You could get married in three minutes in front of two witnesses and someone with the authority to declare you legally married. You don't need a cake, you don't need champagne, you don't need a room full of spectators, and you don't need music or even a wedding dress.

You probably need a license and, of course, someone who wants to spend the rest of his life with you. That's important. I begin this book with the assumption that you are actually marrying someone for that reason--that you both are madly in love and can't imagine living life without each other.

But you are also reading this book because you have decided that you need Someone Else at the wedding. At some level you understand that a wedding between two people, an officiant, and two or even two hundred witnesses is certainly legal, possibly romantic, and definitely optimistic, but it isn't necessarily a spiritual event. However, if God attends your wedding, you are replacing optimism with faith and genuine hope. You are saying that you are aware of the challenges that marriage presents and that you are asking God to be there with you both at the very beginning and to stay with you on the journey until death do you part.

There is a ship and it sails the sea... Give me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row, my love and I.
Marriage is not so much an institution as it is a conveyance, and I often think of these lyrics from a folk song when I try to describe marriage as a form of transportation through life. However, "Unless the Lord builds the house," or in this case the ship, "we labor in vain," says the Bible (Psalm 127:1). The time to construct the boat is not when it's in the middle of troubled waters. It makes the most sense to build it in fair weather before it ever has to ride out a storm. That's why you'll want to invite God from the very beginning, to help you design your ship and set your course. That means that a spiritual marriage begins with a spiritual wedding. And a spiritual wedding begins with spiritual preparation. It's not just about picking hymns and choosing readings from the Bible. It's about preparing your own heart to be as emotionally and spiritually ready as possible to step into that boat when the big day comes!

And so, the first wedding invitation that you send should be a very personal one, a prayer that asks God to attend not only the ceremony on your wedding day, but to be there for all the decisions and the details beforehand. Remember, God holds time in His hands. Whatever concerns you have about the months to come, He is already there in the future and He can give you peace about it. So it is perfectly right and appropriate to include Him today. Don't wait until the morning of your wedding to ask Him to show up. There is so much He can do right now to help.

I know, it's hard to imagine. Why would God care about your wedding? People make the mistake of assuming that God is too busy with "really important issues" to be bothered with somebody's nuptials. But that was never my experience. I love this line from a popular hymn that I sing to myself whenever I think my needs are too trivial for God.

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.
His eye is on you, too. And I know He is watching and waiting for your invitation.

Ideas to ponder
The Greeks described love in three forms. The first two are "Eros" and "Philia." Eros is the love that expresses itself romantically. Philia is friendship. H. Norman Wright describes the two this way: "While eros is almost always a face-to-face relationship, philia is often a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship." Finally, the third form of love is "Agape"--the love that is unconditional and asks nothing in return. That is, perhaps, the best love of all. Beyond face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder, there must be heart-to-heart. When you marry "for love," are all forms of it present in your relationship? As you prepare spiritually for your wedding, ask God to bring all three into balance.

Write it out
Your first wedding invitation is going out to God. Before you invite Him, however, be clear on the reasons you want Him there. Write it out:

Say it out loud

Call to Me and I will answer you. And I will tell you great and mighty things which you do not know.--Jeremiah 33:3

God wants to attend your wedding, but He's a gentleman. He won't go if He's not invited. Take a private moment to ask, out loud, for God's presence not only at your wedding but throughout the planning process.

Dear God,
Even with all the friends and loved ones I have who want to help me, I need Someone who will really make the difference between a wedding and a miracle. Will You help me? Will You teach me and my fiancé how to truly become one? I believe You will. Thank You.

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