- My husband and I were married on July 12, 28 years ago. To this day, the blue hue on the sides of the road, emanating from a beautiful wildflower that that blooms in July called bachelor’s buttons, reminds me of my wedding.
I remember when my mom and I met with the florist for my wedding, just two months before the ceremony. We were discussing the bridal party bouquets. I was adamant that I wanted a bouquet of white roses for myself and single roses for the bridesmaids.
After trying to dissuade me, the florist finally conceded and asked to show me the many different options for flowers for the chapel. My husband and I were getting married at the church on the college campus where we met. I stood up and shook the florist’s hand to thank him, explaining that my friend would be picking wildflowers the morning of the wedding, not to worry.
He looked at me like I was absolutely insane, and we left.
As I look back on that time, I think I had a lot of crazy ideas for our wedding. I wanted to be barefoot – my mother and my husband put their feet down to stop that idea. I wanted to invite the entire college campus (there were only 3000 students!) to the wedding – my father put his foot down for that one.
But the one crazy idea that no one could change was the altar flowers. I wanted fresh wildflowers, picked from the roadside fields on the morning of my wedding, to adorn the altar.
I had the vase. I knew where they were going on the altar. But I wasn’t exactly sure how they would look because I didn’t know what wildflowers would be blooming on the morning of July 12 in Steubenville, Ohio. I was hoping that there would be enough bachelor’s buttons and some Queen Anne’s lace. I was especially watching out for lilies. The lilies were to be the central focus of the arrangement. After all, lilies had a starring role in the gospel that we chose to have read at our wedding, Matthew 6:25-33.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”
In selecting this passage, my husband and I knew we were putting forth a vision and making a statement about our life. We were choosing to trust the Lord to provide for us, and not to worry, no matter what happened. We were pledging to seek God first in all things and allow him to be the Lord of every area of our lives. The passage and the altar flowers were an integral part of the celebration.
Honestly, I really wanted to be the one to pick the flowers, but everyone put their feet down on that idea. My girlfriend was a little apprehensive about where and when to pick the wildflowers, so I helped her out. Some brides obsess over their waistlines and color schemes. I was watching the roadsides for wildflowers. A few days before the wedding, I drew a map. It wasn’t a very detailed map, just a few suggestions as to where to find the best Queen Anne’s lace, bachelor’s buttons and, of course, the lilies.
When I woke up early on our wedding day, I was glad that the skies were overcast. I knew that meant the wildflowers would keep a little longer in the vase of water that awaited them on the altar. I thanked God for the new life with my husband that was just beginning.
Later that morning as I walked down that aisle (with shoes on), I focused on my husband and the look of admiration in his eyes. Then, when I got to the altar, I saw the vase filled with all the wildflowers and the lilies. When the gospel of Matthew was proclaimed, my eyes were fixed on that vase of wildflowers as I prayed that my husband and I would choose to live our lives trusting in God’s provision.
Twenty-eight years later, through many joys and many sorrows, I am most grateful that we chose those eternal words to guide us and these perennial flowers to inspire us. While our lives have been far from worry-free, our faith in God and love for one another has weathered the changes of life and marriage. God’s eternal promises, seen in the birds of the air and the lilies of the field continue to give us hope. Our heavenly father knows we need them all.
Eileen Benthal is a writer, speaker and wellness coach with a B.A. in Theology from Franciscan University. She and her husband Steve live in Jamesport and have four young adult children. Their youngest, Johanna, is a teenager with special needs. Eileen can be reached at FreeIndeedFreelance.com.