Today marks our ten year wedding anniversary. Looking back on our wedding day, I have to really praise God! We didn’t have money, but our wedding was exceptional!
We had our ceremony at Alice Austen House, right by the beach overlooking Manhattan to the left and the Verrazano Bridge to the right. We had white wooden chairs, rose petaled walkway, had 14 in our bridal party, 3 limos – one for the women and one for the men and a Rolls Royce for Jennifer! We had a photographer and videographer surrounded by the sights and sounds of a beautiful afternoon with our immediate family and our beloved friends celebrating with us. And Bishop Wade from Virginia officiated the ceremony.
Then we had our reception at the Staten Island’s Snug Harbor’s grand Harbor Manor’s main hall with fancy stuff we never thought we could have! Four-tiered cake. A nice presidential table, etc. etc. We had seven days honeymoon in a boutique hotel in the beaches of Puerto Rico–Isla Verde, to be exact. And came back to our own condo apartment.
I remember proposing to my bride February 5th and marrying her August 5th. In those six months I got the place for the ceremony from $1200 to $300. I contracted the limos from over a thousand dollars to $770 (with the Rolls bringing us back to our apartment after the reception). The hall went from $65 a person to $35. And just so many other ways God showed His favor on our union!
I can’t help but to be so grateful to my God for His provision during that time. From the time I proposed up until June, I worked solely for the church without a salary. The church was going through changes so we did not see too much help from her.
I signed contracts all by faith with perseverance and hard negotiations. Sometime in the middle of June, a call from a nursing agency came in for my brother Juven. At that time he was in Bible School in California. I told the man on the phone about the absence of my brother and if he would consider me instead since I, too, was a nurse. From June to August I was able to work sometimes 60 hours for the week. With some help from family and friends, God truly made a way!
So, after 10 years, what have I learned? Let’s speak of it.
1. Trust God
Having God at the center of your marriage is key. From the preparations to the pregnancy and then the parenting, having The Lord as the center will help you manage all the up hills and the down hills of your marriage. Jennifer and I’s marriage surely would not be as incredible today as it was when we got married without our constant and committed God-centered approach to our marriage. If He can make a way for a wedding, then He can make a way in your marriage.
2. Do Not Negotiate Your Dreams
When we were planning for our wedding my well intentioned sister suggested holding our reception at a Chinese restaurant. The fancier one in our city. But as much as we didn’t have money and we couldn’t afford what we wanted to have, we weren’t going to hold our reception at a buffet; we did not sell off our desire. In so doing, God made a way. We got the grand ceremony and the grand reception (for a few grand less). When it comes to your marriage, do not negotiate your dreams of happiness for anything, including being right or being less liked by outsiders. Make sure you know what you want and go for it. Because what we have found is that if you both are committed to pursuing happiness, you can get it. You may have to make concessions to and for each other. You may have to negotiate with other people, but don’t give up on your dreams.
3. Make It About You Guys
In our wedding, as much as it was possible, we made it about us. People will have their opinions and their concerns–some of it come from a really good place, but, at the end, it’s about you and your spouse. Don’t allow the voices of people dictate what happens between you and your spouse. Don’t make issues about what mom or mom-in-law says. They can give their opinions but you keep your marriage. Advice will come a dime a dozen so you must be wary which advice you listen and not listen to. Always keep Jesus at the center and make it about you guys.
4. Settle For the Best
When I was negotiating prices for our ceremony and our apartment, we didn’t settle for the first offer or the second offer. We priced around. And if we couldn’t price around, we stuck hard to get the best deal (knowing that The Lord was working with us). Don’t settle for anything less than the best when it comes to your relationship. Demand more–always beginning from yourself. You may not know this, but you can listen better, you can empathize more. Don’t settle for cold nights and heated conversation and think that’s all your getting! Believe me, you can get the best of each other by settling for only the best from yourselves.
5. Treat Each Other the Best You Can
We didn’t need a Rolls Royce. It certainly was unattainable in our minds! I mean, we didn’t have the money! One thing though, I wanted Jennifer to come in really grand and for us to leave our reception like the way we felt–RICH! When you seek out the best for each other you get a grand marriage. In full disclosure, I didn’t really care if I walked to Alice Austen, Jennifer was going to show up in style! Carrying that same spirit into our marriage–where loving meant giving the best to each other–has paid great dividends in our relationship. At the end, your spouse looks good, you feel good, and both of you look amazing!
These past 10 years have been the most incredible years of my life. I wouldn’t give it away for nothing in this world! Our pursuit has always been (and hopefully will always be) to have a happily, daily after.