“It’s your big day!” “I want mine to be the best ever!” These are two common phrases which can be heard as couples prepare for their wedding day. But the reality is neither of these statements, if taken to the full, line up with a true biblical understanding of what will be occurring. To believe either would be missing the point of what God has done. What exactly, then, is it that God has done? This is the question Catherine Strode Parks and Linda Strode seek to answer in their book A Christ-Centered Wedding. Catherine writes much of the book and shares how couples, with the right mindset, can rejoice in the gospel on their wedding day.
Chapter 1 starts off with realigning our realities. For any couple, they make the point their wedding will not be the best ever; the best wedding is yet to come when we enjoy the consummation of the wedding between Christ and the church (Revelation 19). Our weddings now are a foretaste and reflection of the one to come. Chapters 2 and 3 tackle the topics of the gospel in relation to marriage and the wedding. Weddings are covenant and gospel-proclaiming ceremonies (Parks and Strode 34-35) and marriage puts the gospel on display (Parks and Strode 24). Chapters 4 through 7 take the couple, and specifically the bride-to-be, from the engagement through the wedding planning (what kind of wedding, the people you share the day with, and registries and parties). Chapters 8 through 11 looks at the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, the actual wedding day, and the reception. The book ends on the note of Linda Strode (Catherine’s mom) sharing from one mother to another about her daughter’s wedding day.
I cannot recommend this book enough! I have not come across a book which places the focus of the wedding in light of the gospel. Christ-Centered Wedding lays out guidelines (not rules) of how the couple can intentionally present the gospel and rejoice in it on their wedding day. I was grateful for the wisdom of recommending premarital counseling and post-wedding counseling. The truth is we all need grace because we are sinners and we all need biblical counsel. The real stories shared were edifying and thought-provoking, including some wedding ideas I would like to incorporate in my own wedding one day, Lord-willing. My favorite wedding idea in the book is nontraditional, scriptural vows, found on pages 184-185:
I, [insert groom’s name], take you, [insert bride’s name] to be my wife, I commit to love you as Christ loves the church (Eph. 5:25); I will lead you by serving you (Mark 10:45); I will encourage you to treasure Christ above everything else in this world (Phil. 3:1-10); I will forgive you as Christ has forgiven me (Matt. 6:9-15); I will care for you with humility, kindness, gentleness, and patience (Col. 3:12-17); I will please you by putting your interests above my own (Phil. 2:1-11); I will honor you with my purity (Heb. 13:4); I will join you in the mission God has entrusted to us (Ps. 67; Matt. 28:18-20); I will sacrifice my life for your sake (1 John 3:16-18); I will cherish you as a child of God (Gal. 4:4-8); And by the grace of God, I will be faithful to this covenant as long as we both shall live (Gen. 2:22-24).
If you are an engaged couple planning your wedding or someone who plans to get married and desires to glorify God on your wedding, look no further than here. Especially if you are a bride-to-be and you want to plan a wedding that proclaims the gospel, then A Christ-Centered Wedding is the book for you!
I received this book for free from B & H Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the resource.