Tag Archives: wedding

What’s The Point of a Unity Symbol (Plus 8 Sensational Unity Candle-Alternatives with Bible Verses!)

 

unity symbol 2The Unity Ceremony.

This summer, I am getting one more sister-in-law and I have a feeling the wedding is going to be glam-tabulous! Recently, she polled Facebook for alternative ideas for a unity ceremony. Her question reminded me of my own experience.

As I planned my wedding, I questioned everything, particularly the unity ceremony. “It’s just what we do at weddings” was  less than satisfying. I figured a wedding was already a symbol of unity (bride and groom unite as a symbol of Christ’s union with His church). In my quest to be off-beat at the time, I just didn’t see the point. Now, my perspective is a little different. (Keep reading to find out what crazy unity ceremony we actually used in our wedding).

Historical Reasons:

 

I couldn’t find much information on the history of the unity ceremony in marriage. Partaking in the eucharist is a powerful symbol used in the catholic church during weddings. Eating the bread and drinking the wine memorializes Christ’s death to purchase His bride, the church, for Himself.

Sometime in the 80’s, the unity candle became popular in non-catholic weddings. The mothers of both the bride and groom light individual candles, which the couple then use to light a single candle, signifying the unity of two families into one.

Over time, other activities have taken the place of the unity candle, including unity sand, unity chord, and even the unity sandwich!

Of course, a couple has the freedom to trash or cherish the expectation for a unity symbol in their wedding ceremony. A bride who strives for a Christ-centered wedding might like to use a unity symbol to exemplify the following Scriptures:

What the Bible says:

I cannot find any symbols in scripture for marital unity. Again, marriage itself is a symbol of the unity of Christ and the church:

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wifeas he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:21-33

 

The point is:

 

Not only can a unity symbol be a lasting reminder of your own covenant/commitment to one another; it can also be a symbol of Christ’s love for the world, His covenant to those who accept Him as Savior. Your wedding ceremony is a unique opportunity to share this truth with people in your sphere of influence.

With that in mind, here are a few unique, meaningful activities that symbolize such commitment and unity.

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1. Signing a New Bible Together: My friends signed a beautiful Bible during their wedding ceremony, right after sharing communion together. This became their family Bible, a treasure they plan to share with their children someday as they read family devotions together.

As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. Luke 6:47-48

Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:32

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2. Flower Arranging: When my friend asked me to write her unity ceremony, I was skeptical of her idea to arrange flowers in a vase. It sounded anticlimactic, but it was actually quite beautiful! The officiant cited this verse and reminded the couple of God’s provision for every season of their marriage.

“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!… But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Luke 12:27-28, 31

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3. Foot Washing: Though foot washing doesn’t tangibly represent unity, it is the most convincing display of humility and servanthood necessary for a marriage that reflects Christ. My sister, Rachel, and her husband washed each other’s feet in a very moving ceremony that would mean more than they ever could have dreamed. Several years, and 2 kids later, her husband would survive a devastating accident and need Rachel’s gentle care and patience for the long road of recovery. She has stood faithfully, and humbly, by his side through it all.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him…

 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:3-5, 12-17

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4. Unity Sand: My sister-in-law, Amber, had a gorgeous unity sand ceremony. The couple placed a rock at the bottom of the vase to represent God, the rock on which their marriage would stand. Their ceremony notes went something like this:

We start with an empty vase. Just as this couple has decided to enter into marriage with no expectations, allowing God to shape and fill each moment according to his will.

Jesus said in Luke 6 that “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.

(Places a rock in the bottom of the vase). This stone represents how Will and Amber plan to build their marriage with Jesus as the foundation, keeping their faith and commitment in God at the center of their life together.

(After mixing the sand) God looks on this day with precious thoughts; as you symbolize your commitment through these grains of sand, remember the words of David:  “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.”  Psalm 139:17-18

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5. Unity Chord: The unity chord is a strategic symbol for the Christ Centered wedding. Three chords, ribbons, or ropes, are tied or braided representing Holy Spirit, Husband, and Wife:

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

Courtesy of http://intimateportraitsllc.com
Courtesy of http://intimateportraitsllc.com

6. Splatter Paint: I would LOVE to see this one at a wedding someday. Both families can contribute a color, or color family, to a white canvas. You could add a color to represent the Holy Spirit’s role in your marriage. Get the whole family, wedding party, or entire crowd of guests involved. Use balloons filled with paint, or brushes, to splatter paint that intermingles, much like love over time. (This would be a super fun rehearsal dinner activity; display the art at the wedding after a night of drying!)

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones  and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’  for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. Genesis 3:23-25

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7. Love Lock: Give your wedding a Parisian flair with this love lock symbol. Spruce up a simple padlock with paint, a quote or verse, or your initials. Lock it around something meaningful, like a chunk of chain-link fence (frame it for quirky wall art), a metal wall hanging or frame (from Hobby Lobby?), or even a love-letter box. The lock symbolizes the seal, or secure guarantee of commitment and love that Christ gives us through the cross.

Place me like a seal over your heart,
    like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
    its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
    like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
    rivers cannot sweep it away. Song of Songs 8:6-7

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14

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8. Worship Songs: Shane and I included a worship session in our reception. Although worship is not just an act of singing songs, I truly believe music has the ability to unite our hearts and stir our affections for God.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17

 

 

Bonus. Unity S’more: Since I promised, I will share that Shane and I had a unity S’MORE at our wedding. It was delicious, messy, and the perfect representation of our life together. Our officiant even said “the graham cracker represents God holding all things together.” Classic.

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Courtesy of Shane and Becky’s Wedding 2010

Campfire Check In:

What Unity Symbol will you use (or did you use) at your wedding?

If any readers would like to send me PICTURES of one of these 8 unity ceremonies, with your permission (or your photographer’s!) I would be honored to feature them in this article!

All photos courtesy of Unsplash unless otherwise noted.

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Using your Wedding to Give Generously

giveLooking for ways to make a difference in your life? Your wedding day can be one of them. Here are 7 ways you can impact your world through your Wedding.

  1. Tithe 10% of the cash you receive from your wedding
  2. Purchase as much of your wedding accessories, jewelry, shoes, dresses, and thank-you gifts through a fair-trade company. My friend’s website, Consumers in Christ, hosts some EXCELLENT and stylish suggestions that help men and women all over the world.
  3. Post a charity along with your gift registry. Idofoundation.org has some great ideas.
  4. Give away your dining wear to a church, low income family, or shelter after your wedding or sell your wedding decorations to raise funds for a family in the process of adoption.
  5. Use Eco-friendly wedding invitations.
  6. After your wedding, visit a nursing home (or ask your bridesmaids/family to) and give each resident one of the flowers from your wedding.
  7. Instead of trashing the dress, sell it and anonymously donate the cash to a single-mom in need.
  8. Take a long look at your budget. Place a star next to the things that you are most excited about. Put a check mark on things you’ve already purchased. Circle anything that is a must-have (officiant, license, etc.) Is there anything left over that you could live without? Anything that could be exchanged for something less expensive (eco-friendly paper cups vs. mason jars). What could you do with the money you save?
  • Put it towards getting out of debt (think school loans, etc.), so you can live more generously later?
  • Or perhaps start a mission’s trip fund for you and your hubby’s next trip (we went to South Africa).
  • Save it as a special R-A-K (random act of kindness) date fund. Save that extra cash in a jar or envelope, and once a month/year, bless someone extravagantly in Jesus name. Or take it on your honeymoon and do the same thing. Purchase someone else’s dinner, or generously tip the host at your hotel … tell him to spend it on his wife. You will love how much fun you have together giving good gifts to others.

Do you have any suggestions? Post them in a comment below!

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4 Reasons you should go “all out” for your wedding

all out 2When it comes to a wedding, some people tend to disagree on the amount of celebration necessary. After conversations about having a Christ-Centered wedding, many brides assume they must slice their budget in half to give more money to missions. This is not at all what I suggest, nor is it necessarily what God is asking.

Now, if the Holy Spirit is leading you to worship God through an extravagant financial gift to His kingdom, gather the courage to do so joyfully. (Find creative ideas here.)

Otherwise, remember that your marriage is marvelously important and deserving to be commemorated!  Here are 4 reasons why a Christ-Centered wedding should be celebrated well:

1. Jesus celebrated! He attended a wedding, and when given the opportunity to provide the items for celebration (namely, wine), He went all out! Jesus provided the best wine. Of course, Jesus was not restricted by a budget; but the point is that “going all out” to honor an important event is not a sin.

J.D. Greear pointed this out well in his book, Gospel:

“The point is that Jesus provided good stuff for people at the party because He loved His Father’s creation and knew that by enjoying it we glorify God.” (2011, p. 135)

2. Your marriage is the picture of Christ. God chose marriage as the visual to humanity of His loving sacrifice for His bride (Ephesians 5). All the ups and downs of marriage is a perfect example of the closeness and distance we experience in our devotion to God. But through the cross, Christ made a covenant with us to never leave or forsake us, no matter what our mood is. I can think of no better way to capture that beauty than through marriage-covenant. Our relationship with Christ should be honored. Use your wedding to place value on God’s idea of a self-portrait.

3. By going all out, you are saying to your guests “this matters.” God’s plan for marriage is important. His gift to us is valuable. Our commitment should be commemorated in the best way possible.

Remember, its not all about you (the bride). So you are not communicating your own importance, rather the gravity of the commitment. Go big or go home. Let your wedding leave an impression for your guests on what marriage really is about: covenant between 2 people as the picture of Christ and an example to others. And that calls for a significant celebration.

4. This is God’s incredible gift to you! I remember when my dad purchased a car for my graduation present. Overwhelmed, I felt undeserving of it. I tried to keep very calm and humble about the situation, not wanting to act like a spoiled brat. Later that day, my dad approached me, “what’s wrong with the car, do you not like it? Did I do something to bother you?”

By avoiding “excessive celebration” I gave my dad the impression that I didn’t appreciate his gift. I think we often assume God expects us to be humble and reserved about the blessings He gives us. But like my dad, our Heavenly Father loves to give good gifts! (Luke 11:13)

The prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) didn’t deserve the outpouring of love, the feast, the ring, the acceptance, or the party he received upon returning to his Father. But his Father “killed the fatted calf” and made a HUGE deal out of their relationship. It is good to make a HUGE deal out of something so beautiful and worthy of celebration.

Of course we don’t deserve an amazing husband (or wife). It is God’s lavish gift for us to share a lifetime of love,  children, ministry, joy, hardship, and amazing memories with each other. Not to mention the privilege it is to be one physically with your husband! God knows how to give good gifts, and we should receive and celebrate them happily.

Realize these are not excuses to go into debt for your party. This is simply an encouragement to see your wedding as an important and worthy moment. Be unique and innovative in your plans to celebrate; find ways to make a fantastic party that doesn’t break the bank (subscribe for more ideas to come).

Brides, make it matter. Throw an extra-special shin-dig in commemoration of marriage. Invite your friends and family to don their best party dress and rock-out with you all night long. As you plan your wedding, keep in mind how to glorify God and celebrate His goodness in your life, to the best of your ability.

*Married? I’d love to hear how you celebrated your wedding. Comment below (its easy, I promise) or visit me on Facebook.

*Want more ideas on planning a Christ-Centered Wedding? Follow me on Pinterest.

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All about the Bride

Spring is here and wedding season is upon us!

How exciting for the moms and dads who finally get to see their daughters off…

What a dream for all the friends who get to witness and support the love and commitment between the bride and groom….

How blessed the pastors who happen to be the last detail on the bride’s to-do list, right after “call florist,” and “purchase dog-friendly ring-bearer materials for Fido.”

Ok, lets face reality……you are probably reading this because you, your very self, are a bride!!!

all about brideWhile weddings can be fun for everyone else involved, the big day is really all about you.

After all…

  • You’ve concentrated 10+ years dreaming about it,
  • YOU have been officially planning on Pinterest for at least a year or more,
  • It’s your dress, your pictures, YOUR fairy tale come to life!

Right?

Maybe….. or maybe each wedding magazine, all the Bridal Blogs, and every “going to the chapel”-related episode on TLC have missed the point.

Maybe it’s not all about the bride.

Before you get angry and punch your computer screen, remember you’ll need it later to check “The Knot” for your wedding check-list…. also, save the steam coming out of your ears to press your gown for the big day (it’ll save you some cash for the honeymoon).

If you are still here, allow me to comfort you in saying that your wedding is mostly about you, just not completely.

If you are a Christian, then you have become a child of God. As a daughter of the King of kings, you are His beautiful princess. On so many levels, you should be celebrated!!! Also, this event which unites two people in covenant should be commemorated and recognized in a way that says “this matters!!!”

Unfortunately, many weddings are planned in a way that ignores the One who makes it all matter. So many brides fail to fill out an invitation for the King of kings.

Even if God is invited to a wedding, does He take center stage? Does His goodness receive as much honor as the wedding cake?

I’m not suggesting you hang a big poster of John 3:16 above the alter; I’m just asking where God’s place is in your wedding. Have you have intentionally included the Savior Who intentionally included you in His wedding ceremony?

(see Ephesians 5; more on this later.)

As you begin to plan your wedding, make a point to put this command at the top of your goals list:

“So whether you eat or drink (or have an indoor or outdoor wedding), or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.1 Corinthians 10:31

 

With all the overwhelming wedding planning information out there, can the daughters of God change the Top Wedding Trends list of 2014 to include “Glorify God”?

But HOW does a bride do this? Here are some helpful questions to get you started:

  • When you look at your wedding plans, who or what is center stage?
  • How can you honor God privately (in your personal walk with Him) in this time of planning your wedding and marriage?
  • How can you honor God publicly in this time of planning? How about at the wedding ceremony?

Join the conversation here as we unfold what a Planning a Christ-Centered Wedding looks like. (scroll through the “Marriage” tab to “Going to the Chapel.”

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On Weddings, Trusting God, and “Save the Last Dance for Me.”

Has anyone heard of the back-story to the song, “Save the Last Dance for Me”?

It is beautiful, touching, and you might need a tissue. I included it in my chapter on trusting God for Delight: A Joyful Journey to Biblical Womanhood. Here is a short excerpt from 7.4 Saving the Last Dance?”:

I love wedding receptions. Living in the sparse state of Wyoming gives me few decent opportunities to dance. My husband dislikes dancing, but he tags along because he knows it makes me so glad. One of my favorite songs for a wedding reception is Save the Last Dance for Me. With a latin flair and lyrics about devotion, it makes a great crowd pleaser between toasts and cake.

docpomusThe songwriter, Doc Pomus, actually wrote Save the Last Dance for Me about his own wedding reception. (Jeff Cochran, 2010, likethedew.com*) Pomus was born in June 27, 1925; at age six, he lost the use of his legs due to polio. Unable to dance at his wedding, he encouraged his bride to enjoy herself with other men on the dance floor. The only catch was: she must promise to save the “final dance” for him. He says, “don’t forget who’s taking you home, and in who’s arms you’re gonna be, save the last dance for me.”

I do not believe that the act of dancing is wrong, as long as the movement brings honor to God and respect to both partners. Still, any style of dance has the potential to bring connection and intimacy between partners. That connection, though trivial, is why the man in the song warns his bride not to give her heart to anyone.

Many girls need the same warning about their own relationship with God. After joining the dance, she willingly lives her life by trusting God’s leading. But every once in a while, she chooses to place her trust in someone else. She lets a new dance partner “cut-in” for a while; transitioning easily into his arms, she trusts every lead by the new partner. In her mind, the girl is always planning on coming back to full trust in Jesus; till then, she will explore and have her fun, always saving the last dance for Him.

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Pomus’s lyrics display the devoted yet sensitive nature of the songwriter. He is jealous for his bride, not in a sinful sense, but in a way that makes him long for her to prove her loyalty. The apostle Paul reflects a similar jealously that God has for us: “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.” (2 Corinthians 11:2)

The popular worship hymn, How He Loves, puts it this way: “He is jealous for me, He loves like a hurricane and I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of his love and mercy.” (How He Loves, by John Mark Mcmillan)

You may have heard some girls say, “sure, I believe in God, but I’m going to get my fun out of the way before I really follow Jesus.” These aren’t the “dance alone” girls. They aren’t being control freaks over their life; instead, they are allowing other people or things lead them. The girl who chases after anything but God is like a bride dancing with every other man in the room; we might think she doesn’t trust her one husband.

Anyway, I have always loved Michael Buble’s rendition of the song, but knowing the story makes it so much sweeter. Every time I hear the song, I will surely remember my relationship with God. These lyrics inspire me to greater devotion…. to display my love and trust for my Savior.

Want to go deeper? Read this full note here.

*http://likethedew.com/2010/01/25/save-the-last-dance-for-me/

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