angelou when she said,

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Our friends Angel and Abiel Pascual wrote each of their 100+ guests personalised handwritten letters. That really made my husband and I feel that they value us as part of their life.

This will help determine:

  • The guest list
  • The programme
  • The gifts for your guests (if applicable)
  • The welcome and send-off logistics of your guests

 

Participating in 40+ weddings have taught us a lot! And I'm glad this blog allows me to share them with you.

 

3.  How you’d like your marital finances to look the day after your wedding

With the social pressures of pulling off an extravagant, most Pinterest-worthy wedding--which include but are not limited to an extraordinary prenup pictorial, the highest quality same-day-edit video, the most exotic location, and the most pompous menu--couples throw most, if not all, financial boundaries out the window.

The common justification is that it just happens once in a lifetime (ideally), and that the money can be recovered later on.

But what happens in overspending for a single day of fairytale wedding bliss is the exchange for many months or years of indebtedness and financial insecurity.

No couple in history has ever regretted being on the healthy side of finances after the wedding day, so there must be enormous benefits to making wise financial decisions while planning.

This will help determine:

  • Where your funds will come from
  • Your budget for each item
  • Your choice of vendors

(I write more about how you can plan and commit to a wiser wedding through sound financial strategies here.)

 

4.  How you’ll use this season to learn

The wedding is going to be your first ‘big project’ together as a couple. Your partnership in making decisions will be put to the test. The strengths and weaknesses of your characters will be most transparent.

Whatever you or your fiancé discover about each other during the process will be what you'll have to accept in marriage (or say ‘no’ to if there are serious red flags).

An openness to learn from each other and from what you’ll experience will bring you closer to one another.

This will help determine:

  • How you’ll respond to conflicts
  • How you’ll respond to stressors
  • How you’ll communicate

 

During our engagement period, I learned about how important it is to Mike to have regular breaks to have fun!

 

5.  How you’d like to honour God during your engagement and on your wedding day

The spiritual depth of a wedding can be easily taken for granted when the road leading to it gets very bumpy. That’s why it’s important to stay focused on its true purpose.

You and your groom are going to stand before the Lord and your witnesses to enter into a covenant. Your wedding day is a mirror of how both of you as believers and members of His church unite with Him.

As glorious as that sounds, often times, God is neglected altogether months leading up to the wedding day - because of stress, busyness, and fixation on the less essential parts of getting married. Couples go back to communicating with Him again when wedding planning has reached its conclusion.

But truth is, God deserves honour during the entire process of preparing for your marriage. He is the reason why you’re getting married after all!

This will help determine:

  • How long your engagement will be (to read more on this, check out this article )
  • How you’ll spend time with your fiancé during your engagement
  • How you’ll prioritise things
  • How you’ll respond to stressors
  • How you’ll make financial decisions for your wedding (here's my blog series on 'Weddings & Money').
  • How you’ll relate with people

 

Click the image to get all these questions as a printable PDF!

Conversation Question Cards for Engaged Couples

 

There you go!

I recommend you pray about these things, then schedule a date night with your fiancé to discuss about them. Encourage and show your appreciation to one another every time you both agree on each point.

Can't yet decide on something together? Take a break and pray individually whenever you disagree on certain things. Consult a married couple you both trust to help you navigate through tough discussions if you need to.

Do you need more help with going through these 5 ideas? I made a list of related yet more specific questions you can ask each other! Find them here.

Have fun during this season!

 

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The first step to planning your wedding that nobody talks about the asian mrs blanding

 

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broke-and-engaged

Saying “Yes” to your fiancé was easy. Thinking about marrying him gives you peace. He loves God, you, and the people around you. But, in the process of wedding planning, you find out that he’s broke. Or he finds out that you’re broke. 

And it’s making you think, “Will he be able to provide for me?” Or wonder if he’s thinking, “Will she be able to handle money well?”

Maybe one of you, or the both of you, may have hidden the truth out of fear, or just didn’t think that it would be an issue.

Perhaps you’ve read this blog post only after you’ve gotten engaged.

Whatever the reason is for the lack of disclosure or lack of attention towards this matter, you both have to agree on your next move as a couple.

“But why is being in debt such a worrying situation when entering a marriage?” You might ask.

Because...

  • Debt can put a lot of things on hold in marriage. Think honeymoon, regular date nights, giving gifts to your loved ones, or even living in a place of your own - indefinitely on hold.
  • Making bad financial decisions, if it’s what caused the debt, could be stemming from a bad habit. Bad habits, when not addressed before marriage, can add to the many challenges couples face in marriage.

Once you both acknowledge that you need to be wiser from now on, here are 5 ways to help you navigate through your situation.

 

1. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you and respond to it.

Our minds tend to rationalise situations to make them look like there’s no problem that needs to be addressed. However, if we stop trying to rationalise it, we will be able to hear the Holy Spirit better. Pray that you’d obey His leading, and not give into your own desires or external pressures.

 

Here with me is my beautiful mother-in-law, who I had asked what a wise couple should do when in this situation.

 

2. Talk about the issue with your fiancé and share your action plan (or ask for his).

If you’re the one in debt and you intentionally hid it out of fear, apologise. Come clean, as there is no room for dishonesty in a future marriage. Open up about the cause of the debt, and share how you plan to pay it off. Avoid false promises at all costs. From there, it’s all up to him if he’s comfortable bringing the debt into your marriage and helping you pay for it.

If your partner is the one in debt, avoid condemning. Ask how much exactly the debt costs, the reason for the debt, and his plans of repaying it. You’d want to understand how he makes financial decisions, which both of you will be doing a lot of in your marriage. Also, you’d like to know how this debt may affect your future marriage if left unsettled.

Moreover, I agree with Dave Ramsey’s suggestion here not to help pay for the other person’s debt until you’re married.

 

3. Talk to a married couple you both trust.

Confronting debt during your engagement can be very daunting. A flurry of emotions may hinder you from wisely deciding on your next steps.

Seek to find counsel from a godly married couple who’s had their own financial breakthrough in life. Present to them your issue and your proposed resolution so they can assess how round your decision is and pray with you. Make sure that it’s a couple that both of you trust, because you’ll most probably have to divulge details of your past (finances mostly) which may be uncomfortable to share with someone who doesn't have your best interests in mind.

 

Mentorship during your engagement is like fertiliser to your plant.

 

4. Get professional help.

Consulting a financial planner can help give you or your partner (or both of you once you’re married) a solid plan to get out of debt, and protect--and eventually grow--your assets. They think long-term planning, so you’re sure that they aren’t just out there to get a commission.

A professional can advise on how to strategically get you out of debt given your income ability and external factors such as inflation (as most debts have interests). Someone who believes in tithing (with or without debt) and generosity, and not merely on growing wealth, is someone you’d like to hear from.

 

5. Consider a restart.

“Are you suggesting that we break the engagement?” you might ask.

Re-read point # 1. It’s up to the both of you how you’d like to move on from here. The restart that I’m suggesting may very well suggest breaking the engagement until you both resolve the issue that one of you, or both, is not willing to bring into marriage. And this is healthier than forcing yourselves to proceed with the engagement just to save face in light of those who’ve already posted their congratulations on Instagram. On the other hand, staying engaged and prolonging it might invite a lot of temptations in the area of purity. I talk about that here.

It may be heartbreaking; but believe me, you would want to start your marriage right at all costs. Think of it as a blessing that you and your partner had the courage to talk about the financial issue even before you got married.

If you decide to proceed and work on this financial brokenness together, I’d still suggest points 1 to 4. And please, don’t incur more debt while planning your wedding. A simple wedding is going to be your act of obedience to God as you start saving your marriage from financial woes.

Leave me a private message if you’re in this situation and I’d love to pray for you!

 

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how-long-engagement

If you didn’t need to plan the wedding, when would you have wanted to get married?

I bet your answer is, “NOW!”

Truth be told - getting married means having to plan a wedding, which takes time, resources, and effort even for the simplest of weddings.

Well, here’s some news: the engagement period is not only all about wedding preparations. Thankfully, married friends talked to Mike and I about the things worth considering when we were still deciding on how long our engagement should be.

 

1.  How long is the marriage preparation course?

We took a course to understand what the bible says about marriage and how we should prepare for it. Our church offers it once a year. Perfect timing, classes started a month after we got engaged and went on for six weeks.

If you both believe that you should be getting married sooner than the next available class schedule at your church, then try looking at other churches. While there are many benefits to attending one at your church (e.g. journeying through it with people you know), you wouldn’t want to be held off by schedules.

 

2.  How much time do you need to prepare for a wedding that honors God, your witnesses and your soon-to-be spouse?

Being engaged means you’ve gotten to know each other enough to agree to marry.

Theoretically, you should be ready to get married right at the moment you said “yes.”

Then there are also other things that we can’t help but also consider. Take the venue, for example. Is it God you’re honouring if you two wait solely because your dream venue is only available in a year’s time?

Stretching your engagement to give yourselves enough time to incorporate all the components of a fairytale wedding is not God’s priority for you.

Work expands to the amount of time you give it. So if you give yourselves one year to plan a wedding, it’ll be one year’s worth of work. I’m not in any way advertising quick, sloppy, and rushed-looking weddings, but we’ve also attended beautiful weddings planned in just a few months.

 

3.  How long can you stay pure in this relationship?

Being engaged brings you closer to marriage. And what I mean by that is, you are still NOT married. Yet emotions are so fired up at this stage.

Temptations will surround you. Choosing to stay pure is one of the most hated commitments you can make as a Christian, because it challenges your own flesh’s desires and the world’s perception of sex.

I personally struggled with that commitment I made many times during our dating and engagement period. I was like that kid who hated herself for agreeing to eat vegetables, only to later be so thankful that she actually did. 

You’d want to keep your engagement short enough to avoid temptations, but long enough to settle other God-honouring considerations before marriage.

 

Mike and I had committed to waiting until marriage for sex. Temptations grew stronger during our engagement period! It wasn't easy but definitely one of the best decisions we made. The engagement period is a good time to re-establish your boundaries.

 

4.  How much time will my guests need in order to prepare for it?

Your wedding guests will be your witnesses when you make that vow to God and to your groom. That’s why a guest list is more than just a social obligation.

So while you don’t really have to wait until a young relative finds his job so he can buy a ticket to fly to your destination wedding, it makes sense to consider a respectful time for them to logistically prepare to come.

Giving your guests enough time to prepare for the wedding is being considerate. Don't make your guests scramble for time to arrange their vacation leaves, flight tickets, babysitting plans, etc. because you've given them such short notice. It will only communicate to them that you are not really serious about having them at your wedding.

There are, however, some exceptions to this. For example, some couples have had to unexpectedly stretch their engagement longer due to sudden death, illness, or crisis in the family. But again, it's best to decide based on what is most honouring to God through your relationships.

 

5.  How much time do you need before serving God as one?

Some thoughts to consider:

  • “Are we delaying our service to God as a married couple with the length of engagement we’re considering?”
  • “What preparations do we really need to be able to serve God as husband and wife?”

I don’t have a prescription as to how long that should take. All I know is that one of the best pieces of advice Mike and I received before getting married was that we can never be perfectly ready for marriage.

You will never be fully ready to serve God. All you need to serve Him is He Himself in your life. And when you do get married, all you need to serve him together is still Him.

Be excited by the prospect of serving God together as a married couple. Imagine being able to serve God through new family members and friends. I know this to be a fact because God has doubled the size of our ministry opportunity when our friends and families merged.

However long you decide to be engaged for, don’t forget to enjoy the season. It’s a joyful period in your relationship that will just get better through time.

Reading this after you’ve already decided on a wedding date? Share with me in the comment section below what your considerations were. I’d love to hear your insights!

 

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