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Nine of the Best Groom Reactions

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All eyes are normally on the bride as she walks down the aisle. Me? I take a quick glance at the bride, and then immediately turn back to take a peek at the groom. I want to watch him as he sees his bride coming down the aisle. It’s always my one of my favorite parts of any wedding ceremony (and also why I fight to get a seat on the end of the aisle ;). There’s so much emotion in those moments right before the bride and groom join together to prepare to say their vows.

Today I’m sharing nine of my favorite groom reactions from over the years. Although admittedly, I could pull an image for nearly every wedding we’ve featured because the anticipation and emotion are always present. Pass me a (monogrammed) hanky…

Top to bottom and left to right: Cameron’s joy as he waits for his bride Abby (Photo by Jess Barnfield), Sawyer seeing his bride Jessica (Photo by Sarah McKenzie,) and Kyle waiting for his bride Hannah (Photo by Tucker Images).

Top to bottomw and left to right: Austin seeing his bride Kelly (Photo by Alea Moore), Brian waiting on his bride Cameron (Photo by A Bryan Photo), Todd seeing his bride Amy (Photo by Mandy Busby), and Leigh waiting on his bride Lauren (Photo by Amy Arrington).

Kory seeing his bride Kristin (Photo by Sara and Rocky) and Clark waiting on his bride Whitney (Photo by Patricia Lyons).

Whew, so many sweet moments. I’m dying to know. Do you sneak a peek at the groom as he see’s his bride for the first time at the ceremony too? Maybe you might look over during your next wedding.

kristin Written with love by Kristin
4 Comments
  1. avatar Pixie reply

    Love this, the reactions are just full of emotion. Beautiful.

  2. avatar Geoff reply

    This brings me back to my own wedding day. I held it together until the music started playing and then everything suddenly got very real!

  3. avatar Svilen {Svatben Fotograf} reply

    So much emotion! Love these groom reactions. Pure gold! Thanks for sharing.

  4. avatar Kahwin reply

    Awesome post! I love seeing grooms reactions to their bride. Even the brides get a little peek at the groom before the walk down the aisle, but the grooms usually don’t see the brides. So their reactions are priceless. Everyone in the room gets to experience seeing the bride through the grooms eyes, if you watch him closely. Thanks for this post!

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One of the MOST common questions I receive from readers is what gift I gave my husband on our wedding day. And I totally get that – if there was ever a time to gift an heirloom, or something that will become part of your new family’s lore, it would seem like your wedding day would be the day! Exchanging gifts and letters to open before your first look (if you’re doing one) or your ceremony can be a wonderful way to reflect on what your wedding day is really about, celebrate your history, create a family heirloom for your future home, and build anticipation for seeing each other.

Sometimes coming up with a great gift idea that will tell the story of your relationship or surprise your fiance is easy… or maybe you need a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing, and that’s okay, too! Today, a few of our friends and readers are sharing what they gave their husbands as wedding day gifts, and they are as sweet, meaningful, and thoughtful as you could hope for. We would LOVE to hear from y’all in the comments, too, and really make this a helpful resource for the next gal who emails me! :)

P.S. I gifted my husband an original framed oil painting of a sand dune that reminded me of the area in Michigan where his family has a home. It now hangs in our bedroom!

Photo by Jen Fariello from Priya and Tom’s wedding

My husband and I actually conspired together and gifted ourselves a post-wedding day spa trip that was scheduled for IMMEDIATELY following the wedding! After changing out of our wedding clothes and driving off from the reception venue, we headed straight for a luxurious spa in downtown Atlanta and treated ourselves to some serious decompressing after a SUPER long day! It was SO needed and it allowed us to decompress and giggle about what just happened in the past 24 hours. CRAZY – yet super romantic!
–Lacoya Heggie of Hello Love Events, @HelloLoveWeddings

Throughout our engagement, I had been secretly writing in the Southern Weddings Memories of Us Journal, and this was part of my wedding gift to Rob. I’d chronicled our engagement and wedding planning journey, as well as writing and reflecting on all of our most vivid memories together, our favorite dates, when I knew he was the one, and so much more. I also gave Rob a pair of cuff links with an “S” on them, which were passed down from my maternal grandparents. My parents gave these heirloom cuff links to me last summer right after my grandma passed away and when they knew that Rob was the one. My mom’s maiden name began with an “S,” and our last name begins with an “S,” as well, so it was only fitting that Rob become the next owner of this treasured family heirloom.
–Stephanie Shaul of Stephanie Scholl Events, @StephanieShaul (See Stephanie’s wedding planning process!)

My husband’s Pawpaw died from cancer before we ever started dating, but I knew just how much his Pawpaw meant to him and how close they were. For our wedding, I wanted him to know that he was still with him in spirit. I got my husband a wooden cutting board with an elephant engraved on it. Elephants were his Pawpaw’s favorite animal, and he collected them. I got his Nanny to give me an old card from his Pawpaw, and I got his signature engraved on the board, as well.
–Katy Osborne

I got a huge custom wooden frame from Hobby Lobby with a thick mat, sized to fit a wedding picture in it eventually. On the mat I hand wrote our wedding vows! I filled it with an engagement picture for now, and it will eventually go over our bed. I just got married a month ago and still smile a ton every time I see it!
–Avian Nuckolls

Photos by Esther Louise from McKara and Brandon’s wedding

I got my husband an embossed Bible and a lapel pin of his Scottish family crest. Nothing major or crazy expensive, but they are very significant because the two most important things to the two of us are our faith and our families, and they are two of the things we want to carry into marriage with us.
–Pamela Bunten

My husband and I travel a TON (we move to a new city every four months!). When we travel, we each take on different roles – I do a lot of planning in advance, and then once we’re there, he is the directions guy. He is amazing with maps and has a great sense of direction, so he is always leading us around on our adventures. For his wedding day gift, I got him a Tiffany sterling silver compass. I had it engraved with our wedding date, our initials, and “Our Adventure.”
–Emily Yates

I ended up giving my husband a valet box filled with a few smaller, meaningful goodies. I designed the box myself, and asked my dad to build it using wood from some family land that I own. Then, I had a trophy shop make a plaque for the top with my husband’s monogram, and one for the inside of the lid with a personal note from me. I told my husband it was my way of bringing my past (family land) and present (my dad making it) together for something for the future (our marriage). My husband loved it and I’m hoping this will be something that will become a legacy piece that will be handed down to our children at some point.
–Christian Howell

Since I was fifteen years old, every month I have written love letters to my “future husband,” telling him about my life, my heart, how much I already love him, and how I am already praying for him. I continued writing throughout our courtship and engagement. The day of our wedding, I put the letters in envelopes and tied everything up with pretty ribbon. There was one he was supposed to open before I walked down the aisle, and the rest of the letters we read together on our honeymoon and are still reading today. He said it was the best gift he has ever received and that the letters are still so precious to him.
–Caroline Willis

I bought the vows print from the SW shop and had it framed for Bradley. It now hangs in our bedroom next to a huge canvas of our favorite wedding portrait and serves as a reminder of the vows we took that day.
–Jennifer Cantrell

Photo by Mandy Busby from Elise and Paul’s wedding

As my gift to Robert, I needlepointed a classic, black and white cummerbund. I designed the pattern before we were even engaged, and I spent our whole engagement year stitching in secret. It brought me so much joy to give a gift that I know my husband will treasure forever!
–Caroline Jones

I gave my husband a large, framed picture of a sunrise we watched together while camping on top of a mountain before we got engaged. It was a favorite memory of ours and a gorgeous image. The photograph had been stored on our laptop for years and would probably still be in a folder on our desktop if I hadn’t printed it as his gift!
–KJ Boyer

Joining our money was a topic of ongoing discussions throughout our dating life and engagement. (I’m a spender and he’s a saver.) For his gift, I had a money clip engraved with “The joining of bank accounts. Zachary & Olivia. April 28, 2017.” I filled it with some cash just for him, but I think he ended up buying souvenirs for me on our honeymoon! My dad always carried a money clip, and I thought gifting my new husband one was a sweet nod to my past and Zach’s new role.
–Olivia Denhoff

Friends, I’d love to hear: if you gave your husband a gift on your wedding day, what was it? Please chime in below!

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Melissa Mackvick reply

    My husband and I LOVE to travel and have been to a number of places together, so I knew from the moment we got engaged that I wanted to give him something related to our travels but I had no idea what! After months of researching and gathering ideas, I ordered a large custom map of the world that said “World Travels of the Mackvicks” at the top. It also came with pins in different colors that you could put into the map to indicate your next destination, your favorite trip, where you’ve been together, etc. It now hangs in his office and surrounding the map are photographs and pieces of artwork we’ve taken or collected from our trips!

  2. avatar Kathryn Widman reply

    My husband and I would have never met if it wasn’t for Clemson University. We both went to college there, only a year apart, with a ton of mutual friends, but we never met. We didn’t meet until we had both moved to Washington, DC for jobs and were introduced at an Alumni Football Watching Event at a local bar, became friends, and months later started dating. I’ve had my Clemson class ring since before I even graduated, but he never got one. I’ve known for almost the entire 5 years of dating that I was going to gift him this on our wedding day. Almost all of his guy friends have one and Clemson is what brought us together, so I always knew. Over the years, I thought he would either buy one for himself or guess that he would get it from me eventually, but he was totally shocked (and emotional) when he opened it up at our First Look. It’s one of my favorite memories from our Wedding Day. Now we both have our Clemson rings. And our photographer got some great shots! {We also wrote each other notes for that morning to read and he gave me a lovely gold necklace from a family-owned jeweler in Charleston, SC where I’m from to remind me of home}. It wasn’t about the gifts, but what they meant to us.

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about the urgency of wedding planning – that if you do it right, you only get one chance, but if you do it right, you only need one chance.

I also shared that I feel confident we (John and I) “did it right” – that we honored our one precious and beautiful wedding day, and that the meaning we found in that celebration has buoyed our marriage for the last five years.

But on a practical note, how did we create a meaningful wedding day? I think the answer of what makes a wedding day meaningful will be different for everyone, but today I would love to share with you ten things that made our wedding day meaningful. Hopefully they will get your wheels turning for your own!

1. Our wedding location. We both grew up and our relationship was born on the New England shore. It’s where I feel most at home, the place from which we both set out into the world, and the landscape I find most beautiful. Getting to share one of our favorite places with our far-flung guests was very special.

2. Our ceremony venue. We chose to get married at the chapel on the grounds of the Coast Guard Academy. My Dad was in the Coast Guard and taught at the Academy for most of my life, so I have years and years of fond memories with the base as a backdrop. I’m also kind of painfully patriotic (ha), so I loved being able to share this part of my heritage with our guests, some of whom might never have stepped foot on a military base before.

3. My bridal party. I chose four bridesmaids to stand beside me – my two sisters, and my two future sisters-in-law. I loved that my wedding gave me a chance to honor these amazing ladies, to recognize them as important people in my life, and to thank them for all they have done for me!

4. My veil. One of my sisters-in-law was married just two months before me, and she and I decided to have a veil commissioned. We both wore it at our weddings, and then one year later, my other sister-in-law wore it at hers! We are eagerly anticipating the next family wedding where it will make an appearance, and I’m already hoping my daughter and nieces will choose to wear it one day! I deeply value family traditions and legacy, so it was very meaningful to me to get to create a family heirloom from scratch.

5. Our portrait location. Bear with me here :) There is a very crazy story about how we came to take our portraits at a particular home, but the upshot is that it totally strengthened my belief that dreams can come true and that most people are generous and kind, something that has changed the way I move through the world ever since.

6. Our pastor. Our pastor from our church in North Carolina agreed to fly to Connecticut to officiate our ceremony, and it was without a doubt one of the most meaningful parts of our wedding. He has played such a formative role in our faith walk, and his presence and gentle guidance helped our ceremony stay centered on Christ.

7. Serving communion. We served communion directly following our vows. We chose to see the symbolism in our first act as a married couple being one of serving others while honoring our Lord, especially since we chose to serve our parents and grandparents first. We loved seeing so many beloved and familiar faces coming forward, and it was really special to have a brief moment with each individual guest.

8. Our cocktail hour picnic. Instead of joining our guests at cocktail hour, John and I had a picnic, just the two of us! Our caterers packed up a sampling of everything that was being served that evening, and we got 15 minutes or so to simply bask in our newly-married glow. Those few minutes are an iron-clad memory in my mind, and I’m so grateful.

9. Creating an aesthetic experience. I am an unapologetic lover of beautiful things and singular experiences, and it was a true joy to plan so carefully for so long and then to see all of my dreams and plans come to fruition under that perfectly blue September sky. Thoughtfully creating an immersive experience and then getting to enjoy it alongside our loved ones was very meaningful for me.

10. Giving a toast. At our reception, both John and I gave brief toasts. I believe deeply in saying the words that truly matter, and so I very carefully considered how I would thank and honor both my parents and John’s parents. Though I’ve had occasion both before and after to do the same, I think the sentiment shared in that setting will always hold more weight than any other.

I could go on, but I’ll stop there :) Though I’m sure your list of ways to make your wedding meaningful will be different than mine, I hope my experience might help get your wheels turning! I’m cheering you on!! :)

All photos by Tanja Lippert

P.S. Want to breeze past the logistics and budget to dos so you can focus on what matters most? Pick up a copy of the Joyful Wedding Planner ASAP – hundreds of brides have used it to plan their weddings, and I couldn’t recommend it more!

emily Written with love by Emily
4 Comments
  1. avatar Mollie reply

    I love the idea of a picnic after the ceremony, but I must ask… how did you get photos done and have time for a picnic!?

    • avatar Emily reply

      Hi Mollie! Haha happy to offer some insight! Our cocktail hour was about 1 hour. We used 15 minutes for our picnic, then the other 45 for portraits! Then we joined our reception! :)

  2. avatar Kirsti reply

    Thank you, Emily for sharing these tips! My fiancé and I have tried to keep our focus when making decisions during our planning process for our May 2018 wedding to have a wedding that truly represents us!

  3. avatar Kirsti reply

    Oh my goodness gracious! I just read your post Dreams Do Come True and it’s like we are soul mates! This is EXACTLY how I found my wedding venue – a lot of scouring on Google and then writing letter and eventually meeting with the oh so sweet owners that are willing to let us invite 200 of our guests to their home in May!

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