Most girls spend years dreaming of their wedding days. Or so the story goes. I dreamed about where I’d go to school and what I’d study. My big book of college profiles was worn and dogeared, a compass intended to point me in the right direction after high school graduation.
Just when I thought I’d figured it out—in May of my senior year with an acceptance letter from an Ivy League college in hand—I met the 17-year-old brother of a friend from a rival high school and everything changed.
I fell so hard and so fast that by August it was difficult to load up the U-Haul with my family and drive 1800 miles from home. From him. As much as I loved the school and the new friends made, nothing could overcome the constant ache in my heart. We became engaged the following March and married in October, in that New Hampshire town where he’d gone with me back to school and rented a basement apartment nearby.
Although I never doubted the man I chose, for years I’d sit in the pew at weddings and wonder if I missed something getting married in a school chapel, in a dress I bought off the rack in that college town, with the justice of the peace presiding and a school newspaper photographer.
Sometimes I’d begrudge the bride who’d return from her honeymoon to move into a new house. Our first four children were born before we owned an actual home of our own.
I’d forgotten that God specializes in conceiving great things from humble beginnings: a shepherd boy who would be king of Israel; a Jewish orphan who would become the queen of Persia and save her people; his own son, born in a manger inside a stable.
Whether your wedding was big and fancy, small and simple, or hasn’t yet occurred, let me share these truths:
Your wedding isn’t about the dress or the reception. It’s about the man. The vows.
You marriage isn’t about where you live or what you drive. It’s about loving your husband (which is commanded of us, as an act of the will). Two becoming one flesh. Commitment.
Don’t be ashamed of simple beginnings (or simple middles and endings, for that matter). Sometimes happily ever after doesn’t start out in a way that you planned or could ever imagine. Pray for God’s blessings upon your marriage ” . . . and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” ~Hebrews 13:5
Do you have a story where God turned a simple beginning into so much more?
by Dawn Camp, who loves that same man just as fiercely 8 kids and nearly 27 years later
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Heather Burris says
Ours was a small wedding (just our immediate family and grandparents) at a local park with a reception and pig roast afterwards at my Dad’s house. I sometimes envy others’ wedding photos or celebrations, but in recent years I’ve come to feel good about our choice as it came debt-free. I can’t say I love my hubby just as fiercely as I did then because God has changed us both in ways that has made our love grow stronger and fiercer. Of course there were times when I wasn’t sure I had made the right choice, but I’m certain now that, even this girl who doesn’t believe in soulmates, has found her very best friend all because of God’s love for us. I love this reminder. Simple doesn’t mean less. Thanks <3
Dawn Camp says
Heather, just what you said: simple doesn’t mean less. Debt-free is a great start!
While we had a pretty nice wedding, we definitely had humble beginnings. We got married young and spent our first years of marriage finishing our undergraduate degrees and my husband getting his master’s.
But as you said, “It’s about the man. The vows. You marriage isn’t about where you live or what you drive. It’s about loving your husband (which is commanded of us, as an act of the will). Two becoming one flesh. Commitment.”
Dawn Camp says
Steph, that’s awesome that you were able to work together and finish your schooling.
Kerry @ Made For Real says
Yes! to simple beginnings! Our parents made us wait a year longer to get married and it was torture. We would have been better off having had the earlier wedding, but 16 yrs later (on Friday!!) I’m still so glad for our humble beginnings… Not much money, both of us finishing school, and so motivated to do what it took to be together. No regrets.
Dawn Camp says
Kerry, this just made me smile: “so motivated to do what it took to be together.” 🙂
Thank you! This summer has significantly changed the way I perceive and value the simply, uncommon life I live. I am learning to make no apologies for who I am, where I’ve come from, and lifestyle we live. Your writing is solidifying that process, like adding a little more cement to the foundation.
Dawn Camp says
Tina, I like your attitude. So glad I could help!
Wilma Vernich says
Amen and amen! We married four months after graduating college 29 years ago with not much else than boxes of textbooks, a hand-me-down bedroom suite, a metal typewriter stand for a dining table and BOTH of us bringing in less than $25,000 income……together. Now we have more “stuff”, but we both say we were just as happy then with little as we are now, with abundance. We have been blessed with two healthy, contributing-to-the-world offspring, many adventures under our belts and walking each day with each other’s love and support.
Dawn Camp says
Wilma, I love your story. It really is possible to make it last, isn’t it? 🙂
Lexie Thomas says
Thank you for writing these words! I have often wrestled with how my wedding day turned out even though I’ve never wrestled with the decision to marry my husband. See my reception hall burnt to the ground the week before my wedding and everything I thought that big day would be changed. And it was still beautiful and meaningful and joyous, but even after three years I sometimes have to deliberately remind myself of the things that matter and the things that don’t. Especially in the beginning. I knew these feelings were trivial, but avoiding processing the death of that dream (just because you think it’s trivial! ) and the many expectations that were attached did NOT bring peace. Only confronting the disappointment did. And the Lord was gracious to lead me gently.
So I guess it’s just comforting to know and hear your heart on these matters. And to know that I’m not alone and that when we put first things first, the thoughts of our hearts can fall into place. And as time passes, it’s such a blessing to see those wounds healed and the simplicity and humbleness that was our beginning become such a precious jewel in my heart. 🙂
Dawn Camp says
Lexie, I can imagine how your vision of your wedding completely changed when that hall burned down. I’m thankful that these words comforted you. It was my sincere hope that they would speak to other women who felt the way I did.
John Wilder says
Dawn I appreciate your biblically based blog. I find that most girls fantasize about “happily ever after” but rarely give a thought as to what that looks like for the man.
Churches teach little girls that sex is bad,dirty and wrong and that “good girls don’t do it”.
This often negatively conditions a woman for life about her sexuality. Also the churches ignore the scripturally mandated ministry in Titus 2 where it commands that: “the older women of the church are supposed to teach the younger women of the church how to love their husbands (sexually) so that the word of God is not blasphemed.”
It is further complicated because there is no “school for sex” to teach men how to give their women great sex. As a result according to Kinsey: 78% of married women over thirty have their husbands on a STARVATION DIET OF SEX ONCE A WEEK OR LESS where the average man needs it 3-4 times a week.
I am trying to address these very serious societal and spiritual problems.
Today I am celebrating 20 years of marriage to the boy I met in college. We got married while we were still in school and we have worked together, with God, to build the modest life that we have. And in all things, I give thanks to God for the man He made just for me. I wouldn’t trade our years together for anything this world has to offer. And while our “happily ever after” has been financially challenging at times, we are rich in all the things that matter…faith and love. Thanks for the post!
Dawn Camp says
Heather, Happy Anniversary! I’m giving thanks with you for these 20 years you’ve had together.
miss honey says
we were married on a friday morning (it will be 38yrs this year) with 7 people there. all but 1 were my husband’s family!! our honeymoon was a drive from pennsylvania to michigan to pick up the rest of my belongings. our 1st overnite from (2) children was our 10th anniversary…we lived in a mobile home for almost 30 years….and we’ve always felt especially blessed!!! thanks for sharing your story……..
Dawn Camp says
Miss Honey, I was married on a Friday morning, too, with a crowd of about the same size. 🙂 Your story is lovely: “and we’ve always felt especially blessed.” You are!
Where do I begin? High school sweethearts who broke up after 2.5 years (I thought I’d never be happy again). I married someone else (gasp!) – just to be married. Then, we “found” each other again (as if God didn’t have that plan all the time). This May, we’ve been married 26 years, 4 healthy, happy almost-grown kids, and life is better than I EVER imagined!
Amy Hunt says
I could wrap my arms around you and just cry this afternoon. Your words speak such truth and bring me to my knees in gratefulness. My story doesn’t look like others, yet I know that it’s right for me. That joy in my heart and gratefulness for grace, it’s so overwhelming.
Right on, friend! Right on!
Thank you for such a timely reminder that our thankfulness should apply to our marriage!! Marriage is one area that really, really needs grace and gratitude in this troubled world!!
Amber Cadenas says
Oh girl, I so appreciated reading this. I’ve been married for just 3 months, and our beginning has not just been humble, but unexpectedly painful. I ruptured my achilles tendon just four days before our wedding, and while it was a beautiful day (I was popping Vicodin like it’s going out of style), we had to cancel our honeymoon and opt for surgery instead. I’m still out on medical leave from work. We’ve faced a lot of challenges from the get go, BUT, I am so filled with gratitude for the gifts in these humble, unexpected challenges – and for a partner in life to who is not loves me in sickness and in health, through financially lean times and loneliness. I am so grateful to God, who reminds me in these times just how near he is, and how no marriage partner can ever take his place or love me as he does.
Dawn Camp says
Amber, it sounds like y’all have had a crash course on in sickness and in health. Yes, I’m sure your wedding day wasn’t exactly as you’d imagined, and surgery instead of a honeymoon? Wow.
What I love here, though, is your attitude! I pray for God’s blessings on your health and your new marriage.
This a good reminder to really focus on what is the most important. That sweet man by your side and your marriage union together. Flowers, cakes and pew bows are just fluff.
Dawn Camp says
i thought that dome looked familiar! #bigGreen Dartmouth! i worked there for 2 years 2005-2007. i love that campus and area.
i know what you mean small beginnings. our wedding was beautiful although looking back 2.5years ago i wish our guest list was waaaaaaaaaay smaller. we are not in debt due to our wedding (PRAISE GOD) but some of those folks that were there came to talk crap about us. anyway that’s neither here or there. our humble beginnings are quite that i’m the only one that can work until my hubby’s immigration stuff is settled and we have 3 beautiful children. i’m tired. i’m the one that drives everywhere (including to our church which is an hour away). i’m just tired and i can’t wait to see the more.
keep us in your prayers!
THANKS FOR THE REMINDER! WHAT A GIFT HOPE IS!
Dawn Camp says
Yes, Leah, that’s Baker Tower! And hope is most certainly one of the greatest of gifts, isn’t it? 🙂
connie jo post says
I loved this…we have been married forty-six years..five daughters and six grandchildren later..for years I would tear up when I saw a beautiful white bridal gown, as I was married in a green two piece suit, and was a young divorcee with two children. As the years have passed I have realized how rich and full our lives are and there isn’t a “one way only” to have a wedding or to be a bride..I also realized I am “His bride” as well and He sees me fully clothed in white..Thank you for sharing..
Dawn Camp says
Forty-six years—wow! Congratulations on your big, beautiful family!
Just Me says
Uummm….wives are not commanded to love their husbands. They are commanded to submit to their husbands. Unless you are talking about God’s command to love one another as He loved us.
Dawn Camp says
Just Me, Titus 2:3-4 says: “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children . . .” I don’t think the aged women would be instructed to teach the young women to love their husbands if it wasn’t commanded of them.
Yes! Too sad to see all the fanfare for wedding ceremony and nothing in the marriage covenant and their future of loving and supporting one another with God’s help.Thanks for reminder. We need to remember it’s a blessing to find a spouse to share your life with and that is the joy and gift wrapped up.
Blueberry Rolls | A Delightful Glow says
[…] opinion on something else is that you should hop over to (in)courage to this post, scroll down and download their desktop picture for August. It is delightful and is cheering up my […]
Our culture has raised the wedding to an incredibly a high pedestal and has relinquished the marriage to the back burner as an afterthought. It always does my heart good to see encouragement about the marriage!
It’s not just about the simple beginnings, either. It’s also the life choices you make along the way. You may opt to stay home and take care of the kids rather than taking a high paying job that gives you a much higher income and lifestyle. You may opt for jobs that pay less, but don’t require you to sign your life over to a company. It may be a simpler lifestyle, but may provide for a much richer life.
My husband and I have made choices that have led to such a life. There was a time I was embarrassed: we should have more, do more, make more, like some of our relatives. But it is a tremendously encouraging reminder that is has all been worthwhile when our young adult daughters confirm our choices by their gratitude for their upbringing and for the role model for marriage we provided.
Beth Williams says
My hubby and I were older when we married. I was 38, turned 39 in 2 months, he was 37-turning 38 in the same 2 months (same b-day). He had been divorced for 1 year when we met on-line and 10 weeks later we married, on my mother’s b-day.
We were going to have a small church wedding at his, now our, church. A group from the church, including minister and wife, went on a mission trip to Mexico. We opted for a quiet ceremony at the Court House with my parents. 4 months later we took a week long honeymoon.
We’ve had our ups an d downs in the ensuing 8 years. But through it all we’ve loved each other intensely. some things that have helped during the down are the movies “Fireproof” & “Courageous”. I would highly recomment both movies. Fireproof should be shown to all people getting married.
I’m not against having a wedding, just against all the hoopla surrounding weddings & the preparation.
In addition to what you said (which is wonderful!), I would say that it doesn’t matter what you do – or don’t do – for your anniversaries, either. We have never taken a cruise, gone to Hawaii, or done anything spectacular for them. But I would rather have a simple, humble date night with my husband (26 years in August) and a fabulous marriage (which we do) than some big, fancy cruise with a man with whom I fight or am frustrated or don’t even like. We are still very much in love and some years our anniversary celebration was nothing more than Chinese takeout eaten on my desk while our very little boys slept upstairs. It’s about being together, loving each other, and living this life together.
So true Dianne. We couldn’t afford a fancy wedding and still can’t afford fancy holidays/anniversaries. On our wedding night we gave each other a letter as a gift and over the years since have done the same for some of our anniversaries. A couple of years ago after a hectic day my sister looked after our kids for an hour while we went out and had ice-cream. On other occasions we’ve been able to trade in credit card points for a night away in a hotel we couldn’t otherwise afford. But as fun as it might be to ‘spoil’ ourselves, I equally treasure those years where we exchanged letters during a picnic on the lounge room floor!
thank you for your words of wisdom Dawn – too often I find myself comparing what we had with others but I know that the marriage is far more important than the wedding. Thanks for the reminder!! blessings…
Simple? Humble? Our families thought it was a funeral not a wedding! A true “shotgun” wedding – pregnant and 18, he was 19. We have had college, kids, big business, failed business, losing everything we had, home ownership to homeless, building back, terrible health crisis and we nightly thank God for our blessings and a love that seems so deep and pure it is impossible to believe. God led us from 2 rebellious teens to doing ministry together and we can’t wait to see what the next 27 years hold! Our kids friends say we act like teenagers still. Miracles? Yes we believe. Living one daily. Only God. Only God.
Jill G says
Thank you for this post. As an 8-time bridesmaid… I’ve seen a whole lot of emphasis on the “wedding” and not a lot of emphasis on the covenant of marriage. My boyfriend and I have talked a lot about the hoopla wedding that we DON’T want, because I am already in debt from bad financial decisions in college, and I really don’t want any more! I am so grateful that we are on the same page- that small, humble, simple will still be beautiful and meaningful and Christ-centered. When we do get married, we’ve talked about being fully committed to living off of one (the smaller) income and using the second income to becoming debt-free. Our beginning will be simple, but full of dedication, obedience, and honor, and frankly I’m excited about it =)
Brooke Burger says
My hubby and I married on a Wednesday night after the service at his father’s church. My parents weren’t happy with me, and did not attend. A few of my family did, then my hubby’s immediate family and the church family. We had no reception. We took a couple of days off work and spent a long weekend together in our local area. We took our “honeymoon” during spring break (I was a teacher) and went to Washington DC (we are from Texas) so that I could introduce him to more of my family.
Most importantly, though, just about 2or 3 months after we married, my father publicly appoiogized for misjudging my husband and not wanting us to marry, My husband and I have been married for 25 years. My father has been gone for 6 years now, but sometimes you would have thought my hubby was his son, not his son-in-law. They loved each other so. My mother still lives with us, and everyone gets along great. God is so good!
Thank you so much for this post. We had an amazing, fancified wedding and reception — paid for entirely by my father. Four years later, we are buried under debt and, currently, my husband is unemployed (and ineligible for unemployment since he worked for a church) and we are simply trying to exist and feed our two kids until I get my fall stipend for graduate school. So don’t feel envious of the big fat weddings — it’s not any indication of the married life (these days, I guess), just our parents’!
I’ve really been struggling with this in a lot of ways, especially since (coming from an comfortable background) I never expected or understood the stress that comes with trying (usually unsuccessfully) to live paycheck-to-paycheck. But almost every day I’ve been getting the same message over and over: TRUST ME, TRUST ME, TRUST ME. I AM ENOUGH.
And how you said it: “Pray for God’s blessings upon your marriage ” . . . and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” ~Hebrews 13:5” This has been so hard for me! Especially since, because of my parents’ divorce, in many ways “things” became my parents’ way of expressing their love for me, even when they couldn’t/wouldn’t be there for me. But through this last year, especially, I have been hearing God’s message that He is allowing all of this for one very important purpose: to convince (thick-headed) me that His LOVE is love, not His gifts. And that is SO MUCH MORE!
Thank you for being part of that message!