The Glory of the Wedding Dress

When my daughter was searching for a wedding dress, she first had in mind something in a slim, restrictive mermaid cut.  But at the bridal shop, she donned a ball gown that was more reminiscent of Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.  She stepped up on a platform that simulated high heels and allowed the full expanse of the skirts to be appreciated.   She looked comfortable, like herself, but bigger and freighted with meaning. The bodice was simple, with minimal decoration, but the skirt billowed and swirled.  It was as if her every movement was accompanied by exclamation points of tulle that said, “I am here!  See my glory!”

 

“This will be fun to dance in,” she said. “I think I should go big.” (Indeed, my husband said something similar, when he was asked why he appeared at our wedding wearing a suit of armor and riding a white horse:  “A wedding is not the time to hedge your bets.”)

 

In fact, all cultures mark the glory of the bride with magnificent dress. Christian brides tend to use white, which recalls the description of the coming Marriage Supper of the Lamb, described in the book of Revelation:

“Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready. It was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure.” (Rev 19:7-8).

 

Last week, my son also got married.  As is customary, he was not allowed to see the wedding dress until his bride appeared, walking down the aisle.  The wonder that such a beautiful woman would honor him by being his wife lit up his face like the beams of a sunrise. The bride, her numinous tulle spread out over the greensward of our outdoor chapel, pointed like an arrow to an even greater reality, the Church, redeemed and resplendent in union with Christ.  We stood in recognition of her presence. As Chrissie Hynde once sang in Message of Love, “When Love walks in the room, everybody stand up.”

 

Glory is a fullness of excellence, heavy and rich and deserving of honor.  The word sometimes describes the unapproachable brightness of God, his overpowering presence.  As explained in Sam’s last post, Paul also calls a Greco-Roman woman’s hair her glory.  In Corinth, it was a glow, like a halo of pure gold around an angel or a saint.  In a different way, woman is then said to be the glory of man. By being willing to join herself with my son in marriage, his bride became a halo of favor around him.

 

This is the meaning of the wedding dress. It communicates the glow of glory of the Woman Clothed with the Sun in the book of Revelation, from which we learn that God can remake the world through one faithful woman, one faithful people, one faithful Church.

 

Jesus loves her and is coming back to restore her glory and to be with her forever.

 

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