How to Shave $29,852 Off the Cost of a Wedding

According to CNN, the average cost of a wedding has hit the 30-thousand-dollar mark. Someone, please, please tell me …



If you’re a hippie, you’ll love this place. Photo: Nashville Guru

Expensive weddings make me cringe. I understand the desire to gather one’s family and friends, wear a pretty dress, and commemorate the day with quality photos. But this does not require $30,000, or even half that, or even half that.

Kenny has told people that he and I had a “glorified elopement.” I realize we were a little extreme in our money-saving methods, but maybe our story will inspire you to save at least a few thousand dollars: We bought simple wedding bands at Kay Jewelers, a new cotton shirt for Kenny, and a $68-dollar white dress for me from a great little boutique called Scarlett Begonia on West End Avenue. Because I have a habit of kicking my shoes off during holy moments, e.g. prayer or worship experiences, I knew I’d get married barefoot, so shoes weren’t an issue.

We gathered four or five people and our pastor one evening and walked over to a beautiful little garden outside the Upper Room headquarters on Grand Avenue. (No, we did not have permission, and no, I don’t recommend this, but we’d already discovered that typical outdoor wedding places charge roughly ten zillion dollars even if you ask to stand on their property for ten minutes with fewer than half a dozen people—so we decided it was easier to get forgiveness than permission.)


Nom nom nom.

Aside from the fact that our pastor was so convinced we were going to get kicked out of the garden that he kept taking sidelong glances toward the Upper Room windows (where a few people did, in fact, gather to watch the festivities), the ceremony was perfect. As a symbol of our commitment to protect rather than harm one another, we exchanged swords (yes, real ones, which we’d received at a worship conference). And as a sign of our vow to serve each other, we washed one another’s feet. Afterward, we joined a few dozen friends at our favorite local sushi joint, which had opened after hours specifically for us.

Total wedding cost: $148.

I could list fifty reasons that it’s a bad idea to spend lots of money on a wedding, but I’m going to touch briefly on just three:

  1. An expensive wedding buries a new marriage under the burden of debt. To anyone who overspends on a wedding, may I say, “Congratulations, you just guaranteed that your first several years of marriage will be fraught with stress and arguments focused on money … so that you could spend one day in extravagance.”
  2. Spending the money on the wedding versus the marriage is bass-akwards. A wedding is over in a few hours and doesn’t merit plunging into debt. A marriage deserves all you have to give. (Do you know what you could do with 30 or 20 or 10 thousand dollars that would build up rather than tear down your marriage? For example, if you break $10,000 into 500-dollar weekend trips, you end up with four mini-honeymoons per year for five years.)
  3. A couple that begins their life together by spending lavishly is going to have one heck of a time living simply. Let me explain: A couple that’s unattached to their possessions is a couple that knows the joy of freedom. I know, I know—someone can have a lot of stuff and still be emotionally unattached to it, but how much better to have minimal stuff in the first place? A couple that finds happiness apart from luxury is free to pull up stakes and relocate to the mission field, or give their second car to a single mom whose only car kicks the bucket, or forfeit a well-paying job in favor of one that pays less but allows a person to live out his or her God-given passion. It’s much easier for a couple to drop everything and go where the Lord leads them if they have little to drop.

By the way, today is our sixth anniversary. And if I had to do it all over again, I’d want things to be exactly the same: scrappy little wedding/big, beautiful marriage. 230726_1064889781519_1334990_n



CNN data:

A few related verses (NIV):
Heb. 13:5
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.”
Luke 14:28:
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?”
Matt. 6:21
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Lk. 12:33
“Sell your possessions and give to the poor.”
Rom. 13:8
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.”




Help! I Married a Viking!

The past few days have been absolutely nuts. For those of you who haven’t heard, my husband is spending two weeks as a homeless man in order to give a voice and face to an invisible population: the homeless of Clarksville, TN. Back in May, when he told me of his plan, I was a little rattled—but not surprised. This is who he is, and I made up my mind before I married him that I wasn’t going to squelch the part of him that’s not happy unless he’s in the middle of the fray.

His latest exploit is so unique that Channel 5 covered it. Find out more at 

I want to be like Queen Gorgo when I grow up. If you’ve seen the movie 300, then you know who I’m talking about: King Leonidas’s wife, Gorgo, is beautiful, tough as nails, and zealous for justice. She and Leonidas have a powerful, intimate connection, and although he’s one tough guy, he clearly adores her. I believe one key reason he feels this way is that she refuses to do what so many wives do: rein him in .. calm him down … domesticate him. Dare I say “emasculate him”?


Gorgo in 300

There are a thousand ways to tear a man down and thereby damage your marriage; some of them are obvious: ridiculing him (especially in front of others), criticizing him as a person, wearing him out by trying to control him, etc. But if we’re not careful, we wives can also do a lot of damage by trying to get our husbands to stop being who they are by the design of God: warriors … heroes … vikings … Spartans.

Back to the movie: as Leonidas is about to go to war, Gorgo waits until he’s ten or twenty feet away. Then she calls after him, “Spartan!” Notice she doesn’t call him by his name; she knows he’s a Spartan even before he’s a husband. There’s a champion inside him. Like Leonidas, every man needs a cause. Every man needs to slay a dragon. A good man will find a worthy cause. He’ll “go to war” for justice. That might mean he works long hours, or turns down a cushy job to go to the mission field, or dreams “impossible” dreams, or practices his drums late into the night.


The next words out of Gorgo’s mouth: “Come back with your shield … or on it.” In other words, “I release you to go so far as to die for what you believe.” How many modern-day wives would say the same? I imagine that military spouses can relate to Gorgo’s words better than most, but I want to encourage every woman to whom God gave a noble man to ask Him to get you to the place where you can say, “Come back with your shield … or on it.” In our society, it’s rare for a man to lose his life for an honorable cause, but rest assured that if you’ve been blessed with a good man, you’ll have to sacrifice a few things for the sake of the mission God has given him.

Am I suggesting that only men can do heroic things, or that only they are called to take risks for the Kingdom? Absolutely not! I love nothing more than to see a woman discover her inner Joan of Arc. I know a warrior princess when I see one. In fact, I am one. But right now I’m talking to wives who have the spunk to look honestly at one way to honor and serve their husbands that’s been ignored for far too long, even by the Church.

I have an adventurous spirit; I enjoy and work hard in the areas of ministry that God assigned to me. But my Number One ministry is to take care of Kenny so he can take care of the poor. Ultimately, he belongs to God, not me, and I can never forget that. If he spends a great deal of time, energy, money, etc. for the sake of the poor, so be it. After all, his greatest example, Jesus, spared nothing. In fact, Jesus was the most radical, over-the-top Hero of all time. Any time I have to sacrifice the occasional date night or a few hours of sleep or a new pair of shoes so that my husband can pour himself out for something that’s far bigger than either of us, I’m just that much more determined to squeeze every ounce of joy out of the experiences, possessions, and time together that we do have—and that’s a large part of the reason, as far as I’m concerned, that after six years we’re still besotted with each other.


If Jesus had had a wife, I’ll bet she would have relegated him to the couch after this “crazy stunt.”

Do you want to love your husband the best you can? Then allow him his sense of adventure and heroism—even encourage it. When he gets banged up, be a safe, welcoming place for him to recover, and then send him back “out there.” When Kenny feels beaten up and exhausted, the best thing I can do is “bandage him up”—maybe with a back rub or an encouraging word, a prayer, or just a hug—and tell him, “Go get us another one, Baby.” He knows what I mean: Go slay another dragon. Go tear down another wall or champion another cause. I love you enough to let you be the hero that God created you to be.  


Image: Crosswalk