Lately I’ve been reveling in the beauty of religious wedding ceremonies. And while the actual ceremonies were gorgeous, more than anything, it was the messages that left their mark.
I was photographing a Christian wedding ceremony recently when the pastor was talking about God’s love and how it’s translated into love for each other, our families and friends. He gave the couple advice for speaking each other’s love language and talked about how to love each other.
I know that this won’t sound as good coming from me, but the pastor told the groom that when he looks at his bride not to say “I love you,” but to share his love for God. He talked about the measure of love and how it’s important to tell each other when they’re doing something right. The pastor reminded the couple that their marriage isn’t just about the two of them and their love for each other, but the love they have for God and how they emanate that love to others.
At another ceremony, this one a Muslim ceremony, the imam started the ceremony by talking about how God has blessed America with something so beautiful — freedom. He talked about how people should be sure to pray for this country when they pray. He continued to talk about all of the good things that America has done for people around the world and how lucky we are to live (and love) here. That’s not something you hear at most wedding ceremonies and I thought it was so beautiful. Like the first message, it stuck with me and I’ve been reflecting on the words for weeks.
A Different Approach
Both messages were so beautiful, I think because they were outside of the love two people have for each other. I like that no matter what religion you practice or what faith you have, there’s this idea that you come from love and give love to others. A couple always has to work to fill their glass, not just with their own love, but with the love of God and others. Love is universal. And while a wedding day might be celebrating two people’s love for one another, a marriage isn’t just about two people. It’s about family and those who support the couple and give them strength. A marriage is about a sense of community, togetherness and belonging. It’s about love in all of its roles throughout our lives.
I feel like I’ve had an epiphany over this wedding season. It has never been more clear to me that although faiths can be very different, the idea of two people coming together and loving each other is the same. This thought has hit me stronger than ever. I love that I get to witness this private moment in a couple’s life and see two families become one. And I love that no matter how many weddings I photograph, I get to see an abundance of love and admiration, joy and peace on wedding days. I love all religious ceremonies because its about the love of something greater than self. I love feeling uplifted and moved through someone’s gift of speaking and sharing in a message that lives long beyond the end of the ceremony. And I am so grateful to do that weekend after weekend.