September 28, 2018
On June 10, 2018, in the beautiful city of Santorini, overlooking a sunset I’d only seen in movies, my (then) boyfriend got down on one knee, and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. Without hesitation, and with tears streaming down my face, I said “YES”, followed by “I am SO shook” (#classy, I know). We finished out our Greece vacation, headed home to our separate states, and the wedding prep began. BIG wedding? DUH. 11 bridesmaids? Obviously (My girls have been my girls for LIFE, literally). 200 guests or so? Sounds about right.
I wasn’t even home for a week before I started to get bombarded with questions from friends and loved ones.
“So, where do you think it will be?”
“Have you picked a date?” (I’m like, I just got engaged – how long before your man proposed had you been planning this stuff? Lol)
“What kind of theme are you going for?”
“Have you heard of this designer/photographer/caterer? Amazing.”
As excited as I was, I started to realize that a lot of the honest answers to the questions coming my way were either, “I don’t know”, or “I don’t care”. I mean, I was MARRYING my BEST. FRIEND. You really think I cared about the style of a chair?! Nonetheless, the planning continued. It wasn’t that I wasn’t excited (TRUST me, I was and am); this was the day I had dreamt of since I was a little girl, and of course I wanted it to be beautiful. I just couldn’t seem to wrap my head around some of this stuff that seemed so pointless (yet SO expensive.. like, for what bruh?!). But within the first month of being back, we had set a date for the spring of next year, booked a venue, sent out our bridal party invites, and then some.
The more we talked, and the more we prayed, the more I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling – although we were committed, although our premarital counseling would be finished in the fall, although we were still managing a long-distance relationship, we would wait to be married to have a huge party so that EVERYONE and their mama could be there. That’s when we started talking about getting legally married, starting our life once our premarital counseling was done as husband and wife, and just having the wedding as a celebration the following year.
Although it seemed like a good option, even then, I couldn’t ignore the voice saying to me, “WHO are you doing all of this for? What are you spending all of this money for? Who are you seeking to please?”. Around the same time we started to ponder that question, was around the same time we would start meeting opposition as we posed the idea of changing our plans altogether. I started to realize how much weddings can be about other people, and have less to do with celebrating a covenant, and more to do with making sure everyone close to you was happy.
After a lot of praying and some long conversations, we decided, “Why don’t we just cancel it?” Why not celebrate our union alongside our parents, grandparents, and siblings, start our life with some joint savings, remove the planning stress, and enjoy one of the most special moments of our life? So, we told our bridal party, our parents, and the venue one evening. However, that evening, shortly after doing so, and hearing some reactions, I began to doubt the decision. I mean, we’d already paid the deposit and everything! When I went to bed, I prayed, “Lord, please give me confirmation that we are making the right choice and that we are focused on YOU”. The next morning, I opened my bible app, and the Verse of the Day came from Galatians. It read, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Chapter 1 v. 10). I was like “Okay, I hear you God”. THEN, I started getting ready for work, and I saw a Facebook message pop up, from a sister in Christ at my church.
“Morning, I know I hardly get a chance to talk to you at church. But this morning the Holy Spirit told me to let you know that this season is an answer from God, and to enjoy every minute. Don’t let a blessing turned to a frustration. Every time God answers a prayer, the devil wants to take the glory. Don’t allow it. Enjoy the preparation of your wedding knowing that God is in control. You are going to have a beautiful wedding, and a blessed marriage. I’m praying for you and Dimitri. You guys have an awesome calling. Enjoy this season knowing that God is in control”.
CUE. THE. TEARS. Mind you, she knew NOTHING about the decision we’d made less than 24 hours prior, nothing about our wedding plans, but the Lord used her to bring a word to me that my heart needed to hear.
After that, true clarity started to set in. Our marriage wasn’t about a huge party, it was about being surrendered to HIS will, and joining as one flesh before our King. It didn’t matter whether or not we had a donut wall or Chiavari chairs, it mattered that our marriage was a symbol of Christ’s union with His bride, the church. And as long as we had Him at the center of it all, we knew we’d be alright.
(For those wondering, we will be tying the not November, 24, 2018 at a small family ceremony in Jacksonville, FL. Check out Theknot.com/us/Johnna-and-dimitri for the details).
Also FYI: I have NOTHING against big weddings, so please don’t think I do. Just sharing what the Lord put on our hearts for our own 🙂