A Garden enclosed

Way back when, when we got engaged and suddenly the reality of planning a wedding was It, I sat with Holy Spirit and felt I needed to pray about the creative aspects of the wedding.  If He has been the centre of our Love Story, surely He would have some good ideas to consider… stunningly spiritual, He told me to go to my ‘secret’ Pinterest board aptly named “One Day…” – yes, I am that girl who planned her wedding and had a board and pinned pretty ideas. I am unashamed. After looking through the images, I felt Holy Spirit tell me to start deleting the ones that felt ‘not quite right for us’.

I did.

My board suddenly seemed very empty. Looking at what was left, I kept hearing the word ‘Garden’ repeating over and over again. I asked Holy Spirit to remind me of a passage of Scripture about a Garden (you’d think a certain Genesis Garden would have come to mind??), and I was prompted to read Song of Songs 4: 12 – 15

A garden locked is my sister, my bride,
    a spring locked, a fountain sealed.
13 Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates
    with all choicest fruits,
    henna with nard,
14 nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon,
    with all trees of frankincense,
myrrh and aloes,
    with all choice spices—
15 a garden fountain, a well of living water,
    and flowing streams from Lebanon.

Yeah, I also thought that was a bit weird at first too. Until He told me to research the fruits/ spices… did you know most of them are names of colours with prophetic meanings?? That is just the way Holy Spirit talks to me; I love it!

  • Pomegranates (light red): Beauty & fruitfulness; worship & intimacy; promise: the Lord loves you irrespective of your failings
  • Henna (bright red): Joy & thankfulness; Grace – the covering of sin (Jesus’ blood)
  • Nard (pink-purple): First Love (Jesus); Genuine; Costly – pure, precious and valuable
  • Saffron (bright yellow – orange): Presence of God; His glory & victory; Passion & enthusiasm – life to the full
  • Calamus: Uprightness; being right in God’s eyes
  • Cinnamon (brown): Fragrant smell of Restoration; Holy anointing of the heart
  • Myrrh (dark green): Expectancy & fasting (connotations with Esther!); Flowing in your spiritual gifts
  • Aloes: Intimacy with God; sweet smell to the Lord; place where you meet with God

And in that moment I not only had a theme for the wedding, but a rather interesting colour scheme too… and I also realised I had no idea how to put that all together. But I knew someone who did… and it seemed just the most perfect, obvious, Holy Spirit-inspired choice.  I have been friends with Sylvia for 15 years and we have walked a path of Faith and Encouragement together; I am so grateful for this friendship! And she also just happens to not only love Jesus and listen to Holy Spirit too, but is something of a wedding decor/ flower genius. Seriously. Originally I had felt I needed to ask Sylvie to create my bouquet prophetically – asking Holy Spirit what it should look like. And I knew my budget was less than a third of what she’s used to working with – but she was available and came on board.

Her work speaks for itself – I loved it! I only wish I could share the smells with you too; on entering the venue, I was immediately transported into a beautiful garden. Up until the moment of stepping into the venue for pre-ceremony photos, I had no idea what had been planned. For a bride who had planned her fictitious wedding several times over, it was the most liberating approach to my actual wedding – trusting the Creativity and decisions to the two I trusted most: Sylvie and Holy Spirit.

One of her ideas (which both Garth and I immediately LOVED) was the concept of a Covenant Carpet – a mat created for us to stand upon when we said our vows, which would then be placed in our home as a constant reminder of the promises we had made to eachother.  Ours is in the kitchen – we literally stand upon it when washing dishes, making tea and preparing dinner – and have stood facing eachother several times, remembering the words we declared to the other. Our carpet design was photographed in our (then, my!) home and its filled with personal symbols that we love, as well as references to our Love Story (the dancing and Song of Songs scripture).

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It was only after the wedding, Garth and I were talking about the Scripture and the Garden and I admitted how bride-focussed it seemed to be: the entire scripture is about HER. I can’t remember how we made the connection (probably Holy Spirit again), but Garth’s name literally means ‘Garden’.

I love how creative Holy Spirit is and how much He loves amazing me with layers of symbolism.

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Its all about the money

In January of last year (way before Garth was even a concept in my way of thinking and dance lessons seemed like a vaguely interesting idea), Daddy God told me He was going to pay for my wedding and I needed to ask for an amount.  In fact, I had to present Him with a budget. I laughed. That was crazy, right? WHO DOES THAT???

Me. I did that.

Because He told me to.

I created a rough draft and told him I could arrange a wedding for R50k. Yip, feel free to laugh – Holy Spirit did. Daddy God told me to trust Him for Bigger Things. I replied that I couldn’t bear the thought of spending more that R75k for my wedding. I wasn’t comfortable with it. (Please keep in mind that in 2018, the average wedding in Cape Town hovers between R150 – 200K mark). I was determined to do it for less and was prepared to make serious cuts from what I have often thought of as ‘unnecessary frills’ that only the bride (and photographer) really notice. Quick disclaimer: if you have spent that amount on a wedding and loved each detail in your wedding – awesome! I love that you got the wedding you wanted; I just wanted Another Way. And it was important for me to honour the convictions in my heart. I am so grateful for a groom who supported me, parents who allowed me to be unconventional and everybody else… well, their opinions honestly didn’t matter (although those that know and love me, were not even vaguely surprised).

So, the obvious question is did we stick to our budget and did Daddy God really pay??

Yes and YES!

Let’s look at the second answer first (because we’re embracing Unconventional):

When Daddy God asked me to draft my budget, I had a certain amount of money saved in my bank account. Garth and I did make an effort to begin saving and the account grew, but not remarkably.  My work situation changed and I was suddenly earning 1/3 less of my previous take home salary (it was converted into benefits – which wouldn’t really pay for my wedding). Saving and making our own plan suddenly became Impossible. Then God did what He does: He stepped into our financial situation. Out of the blue, I was paid an amount almost twice my usual salary (minus hefty tax reductions, I was left with R20k).  Nobody can explain why the Education Department paid me this money, other than it had to be ‘back pay’ – no other job conversion colleagues received back pay.  This just happened to coincide with a month I needed to pay several deposits. And then, a savings investment I had started in 2009 matured and R35k appeared in my bank account – the same month I needed to pay off the balances. The following month I received R5k as my yearly incentive bonus, Garth received R5k through his work and I received another R15k through a wedding booking and inheritance money from my gran (which I hadn’t even dreamed of receiving). In the space of 4 months, we had received R75k – just as Daddy God has promised. Tell me God is not faithful to His promises??

And that amount in the savings account? Its still there. Just saying.

 

So – Question 2: did we manage to arrange a wedding for that amount?

Before I give you the breakdown, I want to point out how blessed we were and how we acknowledge each of these blessings to also contribute to our low expenses and not only how grateful we are for each, but how humbled and in awe we are that people love us that much, that they would bless us so abundantly… we pray they will receive 1000-fold in blessings from God.

Item                                                       Budget           Actual Expense

  • Photos                                                22k                  22k
  • Venue                                                 12k                  12k
  • Catering                                               8k                  4765
  • Dessert                                                  1k                GIFTED (free)
  • Cake                                                       2k                GIFTED (free)
  • Sparkling wine                                 1500                1137
  • Welcome Drinks                                   1k                 300
  • Dress                                                       3k               GIFTED (free)
  • Rings                                                    1500               1200
  • MUAH                                                      2k               2750
  • Flowers                                               7500               7500
  • Decor                                                   1500               1425
  • Ante-nuptials                                         2k               1890
  • Suit (groom)                                           3k                2950
  • Cash Bar                                                  2k               1382
  • Sound                                                     550                 650
  • Haybales                                               1700              1700
  • Stationery                                               300                187
  • Legal fees                                                  1k                 1k

TOTAL                                                          R73 550         R61 836

As I said, this would only have been possible with incredible blessings and ‘gifts’ from dear friends – people like Sylvie who gave us decor and flower service worth twice the amount that we paid; Lynn & Margaret making my dress as a gift; Sarah baking the most incredible (and delicious) cake as a gift… we are truly grateful and humbled.

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So what did we do to cut costs?

  • We stuck to our budget.
  • We cut costs by not having a formal sit down meal, instead we embraced the unconventional (but totally us) and had canapes and pizza buffet. Our overall catering ‘per head’ cost was around R120 all inclusive. Unheard of in wedding worlds.
  • We didn’t get caught up in the details – we didn’t have assigned seating which meant we didn’t need name cards, table numbers, seating plan etc.
  • We chose not to have ‘favours’ – opinions may vary and feel free to disagree with me, but after waitressing and photographing weddings for 7 years, the one thing that gets left behind are the favours. Sad, but true.

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Where I was not prepared to cut costs:

  • Lizelle. I honestly was prepared to plan my wedding date around her availability and we were not disappointed. Her photographs (even just the few we have seen) have left us speechless.  We see our hearts and Holy Spirit’s fingerprints in each of them – she has truly managed to capture our Love Story.  And being able to share this journey with her, has been priceless.  Yes, my photography budget was 1/3 of my total cost – for what I received: I would pay more. Future brides – cut costs anywhere BUT your photographer. Seriously. Your photos are the only lasting ‘thing’ from your day (and it goes by in such a blur, the photos really do help…)
  • The venue. Although we had originally budgeted between 10-15k for a venue, having seen Anna Beulah, we fell in love immediately and knew this was the place we would get married.  In terms of venue hire fees, it is incredibly reasonable for Cape Town standards, especially since they allow you to bring in your own caterer. Not many venues extend that courtesy.
  • MUAH (make up and hair). To be honest, I was tempted to try do this myself but am SO GRATEFUL that I didn’t – it may sound silly, but the difference in confidence that I felt (and saw in my bridesmaids) was worth every cent. We not only looked beautiful, but felt gorgeous – thank you to Lindsay and Alicia from BLUSH Hair and Make Up. There are no words to express our gratitude.

 

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The focus of it all…

We are back from honeymoon and now that 2019 has begun to find its groove, I have some spare time to blog again… and finally get to share some of the significance of the details and elements of the Big Day.

Honestly, we planned the wedding in 2 weeks and I think what surprised most people was how easily I delegated the creative aspects to people I trust wholeheartedly – but more about that in the next blog. So, for the majority of the engagement process, we focused on preparing for Marriage – and not just any marriage, we wanted a Kingdom Marriage: a marriage that was God-created and could be used to encourage others and further His Kingdom. That’s how I have always lived my life, and I couldn’t imagine not expecting the same for my marriage. So as much as weddings are fun and filled with pretty things, that was never our focus. We were looking beyond at living out the covenant between us as husband and wife, with God at the centre.

Just as He has done throughout our Love Story, Holy Spirit lead Chris along our path. Chris and his wife Louise oversaw our marriage prep and have become so special to us and we really value their input in our lives. So when our original ‘choice’ for marriage officiant fell through, I knew it was Holy Spirit opening the door for Chris to not only preach (as originally intended), but do the entire service.  It was his first wedding, which was great because we were doing it for the first time too and could be newbies together! He asked if there was something we wanted specifically mentioned in the sermon and again, I felt Holy Spirit say, nope He would give Chris the message.

And wow, did Holy Spirit speak to Chris! Below is Chris’ sermon – he knocked it out of the park and honestly captured so much of what Garth and I had spoken about during our engagement (at home on the couch with tea) and what we aspired to and even the challenges and battles we had faced. It was such a beautiful confirmation from God that this marriage is His Plan and His Best for both of us – and His fingerprints are all over this.

 

There are lots of people who state they know Christ and live a life for him and with him that are in fact not really doing so… When Jesus is Lord of your life there is an order and a pattern that is seen… Fruits appear. Not rotten, disgusting fruits like fear, deception or irritability but life, patience, self control and kindness.. the gifts found in Galatians 5
When Jesus is Lord of our life we have purpose and passion.. we see this world as an interlude to our eternal destines and make decisions which have a reach far outside of this temporary time..
Matthew 28 we are told to make disciples – our life’s work is to help others see and feel and know what we have experienced so that eternity is set of them
When Jesus is Lord of our life we are changed / we think differently, act differently and look at the world differently as we read in Romans 12. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬
When Jesus is Lord of our life we speak the word of God and live what we say.
“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:22-25‬ ‭NLT‬‬
When we live as kingdom people we have a king – we are obedient to His ways even when we don’t agree, we follow His decrees even if our flesh desperately wants a different answer and acknowledge that our life is not our own but we are owned by Him whom created us and forms us.
Zechariah and many Old Testament words prophesy Jesus coming and they even mention his donkey that he rides in Matthew. 21… Jesus is the long awaited messiah and king who will lead us into glory
Lauren and Garth – many of us have walked with you for years or months but we all witness two people who love God and honour Him as I have described above today. It is the journey you made as single people that qualifies you for today. Two people who do  not know God or love according to His pattern would not be able to build the kind of kingdom marriage that God is looking for or desires.
You still have a responsibility to each other to do the work that has been described today – your salvation and walking it out remains yours to do but now you have to include and acknowledge each others spiritual journey. Your past and single life whilst coming to an end today has equipped you for what is to come..
So what are you doing today?
You are making the second biggest decision of your life after following Christ. This is the only decision and relationship that you take with you for the whole of your life apart from Christ. Many people in this room will come and go over the next 60 years but the person standing in front of you and the person of Jesus in your heart remains.
Today is a decision to give up the ability to say “me”, “mine “ and replace with “we”, and “ours”.
Today is a covenant that states you will be with each other until the end of your lives.. it’s not a contract of obligation which has terms and an end date and get out clauses. This is a total surrender of privilege, rights and independence to pledge a lifetime to each other. It is a covenant that God ordains and joins together. Your old life and person dies today and is replaced by this new creation of Mr and Mrs Wild.
Today is a decision which states who will be with you until the end / regardless of difficulties, pain, heartache or joy – until the end of days it will remain the two of you joined together that only God can separate.
Today begins your kingdom marriage so what does that look like?
Firstly – A kingdom marriage Has a King – that is our Lord Jesus
  • he is the ruler of your marriage and it’s ways and purposes
  • He is the ultimate ruler and determines your steps
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
  • ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬
A kingdom marriage has a heirachy
  • Jesus is the King of your lives and marriage
  • Garth is the head of the home as he submits to Jesus
  • Lauren submits to Garth as he submits to Christ
  • Children shall follow
This is the pattern that God ordained in Ephesians 5 and is the pattern of a kingdom marriage. Everything flows from God and His kingship. For wives this does not mean that they can’t work, will have every decision made for them or must be silent – but rather it says follow your husband as He follows Christ. Husbands our mandate is clear – love our wives as Christ loved the church… sacrificial, all encompassing, removing all self interest and without condition.
Submitting to a man like that is simple.
The king decides the purpose
  • To bring God glory and live in unity as one
  • As man and woman we were created in his image to multiply the earth and take care of it to give him glory
  • Our great commission still stands to both raise disciples and to make disciples to advance his kingdom
The king decides the rules
  • Just as with our relationship with him he has given us clarity in living for him
  • The bible gives clarity on how to live and love for him on the earth
  • Read the road together, pray together and grow in wisdom so that your lives are in tune with his commands
The kingdom has an enemy
  • The battle you have to build and have a kingdom marriage is not a natural one but spiritual – fight in the spirit
  • “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
  • ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-18‬ ‭NLT‬
The king equips his people
  • just as in kingdoms the kings would have armies and spike train and equip
  • In 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4, we read that we are given gifts inside each one of us..
  • you see marriage of two sinful people trying to make a life together is impossible but two redeemed, sanctified and equipped people bonded in marriage can do immeasurably more than we could hope or imagine..
So Lauren and Garth the covenant you make today is ordained by God and only made possible to do by Him. Hold onto your God. Listen to Him and obey His voice as you do married life together..
Then at the end you will hear “well done my good and faithful servant”
 – Chris Berry