“How about we ditch this whole hometown wedding thing and get married in Greece?”

These were my now-husband’s very words to me about two months before our wedding. Although our engagement only lasted six months, he was already done with the planning and the waiting. Dangling a trip to Greece before me was a bit like offering a toddler a cookie – no way could I pass that up – and he knew it.

Except one thing; my husband wasn’t just marrying me. When we exchanged I do’s, two communities came together. From that day forward, our families joined as one. No matter how enticing Greece sounded, I couldn’t do it. Now, if he’d only offer me that trip again after 14 years of marriage…

So we went ahead with our plans and got married on the gravel road in rural Missouri where I’d spent my entire childhood. We wanted to have the ceremony at my dad’s pond – a picturesque setting surrounded by varying shades of green prairie grass, rolling hills and spring flowers in full bloom. Following that, we’d hold the reception under a big, white tent in the backyard. April showers convinced us a plan B was in order. The morning of our wedding, we made the decision to move our outdoor ceremony to the country church up the road from my family’s home place. The church never locked its doors, and our neighbors (the church caretakers), told us we could certainly use the church that morning. Fortunately, it stopped raining long enough in the afternoon for us to still hold our reception under the tent.

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Some brides would have lost it over this last minute decision. I read about these weddings that cost upwards of $20,000 and the first thing I do is wonder what on earth people do for a living that they can afford to spend that much money on one event. Then, I realize that’s not the kind of wedding I wanted at all. I made my decision the day my husband asked me if I’d be willing to get married in Greece. I only wanted one type of wedding, a simple day surrounded by loved ones, and that’s exactly what we had.

Altogether, our wedding cost under a thousand dollars. For decoration, we placed Mason jars with silk lavender stalks (the ones that were to sit beside each row of white, wooden chairs outside) to the front steps of the church. My former Sunday School teacher offered to help us set up, and he was responsible for moving the collection of items that had accumulated in the choir loft to the church basement. Two of my cousins, my best friend, and my husband’s best friend provided the music. My aunts made my wedding dress. A local violinist played as I walked down the aisle. My husband’s cousin took our wedding pictures. My youth pastor officiated the ceremony. The redbud tree in my parents’ yard offered a scenic shot for pictures. Everyone’s shoes got ruined traipsing around in the mud all day. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law made the wedding cake. My friend’s dad, who owned a local restaurant in town, carved the whole hog. Our local Hy-Vee grocery store prepared the side dishes, and my mom’s co-workers served the food. Admittedly, I did get a little fancy, ordering chocolate-covered strawberries.

It was a far cry from Greece, but we were surrounded by some pretty important people. The ones who had invested in us our whole lives, invested in our wedding day as well. A friend of ours in attendance that day always tells me, of all the weddings where she’s been a guest, ours was her favorite because I wouldn’t let anything put a damper on our day (and there was plenty of dampness I assure you). It wasn’t about the money, and it wasn’t really about the location either. It was, as any special ceremony should be, about the people we love.

Traci Rhoades

My name is Traci. I live in southwest Michigan, somewhere in a triangular section connecting Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids with all things Lake Michigan. My husband and I parent one daughter. We have dogs, cats, ducks, pigs and chickens. Their number is always changing, as farm animal counts tend to do. I enjoy watching sports, reading, cooking and all things Bible study. I am a writer. When I first started blogging, I wondered about what unique voice I could bring. I’ve landed on this one line: A country girl goes to church.