web-8896708_m

A Blessing for a Bride

Share on Facebook135Tweet about this on Twitter8Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest5Email this to someone

By: Shauna Niequist

People refer to your wedding day as the best day of your life. I understand why entirely. I remember my wedding day so absolutely clearly. I remember putting on the veil, seeing Aaron’s face for the first time, the heaviness of my dress as I walked down the aisle with my dad. I remember the taste of the champagne and the sound of the band. I remember dancing with Aaron as though it was last night, and it was nearly eight years ago.

This is the thing, though: When people tell you that your wedding day is the best day of your life, what it sort of sounds like they’re saying is that it’s all downhill after the wedding is over. So many pastors make it a point to tell you, right during the ceremony, that it’s all fun and games while you’re wearing the dress and holding the flowers, but that serious business starts when the dancing stops. That’s true, in some ways. Marriage is a serious business, and there’s a lot to marriage that you can’t see from where you’re standing in the front of a church, bridesmaids surrounding you.

Your wedding day will, of course, be an extraordinary day. But on that day, you cannot imagine the beautiful, life-altering, soul-shaping things ahead of you. This is just the beginning. I know you believe that you could not possibly love him more than you do right now. I understand that. I felt that. I was wrong. I’m not an expert on anything, and certainly not on marriage, but I’m here to tell you that what you feel on your wedding day is like dipping your toe in an ocean, and with every passing year, you swim farther and farther from the shore, unable, at a certain point, to see anything but water. This is just the beginning, and you can’t imagine the love that will bloom between you over time.

You will cry together, laugh together, pray and dance and move furniture together. You will learn and unlearn things, make a home together, hurt each other’s feelings without meaning to, and sometimes very much on purpose. You will learn over time that the heart of marriage is forgiveness. You will learn in the first six months how much forgiveness he requires, and then you will realize, in the six months after that, just how much forgiveness you yourself need.

A piece of practical advice: you will not sleep well the night before your wedding. It’s pretty much a fact. Your mind will rattle and shake, full of bizarre fears. You fear that your dress will fall off. It will not. You fear that you did not, in fact, secure a caterer. You did. You will fear, with each passing hour of the night, that your face is puffing up like a sausage and the area under your eyes is becoming blacker than an eight ball. This is not true. You are young, and a good makeup artist can cover a multitude of sins. Wake up a bridesmaid or your mother, make some tea, and let them remind you about the important things: the florist will indeed show up, your crazy uncle probably will hit on your bridesmaids, but they’ll play it off graciously, and most important, you are indeed ready to be a wife.

Part of being a married couple means that you create a new identity together, woven from your experiences and histories and lives. Work hard to become your own family, with your own values and traditions, things you always do, things you never do, things that bring you back to why you fell in love in the first place. Dance to your song in the backyard, wear your wedding shoes every anniversary. Carve out your own history together, little by little, month by month, year by year. Because there will be seasons that are as dry as deserts, and the history of your love for one another will be the water you need to bring new life and growth, turning that season from dust to garden once again.

Today is about the promise of the future and all the great moments of the past and, indeed, this beautiful present where you stand together, surrounded by people who love you and who are praying that your marriage is one of the great ones. It could be, you know, if you work hard and forgive often, and get over yourself and your selfishness over and over again. It could be one of the stories people tell, when they want to believe in love’s power and life’s richness. It could be one that your children and grandchildren tell each other, praying that someday they’ll have a love like yours.

My grandparents celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary this year. They are one of those couples that are living a love story every day, even after sixty years. They went to third grade together, and then Grandma’s family moved away. And when they met again at seventeen, Grandpa swears he remembered that beautiful face from the third grade. They were married at the Justice of the Peace, just before Grandpa left for the Navy. They moved to Hawaii a few years after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Life took them to California for a few years, and then back home to Michigan. At their house in Kalamazoo, Grandpa worked in his shop while Grandma tended her roses, all along the white fence. We watched them slow dance in the kitchen and loved to look through their pictures from Hawaii and their sailing trips. They love to ride bikes together, and for their seventy-fifth birthdays, they took their tandem recumbent bike to Washington, DC, to ride along the Potomac.

On the night of their anniversary party, we had dinner and cake and when we toasted them, essentially, we all said the same thing. We each said our own versions of thank you for having a marriage that gives us something extraordinary to aspire to. Thank you for all the times we caught you kissing in the kitchen and all the times you showed us pictures of your wedding and your years in Hawaii and your sailing trips and bike rides. Thank you for giving us a picture of how we could be, if we work really hard and are very good to one another. Thank you for living with so much love and tenderness and laughter that we have in you a real life picture of how good it can be.

You, my dear friend, will be a bride for one day, but you will, with God’s grace and your own very hard work, be a wife to this man every day for the rest of your life. Being a bride is super-fun, but it pales in comparison to the thrill and beauty of being a part of one of the truly great partnerships, like my grandparents. Make your love story one worth telling. Make it one worth living, every day, as long as you both shall live.

*An excerpt taken with permission from Bittersweet, Zondervan 2010

 

We’re giving away a pair of TOMS classic shoes for him, and 31Bits jewelry for her!

Join the conversation! Comment below to enter to win today’s featured giveaway. For extra entries, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and let us know you did in your comment. Entries must be received by tonight at midnight CST, and winners will be selected randomly and notified by email the following day.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Alyssa B. for winning the giveaway of a pair of TOMS classic shoes for him, and 31Bits jewelry for her! The winner has been emailed and the randomly selected winning comment was:

i did not have a brides wedding either time. it was my second ceremony and his fourth. BUT and this is key, after 6 years of marriage, i got saved,( he already was saved) and so this is the first REAL marriage for both of us. sure sure sure you stand before the rabbi and make vows but until you know Christ they are just words. as Followers of Christ marriage became a true commitment. i think that makes all the difference between a life long commitment and a wishy washy one, God. we put HIM first and we honor HIM in our marriage and HE faithfully keeps us focused, eyes to eyes. yes i love my husband more today than i did ten years ago. we have settled into one another like an over stuffed chair and we are comfortable together. but it is the knowing, the knowing that no matter how much we love one week and yes, hate the next, we are in it till death do we part. but the greatest part of all is knowing that death will not part us. we are in this for an eternity.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________
Featured Guest: Shauna Niequist

Shauna Niequist grew up in Barrington, Illinois and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. After graduation, she worked with high school students at Willow Creek in Barrington for five years. On her first day there, she met Aaron Niequist, and three years later they were married.  They moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to work at Mars Hill. They made great friends, walked to the Real Food Café twice a week for breakfast, and learned the hard way that they are not home repair people.  Their son Henry was born there, and will be four this fall.  After six years in Grand Rapids, they moved back to the Chicago area. Shauna is the author of Cold Tangerines (Zondervan, 2007) and Bittersweet (Zondervan, 2010), and you can visit her at www.shaunaniequist.com.

 



About

Here you will find guest contributors . . . or those who once contributed regularly, but no longer contribute to the website in an on-going manner.


'A Blessing for a Bride' have 28 comments

  1. April 5, 2011 @ 7:30 am Rachel

    Loved this!!! It’s so true for us as women to worry about the wedding and how we’ll.be as a wife. But the true adventure does start after the big day. I love it! Liked you on Facebook.

    Reply

    • April 5, 2011 @ 1:39 pm Iasmina

      What a beautiful picture of marriage! It is true, the best is yet to come after the big day! Was inspired to create new traditions!

      Reply

  2. April 5, 2011 @ 7:31 am Tangela Williams

    Yes!!!! That’s what I want too. That everlasting love with the one I choose to make my husband.

    Reply

  3. April 5, 2011 @ 8:16 am Delia

    We r a young couple who jst got engaged this past Valentines day and have sought helpful resources…This was such a blessing! Thank you for sharing. If couples could have beautiful strong marriages where our love is based on Gods 1 Corinthins 13 kind of love, we would have a good foundation as a marriage bc everything in each person can change but what will always remain constant is Gods love in us.
    Our dream is also having that loving, happy & healthy marriage where our grandchildren desire to do things right (as were trying to) bc it brings forth great blessings in the short & long run! Not only for the sake of our happiness or 4 others to admire us now or in the future but raather so Christ can b glorified in our relationship whether it be dating, engaged or when we marry, to believers and even more so to non believers. A relationship can have great pleasure but what better pleasure than knowing that we, with our thoughts, words & actions towards each other point others to God when they see us. I pray God uses this great ministry to continue blessing the lives of marriages, engaged couples and even singles as it has blessed me greatly, in Jesus name.
    *In Gods love–Ruben & Delia

    http://www.theknot.com/ourwedding/RubenMuniz&DeliaSanchez

    Reply

  4. April 5, 2011 @ 8:22 am janackeh

    wow…excellent article….great reminder to not get caught up in the wedding plans so much that you lose sight of who you are being prepared to be for your spouse for the rest of your lives. well written!

    *i follow on Twitter (@janackeh) & Facebook (janackeh) ! =)

    Reply

  5. April 5, 2011 @ 8:32 am Georgia

    I am touched by this article as a newly married wife. Thank you for the encouraging reminder.

    Reply

  6. April 5, 2011 @ 8:32 am Georgia

    I follow on facebook also!

    Reply

  7. April 5, 2011 @ 8:34 am Michele

    I agree that the real adventure begins after the wedding day. Sometimes it seems people get to wrapped up in that one day. I think it’s important to concentrate on building our relationship as a couple, to get a good, strong foundation.

    Reply

  8. April 5, 2011 @ 9:07 am Lisa

    Loved this! So true. I follow on facebook also!

    Reply

  9. April 5, 2011 @ 9:24 am ramona

    This story was so amazing and so true in many ways thanks for sharing

    Reply

  10. April 5, 2011 @ 9:37 am adg

    I like this post a lot! My fiance and I also have similar grandparents and aspire to be like them someday! Thank you for sharing and for the tips! :)
    I have “liked” SMR on FB and Twitter.
    Thanks!

    Reply

  11. April 5, 2011 @ 11:09 am Alethea

    “…but I’m here to tell you that what you feel on your wedding day is like dipping your toe in an ocean, and with every passing year, you swim farther and farther from the shore, unable, at a certain point, to see anything but water.” I love this. And after 15 years of marriage I can say that it is true. The best is yet to come!

    Reply

  12. April 5, 2011 @ 11:11 am Alethea

    I am now following you on twitter! http://twitter.com/#!/AletheaAnn

    Reply

  13. April 5, 2011 @ 1:52 pm Amy VS

    What a beautiful simile of a wedding day to a toe dipping in a deep and vast ocean. I’ve been on the marriage journey for two years now. My wedding day was great, but I’ve other great days (with less stress) and there are many more to come.

    **I also liked Start Marriage Right on Facebook

    Reply

  14. April 5, 2011 @ 2:44 pm Francesca Mosley

    After 7 years, 4 moves, 3 kids, and lots of “I love you”s and “I’m sorry”s, I’ll always remember my wedding day as just the start of our journey together.

    Reply

    • April 6, 2011 @ 9:04 am Stephanie Smith

      I love that, Francesca, there are many ups and downs in marriage, apologies and joys, it’s all part of the journey, as you said.

      Reply

  15. April 5, 2011 @ 3:00 pm Carolyn A Lloyd

    been married 33 years and remember my wedding day like it happened yesterday :-)

    Reply

  16. April 5, 2011 @ 3:31 pm Susanna

    Great article! Thank u!

    Reply

  17. April 5, 2011 @ 4:25 pm Lauren

    I completely relate to this! I’ve been married for 5 1/2 years and am amazed that we continue to grow deeper in love! I can’t even imagine what it will be like for our 60th anniversary if we continue to do this right. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply

  18. April 5, 2011 @ 5:43 pm Tracy

    What a nice article to send off a bride with such words of blessings. It’s too true that so much preparation is focused on the wedding and the excitement of getting married with very little thought on how to have a successful marriage. A wedding day should be greatly appreciated and forever remembered, along with the reality of what a true marriage is really about beforehand dipping one’s toes in the ocean and finding themselves floating further away from the shore. May all brides out there be properly prepared with the right idealism & tools on how to proceed with a happy & successful marriage. My grandparents were married for nearly 62 years, Grandpa passed away 2 days before 62nd anniversary. My parents just celebrated their 58th anniversary a month ago. I admire such folks who can perservere and still be happy together as a couple.

    Reply

  19. April 5, 2011 @ 6:25 pm Molly

    I read “Cold Tangerines” recently and loved it, looking forward to reading “Bittersweet.” So thankful that 3 years after saying “I do,” we’re still saying it and sharing new experiences that we couldn’t do as single people or even appreciate when we stood at the altar!

    Reply

    • April 6, 2011 @ 9:03 am Stephanie Smith

      That’s awesome, Molly! Congrats on celebrating 3 years of life together, and I pray you’ll have many, many more :)

      Reply

  20. April 5, 2011 @ 7:04 pm alyssa booko

    i did not have a brides wedding either time. it was my second ceremony and his fourth. BUT and this is key, after 6 years of marriage, i got saved,( he already was saved) and so this is the first REAL marriage for both of us. sure sure sure you stand before the rabbi and make vows but until you know Christ they are just words. as Followers of Christ marriage became a true commitment. i think that makes all the difference between a life long commitment and a wishy washy one, God. we put HIM first and we honor HIM in our marriage and HE faithfully keeps us focused, eyes to eyes. yes i love my husband more today than i did ten years ago. we have settled into one another like an over stuffed chair and we are comfortable together. but it is the knowing, the knowing that no matter how much we love one week and yes, hate the next, we are in it till death do we part. but the greatest part of all is knowing that death will not part us. we are in this for an eternity.

    Reply

    • April 6, 2011 @ 9:02 am Stephanie Smith

      Alyssa, thank you for sharing your story! I am so encouraged and blessed by couples like you and your husband, who are committed through thick and thin. I love what you said about having Christ in your marriage, He is the third Person is your marriage holding us all together!

      Reply

  21. April 5, 2011 @ 8:47 pm Daniella

    Just perfect! Loved it so much. I’m gonna tweet about it!

    Reply

  22. April 5, 2011 @ 10:07 pm amy

    What a beautiful picture of what we should all aspire to in our marriages…making love stories worth telling and living.

    Reply

  23. April 5, 2011 @ 11:05 pm Shelley

    Although I’m not married yet, this article is a reminder of my own grandma in her legacy of faithfulness in her marriage that she passes on for generations to come.

    Reply

  24. April 6, 2011 @ 5:15 pm Kristy

    I love that in your bio you mention that you walked to Real Food Cafe twice weekly for breakfast when you lived in GR. It totally made me smile! You have to be a GR dweller to understand the greatness of Real Food! :)

    Reply


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright © 2014 Start Marriage Right. Disclaimer