WEDDING CELEBRATIONS
WITH A DIFFERENCE

Candle Light Wedding

My husband and I were married in a cold December in 2000. Everything was planned and ready. However, two days before the wedding the photographer called to say he was bitten by a spider and could not do the pictures. We scrambled to find another photographer. The florist got my bouquet all wrong--it was terrible. To top it all off, Texas had a bad ice storm and the power was out for days!

Planning an evening wedding, many told us to reschedule but this was not an option for us. No heat made the wedding so cold that my flower girl informed me that it wasn’t fair that the men got to wear jackets. However, the Lord had everything under control. When we rented the decorations, we thought we rented way too many candle holders, but the Lord knew. With all the extra candles we had the most beautifully romantic wedding by candlelight! It reminded us that we can get so caught up in the “extras” of a wedding, but the most important thing is the vows we make to each other and before God.

We look back and laugh now and wouldn’t change one thing about our wedding day! 

MELISA SCHULTZ
Minden, Texas, USA
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Love and Respect to Parents

My husband and I married on the island of Guam.  We focused on saving rather than spending! We bought my dress on EBay, went barefoot, ordered flowers in season, bought a suit on sale my husband could re-use later and borrowed tables, chairs and tents from the village mayor's office, and didn't need to rent a  hall for the reception.

We also wanted to focus on our family and show our parents that we loved and respected them. We found a flower chart with the meanings next to the names where we learned that the red rose symbolized love and the sunflower symbolized respect. Needless to say, we handed one rose and one sunflower to each of our parents, to symbolize that we love and respect them.

We held our ceremony outdoors, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and needed no decorations as the Lord provided them naturally. We invited as many people as possible and wove the Gospel into our wedding ceremony. We wanted those who did not know the Lord to hear about His wonderful gift of forgiveness and salvation.

After the wedding ceremony we had a big BBQ. Our families pitched in and made all the food. We handed out bubbles everyone could blow and enjoyed being with family and friends.

We have now been the people rather than ourselves! We do not have to buy into the world's philosophy that a wedding has to cost lots of money.

LAURON MURPHY
Kittery, Maine, USA (A Coast Guard family)
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Salt Covenant Ceremony

At my husband’s suggestion, we had a salt covenant ceremony at our wedding, December 2000.  He had heard of it as an ancient Jewish tradition for making promises. Salt was valuable in ancient times and people would carry bags of salt. When making a lasting agreement, they would exchange pinches of salt. To break the agreement, a person would have to get all of his or her own grains of salt from the other person’s pouch—an impossibility! I sewed a salt bag for myself from the same white satin as my gown and David’s father, a leatherworker, made his bag. We exchanged salt after our vows and the bags hang on our wall on a heart-shaped hook to remind us of our unbreakable commitment to each other.

Also, in the middle of the ceremony, my husband’s father, who was his best man, stepped out of place to get a chair. Some of us were concerned for him, as he had had a heart attack a couple of years before we married. The chair was not for him, though, it was for me! My husband washed my feet as a total surprise to me in the middle of our wedding ceremony. He had a pitcher, basin, and towel prepared and had learned that pantyhose dry quickly! Each time I think of it, I am reminded of my husband’s desire to be a servant leader.

BECKIE GREGORY
Denton, Texas, USA
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Rehearsal Dessert

Planning our wedding and desiring the details to be as nice as possible, yet not too expensive, we arranged a Rehearsal Dessert instead of Rehearsal Dinner. My parents offered the use of their lovely home the evening before the wedding. We prepared a beautiful spread of incredibly tasty desserts, slicing and serving them up in small portions so we could each taste as many of them as possible! We loved the atmosphere of being able to mingle and visit, during the evening, with everyone who attended.

The day of the wedding, our little country church pews, plus all additional folding chairs that could be found, filled the sanctuary to the brim. The remaining guests who still needed chairs? Well, they got front row seats and saw the wedding up close as they sat in the choir loft facing the congregation and directly in front of us while we said our vows.

EVY DE LANO
Ephrata, Washington, USA
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Picnic Baskets

My husband and I married in a big garden under a beautiful summer sky. The garden was a circle and the wedding party walked down either the left or the right side of the garden in front of the guests. I included many children from my Sunday school class I taught and had many bridesmaids in our wedding party. They all wore sundresses with butterflies on them and butterflies were embroidered onto my dress. My father walked me to my groom to Cindy Morgan's song, "Make Us One" from Michael W. Smith's Exodus CD. I still get goose bumps every time I hear the song.

We lit the unity candle with our mothers and the candle stayed lit throughout the entire outdoor ceremony! Everyone had a picnic basket filled with their lunch for right after their ceremony. There was only one negative--my shoulders burned because no one thought of sunscreen!

For our 5th anniversary my husband gave me a painting by Bill Bartelt of the park where we were married! It hangs in our bedroom.

KIMBERLEE PATTON
Joliet, Illinois, USA
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Married in Jerusalem

My Husband and I were married on April 19, 2006 in Jerusalem, Israel during the Jewish feast of Passover. It wasn't even close to the small, family wedding in the woods that I had always dreamed about, but it was the dream of the Lord's heart.
My husband, while serving the Lord in Jerusalem, pursued my heart by an email. We had been friends for years, but he felt the Lord had asked him to wait until the right time. Two and a half years went by before the release came. During this time, we were living on different continents. I responded to him and our friendship blossomed into romance over eight months of long distance emailing. 

Finally, we were together and he asked me to marry him. Of course, I said "YES.”  Excitedly, I bought a Bride's magazine at the airport the next day with such great anticipation of choosing a gown, wedding colors, bridesmaids, music, the works!  But, soon after, the Lord asked me if I would give the wedding over to Him. That meant He would have first choice of the location, the colors, the flowers, everything. At first it was hard to let go of this dream wedding, but I said, "Lord, if you want my wedding you can have it."

The first thing we felt the Lord showed us was to have our wedding in Jerusalem. We had no idea how this would completely change us down to the core of our beings. However, for us to say “yes” to this invitation, we would first have to be married legally in the states. This led us into the ancient Jewish custom of "Betrothal". 

In the traditional betrothal ceremony, the groom is presented with a cup of wine from the father of the bride. The groom takes the cup signifying his willingness to lay his life down for the bride and then he offers the cup to the bride. If she takes the cup, it signifies her willingness to receive his life laid down and offer him her life as well. This reminds us of the words of Jesus, "Father, take this cup from me, nevertheless, not my will, but yours."
During the ceremony a legal document was signed which would require a divorce in order to be annulled, (e.g. Mary and Joseph). It was amazing to learn the connections of this ancient custom with the words and actions of Jesus while He was on the earth. We set up our ceremony the same way and it was truly a beautiful, memorable night. Signing the legal document before taking our vows helped our hearts make the transition into married life a little slower than usual. I had the last name of my soon-to-be-husband, but was still living in my father's house.

In the ancient custom, the groom would then go away to prepare a place for the bride and the bride would prepare for his return.  She did not know the day or the hour of his return, but when he came she had to be ready to go with him to the wedding.  She often slept in her wedding garment in case he came at night (as he often did) and she would have to have her lamp full of oil so that she could run out to meet him. (Read Matthew 25)  When the time came, the groom would send his friend ahead of him to blow the shofar. This would awaken the townspeople for the wedding and alarm the bride that the groom was on his way. It's interesting how Jesus kind of signed a marriage document when he shed His blood and promised to come back for us.  Now, we as His bride are preparing ourselves for Him and waiting expectantly for His return. 

We planned our wedding at a certain location in Jerusalem until two weeks before the wedding when it was clear it would not work out. After telling the taxi driver our dilemma, he drove us to a garden on the Mt. of Olives and said, "You can use this garden free of charge.”  It was stunning and had an amazing view of Jerusalem. We accepted the offer. 

Finally the big day arrived. We set up the ceremony like a cross made of red and white fabric signifying the blood of Jesus that makes us pure. We took our vows in the center of the cross formation. A groomsman began the ceremony with the blowing of the shofar and the bridesmaids came in carrying lanterns and wearing purple shawls, signifying the royalty that we receive through Jesus and the importance of keeping our lamps full of oil until He returns.

I was standing at the edge of the garden with my father about to walk down the long pathway to Jonathan. Many Arab children had come to their usual playground to play and ended up showing up for a wedding.  Muslim women were throwing rose petals with their starry eyed little girls. The Muslim call to prayer began to sound and a herd of goats led by some small boys wandered through the crowd.  A Muslim man came in with a stick and started telling my father and me stories about the garden. The one that I will never forget was, "This garden is called, 'the prayer garden' because people come here from all over the world to pray for the return of Jesus." 

He eventually walked away, chasing some of the boys with the stick to keep them in line. I stood there in shock for those last few moments before I walked down the aisle. The Lord wanted to make a statement that would forever be imprinted on our hearts--that He Himself is a Bridegroom longing for a bride made ready. There will be a day when He will return to Jerusalem as King of the Nations. He will have a queen, a beautiful church who loves Him and knows His love. That day as I walked down the pathway with a necklace engraved with the Hebrew words, "Chosen, Beautiful, Loved" I was more aware than ever before that the Lord is longing for us to know we are the bride of His heart. Truly, we are chosen, beautiful and loved in His eyes.

Today, my husband and I live in Jerusalem. We look out on Mt. Zion everyday and are reminded that what we live for is truly greater then anything else in this world. One day He will come and He is worth all that we have to give. There is a God who loves us with an everlasting, unconditional love that will never fail.

SARA LEPAGE
Jerusalem, Israel
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Budget Wedding

My husband and I were both college students. How could we afford the wedding?

I was blessed to find a beautifully elegant wedding dress in perfect condition and already dry cleaned, that fit without any modifications for only $50.00 at a Rummage Sale. The dress was in perfect condition and had already been dry cleaned. I borrowed my sister- in-law’s veil and bought a beautiful pair of white dress shoes at the thrift store for $2.00. Though a professional did my hair for about $35.00, I did my own makeup. My husband’s mom bought him a new suit to wear. He was going to rent a tux, but decided for the same price he could buy a suit that he could wear over and over again. My bridesmaids wore dresses they already owned and the groomsmen wore suits they already owned. I bought a handheld bouquet of fresh flowers and a boutonnière for my husband for around $30.00.

Our pastor offered to hold the ceremony for us for free at his small, white country church. His wife played the music for our ceremony and made bulletins for us to hand out. We invited about 50 of our close family members and closest friends.

My family and my husband’s family made lots of food for the reception that we enjoyed in the church’s basement afterwards. It was really great to have our moms and a few other family members prepare so many different dishes. My dad cooked a ham for ham sandwiches. Our wedding cake was donated to us by a church member who had a cake decorating business! I had always dreamed of having a big buffet style meal so wonderful to have all home cooked food!

My mom and I decorated simply for the reception. We bought tablecloths at the dollar store to cover the tables. We also bought several candle holders that we filled with colored rocks and floating candles. Decorations cost us less than $20.00.

For photography, my brother and my dad took pictures and lots of them as they both enjoy photography. We had our pictures developed at Wal-Mart, which also saved us a lot of money. We took one of the nicest pictures and had it enlarged to an 8 X 10, which we now have hanging on our living room wall. We also gave 8 x 10 copies to our parents and grandparents.

With the gifts of money that we received we were able to pay off our wedding rings right away, so we have no debt for our beautiful rings. This was a blessing, as my husband and I like to avoid debt.

Many wedding planning experts say that the average wedding costs somewhere around $10,000, but my husband and I found out that this doesn’t have to be the case. We truly enjoyed our beautiful, simple country wedding. And we didn’t have to wait years to have an expensive wedding.

AMY WENDT
Neenah, Wisconsin, USA
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The Children too!

In our wonderful wedding on June 10, 2006, we included seven children in our wedding party. We wanted to make the statement that we love children since children are often not allowed to come to weddings now. In the wedding program above their names we wrote the Scripture, "Children are a blessing from the Lord."

The flower girls skipped joyfully around, throwing petals in the air. The ring bearers were also banner runners announcing the coming of the bride in great fanfare. 

We arranged our outdoor wedding with the seating in a circle with the altar in the middle so the 180 guests all had a good view.

I pretended I fainted after the kiss and everyone started laughing. After we were introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Aaron Nuckols we danced out of the ceremony to James Taylor's "How Sweet it is to be Loved by You."  The wedding party danced out after us two by two and then my husband's brothers danced out with our moms. Everyone clapped to the beat. It was a true celebration!

COURTNEY NUCKOLS
Huntsville, Alabama, USA
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We Lost the Rings

My husband works as a general contractor on people’s homes. One day he worked on a house whose backyard was on the perimeter of the park where we were married. He mentioned this to the homeowner.

“Oh, we go to all the weddings here,” the lady chimed. “When was yours?”

“We were married July 3rd, 1999.” This didn’t seem to strike any memory until my husband began to describe our wedding.

I was at my sister’s apartment, down the street from the park, getting ready for the wedding. I waited for the phone call to come, as our wedding was to take place soon. The time came and went and still I waited.

At the park, my husband’s sister-in-law, Michelle, was in charge of the ring bearer’s pillow. She tied the rings loosely on the pillow; thinking our golden wedding bands were the cheapie, fake rings that go on the ring pillow. She gave the pillow to my four year-old nephew, Ian, the ring bearer a good twenty minutes before the wedding was to start.

Ian got bored. He started throwing the pillow as high as he could. Ian’s daddy, Daryle, realized that loosely-tied rings were, in fact, real gold wedding bands! He noticed this a bit too late as the rings flew off the pillow during a particularly high throw, landing somewhere in the grass of this good-sized park.

Once everyone heard that the real gold wedding bands were missing, they started a mass enterprise, walking slowly around the park looking in the grass for two small rings reflecting the sunlight through the gathering clouds. As my groom watched and saw the time was getting late, he looked up at the sky and cried, “What next?” The response was a loud thunderclap! 

Meanwhile, I still waited for my phone call to go get married. The time had well passed and I was worried. My brother-in-law called with urgency in his voice, “Shannon, you need to get here now. The rings are lost, it’s about to rain, and your soon-to-be husband isn’t doing so well.”

“It isn’t funny to play jokes on the bride right before her wedding, Daryle. Michelle has the rings, it has been record breaking temperatures in a drought, and what is wrong with my groom?”

“I’m not joking.” With that, my side of the wedding party made a mad dash for the park. All I could think was, “I hope my groom is fine, still wanting to marry me, and that the rings would be found.” Rain didn’t bother me--it would cool off the overheated guests whom I hadn’t realized spent a fair amount of time walking the park.

By the time we got there, everyone was seated. My uncle and another guest, were the heroes of the day, found the gold bands in the grassy park. The clouds gathered, the thunder was far and the rain was light. Willy and I were at peace as Grandpa (a pastor for over 50 years) began the ceremony.

“Oh,” exclaimed the homeowner, “I do remember all those people walking around. We thought it was some sort of religious thing.”

SHANNON HOSKOVEC
Edgewood, New Mexico, USA
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Purity Rings

When Jon and I began courting, we both were very quick to let each other know of the commitment we had each made to stay pure till marriage. My parents had given me a purity ring and Jon had purchased his own years before we met each other.
During our wedding ceremony, our Pastor shared our story of waiting. We exchanged our rings, symbolizing giving our purity as a gift to one another. It was an amazing moment. We were happy to share with friends and family that we had waited and kept pure until marriage.

BRANDI FUGATE
South Carolina, USA
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We all Pulled Together

In our Above Rubies study group recently, we discussed wedding celebrations, because it was the current subject in The Family Meal Table manual. We had a lovely discussion about the important issues of a wedding, our own weddings, and how sadly distorted some weddings have become with lavishly expensive receptions, couples living together because “they cannot afford to get married”, and impersonal gift giving.
John and I have been married nearly 27 years, and I am continually thankful for my wonderful husband. We married in Sussex, England, 12,000 miles from my home town of Auckland, New Zealand. No family was near to help, and we had no money, but the church family we were part of became our wedding planners. My bridesmaid sewed all the dresses and another friend made the three-tiered wedding cake. When my parents arrived from New Zealand, my mother iced the cake.
A florist friend in the church did wonderful flowers for us, the wedding chapel and the reception room. Others decorated the reception room, organized the tables and chairs, cooked and served the food, and one lady spent many hours making a fresh floral arch over the door of the chapel. Our wedding car was borrowed and chauffeured by another friend from church who worked at a local car showroom!
We still have our wedding vows on the original pieces of paper we read from, tucked in the back of our wedding album. Our wedding ceremony was full of praise to Jesus, commitment to each other and prayer and expectation for the future as well as dancing and celebration.

ALICE GURR
West Molesey, Surrey, England
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Alice is the Director for Above Rubies in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Three Bouquets

The person who was to do my real flower bouquets for my bridesmaids and I, and corsages for the parents of the bride and groom, disappeared 10 days before my wedding after I had paid the total amount for the flowers with cash. I wasn't sure what I was going to do.
Two days before my wedding, my mother's best friend offered to let me use the fake flower bouquets she used when she and her husband renewed their vows. I didn't even want to look at them. Since I was about 14 years old I had always wanted real roses and lilies in my bouquet.
The day before our wedding, I woke up content to use the fake flowers. That night at the rehearsal, my mother said a florist designer called her that morning who said she wanted to do something for me because she felt it was wrong for me to walk down the aisle without the flowers I wanted. She planned  to make the bouquets with real flowers for a very reasonable price and my aunt would pick them up on her way to the wedding.
Next, my mother-in-law said that she couldn't see me walking
down the aisle without the flowers I wanted so she had ordered a real bouquet with roses and lilies.  When I arrived to the church on Friday, to get ready for my wedding, I found out that the original girl who was supposed to do my flowers had dropped them off after all! I had three bouquets of flowers to choose from!

MARLENA ROSS
Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA
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