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Monthly Archives: November 2012

What is a Bridesmaids Luncheon?

'85/365 - Bridesmaid's Luncheon' photo (c) 2007, Lauren Nelson - license: couple of days ago I posted a question on Facebook about Bridesmaids Luncheons. So many of you participated and were super helpful in providing info. Apparently this is not as common a tradition as I previously thought. I still can’t tell if it’s a regional thing or not. One respondent said maybe it’s a holdover from a previous generation that is still honored mostly in the South.

I am a product of the South. My parents were living in Little Rock when they met and were married, so many of the traditions they took part in were southern traditions. Thus, when it was time for my wedding, my planning was very much influenced by southern customs. My bridesmaids, however, were from all over the place—from Atlanta to the Philippines. My Matron of Honor and her mother hosted a Bridesmaids Luncheon for me the day before the wedding and I think it was an unfamiliar tradition to some of the members of my bridal party, and I don’t think they’re alone. What seemed common to me is, in fact, just an optional event for the wedding week.

It might have its origin in the South, or it could just be a holdover from a previous generation. Whatever the source of the Bridesmaids (or Bridal) Luncheon, it is certainly not a required event. However, if you elect to have one, or are just curious as to what it is, here are some thoughts on planning an uplifting, meaningful time for the bride and her attendants.

In general terms, the Bridesmaids Luncheon is a small party given by the bride in honor of her bridesmaids. It is a chance for the bride to thank them and spend special time with them in the midst of the wedding rush. It can also be hosted by a family member or friend on the bride’s behalf. It is commonly held the day before the wedding as a precursor to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The guest list includes the female members of the bridal party as well as both the bride’s and groom’s mothers and any other close female family members. You can also invite other close friends associated with the wedding—a soloist, flower girls and their mothers, etc.

I personally love this tradition because it’s a chance for the bride to give back to those who have sacrificed to serve her. It is one moment in which the focus is on others, and it’s just a great time to relax and be with close friends and family members. It can also be a special time to focus on the Lord, surrounded by those who know and love the bride best.

On Facebook my friend Winnie shared what made her luncheon special:

A very close family friend hosted my bridesmaids luncheon and also invited women who had influenced me and pointed me to Christ. We ate and I gave my gals some gifts. These precious women asked me about my fears/concerns/hopes and then spent time praying for me. I am so thankful for that time.

Another benefit to this event is that it gives members of the bridal party a chance to get to know one another if they have never met. My college roommate had a bridal tea the day before the wedding and everyone was asked to wear a hat. Now, understand she lives in Knoxville, TN and this was a very southern event. We had a great time sipping tea, modeling our hats and getting to know each other, mostly by telling stories about the bride. She was the common denominator and telling these stories—some embarrassing, some heart-warming—was a fun shared experience for all of us.

Have you been to a Bridesmaids Luncheon that was particularly special or meaningful? What made it great?

Book Help: Bridal Showers

'Bridal Shower Favor' photo (c) 2010, Travis Modisette - license:

We just returned from a week-long trip to visit family in Kansas and Arkansas, which included some much-needed play time with my precious niece, Liya. Our trip also granted us the joy, thanks to my brother, of acquiring Nerf guns. So far only one person has been shot in the face at point-blank range, but I am fairly certain he was the first of many.

While away I had a little time to work on a chapter dealing with showers, registries, parties and other gift-related subjects. In the past the blog has been a great source of feedback and help in thinking through certain topics, so I’m going to put a couple more questions out there in the hopes that you, my wonderful friends, might help me.

So here they are:

1. What is the most unique wedding shower you have been to?

2. What is the most encouraging or uplifting thing you have seen at a shower? 

If you have a couple of minutes to answer I would be so grateful. And, your answer just might end up in the book! You can leave a comment below or email me at: catherinestrodeparks(at)gmail(dot)com (spelled out to avoid spam).

As always I love to hear/read your thoughts, so let me know if you have any other ideas. This is such a community effort and I love getting feedback and wisdom from others who have thought through these subjects.

Would You Forget Your Dress?

'Honeymoonscape' photo (c) 2010, JD Hancock - license:

I am currently in Kansas visiting with family, so blogging will be spotty this week, but last night I had some time to myself (what?!) and started reading Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick and wanted to share a brief thought. The premise of the book is Christians need the gospel–we never move past it. Christ not only saves us, but transforms us. Here is a great section from the second chapter:

The gospel message–you have been cleansed from sin–is the pinnacle of God’s loving work in the world, and just as it is this work that saves us, it is also this work that transforms and sustains us. The gospel is the message that must remain paramount throughout all our life.  […] Jesus’ death cleanses us from sin, but it also guarantees our ultimate transformation into his image. This transformation occurs, Paul writes, while we gaze upon him, think about him, and muse on him as he has revealed himself to us in the gospel. “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18). Behold his glory in the gospel and be transformed.

A few days ago I received an email from Gloria, whose blog I have mentioned before. She was reading Jeremiah and passed this verse on to me:

Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. Jer 2:22

I love this picture. Of course a bride does not forget such things, yet we are so tempted to move past Christ’s work and forget Him, moving on to the important work of everyday life.

May our everyday life (from planning weddings to making PB&J for toddlers) be characterized by a remembrance of and deep love for Christ and His work.

P.S.  If you’re curious about the book and the writing process, my new friend Trillia has graciously featured me in her series on new female authors. Check it out here and be sure to read this post about Trillia’s upcoming, much-needed book.

Pinterest Love

Today’s post is short and sweet as I’m attempting to pack for my family to go to Kansas for over a week with my parents and my brother and his family. We are all super excited to spend the week with my new niece who just came home from Ethiopia in September!

So today I just want to highlight an awesome Pinterest collection for wedding planning inspiration. My friend Sarah, who took the pictures from Wednesday’s wedding, is a fantastic photographer and she has put together Inspiration Boards on Pinterest for just about any kind of wedding you can imagine. And if you’re not planning a wedding, you should still take a look. She has some beautiful collections of other great ideas as well!

Posting might be light next week as we’ll be living it up in Kansas–the party capital of the U.S.A.

Don’t forget to submit a wedding for the Real Weddings feature!


Real Wedding: George and Becky

If you’re planning a wedding and wish you could sit down with a wise newlywed couple and ask their advice, this is the post for you. Today’s post is the first in a series of Real Wedding features.

I first heard about George and Becky through one of their pastors, Deepak Reju, who officiated their wedding at their home church, Capitol Hill Baptist in Washington, D.C. They graciously agreed to answer a questionnaire for book research for my mom and me, and gave some great insight into their gospel-focused wedding plans.

Then several weeks ago my friend Sarah of Ampersand Photography featured George and Becky’s wedding on her blog. So worlds collided and we now have some beautiful images to go along with a gorgeous, Christ-centered wedding. I could probably do three or four posts on this wedding, but will try to keep myself under control. And be sure to read to the bottom so you can see all the pictures.

The couple wanted their wedding to be a “celebratory worship service,” and this comes through in many of their decisions.

We asked how they chose to focus on the gospel in various elements of their wedding, and here are some of their answers:

Wedding Programs

Our church asks that you print all of the words to any scripture readings/songs and if possible the biblical text being used for the wedding sermon. It was explained to us by Deepak as a way of presenting the gospel to each guest and allowing them to take it away with them at the end of the service.

The back of the program noted how we will leave to honeymoon and return to make our home in D.C. together but that Heaven is our eternal home, and how our greatest joy and affections for each other pale in comparison to God’s eternal grace for sinners in the life and death of his son, Jesus Christ. We wanted our programs to magnify Christ’s graciousness to us, sinners saved by grace, and be beautiful for their purpose.


Our church has many helpful guidelines for weddings that take place in the church. One of these is that the wedding ceremony is treated as a worship service and therefore corporate singing is a part of each ceremony. We loved this and were so happy to incorporate our favorite hymns into the service. We sang as a congregation the following songs: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, The King of Love, Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. Becky walked down the aisle to The King of Love (instrumental) as it is her favorite hymn. After we kissed, the recessional song was There is a Happy Land. We loved keeping the focus on beautiful songs depicting even more beautiful truth, the truth of God’s love for sinners, the hope we have for eternity, and salvation that comes through faith in Christ.


Deepak preached on Ephesians 5:21-33, which speaks about marriage and the gospel. It was a clear teaching that we wanted Deepak to use to teach us on that day our marriage began, and also a great way of distinguishing Christian marriage from this world’s misrepresentations of love and commitment. We were eager to hear this message, but also eager for some of our unbelieving family and friends to hear the good news of Jesus Christ and God’s purposes in marriage.

Advice for Couples

Focus on the ceremony, it is the ceremony that is the most meaningful part and gives you the greatest opportunity to share the gospel. We were blessed to have generous parents who made a lovely reception possible, but we both remark often that the most meaningful part of the day for us was the ceremony not the party afterwards! Focus on the truth of God’s Word for your marriage, not the table settings or color choices!

Short engagements are better than long engagements! We were engaged in early August and married the following January…a nearly 5 1/2 month engagement and by having a short engagement we were able to accomplish the necessary, without giving way to over-thinking the details that can be unnecessary.

Regarding money: Stress can come by having endless supplies of money and having too many possibilities while not having a gospel focus, or it can come by having limited or no funds and choosing to believe the world’s message that identity comes through weddings not Christ. 

Special thanks to George and Becky for allowing me to feature your wedding, and for the great advice you’ve shared! And thanks to Sarah for the gorgeous images!

If you would like to recommend a wedding to be featured in a Real Weddings post, please fill out the form here. It can be your own wedding or you can submit someone else’s. Thanks!


Photographer: Ampersand Photography

Caterer: The Sweet Lobby

Floral Designer: Greenworks by Shane

Wedding Registry: Gift, Giver, and Pleasant Inns

'THE CHINE INN. SHANKLIN. IOW.' photo (c) 2010, Ronald Saunders - license:

This is the final post on gift registries, at least for now. Thank you all for your input and help as I think through these things. It’s so helpful to have your feedback as Mom and I work on writing about some of these subjects.

In regards to the poll question about including registry info in the wedding invitation, I thought my mom had a great idea. She suggested couples could determine who they think would want the information, and who would not think it appropriate, and include it only in the invitations where it would serve people. In this way you are thinking of the guests, not just the gifts.

This brings me to the post for today. In recent years retailers have realized the jackpot they have in wedding registries. You now have the option in many stores to do a registry completion after your wedding, meaning you get a discount on all the items left on your registry. Because of this I’ve seen couples register for whole bedroom suits or even paper towels and toilet paper. I mean, if you can get a 20% discount on those items, why would you pass that up?

I think the balance for this is another one that is difficult to determine. It’s practical to want to save money on things you need, but it can also be a little offensive for a guest to look up your registry and feel expected to buy you a new bed or large TV.

In the end I think the heart of the matter is to what do we give more worth–the gift or the giver? Is it more important that we get what we want, or that our guests know they are loved and appreciated, no matter if they bring a gift at all? Now, we have already discussed the fact that you can’t please everyone, and that shouldn’t be the focus. But we see in Scripture the example of Christ as a servant and as we, through the Holy Spirit, become more Christ-like we see the value of serving people as being greater than the value of receiving things.

This is a temptation even in our walk with God the Father. We see He gives us great gifts, but do we value and worship the gifts over the Giver? Am I more thankful for the beautiful trees, or for the Creator of those trees?

I struggle with this most days, either complaining about what I don’t have, or being too attached to what I do have. Yet in the light of eternity, this struggle just seems silly, honestly.

Last week Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, tweeted a few quotes from C.S. Lewis’ book The Problem of Pain. I think this section is extremely helpful in thinking through our possessions and material comforts, and I hope it helps couples as they consider setting up their home together.

The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world; but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe [sic] or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home. C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

May we crave God more than His gifts, praise Him for the refreshment He gives, but long more for our true Home.

Wedding Registries: Tradition or Trend?

'Vera Wang Embossed Zinnia Wedding Invitation' photo (c) 2010, William Arthur Fine Stationery - license: yesterday’s survey results were really helpful. Out of close to 50 respondents, the highest number of votes came from those who think including the registry information in the wedding invitation is in poor taste. However, the number who think it’s a good idea to help guests, or those who are indifferent, were almost as high as the first group. So I have a couple of thoughts, and now know how to tackle the issue in the book.

First, I think sometimes we just accept what those before us have done as tradition. I think one of Emily Post’s wedding books gives an explanation for the little tissue paper sheets that you see sometimes in with your wedding invitation. Apparently they are used to separate the invitations as they’re moved from the printer to the customer, and are really just necessary with engraved invitations so that the text doesn’t run from one to the next. However, somewhere along the lines someone must have put the tissue in when they mailed their invitations, and now it has become a tradition. I know I included it in mine and thought you were supposed to. But it served no purpose at all.

I think if we looked at some of what we do in weddings we would see this idea more and more. And sometimes there are good reasons behind what we do, but we may have no idea what they are. For instance let’s take the wedding veil. Where did that come from? I just assumed it was a symbol of purity, but never thought about the history of it. There are a couple of theories on this. Some say it’s from ancient Greek and Roman culture and was used as a means of warding off evil spirits. Others, though, believe it dates back before that to the culture of arranged marriages. It was thought that a groom might not marry the bride if she was unattractive, so she would be heavily veiled. We see this in the story of Jacob, Rachel and Leah.

This is just one example of a situation where we know it’s “tradition” to do a specific thing, but we don’t give thought to why. I know I didn’t think, “Hmm…but why should I wear a veil? What is the symbolism of this?” I just tried to find a pretty, inexpensive one that looked good with my dress. I certainly wasn’t looking for one thick enough to trick Erik into marrying me before he discovered what I really looked like. Although that would make for a dramatic “unveiling” during the ceremony.

I think this invitation thing is a good example of this idea. Somewhere along the lines a bride thought, “Hey, I’ll include my registry info with the wedding invitation to make things easier on people.” Then maybe a friend received it and decided to do the same for her wedding. And then the idea just spread like wildfire because how many people actually consult Emily Post when planning a wedding? We just do what other people have done–that must be right.

And now it IS the new “right” to include that information. And yet there is a generation that did not include it and thinks it’s rude and tacky. And obviously no one is going to battle over this, or at least I hope not. It’s hard to imagine a sweet grandmother and a young bride getting in a brawl in a post office over this, although a hilarious image none-the-less.

So if you’re getting married, what should you do? Do you include the info with the invitation or not?

Well I think, once again, it just comes down to our hearts. Are you including the information because you want gifts, and you want to make sure the gifts are from your registry? Or are you not including it because you think it’s rude when people do that and you don’t want to be like them? On the one hand the decision is characterized by greed, while on the other it’s motivated by pride. And these are two huge temptations during wedding planning.

I think those who commented on the last post made great points, and represent a sampling of opinions on the subject. The truth is in many cases you won’t be able to help offending someone along the way. The question is are they offended because you are choosing to do something you believe honors the Lord, or are they offended because you have done something they perceive as rude or greedy, even thought that might not be your intention? You can’t control someone else’s perception, but our desire should be for God to be glorified. Things that get in the way of that should be avoided at all costs. Remember Paul’s words to the Colossians:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:12-14 ESV)

I plan to do one more post on registry, and then next week I’ll begin a regular series of Real Wedding posts. I’m super excited to share Becky and George’s beautiful, Christ-centered wedding with you!