“You may kiss your bride!” The pastor smiled at the seven couples in front of him. Many acted shy about displays of affection in front of such a large group, one couple didn’t hesitate, and in the end, all seven couples embraced as a final step in their marriage ceremony. The wedding march rang out beneath the palapa at the Community Center of Tres Reyes, and the couples walked out arm-in-arm.
Last spring, after getting to know many of the families in the Strong Families Program in Cancun, Jenn Holden, Back2Back staff, learned while many of the parents lived and raised children together, they weren’t legally married. “The caseworkers and I thought it would be a really cool thing to offer weddings to the families we serve,” explained Jenn. “They were already committed to each other, but we thought it would be honoring to offer a ceremony and make it really official.” The team prayed about it and dreamt of what that day could look like for the families.
This past fall, a mission team visited with a pastor who wished to used his gifts specifically for the families in Tres Reyes and Bonfil. The staff discussed the pastor performing a marriage ceremony, and they went directly to the parents with their idea. Seven families decided to participate in the group wedding and the couples went through the appropriate marriage counseling. Meanwhile, the staff and visiting mission team took care of all the ceremony and reception details.
The team arrived with plans to decorate, prepare a large meal, and wedding rings to offer each couple. “The team contacted a local company who made silicone rings,” explained Jenn. “They explained to the company what, and for whom, they would be for, and to everyone’s delight, the company said, ‘We think Jesus is the real deal, and we want to be a part of this, so we will send you ring selections free of charge.’” The day before the wedding, a ring shop was set up inside the community center, and each couple got to choose rings for each other.
The day of the ceremony was special, not just because each man and woman pledged to commit their love and lives to each other, but also because their children were present. In some instances, this was the first wedding for the children. To see their parents taking this step, and beginning a new chapter together, will hopefully leave a lasting impression. “As the couples were sharing their vows, I prayed silently over the children and family members present,” shared Jenn, “praying a legacy of families united in marriage.”
Following the ceremony, they cut the cake, had first dances, and ate a spaghetti dinner. Families gathered for wedding photos, and guests witnessed smiles all around.
Ever since the wedding day, other couples in Tres Reyes have come forward saying, “if you do this, again, we want to be a part of it.”
What began as an idea, became a celebration, honoring parents who love each other and their children. Together, they publicly declared promises to choose each other every day, for the rest of their lives.