As a single adult in a church where the vast majority of my peers are married, I’ve sometimes been asked, ‘How do you feel going to weddings?’. The assumption usually seems to be that I should find weddings difficult because they will remind me that I am not married and I am almost certainly never going to be married.
But actually, I love weddings. I do often shed a tear, but not for the reasons people might assume. I love weddings because, far from reminding me that I will never have a wedding day, they remind me that I will. I am part of the Bride of Christ, and there is a day coming when Christ and the Church – the Lamb and the Bride – will be united in the marriage of all marriages (Revelation 19:6-9; 21:2, 9). Every human marriage is designed to reflect, however imperfectly, something of this future marriage. They are little glimmers, little foretastes of what is to come. And a Christian wedding tells that story.
Far from reminding me that I will never have a wedding day, they remind me that I will.
The moment when I often have tears in my eyes is the start of the wedding ceremony. The bride arrives, clothed in white, dazzling in her beauty, and she starts down the aisle. All eyes are on her, necks craning to get a glimpse. Amidst the awed silence sound the quiet whispers, ‘Doesn’t she look beautiful!’ Then you turn and see the face of her beloved. The groom stands enraptured, captivated, elation and excitement lighting up his eyes. She’s here. The one he’s wooed, the one he’s committed to. And now, the time has come. Two will become one, their lives entwined for as long as they both shall live.
At a wedding, as I watch this story unfold, I’m thrilled for the couple, but I’m even more excited for the Church. This isn’t just the couple’s story. This is our story. The beauty and purity of the Bride are a picture of the beauty and purity we have as the Bride of Christ, the one for whom Christ gave himself that we might be ‘without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that [we] might be holy and without blemish’ (Ephesians 5:27). And the excitement and elation of the groom are a picture of how Christ feels about us. As the groom is captivated by the bride’s beauty, so Christ is captivated by our beauty. As his heart burns with love for his bride, so Christ’s heart burns for us. And as the two unite in the most intimate form of relationship for the rest of their lives together, we will be united with Christ in the most intimate relationship possible for the rest of eternity.
This is why I love weddings. When I go to a wedding, I’m not reminded that I’ll never be married; I’m reminded that I’m holding out for the ultimate wedding day and for the ultimate marriage. I’m waiting for the day when the great multitude cry out:
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure.'