Dear Always-a-Bridesmaid | Dear Wedding Series

So I thought this series was done. But I had a conversation this week - it reminded me of the time before Cal. The time when I was alone. When all of my friends were getting engaged, married, then moving into a house with their new husband. I never thought it would end.

Dear Always-a-Bridesmaid,

She's engaged! Yay! (As you try to muster up enough excitement to look genuine.) Your college sorority sister has been dating her perfect boyfriend since freshman year, and he finally proposed the day before graduation. Meanwhile, you've really only had a few short relationships, but nothing that you could see lasting forever. If you're like me, you've been invited to A TON of weddings, and you've been in most of them. Honestly, it's not that you aren't happy for her. You are. (I was, honest!) But to see other people get what you've always wanted over and over again, it reminds you of being lonely.

Why are we here? This is a big question, one that I answer based on my faith in God. First, let me answer by telling you why we are not here. We are not here to become wives. We are not here to be happy. We are not here to have a house, or a family, or a minivan. Those things are all very nice, and not bad to want - or have - but they will never fulfill us. They will always be a stepping stone to the next thing: another child, a newer car, a bigger house, a better job, retirement, etc. We are here to live in fellowship with our Creator. We exist to glorify Him in any life stage. Whether you are waiting on your Prince Charming to come along, or you're waiting for your boyfriend to pop the question, you can still have a purpose.

Young woman who wants nothing more than to find a man to make her feel secure, he won't be enough. Girl who has been a bridesmaid more times than she can count, you can find joy in the waiting. You have purpose. Do not let this worldly notion of being exactly like everyone else keep you from experiencing your full potential as an individual. And trust me, getting married will not solve your loneliness. It will not fix your problems. Marriage, while wonderful and worthwhile, will bring challenges you never thought existed. Only one thing in the entire universe can comfort you in every situation: Jesus.

I hate to sound cliche, but all good things are worth the wait. I dated a few guys before meeting Cal. Those relationships weren't all bad. The guys weren't terrible people. But I was expecting them to be something they weren't. Instead of living my singlehood in prayer, I tried to get out of it. Being a wife was something I wanted, so I was going to get it. After two relatively serious and lengthy relationships, I decided to try a new plan. I would be single and I would be lonely. I would let myself, make myself wait for the type of man God would have for me. And if he never came, I was going to be okay with it. I was single for about a year and a half before I met Cal. When I met him, it wasn't love at first sight. There were no butterflies. Over time, we developed a friendship, went out for coffee and dinner a few times, then I realized that God had sent him into my life. He didn't complete me. He didn't save me. Only Jesus could do that. But Cal provided Earthly companionship in a way I never expected. I just had to be patient. Now, I can't imagine loving anyone more.

Maybe you'll keep looking around at all the things you don't have. Maybe your closet is packed with the dresses "you can wear again." If that's you, I remember what it feels like. I'm the girl who caught 7 bouquets, remember? Hold onto the hope that your worth, value, purpose, future all belong to Jesus. Let Him satisfy the desires of your heart. He is perfect. Trust me...my husband ain't perfect. Yours won't be either.

Love, Sterling

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Psalm 73: 25-26

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Dear Bride | Dear Wedding Series

Oh boy! Literally! My sweet husband was kind enough to write for my blog. I hope you are entertained and inspired by his words. This guy makes me laugh every single day, this post is no different. 

Disclaimer: I am no cook. I have no idea where that came from. Also, I did not ask him to add in the wedding planner plug. He did that on his own!!  

sterling cal wedding

Dear Bride,

Congratulations on getting married! You've now got this unsuspecting guy right where you want him, and you're poised to deal the fatal blow to his singlehood. He'll never see it coming! I know I didn't. Seriously though, being married is the second coolest thing I've ever been a part of. (Knowing God is first.) My wife is my best friend, massage therapist, personal chef, and dancing instructor. She's all the cool things I'm not. I'm about as cool as a flannel shirt....as worn by Bob Villa. Cool or not, I do have some things to share with you. They are mostly things I learned through trial and error.

I know if I could go back, I'd choose to be much more involved in planning my wedding. I basically did the stereotypical dude move of just agreeing to everything and not causing any conflict. However, I forfeited a chance to benefit richly from the sacrality of my wedding day. I could've helped Sterling make our wedding the best it could be. So, I'd like to do now what I wish I did then. I hope you can learn from my words.

Make sure to guard your wedding day from false expectations. There are many influences with bad motives seeking to sell you a false load of goods. I'm sure you've been told something similar to the following: "Enjoy your wedding, the whole process, and drink up every minute. The wedding is your day, and it's all about you." Yes, weddings are AMAZING, and marriage is one of the coolest things that a man and a woman can do! However, the day is not just about the two of you. This is the greatest pitfall of wedding planning. What makes weddings beautiful is the eternal truth of two being joined into a new unit, better than its individual parts. Each individual is willfully offering himself or herself to be a component of marriage. The marriage union itself is the most critical human relationship. God created marriage to be the bedrock, the fundamental relationship that shows us who we are as humans. This is the point of marriage. We understand ourselves, others, and God better through marriage.

So, bride, don't fall prey to the common adage of the wedding being about you. You will find that the wedding will have so much more meaning when you plan the event to be about marriage itself. Because I didn't take an active interest in my wedding, I rarely think about that day. Had I been more involved, both Sterling and I could look back at our day and reminisce in a way that enhances intimacy and deepens our commitment. That should be the goal of all wedding planning. The wedding is not about YOU, bride. Your wedding is about bride, groom, and God. It is when all three persons are included and celebrated that marriage is its strongest. So, it would stand to reason that your wedding should reflect this truth. This is why a wedding planner is so important. Your planner will keep you grounded as far as your goals, and make sure you are able to savor the beauty of the event. It can be so difficult to stay grounded and pure to your principles once the planning begins. The wedding weekend can be so hectic that you can plan yourself out of being emotionally present at your own wedding! In your efforts to "make the wedding YOUR DAY", you can easily miss out on the beauty of what a wedding is. The best way to understand your wedding is to know the God who made marriage.

So, bride, stay grounded in your expectations. You are marrying a person, and the wedding event is meant to be a picture of your love and commitment. Encourage your groom to be involved and to embrace the beauty of the wedding. Now, this does not mean that all ideas are created equal. If your groom insists your wedding to be a black tie gala with spaghetti and baby back ribs at the reception, some oversight is in order!! Surround yourself with a planner that understands your needs, and heed the counsel of those older and wiser. That way, your wedding day will be as pure and beautiful as the commitment that you and your groom are making. 

-Cal

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Dear Mom | Dear Wedding Series

I had a little help with this post from my mommy! I was talking to her about things she would tell the mother of the bride. Maybe you aren't the bride's mom, but you might be her "mom." Not every bride is blessed to have a mother figure to help during her engagement. If you are that bride, know that there are women who do not have a daughter, and I'm sure they would love for you to reach out to them. If you just need a mother figure to talk to, shoot me an email. I'll share my mom. Better yet, I'll rent her out. Haha! jk ;)

So if you are the "mom" of the bride, here is what was laid on our hearts.

Dear Mom,

The day she has been waiting for is quickly approaching! Honestly, the day YOU have been waiting for is approaching. Of course, every mother's dream includes her child's happiness. Having a daughter, and having her getting married, it will be so easy to want to live through her experiences. You should tell yourself, over and over again, "What does SHE want HER wedding to look like?" It should not be what you wished your wedding had been.

We've all heard the story: the girl wears her mom's wedding gown because she feels like she might hurt some feelings. She invites her mom's friends over her own just to keep everyone happy. This wedding is your daughter's vision. Yes, you can join her and have the same vision, but checking yourself periodically throughout the planning process could help prevent grief, stress, or hurt feelings.

All things considered, YOU, mom, will be the key to keeping her calm. You know her triggers. You are the only person to have known her for EVERY SECOND of her being. Keep that as your own little secret weapon against the trying times. Don't use it against her, use it for her.

Lastly, as your daughter and her new husband start their lives together, remember that there is value in his heritage. Include his mom in the planning. If she's like my mother in law, she will be more than willing to help out. Bringing her into the inner workings of the planning process will bring your families closer. ...this will come in VERY handy when there are grandbabies. Don't see his mom as competition. See her as a comrade, a partner, a friend.

Like those sappy tissue commercials say, "thanks, mom." You have raised her, now it's time to step back and let her dream become reality.

Love, Sterling and Momma G

PS- My mom wanted to add that it's also your job to keep the "crazy" relatives away before, during, and after the wedding. I like to think that's also part of the planner's job, too. ;)

Please enjoy some photos taken by my bridesmaids! My mom was such a blessing on my wedding day.

mother of the bride
mother of the bride

*Let this be encouragement for you to not put your dress on in a church classroom. Please, I beg of you! I have a post of 'things you should not let happen on your wedding day' coming soon!


Dear In-Laws | Dear Wedding Series

This is a tough one. Not for me, but for many. I am so blessed to have Cal's parents. They are kind, generous, forgiving, and have never tried to impose their opinions on us as a couple. I understand talking openly and honestly with one's in-laws can be difficult. It is an extremely sensitive relationship. My hope is that this will be something you can take with you into the New Year.

dearinlaws

Dear In-Laws,

Your son (or daughter) is taking the plunge! Can you believe it?! This human, that you raised from a tiny baby, is going to spend the rest of their life....with someone else. Yup.

As the wedding approaches (or perhaps they are already married), are you preparing yourself to be a kind, loving, giving, mature adult? Does the soon-to-be spouse do things you can't stand? Maybe. Does she (or he) get more attention from your child? Yes. This person is going to be his wife (or her husband). Don't you want your child to be crazy in love? You don't want him/her marrying someone they only kind of like. Right?

Humor me for just one second: think back to when you first met your spouse. They could do no wrong. You loved them so much, you were blind to their imperfections. I see it every day, even in my own marriage. To me, Cal is right. His opinions are right, his actions are right. I will defend him to my grave. (I am not saying he is perfect. We do disagree on occasion. He does make mistakes because he is human. Sorry, dear.) It's because he and I are one unit. We are connected. Forever. When your child pledges their all to another human being in a marriage ceremony, don't you want their bond to be so strong that they will protect one another?

So be prepared for a change in family tradition. Christmases might not be exactly like the past 24 years. Embrace the addition to your family. He or she can be a blessing, not a curse.

Practical things you can do to encourage a friendly, positive relationship with your new in-law:

  • Don't talk about her/him behind her/his back. This will only promote negativity in your relationship.
  • Let your child and their new spouse make decisions. Pressuring them to come to this family gathering or that holiday celebration will cause them to do things out of guilt. Do you really want that?
  • Try. If she/he really grates your nerves, just try to get along. In my life, I've noticed that taking someone under my wing helps me like them more. Those eccentricities start to fade...a little. ;)
  • Show them that they are a part of your family. Invite them to events. Send them gifts or cards. DO SOMETHING.

The reason I chose this topic was because I have friends and family that live this reality. It breaks my heart knowing others don't have what I have. Be the one who makes the effort. Even if it takes 20 years, it will be worth it. Early in my parents' marriage, my mom and grandmother didn't always see eye to eye. After many years of tending and compassion, they became close. My mom helped her when she was sick with cancer. Right up until the end, she was by her side.

Do it in love.

Love, Sterling

ps- Brides, Grooms, maybe you're the one who needs to take the first step to make things better.