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Dominique and I were engaged on 4 April 2004. We were married on 21 August 2004. A typical wedding planning checklist would suggest that we went about things the wrong way.

According to MagnetStreet.com, the wedding date—or three dates, for flexibility’s sake—should be selected more than a year in advance. Budgetary and style matters should be discussed at this point, the bridal party tentatively selected, and a custom wedding website created. The couple should begin deciding on a wedding planner, photographer, videographer, caterer, florist, and musicians.

Approximately 10–11 months before the wedding, bridal party attire should be selected, venues booked, the aforementioned professionals formally hired, and a fitness and beauty routine formulated.

Eight or nine months in advance, hotels should be reserved for out-of-town guests, gift registries created, and honeymoon planning commenced. With 6–7 months to go, things like cake and wedding invitation styles should be decided on. Wedding bands should be purchased and thank you cards for gifts ordered. Four or five months before the wedding, flowers should be ordered, the cake purchased, the honeymoon finalised, and a rehearsal dinner booked. A list of additional finalised plans are included for the next three months before, finally, the big day arrives, on which you should “eat a good breakfast” and “allow yourself plenty of time to get ready”; ensure the best man has the wedding bands; and then simply “relax, smile, and enjoy your day.”

Apparently, orchestrating the wedding of your dreams takes a great deal of planning. I guess Dominique must have done lots of behind-the-scenes planning! Jokes aside, something as significant as a wedding should not be thrown together thoughtlessly or hurriedly—says the man who just admitted to moving from engagement to marriage in four months!

Psalm 45 is a wedding psalm. In it, the writer pictures God, the perfect Groom, marrying his bride. God does not enter into this marriage thoughtlessly or hurriedly. He carefully plans every aspect of the marriage that will last for all eternity. Listen to the unfolding wedding plans: “Your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad; daughters of kings are among your ladies of honour; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir” (Psalm 45:8–9). Observe, three careful preparations that God puts into this divine wedding.

First, the groom prepares himself: “Your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.” Myrrh, aloes and cassia were typically used in burial rites (see John 19:39). Here, however, these spices are present at the royal wedding. In some way, death plays a significant role in this marriage. We know the significance: Jesus’ death made the marriage of Christ to his bride, the church, possible. You were bought with a price: the price of Jesus’ life. He loved his bride and gave his life for her.

Second, the groom prepares a place for his bride: “From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad; daughters of kings are among your ladies of honour.” In customary fashion, the groom, having entered into betrothal, prepares a place for he and his bride before coming to take her. Jesus, similarly, has gone ahead to prepare a place for his people—his bride (John 14:2).

Third, the groom prepares the bride herself. She is described in the psalm as “the queen in gold of Ophir” who stands “at his right hand.” In ancient Eastern custom, the groom purchased and presented the wedding dress to his bride. He ensured that she was ready for the wedding. In the same way, Christ is preparing his bride even today for the glorious wedding to come. Having given himself for her, he is careful to wash her with the word “so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25–27).

Christian, be encouraged today, as you reflect on this psalm, that Jesus loves you. He loved you enough to give his life for you. He loves you enough to prepare a place for you. He loves you enough to wash you and ensure that you will ultimately be ready to be presented before him on the final day. Let’s revel together in his matchless love.