Emotions run high at most weddings. At mine, my husband Daniel and I wrote our own vows, and as I read them to him, I burst into tears. Our photographer captured a picture of my sister Rachel delicately wiping a tear from her cheek as she watched.
Sometimes, a wedding is more than just a joining of two people who love each other. It’s an opportunity for family members to show each other how much they care, to enjoy their last moments together in the face of debilitating illness, or to live out their deeply held dreams with all of their friends and family as witnesses.
Sometimes a wedding moment holds so much emotion that you can’t watch it without crying. That’s how I felt when I saw these.
A mother’s letter from 20 years ago
When Brooke Zugg was 18 months old, her adopted mom, Sherry Blackledge, wrote a letter to her baby daughter. “We just want you to know how very much love and happiness you have brought to us,” she wrote. “You have made us a truly great family.”
Then she saved the letter for over 20 years, giving it to Zugg on her wedding day. “Being adopted,” Blackledge said in the video, “I wanted [her] to know how much I loved her, and I thought it would be extremely precious when she opened it up on her wedding day.”
Blackledge gave her daughter the letter as she prepared for her wedding. As Zugg lifted the letter — stitched into a piece of her mom’s wedding dress — out of a box, tears were already welling up in her eyes. Then she gently took the letter in her hand and read it. The video cut to the two women hugging and crying together — a sight that brought me to tears, as well.
The bride told The Huffington Post, “There isn’t a word for the emotion I was feeling at this point. If someone could come up with a word that encompassed excited, humbled, speechless, joyful, shocked and genuinely loved, then that would be the word to use.”
Two fathers put aside their differences
While your wedding can be the happiest day of your life, it can also be fraught with family drama. Brittany Peck, close to both her father, Todd Bachman, and her stepfather, Todd Cendrosky, felt that tension on her wedding day. Brittney’s parents divorced when she was six years old, and her father did not get along with her new stepfather.
Cendrosky also felt emotional leading up to his stepdaughter’s wedding. Peck told Today, “My stepdad is a very emotional person. He cried for a week straight until my wedding, to my mom. He was like, ‘I have a tux, but I don’t have anything special to do.'” He thought of Peck as his own daughter, and was hurt that he wouldn’t have a role in the wedding procession.
That’s why Peck felt so emotional when, right before she and Bachman were supposed to walk down the aisle, he told her he would be right back and brought Cendrosky over to join them. Cendrosky told CBS Sunday Morning that Bachman said, “You’re going to come and help me walk our daughter down the aisle.” Cendrosky cried as he joined Bachman in the wedding procession, and after they delivered their daughter to her groom, the two men hugged.
Most weddings join two families — the bride’s and the groom’s. But Bachman’s actions healed the divide in the bride’s own family, as well.
A deployed U.S. Marine surprises his sister
The night before Sarah Atwood’s wedding, she wept in her mother’s arms. Her brother, Daniel, a United States Marine on deployment, wouldn’t be able to make it to her wedding. She and Daniel are best friends, and he was going to miss the most important day of her life.
But, at the last minute, Daniel was able to get a one-day leave from service so that he could attend his sister’s wedding. He surprised her as she posed for photos before the wedding. As soon as she saw him, she put her hand to her mouth and burst into tears, saying, “Oh my gosh.”
The siblings enjoyed a long hug, after which she asked him if he was able to stay for the wedding. “I go back tomorrow,” Daniel told his sister. “You look beautiful.” Then the video panned to the other members of the Atwood family, all of whom were struggling to hold back tears.
“I was kind of confused,” Sarah said in the video. “Because people were acting really funny. Everyone was looking around the corner, and I was just, like, ‘Is something wrong and they’re just not trying to tell me so I don’t stress out?'” No, they were just waiting for her wedding day to get that much better.
An unforgettable father-daughter dance
Andrea Stocking’s father, Mark Middleton, died of pancreatic cancer months before her wedding day. Knowing that the father-daughter dance would be hard for his sister, Stocking’s brother, Nick Middleton, prepared a special song for her. He recorded himself singing “Butterfly Kisses,” and then invited all of the important men in Andrea’s life dance to with her. In the video, he explained, “I wanted to do something special for Andrea. And not only for Andrea, but for Dad, because he would be elated to be here today.”
Middleton told Today, “The significance was that our older sister Kristen had actually danced [to ‘Butterfly Kisses’] with dad at her wedding years prior. So I had the thought to do something special to kind of fill the void that was going to be there for her special day.”
As Stocking took to the dance floor with her grandfather on her father’s side, she covered her mouth, sobbing into her hand. She then danced with both of her brothers, Luke and Nick, and then, with her new father-in-law, Scott.
Stocking told Today that she still can’t watch the video without crying. “I don’t watch it when people show it — and his mom likes to show it a lot. I leave the room. As soon as I hear Nick’s voice, the waterworks begin.”
His last wish was to marry her
Just months after 29-year-old Rowden Go proposed to his girlfriend, Leizel May, he found out he had stage IV liver cancer. The video’s description explains that the couple had planned to get married on the groom’s 30 birthday, but pushed up the wedding so that Go could receive his last wish — to be married in front of his friends and family. When Go’s health began rapidly declining, the family took action and prepared the wedding in less than 12 hours.
The bride and groom said their vows in Go’s hospital room. Family members pushed Go’s bed down the “aisle” and then May followed with their two year old daughter. Everyone cried as May held his hand in both of hers, and family members fanned his face. Go was unable to sit up, so after saying vows, his new wife bent down to kiss him on the lips.
Go died ten hours after his beautiful wedding, which his brother Hasset described as a “heartbreaking fairytale.” Tragically, Hasset also passed away at age 29 from the same type of liver cancer, according to their brother Hisham’s Go Fund Me Page. Hisham, age 27, has also been diagnosed with liver cancer and is raising donations to receive treatment for the disease.
He was overcome with emotion
When Gabriel Deku saw his soon-to-be wife, Annabel, walking down the aisle, he dissolved into tears. He couldn’t stop crying the entire time she approached him, her face covered with a sheer veil. As he cried, others began weeping, including many women in Annabel’s bridal party, who you can see turning away and dabbing their faces with emotion.
His best man embraced him and said, “Stand up, stand up, stand up. This is your moment, man. You look at her.” By the time Annabel arrived at the front of the church, there was not a dry eye in the house, including her own.
In a video they made to explain why Gabriel was crying, the couple shared that they had been together for three years when they married: what started as a friendship, grew from there. They also decided to wait to have sex until they were married.
Annabel said, “I’ve never seen you cry like that before.” Gabriel claims he’s not a crier, but, he shared, “It’s more to do with true love. Just being in a relationship where the person loves you for who you are. Not because of what you’ve done for them, not because you deserve their love.” That kind of love is truly something to get weepy about.
His words brought her to tears
James Day, a wedding photographer in New South Wales, Australia, was taking a sunset shot of Adrian and Roslyn when he brought both himself and the bride to tears by asking a simple question. In his Facebook post, he recounted that he said to Adrian, “I have a question for you, but I want you to tell the answer to Roslyn and not me. Out of the billions of people on the planet, you’ve chosen to spend the rest of your life with Roslyn. Can you tell her why?”
When Adrian whispered the answer in Roslyn’s ear, she wept tears of joy. Then, even though Day couldn’t hear Adrian’s answer, he began crying, as well.
Day told the Huffington Post, “It wasn’t for me to hear. I had him whisper it in her ear because it’s for her ears only. I like that they were able to share that moment privately ― well, until it went viral on the internet.” As of today, the photo has over 62k shares and 273k reactions on Facebook.
A wedding night hug from her grandmother
After their wedding, Jessica and Tyler Brown didn’t go straight home. Instead, they stopped at the hospital, where Jessica’s 70 year old grandmother, Margaret Harris, lay in a bed, recovering from a heart attack she’d suffered the night before. Brown climbed into her grandmother’s bed with her, embracing the woman who had helped raise her.
Brown told ABC that not having her grandmother at her wedding was very difficult for her. “It was the equivalent of not having a parent there. This woman helped raise me and become who I am. She’s been there for everything.” She continued, “My granny is the sweetest woman and has a hug so full of love that it makes the whole world feel okay. To finally hug her lifted my heavy heart.”
Amanda Brown, sister-in-law of the groom, snapped this emotional photo as she cried along with Harris and Jessica. She and about eight other family members had joined the bride and groom in Harris’s hospital room.
He danced with his mom in her wheelchair
Luke Rheault brought the entire room to tears at his wedding when he danced with his mom, Rebekah, who had been diagnosed with ALS the year before. He wheeled her onto the dance floor, one of his hands in both of hers. Then he knelt down on the floor with her, kissed her on her head, and put his arm around her.
As he embraced his mother, Rheault’s bride, Kristeena, watched from the sidelines and wiped her tears. Then Rebekah burst into tears as well. Luke handed her a tissue and continued wheeling her around the dance floor.
According to the Huffington Post, Rebekah passed away less than a year after her son’s wedding, in September of 2009. But it wasn’t until March of 2015, seven years after her wedding, that Kristeena posted the video of the dance on YouTube. That’s when Luke watched the entire dance for the first time.
He told HuffPo, “I found myself reliving all that this woman did for me — everything that she embodied as a mother and everything she taught me to be. I tell it to everyone: ‘It’s a void that can never be filled.’ I’ve never considered myself to be a mama’s boy, but I’ve always appreciated everything she has done for me. Growing up and getting older enhances the power of those feelings.”
Paralyzed, she walks down the aisle
At age 21, Gina Springhower’s life changed forever with one car accident. She went from having her own gymnastics gym, to not being able to walk. “I went from being a 21-year-old, independent woman to being a 21-year-old infant,” Gina told USA Today.
She and John Springhower reconnected soon after. The two had attended the same high school but had never dated before. When he proposed a little over a year later, Gina decided that she would walk down the aisle at her wedding.
At CHI Health Center, Gina tackled months of therapy to teach her body to stand straight again, and then continued practicing walking with her dad, Gary, for months after that. In an interview with KETV, Gina said, “When you can’t feel anything and you’re doing something that you used to do, that you used to take for granted…and especially having Dad on my arm, it’s a floating that you can’t even explain. Everything just seems to feel so good.”
The couple didn’t tell anyone other than their close family members that Gina would be walking down the aisle. As her astonished friends and family looked on, Gina walked down the aisle in her special braces, and then stopped to hug Gary before standing next to her groom.
A grandfather’s toast over the phone
During her speech, Patia’s sister told her she was going to give her some marriage advice. But the advice didn’t come from her. Her face streaked with tears, she said that she had some advice from their grandfather, who had been married to their grandmother for 66 years. She began by reading advice from her grandfather that he gave her before the wedding, “What you’re about to get into is a 50/50 deal, no matter what anyone tells you. And if you ask anyone, no one has a clue what 50/50 means. So if everyone gives 60, you’ll be just fine.”
Then Patia’s father called her grandfather and held the phone up to her ear. “How are you?” Patia asked. “I’m doing real well for an old geezer,” her grandfather said. “How are you?” Laughing through her tears, she said, “I’m good. I’m at my wedding.”
He went on to offer words of wisdom, including, “I wish you many years to come, but the world has many things to offer, if you just take the time to smell the coffee.” As he signed off, saying, “I wish you the very best,” Patia wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. Her new husband leaned in and kissed her.
A celebration of love
Most people plan their weddings for months in advance. They take special care to select the best food and the most beautiful tablecloths, and spend weeks finding the perfect dress.
But weddings, at their best, are a chance to forge bonds and strengthen relationships, and not just between the two newlyweds. You just might bring the entire room — and millions of strangers — to tears, by the sheer power of love.