Throughout my 30-year career, I’ve witnessed many approaches that couples take in order to help ease the nervous energy as they make their way to the altar. Often couples will voluntarily participate in a “first look.” A first look is where the couple sees each other before the start of their wedding ceremony. Although this may be staged by the photographer or event planner, the goal is to create an authentic and heartfelt moment before the bride/groom walks down the aisle to meet her/his partner at the “altar.” When I married 11 years ago, we didn’t have a first look. In hindsight, I think the private moment would have allowed both of us an opportunity to chat briefly about what awaited us, exchange compliments, and quiet the butterflies!
Regardless of whether I see the couple together or separately before the ceremony, the moment I see a partner or the partners process up the aisle, I have to catch my breath. The moment is so real and so full of anticipation. This past weekend, I had a unique and beautiful moment with a groom.
Lights, Camera, Action
Recently, I arrived at the venue at 4:15 and saw the groom outside chatting with a guest. We greeted each other and he then took me inside so I could meet his best man, his oldest brother. At the same time, I met his soon-to-be stepsons. The groom was excited and anticipated the wedding starting on time, 5:00 p.m. However, there were several unexpected issues that delayed the start of the ceremony which included late arriving guests, a bridesmaid falling ill, and a very nervous groom. Maybe it was nervous energy, but the groom was overcome by emotions. His parents, the bride’s mother, and a groomsman all took a few moments to speak with him before the start of the processional.
It was finally time for the wedding to start and for everyone to get into position. I had the pleasure and honor of walking down the aisle with the groom. I tried to interject levity and thankfully, he seemed to be okay with my chatter. I told him he was a Rockstar and urged him to smile at his “fans!” As the bridal party processed, I asked him if he was aware that his baseball team had lost the night before to the worst team in the American League. He laughed! Again, I was attempting to ease his emotions. When his bride began walking toward him with her father, he smiled broadly. At the same time, I’m gently patting his back and whispering to him, “you got this!” Once the groom took his bride’s hand, calm came over him. It was magical for me to witness such an intimate moment between two people. This is one of the reasons why I absolutely love my work of being a wedding officiant. I get to witness some of the most amazing moments – Thank you!
The bride and groom and their children participated in a unity ceremony. At the conclusion of the unity ceremony, I invited them to enjoy a group hug. I said to the guests, “this is love!” I believe the groom, bride, and the children appreciated that private moment in the presence of 200+ guests.
What I’ve learned throughout the years is that although things may cause a delay in the set schedule, the key is to be flexible. Couples may be anxious, bridal party members may get ill, and someone is always late arriving. But remember the reason why everyone is gathered together and the ultimate goal of the event…you are marrying the person you choose and who chooses you! Just breathe, try your best to take it all in, and enjoy!!