Several adjectives come to mind as I think of Lauren and Brandon’s wedding: beauty. Simplicity. Elegance. But I think “Grace” is my favorite word. It summarizes the aura Lauren exuded as she walked down the aisle, and always. It fits the love in Brandon’s eyes, such a strong representation of Christ’s, as bridegroom, as she walked to him. It fits, I believe, their burgeoning marriage, as Christ ministers, and will minister, to them (much as He used their wedding to minister to me).
Guests filed into the enormous sanctuary of Pilgrim Congregational Church, a gorgeous cathedral, to instrumentals such as “A Walk to Remember.” Following the traditional seating of family members, Brandon, dressed in a blue that complemented Lauren’s eyes, approached the altar to await his bride. Chelsea, Kristen and Amanda, arrayed in gorgeous champagne gowns with matching earrings, shoes, (and a gorgeous hairstyle) floated down the aisle, accompanied by Matthew, Matthew, Cameron and Justin, respectively.
Then there was Lauren. Wow. Arrayed in a delicate, lacy white gown, head topped with a thin golden circlet, she looked like a fairy queen, exuding her usual Lauren-grace. Her hair, styled in elegant curls with carefully plaited braids, was perfectly befitting the gorgeous bride.
Brandon cried throughout the ceremony. Such gorgeous, joy-filled tears. These weren’t decorous tears of etiquette, eked out in honor of the occasion. These were the genuine, heartfelt tears of a man who was so eager for his bride, so fully delighted with his lifelong reward. These were tears that couldn’t be helped, tears that exemplified the eagerness with which Christ awaits His bride. Tears that brought tears to my own eyes, and tears that powerfully ministered the mystery of Christ’s love for His bride. (Thank-you!)
Lauren’s sweet laughter mingled with Brandon’s tears, as the two promised themselves to each other for the rest of their lives. Greg Letherer, Lauren’s high school teacher, officiated the brief ceremony. He recapped the couple’s beautiful history, from their meeting in fifth grade to their eventual dating during junior year of college. He described their mutual (though unspoken) feelings for one another in high school: “Brandon had a crush on Lauren, but thought he had no chance… She knew she could marry him, but never said a word.”
Before the wedding, Greg asked Lauren and Brandon to describe their favorite qualities about one another. He shared their responses during the ceremony. Lauren called Brandon her “faithful protector,” noting that he’s always there for her. Brandon shared about Lauren’s influence in his life, saying that she makes him want to grow to be like Jesus.
Greg went on to describe Brandon’s role as husband, his responsibility to treat Lauren with the same love Christ shows the church. According to Greg, this meant, among other things, that when Brandon and Lauren have children (“you’re going to make cute kiddos, you two,” he said), Brandon would love sacrificially by rising to meet his children’s needs, even in the middle of the night. As Brandon’s supporter, Greg said, Lauren would need to approach Brandon graciously and quietly, even when he did crazy things. (And Brandon would do crazy things!)
In the context of marriage, Greg said, love would be a choice, not just a feeling. “Let the love of CHRIST be the controlling force of your marriage,” he told them.
With more laughter and tears, Brandon and Lauren exchanged vows and rings. They promised themselves to each other as “beloved husband [and wife],” “constant friend,” and “faithful partner… to love from this day forward.”
The couple partook of communion before weaving together three ropes in a symbol of unity based on Ecclesiastes 4:12: “Though one may be overpowered, / two can defend themselves. / A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Lauren and Brandon exchanged their first kiss as husband and wife, and stopped on their way out of the church for another kiss. While the newlyweds headed outdoors with the wedding party for photographs, the guests made their way to the reception at McCoy Equestrian Center.
Within the charmingly decorated barn, guests mixed and mingled about over intricate appetizers as they awaited the arrival of bride and groom. At last, the wedding party danced in as the DJ announced them, and Lauren and Brandon arrived to the tune of “You’re the Only One.”
Guests ordered and enjoyed personalized dinners from the In-N-Out truck, and then the first dances began. Heads bent in conversation, Lauren and Brandon twirled around to “Yours” by Russell Dickerson. Then Lauren and her father Daniel danced to “Always Love You,” and Brandon and his mother Patricia grooved to “Mi Buen Amor.”
Brandon and Lauren separated for the money dance, as tunes like “Brown-Eyed Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” blasted through the speakers.
Tiny mason jars clinked around seventeen tables as Amanda, Justin, and Daniel toasted the newlyweds. Amanda’s heartfelt speech centered around her friendship with Lauren, and memories of their initial conversations (and Lauren’s reservations) concerning Brandon. Justin introduced himself as Brandon’s younger brother. “I live in his shadow,” he explained. The best man also told about how he had to feed Brandon ice-cream when Lauren rejected him at first (but not really). Finally, Daniel, Lauren’s father, held back tears as he welcomed his new son into the family.
All the guests hit the dance floor before the cutting of the cake, jamming to numerous songs, including the obligatory “Cha-Cha Slide.” Then Lauren and Brandon sliced into the elegant wedding cake before the adorable (and surprisingly tidy) exchanging of bites.
After hours of celebration, the couple dashed out to their waiting vehicle, under the light of skipping sparklers and to the enthusiastic cheering of their guests. Lauren and Brandon kissed outside their car, to the eruption of even louder cheers, then sped off to their honeymoon.