As a young flower girl at the weddings of babysitters and family friends, I remember being entranced by the regal aurora of the bride. As an engaged woman in preparation, I was encouraged, “you will be a beautiful bride!” On my own wedding day, I remember hearing the remarks of wedding guests who referred to me as the beautiful bride.
It is true. A woman dressed in white, clothed in the joy and purity of her wedding day is a sight to behold. The crowd of witnesses stands as she enters the sanctuary. The groom can’t take his eyes off of her. The journey of the bride moving towards her covenant at the altar echoes a song of every human’s heart. She is the personification of beauty, a reflection of the creator who makes all things glorious.
There is no denying that a woman on her wedding day is a beautiful bride.
Yet hearing the simple statement, “you are a beautiful bride,” brings me to a question. When a woman hears these words, does she interpret the message as admiration of her outer appearance or as affirmation of her heart and soul?
If the message is attached to the status of professional hair and makeup, heirloom jewelry, a wedding gown, and a following of photographers, then her identity as a beautiful bride becomes conditional to external circumstances.
In contrast, when a woman is offered and hears bridal admiration as a reflection of her lifelong commitment to her vocation, her beauty is fused with her existence. She is beautiful because she is. Her daily “yes” to her marriage is her most stunning quality. In the truth of this perspective, her beauty is sealed in her feminine vocation.
Despite our secular culture’s twisted reality which uses outer appearances to define one’s value and worth, God offered his son to remind us that our value is confirmed in his love for us. Our worth is defined in our status as a child of God. Therefore, it becomes imperative to shift our understanding of a “beautiful bride” away from a simple definition of a woman in white, so we can more fully celebrate the innumerable beautiful brides in our midst—the women who strive in the commitment of their married vocation.
How do we begin acknowledging this truth and celebrating true beauty? The responsibility is shared among both men and women, single and married, young and old.
To the bridal attendants and wedding guests:
Say what you mean and mean what you say. We cannot expect others to interpret the deepest meaning of our words. Take time to write a heartfelt note to express the depth of your admiration for a new couple in covenant. Choose your words with intention as you compliment and affirm a bride on her wedding day; your compliment is not only relevant to that day, but the rest of her married life. And on the average days in-between, acknowledge the beauty of the women in your life as they each pursue or fulfill marital vows in a unique way.
To boyfriends, husbands, and men:
Reflect on how you internalize the beauty of your bride. If you look at your bride and are distracted by the external clothing, emotions or demands of married life, pray for the desire to explore and know a deeper intimacy of her heart. If you are married—or desire to be married—and you know the internal beauty of your bride, tell her. From the morning of your wedding day and for the rest of forever, she is your beautiful bride: the embodiment of God’s finest creation put on this earth as a gift for you. Live in that joy.
To single, engaged, and married women:
Once you enter a vocational covenant, you are a bride. Your status in that role is not conditional on how you dress, how professional your hair and makeup look, or how gracefully you move about the day. Through your commitment in covenant, your status as a beautiful bride cannot be changed.
On the days when you feel lost or confused in your vocation, you are a beautiful bride.
On the days when vulnerability in making love brings a moment of embarrassment, you are a beautiful bride.
On the days when you are covered in stains from raising a family, you are a beautiful bride.
On the days when the love between a husband and wife is playful and fun, you are a beautiful bride.
On the days when you doubt your value as a wife but show up offering your very best for that day, you are a beautiful bride.
The woman who enters a vocational covenant is, forevermore, a beautiful bride. As the memories of your wedding day move further back in time, remain steadfastly affirmed in your inherent, unconditional beauty.