I had the honor, this past Saturday, of officiating at the wedding of my oldest son, who’s nearly 34, and just now tying the knot. It was a charming, if steamy, outdoor occasion, held at an inn in Greensboro, Ga. where the various venues are named after elvish places in J. R. R. Tolkien’s “Middle Earth.”

Lots of us cried before it was over, though the sweat running down our faces kept it from being too obvious. I’ve always found it interesting that so many of us cry at weddings, often more so than at funerals.

Sometimes wedding tears may be sparked by sadness for a wedding that never happened, a marriage that didn’t work out, or the memories of past occasions attended by loved ones who are no longer with us. The father of the bride may weep as he waves goodbye to the cost of a new Lexus.

More often, however, we cry from shared joy or pure pride in the happy couple. We’ve watched them grow, we’ve loved them through their ups and downs, and we rejoice in knowing that they have found their soul mate, the one with whom they feel truly complete. As with movies, we’re often more likely to cry over happy endings than the sad parts in the middle. Weddings are both happy endings and joyous beginnings, so there’s abundant reason to overflow with emotion.

We also cry, I think, with hope. We hope the couple’s dreams will come true. We hope they will be happy in both marriage and careers. We hope they’ll stick it out through thick and thin. We hope they’ll have healthy children, if that’s part of their plan, and that they’ll be good parents.

My son Russ and his new wife Kristina were baptized in both sweat and tears on Saturday, and I’m sure there will be more of both in their future. As with all hopeful couples awash in their love for each other, I wish them well for all the years that lie ahead.

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