These are real photos of grooms seeing their brides for the first time on their wedding day:

I officiated my brother Jeremy’s wedding to his darling Danielle earlier this year, and I got choked up standing there as I watched him get choked up taking in the beatific vision of his bride appearing at the end of the aisle, her father at her side, about to take the steps to give her away. It immediately took me back to that June day sixteen years ago when I saw Becky appear in her bridal gown. Seeing her again in that moment was seeing her for the first time.

You can’t recapture that moment, of course, but you can. The dad’s advice to his son in Proverbs 5:18-19 seems to assume so. Sometimes I look at my wife all these years later — quite often, actually, and I promise I’m not trying to brag, because it honestly says more about her than about me — and think “Good Lord, how did this beautiful person get made? And how did she wind up in the closest proximity to me possible?” Right before I got married, as I talked to my own dad about marriage, I made a joke, saying, “Well, what if I fall out of love?” And my dad quipped right back, “Then you fall right back in.” Falling out of love with my wife has not been easy, by God’s grace and her loveliness, and being intoxicated with her love has. But it was still good advice.

And there is an echo here and also a foretaste. I see these photos, think of my wedding day, the wedding days of others, the desire and imperative to be intoxicated for all time (for better or worse, in richness and in poorness, in sickness and in health, til death do us part) and I see an echo of Adam laying eyes on Eve for the first time:

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
(Genesis 2:23)

The first song ever sung (by man, anyway) is a love song. Smitten by the vision of his bride for the first time, music erupts from his mouth. And there is the foretaste in this moment and every groom spotting his bride in her virginal white, as the bridal march whips up, all the stops out, of Christ the Bridegroom presenting we his Bride to himself at the end of days. Dazzling in the reflection of his own glory, cloaked in the virgin white of his own righteousness given freely to us, the culmination of the lavishing of the riches of his own grace draws near. At last. And forever. For Christ and his Bride will have this moment of rapturous wedding joy for all eternity. The Lamb will receive the reward of his suffering, and of his love — the infinite worshipful devotion of his spotless bride.

[A]s the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
— Isaiah 62:5b

Sources for photos, in order: andrialindquistblog.com, sabado.pt, featherandstone.com.au, denisebovee.net, blog.thebecker.com, jpweddingphoto.com, greenweddingshoes.com, msbridalguru.com, michellenewellphotography.com, stylemepretty.com, greenweddingshoes.com, joielala.com

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62 thoughts on “At Last”

  1. RevTrev says:

    I love this post. Great pictures but even greater message. The 2 things I took away from this is LOVE YOUR WIFE and LOVE the BRIDE OF CHRIST. I think you would love this video on the church: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4-a1AG9q504#!

  2. Jon Swerens says:

    Good grief. Sniff. When my kids get married, I’m gonna cry like a baby at an onion ring factory.

    1. Jeremy O says:

      I completely agree…and my son’s only 14 months old.

  3. Kelly Benton says:

    I love all the photos, and I love the emotion. Please provide appropriate links to the images so people may see who took them. It’s a violation of copyright to use them without credit, and, as a wedding photographer,I wouldn’t appreciate it. Otherwise, keep up the good work!

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Kelly, the credits for each photo are listed at the end of the post.

  4. Just an observation…I’m not suggesting anything in specific here and certainly not making any judgments about anything. In fact, I’m not even sure what to make of this, but it struck me how few of the weddings pictured were in churches.

    1. kharking says:

      I see what you mean and it is clear that at least a couple are in the context of an outdoor ceremony. However, most of the people that I know who got married over the last 10 years (and that was a lot) had photos taken outside before the ceremony if at all possible. Therefore they saw each other for the first time that day in exactly the setting pictured here without losing the particular beauty of a church marriage service.

  5. Laury says:

    What does this say to the bride who’s husband doesn’t express himself like this? Careful to set us up to think that this is what to expect. I am married to an amazing man who probably would never express himself this outwardly and yet he is passionately in love with me, provides, protects and cherishes me. I get concerned with all the blogs, posts, videos that show certain aspects of romantic activities that are often more to do with personality styles, gifting, etc… then reveal aspects of covenantal love. Young women come to me for counsel wondering why their husband isn’t like “that.” I am sweetly touched by the photos but am more interested in what his face looks like on Tuesday afternoon when she overspent the grocery bill, yet again.

    1. Jared C. Wilson says:

      Laury, excellent points. I would emphasize that the point of the blog post is not to urge an unnatural weepiness on the part of men, but merely to show a sliver of a glimpse into the joyful moment when the Church meets her Bridegroom face to face.

      As it pertains to the imperatives to husbands to cherish their wives, I don’t think it’s wise to create a universal checklist of what this looks like in each marriage, so certainly if a wife feels cherished and passionately loved by an “unromantic” or “unemotional” husband, this is no cause to try to fix what’s not broken.

  6. D says:

    Makes me wonder if I don’t love enough or if I am just that non-emotional. I think I did little mroe than smile at my wedding before wondering if I was smiling because I wanted to or because I was supposed to. Ugh. I am jealous of these couples.

    1. Greg says:

      I think Jared’s response to Laury above is fitting for this thought :)

  7. Sam says:

    Awesome. I’m currently dating the girl whom, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’m going to marry. Can’t wait. Thanks for these!

  8. Janelle Stevens says:

    I don’t think a guy will ever look at me like that. But it’s honest-to-goodness nice to know that some guys actually do exist that are sensitive like that. :)

    1. JR says:

      Janelle, it’s sort of hard to see your photo clearly (it’s tiny! :D), but from what I can see, a man would have plenty of reason–based on physical appearance alone–to look at you like that. You’re lovely! Of course, I don’t know you in real life–perhaps you’re a raging inferno of molten fury, or a bitter old wench, but you sure don’t come across that way in your photo and this one post. ;) (For full disclosure purposes, I’m a lady!)

  9. Tom says:

    I’m still trying to figure out why two of the guys already have rings on their ring fingers if these pics are snapped before the vows…

    Unless the images were reversed.

    1. Andrea says:

      Lovely post and pics but yes, I found it odd that some grooms already had their rings on.

    2. Riley says:

      My wife and I both had rings on during the initial moments of our ceremony. They were our purity rings we gave each other during our courtship. We exchanged them for our wedding bands, giving a finality to the wait. Maybe that’s a similar situation to those men?

    3. Hannah says:

      We took pictures before our wedding and our photographer had us wear our rings during the before pictures. We then took them off for the ceremony.

  10. vicki says:

    I’m not trying to be a overly critical comment. But its a very nice post when you are young, healthy, good looking. You couldn’t find any pictures of grooms crying for older, overweight, maybe paraplegic brides? Cause it just seems like what’s the big deal about grooms getting weepy to see their brides when even atheist worldly grooms do the same thing.

    1. That’s an excellent point, Vicki. However, after reading your comment and scrolling back through the photographs, it seems to me there are a least a couple of subjects in this montage who were clearly not selected for their looks.

      1. JR says:

        Please don’t actually respond to this–for the sake of the people in the photos–but who on EARTH are you referring to?! Are you looking at a different post? First, you can’t even see the faces of half the brides (and don’t try to argue that their form is less-than…these ladies are lovely, healthy-looking women.) Second, since you can’t really see the brides, which of the grooms are you saying weren’t selected for their looks?! There’s not an ugly man in the photos–from the young man, to the father, to the grooms, to the minister. They’re all good-looking men. Some people baffle me.

    2. Matthias says:

      Vicki, funny thing about that is the fact that marriage – no matter whose – is a picture, albeit imperfect, of Christ and His bride. It’s a function of common grace that even the heathen experience a flood of emotion over their spouse. There is also such thing as physical beauty.

  11. Robert says:

    Beauty is subjective. But everyone is white.

    1. Peter B says:

      LOLOL you’re not serious…about life =P

  12. Karen says:

    Oh my word! Why didn’t the majority of these people that commented not see the point of this post?

  13. Yvonne Chapman says:

    I don’t understand why people must pick apart these pictures? Why can’t you just enjoy the beauty that is there? Does it matter so much that he has his ring on? Or that the wedding is outside? (From my experience with my children’s weddings, I had to pay $600-$1000 to have the wedding at the church–we paid it, but can understand why others can’t.) Thank you for reminding about me getting to be a bride again in the Lord’s time.

  14. RevTrev says:

    I totally agree with with Karen and Yvonne. It’s a great post with a great message and great pictures.

  15. sharon says:

    What a beautiful post! Just love it! My son was married two years ago and when he saw his bride walk down tears rolled down his face…then his brother/best man had tears. It was a beautiful, emotional moment.

    I can only imagine what my Bridegroom’s face will look like when He comes to take me home.

  16. This brought back memories. When I perform a wedding (well over 150), I always look at the groom when the bride enters the door. What a joy to see their joy! But when I teach a class for singles each fall semester (for 20 years now), I always ask why it is that 200,000 marriages in America end before reaching their 3rd Anniversary. How does a couple go from the joy of celebration to the hostility of divorce in this short time? We invest a good bit of time answering this question and it proves enlightening for the singles and hopefully serves to protect them from such tragedy.

    Some of the cause has to do with a piece I wrote a while ago for the Gospel Coalition: see: http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2012/02/05/what-if-i-dont-feel-love-for-my-spouse/

  17. Christopher says:

    I’m a man, and I had tears in my eyes looking at these photos. It’s beautiful. Thank you for this.

  18. Thank you for a beautiful gallery, and a verse for one of my own blogs. Excellent topic.

  19. Beth says:

    just returning from an afternoon of ministry of the Glories of our Lord Jesus Christ. The speaker left us with the same encouraging verse Isaiah 62:5b….the Lord must want me to hear this….I need to hear this and reflect on the beautiful spiritual eternal union the Saints have in Christ Jesus, pictured in our often feeble, marriages here on earth. Lord, help me.

  20. Caleb says:

    I wonder if upper/middle class white America hasn’t taken the church as bride metaphor too literally? These are ways of speaking but we now worship ‘the wedding’. What you don’t see is the final, outrageous bill for these weddings, the undue stress and time wasted over insignificant details (what shape shall our spoons be? what color the napkins?), the family pressure, etc. that invariably went into these very stylish weddings. And we all fawn and create unrealistic/unnecessary expectations about the form of ‘the wedding’.

    I also wonder – is there no cognitive dissonance for the very masculine complementarian Christian men when they ponder being given as a bride to Jesus, a man? Again, I think we take the metaphor too far.

    1. Jon Swerens says:

      I disagree. If you follow the basic Biblcal commands to not go into debt and to serve others with joy and not crabbiness, then what better place to spend a fortune than a wedding? Jesus is our template for how to celebrate, not the White Witch. We Americans (not just white ones, for crying out loud) don’t take the metaphor nearly far enough.

    2. Tim says:

      Caleb,

      I don’t know of anyone who thinks men are going to actually be dressing in female wedding gowns. Gender-specific metaphors don’t actually make the object of the metaphor that gender. It just means that there is a quality typical of that gender that is found in the thing represented. The Church (notice that’s a corporate identity) is more like a bride than a bridegroom. That doesn’t have any impact on the gender of the individuals making up that corporate identity. As matter of fact, Paul makes the point that the marriage itself was intended to reflect the Church and Christ, it wasn’t some convenient correlation thought up after the fact. Marriage’s purpose is to reflect the union between Christ and His people.

      If your concept or experience of masculinity resists being the recipient of deep, intense, and everlasting divine romance, than you might need to adjust your gender categories, because that love is at the very heart of reality for people of both genders.

  21. Love this! Come Lord Jesus and receive your bride!

  22. Bradius says:

    My gosh folks. Just enjoy the beautiful pictures. This collection is truely wonderfull!
    Please take a day off from worrying about whether there is too much Whiteness or not enough plumpness. Or whatever the PC cause of the day is.

    Thank you GDC from posting these. I love it!

  23. RacheL H. says:

    Happened upon this post and as I scrolled through the photos and sweet text, Twila Paris’ “How Beautiful” starts playing from another tab. Cute coincidence? ;)

  24. Wilson says:

    Great text and a great reminder. It was nice to acknowledge the wedding photographers. If it mentioned that all these pics are from a post on buzzfeed.com about 2 months ago, I missed it.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/mattbellassai/24-grooms-seeing-their-brides-for-the-first-time-6z51

  25. JD says:

    These photos brought back still fresh memories of my own bride coming to take my hand. Finally! And how my own heart was hammering it’s way out of my chest as I waited.
    She seemed to be walking so slowly… She was so radiant! I wanted her to hurry but didn’t want the moment to end…

    I then understood a small fraction of how eager Christ is to take His bride to Himself, and how laborious the preparation for that day is in His eyes. The anticipation of life together – eternally.

    I relived that moment this last July when I officiated the marriage of my daughter to her husband. After all the years of her childhood youth diapers, dolls, friends, school, sports, – and boys… all a whirlwind.
    The next thing I know, I’m sitting in front of her and a young man giving them premarital counseling. She was ready – but I wasn’t – there was still so much she needed to learn and, well you know… The tears came again – for their joy…

    I caught a hint of how the Lord is growing His Church anxious for her unveiling yet carefully taking the time to let her grow to maturity…

    Maranatha!

  26. Natalie says:

    I love this article, love the pictures, and love the analogy of the bride and bridegroom as it relates to Christ and the Church. But as a single woman who longs to be married one day, it is hard not to look at these pictures and say why not me? When will a man have that expression for me? It is a continuous battle within myself to remember that although a wedding on earth is a beautiful thing, the day when I am once again reunited with Christ is far greater. I am not saying this as a bitter woman who is negative towards marriage, but instead as a saved sinner who knows that God’s sovereign will may not include a wedding for me here on earth, but nothing can remove me from the day I am taken up in glory to be with Christ forever. What peace and hope in knowing that longing for a bridegroom will only last for a short while, and I have a savior who loves me no matter what!

  27. Aaron says:

    The reaction to this post is absolutely baffling. The above pictures are of real people experiencing true joy upon seeing their bride. They may not be your reality, but they were their reality. For everyone that this makes feel less than perfect, JESUS LOOKS AT YOU LIKE THESE HUSBANDS LOOK AT THEIR BRIDES. The point is not to hope for someone to look at you like one of the above husbands. The point is to enjoy the fact that the greatest man ever views his bride, the church, with love and joy. Yes, life sucks now. I’m a chunky white guy, but Romans 8 reminds us that we have a hope that is unseen- adoption as sons and the redemption of our bodies- only possible through Jesus. So, enjoy the pics and relish the love Jesus has for you.

  28. Elle says:

    These pictures made me tear up! Plus, the post is excellent. I guess I’m a sucker for romance.

  29. Lisa Eggers says:

    LOVE. Especially the third one! So sweet :)

  30. Staci says:

    The pic of the groom shouting? Laughing? Singing? I don’t know but his pic made me laugh! God made us all unique and we all respond to joy differently and I really liked that pic as it reminded me of that.

    : )

  31. Fanny Tsai says:

    So touched! Thanks for your sharing!

  32. This week I found a beautiful poem about a married woman overcome with love when she received a letter from her husband, who was away. The author is a poet I enjoy but I’m a bit uncertain sharing here, since although I’m an evangelical she was not. Still, it is another wonderful expression of love within marriage, written by the late Sufia Kamal, one of the greatest poets from Bangladesh. http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/that-love-of-yours/

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Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

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