Elements of a successful wedding

by Keith Barber

The groom’s smile

In every wedding, there is a magical moment when our collective anticipation is finally answered. As we all crane our necks to catch a glimpse of the beautiful bride in her flowing, white dress, we immediately glance back at the groom to gauge his expression. His expression speaks volumes about the depth and breadth of the love for his soon-to-be betrothed. The eyes are the windows of the soul and if there is a defining moment in a couple’s love affair, it is this split-second reaction of the groom waiting at the altar that reveals some combination of love, hope, adoration and a vision of his future life with his blushing bride.

The support of family and friends

There is a palpable feeling in the air when the bride and groom’s respective families fully support their blessed union. This can be seen in how smoothly the wedding events go and in the spiritual and emotional depth achieved in the ceremony.

music selection

This past weekend I attended my friend Sam’s wedding in Marion, Va. The setting was a state park nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trio of musicians playing the mandolin, guitar and bass performed wedding music with a bluegrass flair. The regional inflection of the musicians’ instruments and their admirable virtuosity added greatly to the down-home feel and sweet, solemn tone of the event.

adorable flower girls and ring bearers

The innocence of youth and the tentative steps of the flower girls and ring bearers as they make their way down the aisle remind us all of the reason we get married in the first place. The vision of little boys in tiny tuxes and little girls in lovely dresses brings a smile to everyone’s face and prepares their collective hearts for the exchange of vows.

an eloquent minister

We’ve all sat through weddings where the minister’s description of the spiritual nature of marriage sounds like a boring Sunday sermon. However, once in a great while, a minister with the gift of interpreting holy scripture in a way that is applicable to our daily lives elevates a simple wedding ceremony and makes it a true celebration of the human spirit.


The laborious process of putting together a wedding is something that no one looks forward to, including the bride and her family. However, when a couple puts their heart and soul into the wedding preparations, it is one of the most beautiful ways of expressing their love for their family and friends in attendance. No detail is overlooked and everyone has a fantastic time. A poorly planned wedding leaves guests wondering if the bride and groom will give the necessary care and attention to their marriage.

no shotguns or red dresses

We could be easily lulled into thinking that we have evolved beyond the point of shotgun weddings, but such is not the case. It’s not all that unusual for a couple to get married because the bride-to-be got “knocked up.” Sometimes it’s the little push that a guy needs. But in the best-case scenario, the couple has practiced safe sex or abstinence, although the latter is pretty unrealistic. Also, a woman who wears a red dress to a wedding as a symbolic protest can ruin even the most elegant of ceremonies.

wine, women and song

The vino should flow freely at all wedding receptions because, after all, this is a celebration. There should be at least two or three hot bridesmaids so the single guys have a reason to feel hopeful as the evening progresses. Women get emotional at weddings; it’s a fact. The combination of intense emotion and alcohol can mean wonderful results for a guy who’s in the right place at the right time.

moments of quiet introspection

All religious rituals are designed to invoke a sense of awe and wonder, but a wedding isn’t like a church service. Typically, wedding attendees find themselves surrounded by people they know and love, so the ethereal nature of the ceremony is enhanced. Whether you’re single, married or divorced, weddings evoke a buoyant optimism in the face of life’s harsh realities. One’s wedding day along with the birth of their children represent the most important moments of our collective lives, and those times require us to reflect on the ground of our being, how we can improve all our relationships, and our place in the universe.


“Love is all you need,” sang the Beatles. No truer words have ever been spoken. A poignant wedding ceremony underscores the greatest gift God ever gave to man, and the reason we’re all here. Without love, the world would never have come into existence. If there is one common thread that runs through all weddings throughout all cultures from the beginning of time, it is the pure expression of love made manifest in the hearts of two people. A transcendent love is born in the hearts of the bride and the groom on this special day, and it radiates and shines upon all witnesses, who feel compelled to search their own hearts and share the love that wells inside their hearts.