When it comes to weddings, I think we've gotten it all wrong. Well, maybe not all wrong, but at least the beginning part. Tradition says that, when the organ (or whatever) begins to play and the bride makes her way down the aisle, the guests are to stand up, turn around, and watch her.
It makes sense I guess. This is a moment that she's been looking forward to her entire life, and every bride is certainly deserving of the attention. It's fun, too, to see which wedding gown she picked and how she chose to do her hair. It's fun to see how nervous her father is and how slowly (or quickly) they make their way to the front. But, to me, in the midst of all this - in the midst of satisfying my own curiosities - the real story gets lost.
A wedding isn't about the bride's relationship with us (the guests), but about her relationship with the groom. The dress, the hair, the jewelry, the smile...they weren't painstakingly chosen for the people sitting in the seats, but for the guy standing at the altar. Who cares about my reaction? It's his reaction that matters. And, personally, I would rather see him seeing her for the first time, than see her myself.
Next time you're at a wedding, let me encourage you to at least sneak a peek at the groom as his bride-to-be starts walking his way. Make it a point to witness his first reaction, rather than be concerned with your own thoughts and feelings. I'm guessing that the smile on his face and the tears in his eyes will give you a better picture of the bride than your own two eyes ever could.
Not ironically, the Bible uses the bride and groom analogy frequently, calling the church the "bride of Christ." As in a traditional wedding, the church (the bride) is called to prepare herself for Christ (the groom) and Him alone. But, I'll be the first to admit that I spend way too much time looking at the church (and it's members) and very little time focusing on Christ himself. I turn my back on Him in order to satisfy my own curiosities, craning my neck to evaluate how someone looks or acts or worships. It's sad too because, in the end, I wind up missing out on the real joy of my own beautiful story.
The good news, I suppose, is that the "fix" for this problem is a fairly simple one - turn around. Look at the bridegroom rather than at the church. His face will tell us all we need to know.