Tip #3 – Picking Your Venue (part 2)

January 18, 2017


This week’s tip is only for those that choose to go indoors, and deals specifically with the question of, “In a church or not in a church?” And while I’m going to try and be balanced in the informations shared, I’m a pastor – so it will be obvious where my preference lies. But here are a few details to consider as you make the decision between a church (or synagogue, temple, etc) and hotel banquet room and the like…


Churches are built for music and acoustics and often have built in sound systems that can make amplification much easier. Most banquet rooms have poor acoustics because of all the carpeting and the architecture of the room, and they usually require some kind of sound system to be put in place just for the wedding to amplify. Many hotels have speakers and a sound board available, but it will cost extra. In churches it is often included in the modest rental fee.

If you are planning to have a lot of music in your ceremony, or if you want the music you do have to sound good, a hotel may not be a good fit.

Advantage?  Churches

The Bridal Entry

I have a whole post dedicated to the bride’s entry later in this series because I believe it is that important in the ceremony. But for now I will simply say that most banquet rooms aren’t well suited for a great entry. Churches often have a long aisle with a large door at the back which sets the congregation up for some serious excitement as the wedding begins. Hotels or other banquet style rooms usually aren’t designed well for a dramatic entry (and yes, it should be dramatic! that’s not just personal preference but good theology).

Advantage?  Churches


A lot of couples choose a hotel banquet room or something like it because you can host the wedding and reception all in the same place, you might be able to get some kind of discount on the room because you are holding the reception there, and if some of your wedding guests are staying at that hotel, it doesn’t get much simpler.

This value shouldn’t be undersold. Long drives between a wedding and reception aren’t fun, especially for your guests with small children. A quick turnaround between the wedding and reception can be a great feature of your wedding. (Note: this can also work in a church building with the reception in the fellowship hall, though many fellowship halls aren’t in the condition couples want for the celebration of their marriage)

Also, hotels often have staff that are there to help which can offer added convenience.

Advantage?  Clearly hotels


As a Christian pastor I believe weddings to be sacred events ordained by God. And given the nature of that kind of event, I tend to think that you want to host it in a physical space that suits the occasion. Churches provide this (as does nature if that is your preference), but hotels rarely do.

Hotels are places for short-term stays where you check-in, use what you want, leave a mess, and pay for the service of someone picking up after you – so basically the exact opposite of what marriage is. But churches are places of worship, of commitment, of long-standing sacrificial teaching and relationships. That seems to me a better atmosphere to surround yourselves with on the day of your covenant that declares, “I won’t leave until one of us is dead.”

Advantage?  Churches

Final Thought

There are, of course, many other considerations. And every couple and their wedding are different. But if there is a beautiful sanctuary that is affordable and available for your big day, I suggest that you seriously consider it.


Tip #2 – Picking Your Venue (part 1)

January 11, 2017


One of the biggest decisions you will make in planning your wedding is whether you want to have an indoor or outdoor ceremony. Many couples love the idea of having an outdoor wedding – often with good reason. Maybe there is a specific location that has significant meaning for them and they want it to serve as the backdrop for their nuptials. Or they love the idea of their feet buried in white sand while gentle waves serenade the ceremony. Sometimes it just feels like an institution as ancient and foundational as marriage is best entered into in the raw foundations of nature. And it makes sense… after all, our first parents formed their union among the trees and bushes of Eden, why wouldn’t we do the same?

And here’s the naked truth – there are LOTS of reasons.

For a lot of couples their only concern when considering an outdoor wedding is rain. And they figure that as long as they have a backup plan (ie – the country club has a large tent that can serve as an emergency alternative), they are willing to take the risk. And rain can obviously be an issue. But in my experience, it’s usually other stuff that gets in the way of getting married outdoors. Here’s the shortlist:

Wind – A very gentle breeze is great for a wedding, anything more than that is bad news. Candles are useless. It’s not an encouraging sign when a couple lights a unity candle after their vows and then God keeps blowing it out. Kind of makes you feel like you made a mistake.

And even if you skip candles, wind is disruptive. Dresses fly up, musicians struggle to keep their pages on the stand, people that are reading (Scripture readers, the pastor, parents with a written prayer) fumble over the pages as they are blown to and fro. At a wedding I officiated near the ocean in Boston the gorgeous flowered arbor that we were standing under was blown off its foundation and collapsed mid-ceremony.

And most disruptive of all, wind wreaks havoc on amplification and video recording microphones. Imagine a wedding ceremony (or wedding video) where everything that is said is covered over by the sound of rushing wind and no one can hear anything clearly. It’s no fun.

Heat – At a summer wedding on the coast of Rhode Island, I had just finished leading the bride through her vows when all of a sudden her bridesmaid and soon to be sister-in-law collapsed behind her in a pile on the ground. The bridesmaid’s father (and father of the groom) leaped from his chair to tend to his beloved daughter. Soon she was revived and all was well, but it gave everyone a scare.

Of course, that’s a unique and dramatic response to heat. Far more typical is that guests are overheated and uncomfortable, fair skinned attendees who forgot to apply sunscreen bake in the sun, and makeup begins to run so the bride has black tear streaks in the pictures.

Sound – it’s amazing how many sounds you hear outdoors when you’re paying close attention. Like birds that won’t stop singing, or planes that fly overhead and make it difficult for people to hear, emergency vehicles with their sirens on, or a golfer that sinks a birdie putt on the nearby 18th green and screams in celebration, not realizing that you are trying to conduct a sacred ceremony on the terrace.

The list here could go on and on – mosquitos or black flies that come out at dusk, the clump of grass that can trip up more elderly guests, you get the idea.

My aim here is not to dissuade you from having an outdoor wedding, only to get you thinking past the question of, “but what if it rains?” Outdoor weddings can be absolutely beautiful and a ton of fun, but they require a lot of thoughtful planning and even then mother nature may have plans that day that are beyond your control.

Tip #1 – Picking your Spouse

January 4, 2017

Most weeks the tip is going to be about wedding details. And most that are reading this have already made the decision on the whole spouse issue. But the spouse IS a fairly important part of a great wedding, so I thought it was worth it to spend one week on it. So here goes – 3 quick tips on picking a spouse… (btw, I hate the phrase ‘picking a spouse’, it’s not like finding a good apple at the supermarket. I’m just not clever enough to word a better title right now.)

Make sure they don’t suck at their other relationships

We don’t always think about being in a relationship as a skill that you can be good or bad at, but we should. Some people are just plain good at relationships – with their friends, their parents, their siblings, etc. They are loyal. They are genuine. There may be conflict but they resolve it. Stuff like that.

And some people really suck at it.

If the person you are with seems to fail at a lot of relationships, pay attention. Dig into that a bit. Sometimes when we are dating we actually like it when we are the only person that our partner seems to jive with – it makes us feel special and wards off our own jealousy. But over the course of a lifetime, you want someone that can thrive in other relationships.

Look for at least marginal value alignment

Couples often align over shared interests, which is fine. But interests can migrate over time, sometimes in opposite directions, and many times don’t provide a strong foundation for a relationship. Values, on the other hand, tend to be more rooted in who we are and not to shift as much. And if you bond over shared interests without ever noticing that you have very different values, that can make things hard in marriage.

For example, what value does money have for each of you? If you deeply value generosity (to the point that you don’t have much saved up usually) and your partner values security (to the point that they welcome those moments when someone offers to pay for their dinner), conflict awaits.

This can usually be navigated. If you think of a scale from 1-100 with 1 being intensely frugal and 100 being wildly giving – most folks, though they are different, still fall somewhere between 11-89 on that scale and they can find a way to navigate their differences. But if those differences are extreme – say your partner is a 5 and you are a 95, take notice.

So how much do each of you value… security? stability? family? children? hospitality?

Listen to trusted friends & family

When I provide premarital counseling for couples I use an inventory called Prepare/Enrich that provides me with all kinds of fun information about the couple. What their strengths are as a couple, areas that can be improved, relationship to their families of origin, etc.

But one of the most interesting tidbits of info I get comes under the title of, ‘Idealistic Distortion’. This number tells me just how deluded each person in the relationship is. A low number means they see things clearly and they aren’t going to be surprised by much. A high number means they are looking at everything through rose-colored glasses and marriage is likely going to rock their world (in the not so awesome way).

The reality is, many of us lie to ourselves about our partner. We enhance their positive traits, we diminish their negative. We make excuses for their bad behavior without even knowing we are doing it. But you know who doesn’t do that (usually) – your friends & family that love you. In fact, they may do the opposite and focus on the bad stuff, which equally needs to be considered. But on the whole they see things more clearly than you because they are invested in a different way than you.

So, if you are in a relationship and everyone that loves you deeply is warning you away from it, don’t be duped by your own blindness. Listen to the wise counsel of those that love you. This doesn’t mean ALL counsel from those that love you. You may have some nutso mom that doesn’t like your partner because he didn’t get his MBA from the right school and she just can’t give you her blessing. Ignore her. But if there are a chorus of voices all saying the same thing, listen up.


That’s it. That’s the 40,000 foot view. Next week we dive into the nitty gritty – Picking a venue!



17 in ’17 – Wednesday Wedding Tips

January 4, 2017

red fingerprint heart, vector

I loved our wedding. The candy cane bearers, the surprise song, my grandfather reading Scripture – every minute of it.

I love officiating weddings. The rehearsal, the hour of last minute prep beforehand, standing at the front with an anxious groom who fiddles as she slowly makes her way up the aisle – I love all of it.

I can’t wait for my girl’s weddings (they are 7 & 1). I already have an idea for the father/daughter dance at Lucy’s wedding and have video prepped for that day.

And so… I thought I’d start this new year indulging this love. Each week for the next 17 weeks I’m going to post a Wednesday Wedding Tip. Most of them will be practical and ridiculously specific and detailed. Some will be a bit different (like the first one coming later today). But overall their aim is to help those that are planning a wedding think through the details that will make for an amazing wedding day.

The posts will cover topics like, Picking a Venue / Making the Rehearsal Count / The Parents / The Procession / The Vows, & much more.

So if you are getting married in 2017 or if you just want to store away some ideas for later, feel free to follow along. The first official post is coming later tonight – Picking your Spouse.