Of all the thousands of photographs we have taken of brides during their wedding ceremonies, this one ranks among our favorites. It was taken at a lovely ceremony at the exclusive Chantilly National Golf and Country Club in Centreville, Virginia. The Washington, DC-based bride and groom had just finished a traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony, in which they honored their extended family by serving them cups of the hot beverage. It was a very emotional ritual for the soon-to-be spouses. There were cheers and applause when their parents, various aunts and uncles, and cousins and second cousins stood and were introduced by the emcee. There were tears when the future bride and groom knelt to offer the groom’s elderly grandmother a cup of tea. There were laughs when the bride’s brother cracked jokes as he took his cup off the tray proffered by the future spouses.
After a short break that allowed the Chantilly National Golf and Country Club’s top-notch staff to change the room around, the wedding guests filed back in for the marriage ceremony. The groom went to wait for his future bride at the altar. The groomsmen and the bridesmaids walked down the aisle to take their seats in the front row. The flower girl and the ring bearer performed their critical tasks of carpeting the aisle with rose petals and delivering the rings to the best man, respectively. Finally, the bride entered the room, escorted by her mother and father, and made her way to her husband-to-be.
Before the bride joined her future husband at the altar, she waited while her mother and the mother of the groom went up and lit a unity candle. This proved to be another emotional moment for the bride, and we captured a lovely image of her in the background wiping away a tear as the two mothers performed a ritual meant to signify the coming-together of the two families.
Her tears got the groom feeling overwhelmed as well, and by the time they were standing together in front of the priest, they were both weeping openly. After sharing a quick laugh, however, they regained their composure and sat down to begin their traditional Catholic wedding ceremony. By the time they stood back up to exchange their sacred vows, the bride and groom was feeling much more relaxed. Part of that was the calming words offered by their officiant, but it was clear to everyone at the wedding that being in the presence of one another made everything else just melt away.
That is what we love so much about this picture. The inner peace that this bride felt while standing at the altar with and holding the hand of the man whom she loved simply radiates out of her face. As she bowed her head to listen to the priest’s words, she closed her eyes and just enjoyed being where she was at that moment. At the end of a day filled with highs and lows, laughter and tears, the bride was finally in the place where she belonged, the place that made her happy and the place where she intended to spend the rest of her life.