It’s amazing who you might meet at a wedding

By Jen Charteris

Most of the weddings I get to attend are those of people in our local church family, which means I usually know a high proportion of the guests when I go to a wedding, and part of the fun is seeing everyone scrubbed up and looking their best.  But recently we attended a relative’s wedding, an entirely different kind of event.  This wedding had been long in the planning, but the date finally arrived and off we went, excited for the couple but expecting to know very few of the other guests.

A winter wedding can be a wonderfully cosy affair, and this one being in Scotland they had this part nailed.  How to dress for a formal wedding in the middle of winter took a bit more thought than a typical summer wedding, not just the question of how many layers but also because, whilst the ceremony starts in broad daylight, it’s almost dark by the time that’s over, so… evening dress or not?  Thankfully a quick trip to TK Maxx delivered a suitable result, so we all showed up appropriately attired.

After the ceremony, as the couple braved the beach for an atmospheric photo shoot, guests mingled in a barn around log fires, drinking champagne or hot chocolate – every wedding should have hot chocolate. And so it happened that, over mugs topped with whipped cream and marshmallows, I had two very surprising encounters: people I absolutely did not expect to meet at this wedding.

The first of these was a famous celebrity.  It doesn’t matter who he was, because he worked hard to be just another guest and we all worked hard to pretend he was, even though he is, like, seriously famous.  I shook his hand briefly, privately disappointed that he wasn’t wearing a suit (you’d understand if I told you).  As the evening wore on I was impressed to notice how he interacted with the teenage lads, to whom he would be a bit of a legend. He chatted, joked around, joined in the photos, got dragged onto the dancefloor by the bride’s grandmother, and then left well before the last dance to catch a flight. He had places to be, films to shoot, but he’d been a really good sport for the evening.

The second surprise was meeting an old school mate.  It had been almost forty years and it’s fair to say we’ve both changed a bit. But it does strange things to you, being whisked back to remember your younger self so unexpectedly. Swapping news about how life has gone and working out how we came to be at the same wedding was mildly fun if you didn’t focus on that forty (forty?!) year fact. Our lives, which began in the southern hemisphere, are profoundly different from one another now. Yet here we were in Scotland, celebrating a marriage of our children’s generation. Strange how things go.

Reflecting on the wedding on the drive home the next day, my mind turned to another wedding I’ve been invited to.  I’m not exactly sure when it will be, though I’m thrilled beyond measure to be invited.  I won’t need to worry about what to wear, because appropriate outfits will be provided. Our eyes won’t be distracted by any celebrities who might happen to be amongst the guests, because our eyes will be fixed on the bridegroom, who is often known as ‘the Lamb’.  The setting will be absolutely incredible, beyond anything the best wedding planners and florists could conjure up, with no need for log fires to keep warm.

There’ll be some surprising guests there too: people I’ve known but didn’t expect to meet there, and people I’ve never met but with whom I already share the deepest of bonds. Some guests may well be surprised to see me there, of course.

But here’s the biggest surprise: we won’t just be guests. In a wonderful folding together, as the bible so often does, we will find ourselves – together as God’s people – standing in the place of the bride.

Weddings are long in the preparation, and the preparations can consume an enormous amount of time, money and emotion, dominating life for months on end for those closely involved. For our bride and groom in Scotland, like millions of couples around the world, theirs had to be the ultimate wedding of course, so the preparations had been intense.

But the ultimate ‘ultimate’ wedding, the one to which all other weddings point, is still in the future.  The invitations have been sent, the garments are all arranged, the feast is prepared, the bridegroom, the Lamb, is ready, and the bride is being made ready.

‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb’ (Rev 19:9):  I don’t know who I’ll get to meet at that wedding but there will be some wonderful surprises.  In the meantime I want the prospect of that wedding to be the thing that dominates my life.


While we’re waiting, here’s another celebration that you could attend: our Crosslands Winter Conference Theology for Life in February 2024. Find out more using the button below. 

Theology for Life