Simple Advice for Someday Newlyweds

By Kersley Fitzgerald

Several times, I've gotten the question: "My fiancée and I are living together, and we want to get married, but we can't afford a wedding. What should we do?" Usually the text then explains some specifics as to why they can't keep their hands off each other, like they have no willpower, or they live together and they can't afford for one of them to move out.

I'm always a little puzzled about this question. This couple wants to be married. They know that having sex before marriage is sin. They half-heartedly want to stop but are convinced they can't. They will not listen to suggestions about one of them moving out. There is always some kind of hardship regarding finances for the wedding.

My advice is pretty simple: get married.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that a large ceremony and reception with dancing and an open bar is necessary for a wedding. Nowhere does it say a ceremony with a justice of the peace is invalid. A marriage license in Colorado costs $30. It can be "solemnized" by any of several different people:
According to Colorado Revised Statute 14-2-109, a marriage may be solemnized by a judge of a court; by a court magistrate; by a retired judge of the court; by a public official whose powers include solemnization of marriages; by Indian tribe officials; by clergy; by the parties to the marriage. If you wish to solemnize your own marriage, you will be responsible for acquiring, completing and returning the license to marry to the appropriate county Office of the Clerk and Recorder. [Source]
Did you catch that? In Colorado, at least, a couple can perform their own wedding ceremony. You can pick up your license, sign it, turn it in, and you're married. Thirty bucks, plus a buck-twenty-five for each copy of your marriage certificate.

That's very affordable. And even if your state doesn't allow self-solemnized weddings, a small ceremony in the courthouse will cost about $50-$100. Costs vary state-to-state, of course. In Alabama, $45 will cover the license, or $63 will buy the license, ceremony, and a certified copy. In some Massachusetts counties, the fee is $4; some Wisconsin counties are $135 or more. (See prices in different states.)

So, for less than $200, and usually for much less, just about anywhere in the country, a couple can get married. For a couple who are absolutely planning on getting married and want to avoid an on-going sin, this is much more reasonable than chopping off your hand or plucking out your eye.

I understand that this is by no means ideal. Ideally, couples will have never lived together. They will never have had sex. They will have had comprehensive marriage counseling—a fact that Minnesota recognizes—a marriage license there is $40 with twelve hours of pre-marital counseling and $115 without. Ideally, a wedding will be with family and friends that celebrate with the couple and promise to encourage them in their relationship. What is not ideal is a $10,000 dress, $5000 in flowers, and that open bar. According to the Huntington Post, the average wedding in 2011 was $27,000. That's more than mine and my husband's cars combined. It's completely unnecessary. And for couples who use the expense as a excuse for not obeying God, it's idolatry.

For the Christian couple who can't afford the wedding of their dreams, can't keep their pants on, and are absolutely committed to their relationship, there's a decision to be made.

Obviously, the most ideal situation would be for them to live apart and be celibate until the wedding. For those who don't want to or think they can't, and yet still want to do the right thing, there is a perfectly acceptable and affordable option: get married anyway. For less than the cost of one guest's meal, you can get married. You can be joined legally and spiritually. Frankly, by living (and sleeping) together, much of the mystery of the big wedding was made moot anyway. Despite what society and the romantically-inclined lead us to believe, a marriage is not made by doves and rented tuxes and little pastel mints; it's made by commitment and a piece of paper.

Image Credit: Wedding Dress Factory; "Viva Vintage – The Del Rio"; Creative Commons

TagsChristian-Life  | Personal-Relationships  | Sin-Evil

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Published 9-5-12