best. wedding. ever.

People use various criteria–self-selected and self-defined in most cases–to evaluate a wedding. I’ve been to hundreds of weddings in my life and can compare these events on a few different levels without breaking a sweat. It doesn’t take a calculator to categorize weddings into budget categories from “shoe-string” to “GDP of a small developing nation” or into size of the bride and groom’s entourage (based on total number in attendance divided by square footage of the reception hall plus number of people on whom flowers were pinned).

Brian and Vanessa were married in Pittsburgh on Saturday. I’m sure that my Facebook status report was influenced a little bit by the sugar high from the traditional cookie table at their reception: “best. wedding. ever.”

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I’m also sure it was much more than a sugar buzz that kept me smiling all day–even when tears welled up in my eyes a few times. (One measure of a wedding can be the number of Kleenex the average person needed through the ceremony. While I did tear up a few times, it was not because of overtly sentimental or emotionally manipulative elements in the program.)

As one who has been accused of analyzing my own belly button fuzz (by my own mother who was, let the record show, correct in her voiced observation), I could be tempted to make a long list of all the things about this wedding I loved. That list would immediately include the bride and her family who I have long loved, a spectacular setting with architectural elements that set a perfect stage, a simple collection of traditional rituals that were obviously chosen because they were meaningful to the bride and groom, and an event that focused attention on God along with a community celebrating together.

The list would also include the wedding “sermon” by Don which highlighted some fairly traditional wedding texts from the Bible but which was anything but cliché. I was not the only person who confessed to actually listening to that portion of the wedding service.

The sum of the list, I think, would be that this wedding honored God not by tossing His name in a few key places or in some awkward obligatory way but because Vanessa and Brian love Him well, serve Him well. God has been invited into their lives in such a way that He was present in every aspect of the wedding. He was not just “in” the religious elements of the service like an invited guest with a limited role to play. He was in it all.

In fact, I’d say that they have joined Him more than they have invited Him to join them. That reality was evident all day long.