Eugene Cho

my top 10 wedding advice

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In the past few months, I’ve been doing a lot of teaching at my church on dating, relationships, and marriage. Later, I’ll share with you some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my marriage but today, I want to share my top 10 wedding advice – both the preparation & day of the “event”.  Marriage is biblical but the wedding industry is one of the most undiscussed idolatries of our society in my opinion. It’s so easy to get sucked in so here’s some advice to consider:

  1. Be the right person. This is so important and worth  a post by itself in the future.  No one is perfect but are you ready for the covenant of marriage? A healthy marriages involves a healthy you.
  2. Marry the right person. Notice I didn’t say the perfect person since they don’t exist but marry the right person for you. Marry your soul mate. Please. Do not compromise. Let me say it again…do not compromise. Don’t forget that there must be a resonance and convergence of Passion, Vision, and Mission. A healthy marriage involves a healthy partner.
  3. You can never be over-prepared. Read books. Prepare. Befriend married couples and ask them lots of questions. Take pre-marital counseling classes. Pray. Enter into your covenant with confidence but not arrogance.
  4. Don’t “play married” when you’re not married. You know what I mean, right?  Don’t live together; sleep together; buy a house together; etc…until you are married. Please wait. It’s worth it.
  5. Investment of Time? Are you investing in producing a great wedding (one day) or building a great marriage (a  lifetime)?  Think about this carefully because the energy, time, and other resources that people invest into the production of a wedding is ridunkulous. Invest some of that energy in the building of your marriage.
  6. The Wedding isn’t a show. It’s a worship service and celebration of God’s covenant. Don’t do stuff to impress people but rather, make choices that are meaningful and reflect your devotion to God and your commitment to your spouse and family. Pray, sing, hymns, Scriptures, sermon, communion, vows…do it all and worship God.
  7. Do not go into DEBT to just put on a fancy party. In fact, just set a reasonable budget and don’t go over.  This whole wedding industry is a sham.  As I shared above, marriage is God’s gift and beautiful & biblical but the wedding industry is a rarely exposed idolatry in many cultures – including the Western world.  The rings, dresses, tuxedos, location, food, and glitz are all peripheral to your vows, your worship, and your community of friends and family. Be good stewards. Dresses, rings, suits, flowers, dresses are blah blah blah in my opinion – why do we need to spend so much money on these things? They will all pass but some things won’t so make wise choices and I’d personally encourage folks to save funds for investments that will help you with your mutual Passion, Vision, and Mission.
  8. Honor your parents. The wedding isn’t just for you. It’s an opportunity to honor your guests, your family, but especially your parents. Carve out time during the actual wedding ceremony to speak heart to heart to your parents and let them know how much you appreciate them…as you “leave” your parents to join unto your spouse.
  9. Celebrate! It only happens once. So ENJOY and party!
  10. [see below]

What would you add as #10? What advice about the wedding planning and service?

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If you’re looking for photographers, the three [from Quest] I’ve worked with and highly recommend:

And an old photo to give you a good laugh. Some background to our wedding pic (before digital cameras!):  I went to Korea a week before our wedding. My hair was fairly long and I had a quasi beard like I do today.  When I went to visit Minhee at her home, my mother-in-law half-jokingly said,

“If you want to marry my daughter, immediately shave and cut your hair.”

She said she was joking but I didn’t believe her. I shaved the next morning and Minhee took me to a hair stylist and tried to make me look like one of those bad Korean drama actors.

eugene and minhee cho

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30 Responses

  1. GREAT advice! I wish more pastors would share this with the couples they marry.

    On our wedding day, my husband and I read letters to our parents, thanking them for all that they provided for us and all that they taught us. I think this is a good way to both honor your parents and to mark the transition between relying on them to relying on each other.

    Regarding wedding planning, I would add – as a couple, rank what’s most important to you (photography, flowers, food, dress, etc.) so that you know how to prioritize within a budget. If you really want great pictures, but could care less if your cake has rasberry filling, spend a little extra for a good photographer and cut some corners on the cake. Just STAY WITHIN A BUDGET.

    (My sister’s getting married in October…We’ve been thinking about this stuff!)

  2. Daniel says:

    thanks eugene. this post was very pertinent to me, as my fiancee and i are getting married in two months. it also resonated with me strongly, as you highlighted some areas that are very important to us, as well. we took the idea of covenanting very seriously, and have been doing pre-marital counseling and have engaged in deep, fruitful conversations about what it means to covenant together in marriage.

  3. Maia says:

    Write your own vows- on a few occasions when I have been angry at my husband for something I’ve gone back and read what he proomised to me and it help put my anger about something trivial in perspective.

    Also, don’t hire a photographer from a Craigslist ad- in this area you really get what you pay for…

  4. fergie says:

    All good. And don’t be afraid to say “oops, I am not ready for this” (although you should know before the wedding day itself). Take it from me.

    I, personally, will never be ready to be married. Done it twice, each time thinking This was a Blessing. Was very wrong. Now, I’m not willing to be anyone’s wife again.

  5. Thank you for posting this. I once knew a teacher aide who earned about 15,000 a year. She secured a bank loan to pay off the 15,000 debt from her daughter’s wedding. The daughter was already divorced. I see many beautiful weddings and too many divorces in our society.

  6. Also, it seems that weddings have become much less about worship, commitment, and starting a family, and more about making a personal style statement (which is not a bad thing, but is bad when it completely displaces the traditional function of weddings).

  7. Vince says:

    Hey Eugene, this top ten list is fantastic. My advice would be relax because it should be an enjoyable and joyous event, not a stressful one. I thought that your advice for being over prepared is a good one. We tried to get everything setup way ahead of time and it helped reduce a lot of the worry. You can post this to our site http://www.toptentopten.com/ and link back to your site. We are trying to create a directory for top ten lists where people can find your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

  8. Tyler says:

    Love that comparison between time to a wedding and time to building a foundation for a lifelong marriage. Couldn’t agree more!

  9. kirhac says:

    make reconciliation,… and not the kind that has to happen before the sun sets,… part of your marriage. This can include many good expressions from “I am sorry,” all the way to “I don’t like being treated like that,” but whatever happens and whatever is said, it is key to keeping moving toward reconciliation. Punishing one’s partner is so destructive,…

  10. Al Shaw says:

    The comments on the idolatry of the wedding industry are spot on. It’s a shame that this reality ios not explained more explicitly in more churches.

  11. This reminds me of my cousin and her wedding. It turned out to be quite an amazing setting and situation after they got everything together. Honestly, it surprised us all, but we were very happy for the both of them.

  12. gar says:

    Great wedding advice, pastor.

    To add to your list of wedding photographers… two exceptional ones I know:

    GH Kim
    http://www.ghkim.com/blog/

    Jane Lee
    http://janeleephotography.com/blog/

    I’ve had the pleasure of having my wedding photographs done by GH Kim. Jane did some family portraits for me waaaaay back when she worked at GH Kim.

  13. Jin says:

    A great top ten!
    And yes, if you are taking a loan, or max-ing out all your credit cards for your wedding ceremony, you are doing something wrong. Idolatry really would be the correct term here. But I also feel it is pertinent to say that this your first major decision/problem you will tackle together of thousands of other decisions/problems you will have disagreements with

  14. Jin says:

    A great top ten!
    And yes, if you are taking a loan, or max-ing out all your credit cards for your wedding ceremony, you are doing something wrong. “Idolatry” really would be the correct term here. I’ve seen this in action quite a lot in a lot of weddings.
    But I also feel it is pertinent to say that this is your first major decision/problem you will tackle together of thousands of other decisions/problems you will have disagreements or opinions about for the rest of your life. And since the two of you have never done this before the tendency is that either you will have disagreements and there will be a major blow-up, or you will have disagreements and you will keep it in to yourself but build up negative feelings for the future. Generally guys may not care about the wedding ceremony as much, and if you’re cheap like me, you won’t want to spend as much. But I’d advise against throwing the “idolatry” card out so easily. Since you will be going through decisions like this over and over again, understand each other’s wishes and opinions, and don’t smash down your spouses dreams or desires. Make it a wedding ceremony that you are both happy about, show that the two of you can plan something as big as this in a loving manner, and most of all, make it memorable!

  15. Andy M says:

    Good list. The “don’t go into debt” one resonates with me. While my wife and I have never had serious relational problems because of money, it has been a stress point for both of us together. To put into perspective, we just recently paid off the credit card that I used to buy her ring over 5 years ago. We had as cheap of a wedding as possible while still being nice. Sister-in-law did the flowers, local photographer, rural hometown church that didn’t charge anything, and just a small reception. The ring, though, set us in a direction with the credit card that took us a long time to get back from. And she doesn’t even wear it anymore. The ring doesn’t fit her well, and after two times of having it resized, she finally just found a different ring that she has no problems with and wears that as a wedding ring.

    Point is. Do not go into debt for anything, especially a wedding. The freedom from that bondage will be a huge blessing to your marriage.

  16. Daniel Ra says:

    nobody said it, so i will. you look ganster in your wedding pic. never would have recognized you if i passed you on the street.

    thanks for the great advice.

  17. Joy says:

    I was wondering if you could recommend some books to help prepare for marriage. A friend of mine sent me this link since my fiance and are getting married. We have done premarital counseling, but I like what you said about over-preparation. However, I have found it difficult to find books that are not conservative regarding sex and gender but still have a Christian foundation. Any recommendations?

  18. Andy M says:

    This isn’t a “marriage” book, but I suggest “SexGod” by Rob Bell. He discusses relationships and spirituality and is very good. I actually have not read many “marriage” books, but quite a lot that deal with relationships.

    I was just thinking about this post, and it focuses on a wedding, so I wasn’t thinking of it yesterday, but here is one thing that I think is vital to relationships, and particularly marriage. Honesty and transparency. We live in a culture that tells us that we cannot just be ourselves, that we have to meet some kind of superficial standard, and that leads to people acting one way in public, and another way in private. I’ve known many married couples who live this way within their own marriage. They are scared to share everything with their spouse, and they end up with secrets and essentially living a double life, and that just kills intimacy. I’ve met couples who hardly do anything together as a couple. They end up being alone even in the midst of a marriage.

    It isn’t always easy to be honest and open to talk about everything. But it is necessary, and worth it. My wife and I have gone through some huge events and transitions in the 5 years we’ve been married, and the 10 years that we’ve been together, and if we had not been able to be honest and open with each other, I do not believe that our relationship would have survived. It has been the greatest blessing in our marriage.

  19. annabanan says:

    This may sound really ridiculous and some people might think I’m just gross….BUT…

    My BEST advice would be…if you can’t FART in front of the one you are courting, then you really need to question your relationship.

    I know, I know, it sounds crazy but I think this is serious. Now, I’m not saying to let it all out all the time and to be totally gross, but I honestly believe that farting sometimes is a major sign that you are totally comfortable with your partner.

    Some people, particularly women feel as if it is unladylike to fart in front of your men, but honestly, it’s going to come out sooner or later. You shouldn’t feel embarassed and turn tomato-red when it happens and go cry in a corner.

    I think this natural and silly bodily function really is a great way of really examining how comfortable you are. I mean, you’re going to get married and be completely nude in front of them and share the most intimate things with them…if you can’t fart here and there in their presence, I personally believe that there is something wrong.

    I might be totally wrong, and please do correct me if I am. I am not married yet but will be next year. So, please married couples let me know if I’m anywhere near right about this…

  20. me says:

    @joy:

    here’s several i’d recommend:
    The Family | Balswick & Balswick
    Fight Fair | Tim & Joy Downs
    The Gift of Sex |Penner & Penner
    Why Marriages Succeed or Fail | John Gottman
    Getting the Love you Want | Harville Hendriks
    Mystery of Marriage | M. Mason.
    Intimate Allies | Dan Allender & Tremper Longman III

  21. carijenkins says:

    So great! I actually just blogged about preparing for your future spouse. (before even meeting them) There must be something in the air! Thanks for this. Great thoughts.

  22. These are all great things. One thing I’d add: be prepared for something to go wrong. Weddings are never perfect, nor should they be. It’s okay if something doesn’t go exactly as you’d hoped.

    Also, I’d love to reiterate the need for preparation, counseling, talking to married couples, etc. Further, I want to encourage folks to be willing to go to counseling after marriage, also.

    So many folks feel like counseling is an admission that their relationship is falling apart, and that just isn’t the case. Everyone has issues, and every relationship has issues. No one has a marriage that can’t improve, whether it be communication or sex or dealing with money, and there are all kinds of workshops and seminars (though there are awful ones) that are good, not to mention that counselors are always happily surprised to see you before you feel like your marriage is in danger.

  23. pjchris says:

    For marriage advice: find a couple that would be willing to mentor you as a couple (basic attributes: married for 10 yrs or more, of your faith, strong committed marriage). Try to meet with them once a month during your first year or marriage, longer if possible. It can make a huge difference as you try to figure out “two becoming one”.

    Wedding day advice: have an “emergency kit” for those unexpected little things: safety pins, snacks like granola bars, extra nylons, tylenol, breath mints, feminine products (hey! it happens!), extra black socks for the groomsmen (inevitably there’s an guy who has white socks with his suit 🙂 ), etc. Ask your most organized friend to put this together for you 🙂

  24. jeff e. says:

    great list as usual eugene… i thought you told me you burned that picture? better to post it yourself than for someone to sneak it into flickr…

    a couple that could fill the bill:

    if you’re engaged and you feel like you shouldn’t be marrying the person – press “pause.” don’t be so married to the schedule/plan that you get married to the wrong person for the wrong reasons.

    expect your expectations to be dashed – write down your three greatest dreams about your perfect future (or present) spouse, and prepare yourself for the day that they disappoint you. chances are many of these expectations will be unconscious, so you won’t even realize you had them until they are dashed.

    finally – seek counsel. find a couple 10-15 years farther down the road than you two are, and ask them to share their lives, experience, mistakes, etc. with you. a good mentor will always provide the perspective you need.

    again – great thoughts, eugene. i trust you guys are well. – jeff e.

  25. Steve says:

    Great list. The best weddings I have ever been involved in were always very simple. The big elaborate seem to miss the point. I would suggest “keeping the main thing the main thing”.

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  27. […] the blog, I’ve recently shared my Top 10 Wedding Advice and Top 10 Marriage Advice. During our sermon, we shared our answers to the following […]

  28. Jen says:

    As a pastor who is also married, I would add this – do NOT write your own vows. Instead, use the (already written) wise words that the church has passed down to us. I would argue that couples don’t really know what they need to promise to each other as they move into marriage, and I have heard vows that aren’t really vows but more sentimental exchanges or even demands.

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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