White As Snow

Lighting a unity candle, stomping the glass, burying the bourbon, circling the fire, embarrassing speeches at the rehearsal dinner.. the customs surrounding weddings are incredibly diverse, yet they all exist for one purpose: to usher two separate people into a new life as one. Marriage is one of those stories that has been told countless times in countless ways. It's been told throughout history, across all cultures, in all places. Today and in posts to come, I’d like to share from the array of beautiful wedding traditions used to celebrate this story called marriage.

The white gown is a nearly ubiquitous custom here in the West, but I did a little research and found that it only became popular in the 1800s after Queen Victoria dressed in white for her ceremony with Prince Albert. Since then it has become a trend that brides rarely depart from, often choosing blush and neutral colors even when they do. Many consider the white gown a mark of purity. But as I searched through Scripture for passages on marriage and purity it became clear the white gown is a symbol of something very different.

The writers of Scripture use lots of images to describe the relationship between God and his people. A vine and its branches, a Father and his children, a shepherd leading a flock. One of the biblical depictions that resonates most deeply with me is that of a bride and groom (hence the hours I spend working on weddings - just can’t get enough!). When this imagery is used in the Bible, the purity of the bride is actually bestowed upon her. It is not something she brings to the table. It is a gift given to her in grace.

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord… he has covered me with the robe of righteousness… as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” Isaiah 61:10

God’s people are broken people. God’s people are like an unfaithful bride who cannot rightly wear a garment that signifies purity and goodness. And yet the Bible says over and over again that God runs after his broken people as a husband running after his wayward bride. And when he finally catches up to them and wins their affections, he washes his people clean.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be whiter than snow.” Isaiah 1:18

The white wedding gown is not a symbol of the bride’s purity. It is an emblem of the work Jesus has done on the cross. It is a mark of the work the Holy Spirit continues to do, changing hearts, breathing life, making his people new.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

One day, Scripture promises, the Holy Spirit’s work will be complete and God’s people will stand before him, as a bride on her wedding day, wholly forgiven, wholly changed, wholly new, completely in love with her groom, seeking none beside him.

“As a bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” Isaiah 62:5

When Hearing "No" is a Good Thing

Hello and welcome! I'm so excited to finally open this blog today. My hope is that it will always be encouraging and practical for brides, grooms, and their loved ones as they plan such a meaningful day. I can't wait to share the stories of my couples and my fellow wedding professionals. By way of introductions, I thought I'd share a little of my own story today. Getting here was a little crazy!

I entered college at the University of South Carolina coming from a small school in the burbs of Atlanta. I took an elective religion class, and quickly changed my major to world religion, hoping to become a teacher. After I graduated with my religion degree, I married my high school sweetheart, Ryan, and started assistant teaching third grade, which, as it turns out, isn’t so easy without an education degree.

As much as I loved those sweet kids, I grew more and more uncertain about teaching as the year went on. Plus, my school was a hike from where we lived, and I honestly thought traffic would kill me. Sometimes I’d turn a corner thinking I was home free, only to see cars lined up at a light that stayed green for 6 seconds. No joke, sometimes that actually made me cry. It was a hard year, y'all. I began looking for teaching jobs closer to home, praying before every application and interview. God answered my prayers with a resounding and relentless, “No.”

Securing a new job wasn't working out, so I turned my attention to graduate school. I took a wonderful nannying position near home and applied to Georgia State. I had it mapped out: one year of nannying, then back to school for that education degree. Except, this wedding planning idea began to grow and kept growing. I still followed wedding blogs and my own amazing vendors on social media. My mind would swirl with ideas and I found myself truly sad I didn’t get to pursue any of them. I wanted to plan another wedding, but I’d already had mine!

University of South Carolina Graduation Photo by Betsy Pippen

University of South Carolina Graduation
Photo by Betsy Pippen

I had planned our Atlanta wedding as a college student in Columbia. I finished finals, graduated, moved to ATL, and got married all within two weeks. You’d think that would be stressful, but I’d loved every minute of it. Why hadn’t I discovered my desire to be a wedding planner right then?

So, I made that U-turn and went for my wedding planning dream. I researched, watched webinars, played with color palettes and gradients and mood boards. I met wedding vendors for coffee, and they so graciously listened as I peppered them with questions. I practiced a little by assisting some of my new "friendors" at their events, and three lovely couples even allowed me, inexperienced though I was, to help plan their weddings. It has been scary, vulnerable, exciting, tiring, and lots of fun. Wedding planning inspires more creativity, hard work, and growth in me than teaching ever did.

Our wedding at the Payne-Corley House Photo by Carrie Joy Photography

Our wedding at the Payne-Corley House
Photo by Carrie Joy Photography

If God had given me the teaching job I’d asked him for, I never would’ve been able to pursue weddings. Instead he gave me the opportunity to use my talents for the benefit of engaged couples, coming alongside them and lifting the stress of planning off their shoulders. I get to guide them through the confusing world of 48” rounds, blushers, dupioni linens, cascading bouquets, and chivari chairs (as a bride, I didn’t know any of those words, either). I get to listen to their ideas, giving shape and aesthetic to their brainstorms. I get to construct and adorn their wedding days, and for that I am so grateful.

Like a good father, God knows what I need better than I do. This path has challenged me to pray, seek his wisdom, and remember that my security rests in his hands and not in my career. He did not give me the teaching position I hoped for, but he gave me more of himself. Today I am thankful even for his “no.”