Does Love or Money Make a Beautiful Wedding?

by Irene Conlan

They rented the whole country club, had 200 people for a reception and dinner, open bar, and all the trimmings. A string quartet played prior to, during and after the wedding and a D.J. kept them dancing until 3 a.m. The bride’s dress cost over $3,000 and who knows what the flowers cost. They balked at my $300 fee even though I had a one hour drive to and from the wedding. “They had to save money somewhere” the father of bride said. And he moaned over and over, “This wedding is sending me into bankruptcy.” The sad thing is, maybe it was doing just that. The mother of the bride was just concerned that it be the biggest, most elaborate wedding of the season.

It was a prestigious wedding ceremony with all the “right” people there. There were seven bridesmaids and groomsmen, flower girls, ring bearers, live music – elegance everywhere. The bride looked like an angel in her gown and the groom could have substituted for a male model on the front of GQ in his designer tuxedo. There was no end to the elegance or to the expense. The sad thing was that no one seemed happy.

The bride and groom had been fighting all day the day before the wedding and were still angry. The mother and father of the bride were squabbling, and the father of the groom was drunk and rowdy. We couldn’t find the mother of the groom but she appeared just as the ceremony was to begin and didn’t look too pleased. There were a lot of very expensive gifts on the gift table and the guests were dressed in their finest.

The wedding cost a minimum of $100,000 but something was missing – love. I was happy to be headed home when the officiating was finished.

Contrast this with another wedding.

The bride was eight months pregnant and only the two families attended. The bride wore a lovely short maternity dress and the groom wore a nice suit that obviously was not new. He was handsome and excited about this wedding. Everyone was hugging and laughing and talking about the baby who was soon to announce himself to the world. The bride’s family loved the groom and the groom’s family loved the bride and they all were in love with the unborn baby. The living room of the bride’s family home was set up like a small chapel, with flowers on pillars at the front and ten chairs for the ten family members who were there. Music played softly in the background on the CD player.

When I checked in with the bride on arrival, I found her near tears because she thought she was ugly and didn’t want everyone to see how “big” she was. The truth was that she was radiantly beautiful with a glow that only a bride and a pregnant woman have. As I was trying to console her, the groom came in, looked at her with a most adoring look and told her he had never seen her more beautiful and that he was so proud to walk in with her. She sighed, smiled , gave him a kiss and the three of us went in together. The love in that room was palpable. The father of the bride cried all through the ceremony because he was so overcome with the beauty of it all.

When the ceremony was over, everyone had champagne (except the pregnant bride) and I couldn’t tell one family from the other – they all seemed to delight in being here with each other and with the bride and groom. My estimate is that the total expense of this wedding had to be less than $500 and that included my fee.

I left that wedding feeling wonderful. I had been a part of a glorious celebration of love.

In my mind, there is no question of which wedding was the most beautiful but you can form your own opinion. Money may make the wedding memorable but love makes it meaningful and unforgettable.

About the Author: Irene Conlan is an ordained, non-denominational minister in Scottsdaale, AZ and the Phoenix metropolitan area. She delights in designing unique, custom weddings that are personal and spectacular for each couple.