We got married online: A simplified wedding helped us focus on what’s truly important, say Lianne and Kong Wai
All pictures courtesy of Kong Wai and Lianne.
Lianne Seow and her husband, Liew Kong Wai, first met in 2011. The two 25-year-olds serve together in their church’s worship team and first got to know each other during a retreat organised for volunteers in the worship ministry.
The couple tied the knot on 9 May 2020 at Lianne’s house, where over 500 friends and loved ones witnessed the ceremony (online!). Lianne and Kong Wai share about their journey and of the joy they found in a simplified wedding stripped of glitter and glamour.
1) How did you and your spouse feel when your wedding plans got disrupted?
Kong Wai: Our response was not one of dismay because we did not think our plans had been “disrupted” by God. The God of all creation can no more “disrupt” the plans of His created subjects than a novelist thwart the plans of his characters.
It was God who would join us together in marriage (Matthew 19:6), so we were content to wait for God to move. We desired to say as the psalmist had said, that “the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places” (Psalm 16:6) as an expression of delight in how God has ordered our lives.
Nevertheless, Lianne and I felt great uncertainty towards what we ought to do. Would it be better to postpone the wedding to a time when our friends and family could witness it in person? Or to go ahead with the wedding as soon as it was possible to, even if it meant doing it online?
2) How did you feel when you read that solemnisation ceremonies could be held online?
Kong Wai: Our initial wedding date was 2 May 2020.
There was much uncertainty in the weeks before our planned wedding date. While we were determined to continue with the wedding even if it required downscaling, we knew that the wedding procedure itself might be disallowed.
We were delighted to hear the news that even online, the solemnisation can be done in such a way as to make the wedding full and complete.
3) Why did you guys choose to go ahead with an online wedding instead of waiting the period out?
Kong Wai: It became clear that going through with an online wedding was best based on two grounds.
First, was the fact that as a couple, we already decided to get married in May 2020. Having already come to this decision, we didn’t think it was necessary to change our minds unless it had been against the law or if it was gravely socially irresponsible to get married during that time.
We thought reasons like, “You only get married once in your life! Don’t you want to have a ‘proper’ wedding? Don’t you want to be able to walk down the aisle?” were not really valid reasons to postpone the wedding.
To us, an online wedding is still a full, complete and proper wedding.
We agreed with John Piper who wrote in his book, Preparing for Marriage, that it is a good and joyful thing for Christian marriages to have “a culture of simplicity… that makes the focus of marriage celebrations the Lord Jesus; the Christ-exalting meaning of marriage; the awesome importance of the vows; and the preciousness of the people, the lovers – not the clothing, the flowers, the location, the music, and the whole production that can make the actual act of God in marriage seem like an incidental prelude to the big, fancy party afterwards”.
Having a greatly simplified wedding, stripped of all glitter and glamour, allowed us to focus our attention on what was really going on: the union of two into one flesh before God.
This is the second ground on which we based our conclusion. It was God-glorifying to stay true to and focused on the essence of what marriage is.
Lianne: To add on with another John Piper quote, there is “no correlation between lavish and joyful – none. Unless it is this: more expensive means more hassle, more stress, more distraction – less joyful”.
The New Testament takes a clear stand in drawing us away from luxury, affluence and finery, warning us that many will be “choked up by the cares and riches and pleasures of life” (Luke 8:14).
Instead, we are pointed towards the better and more abiding possession which is our promised salvation (Hebrews 10:34).
This doesn’t mean that there is no place for celebrations.
In fact, one of the reasons that convinced us to go ahead with the solemnisation was the fact that the wedding celebrations can be held separately from the wedding itself, once it is safe to do so.
There is a place for celebration, but it is not the main thing. It cannot be elevated above the vows and the great Love Himself.
My hope was not in a lavish wedding but in God’s promises.
The reason we decided to get married during the circuit breaker period was the same reason we decided to get married long before COVID-19.
Marriage is a gift from God to my husband and I. Through it, God would mould and refine us to become more like Him. My hope was not in a lavish wedding but in God’s promises.
We know that this whole situation with COVID-19 changing our wedding plans was all part of God’s “wedding ang pao” for us – a lesson for us to trust Him.
4) What was the experience of having an online wedding like? Are there any advantages and disadvantages to holding an online wedding?
Kong Wai: Lianne and I got married at her house, so it wasn’t entirely an online wedding, although we did livestream the wedding to more than 500 viewers.
She wore her white wedding dress and I wore a black suit with a bow tie. Both of us were wearing masks (which helped to hide the tears I shed non-stop).
The words of Lianne’s father in his closing speech still ring in my ears:
“You know, the most important thing that has happened today, even besides the decoration and the execution of this ceremony, is the vows that you have exchanged with one another. Your vows are not ‘work in progress’. Its a done deal. You have said it. You have meant it in your hearts. You can’t negotiate it anymore. You can’t modify it. The only way you can undo it is to break it. And I pray that this will never happen. God’s greatest blessings for you are always within the marriage.”
Lianne: Saying our vows first to God and then to each other was the most nerve-wracking part of the wedding. It was the reality, and therefore the gravity, of what we were doing that made the moment so spectacular.
The great advantage of our wedding arrangement was that we could focus our attention on God, on each other and on the significance of the vows we exchanged. We were not burdened by a thousand potential distractions that could have come from so many sources (our original wedding operations plan was 50 pages long!).
Instead, our wedding was really fun! There was almost zero stress leading up to the big day as there was no extra “fanfare” to plan for. This meant that my husband, my parents and I could all prepare spiritually, mentally and emotionally for the holy matrimony.
Marriage is so much more than a day of celebrations. It will be a lifetime of making decisions together in the middle of storms.
Also, having no audience physically present allowed me to be more “myself” (with full emotions included). Consequently, I cried from the beginning to the end unglamorously .
One disadvantage might be that our loved ones who were eager to celebrate with us were not able to do so. A wedding undoubtedly involves our community, and so we assured our friends and family that we would definitely celebrate with them when the time was right.
5) What did you learn through this experience?
Kong Wai: We see God’s faithfulness in His grace that sustains us through darkness and trials. That I have married my wife, loved her the past month and that my heart has been bound to God – these are the results of God’s faithfulness to me.
It is as Paul writes, “He will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:8-9).
Lianne: I think the right thing to do for each couple may depend on their specific circumstances. But generally, we would encourage them to go ahead with an online wedding!
Marriage is so much more than a day of celebrations. It will be a lifetime of making decisions together in the middle of storms. Sticking to something that both of you have set out to do is a great way to start the journey together as husband and wife.
Take time to ask God to teach you what is truly valuable on a wedding day, and seek to desire that as well!
THINK + TALK:
- Describe your dream wedding.
- What does a wedding mean to you?
- What does the Bible say about marriage?