For me, tears come at the rehearsal, not the wedding. My husband is a pastor, so I've been to a lot of wedding rehearsals.
At the wedding, the bride and groom focus on looking just right and avoiding mistakes. But at the rehearsal, they're relaxed and comfortable, surrounded by their closest friends and family.
When the couple practice their vows, the enormity of the love they share and the commitment they are making hits them for the first time. That's when I cry.
To celebrate Valentine's Day, I want to tell you about two couples who know about the commitment of marriage. Together, they represent more than a century of wedded bliss.
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Hugh and Frances Blair will celebrate their 57th anniversary in July. They married young by today's standards: She was 17, and he was 20. They met at church and dated a year and a half before marrying. They've lived in several states, run two businesses and raised a family.
Bill and Geraldine White, both Mount Pleasant natives, have been married 59 years. Geraldine says she met Bill in seventh grade. After dating about a year, they married at ages 16 and 18. With a couple of friends, they drove to South Carolina to marry.
Geraldine says weddings were quieter then, compared to today's lavish affairs.
When I asked these couples how they've stayed married so long, they gave similar answers: They don't think it's anything remarkable. Both say you rely on God for help, and you persevere.
When you love someone, Geraldine White said, you devote yourself to them. You take care of one another no matter what happens.
Frances Blair talked about how important it is to work out your problems. If you leave a relationship, you'll just take your same old problems into a new one. She's always worked through challenges, and her approach to marriage is the same: Do what you have to do.
Both couples have faced ordinary and extraordinary challenges: economic struggles, health concerns and the loss of a child. Through it all, they've supported, encouraged and loved one another.
After all those years of marriage, the Blairs and the Whites celebrate Valentine's Day without much fuss. Both say they usually go out to eat, and Hugh Blair gives his bride roses. Geraldine White says she and Bill don't bother with gifts anymore since they have everything they need.
On the surface, there's nothing too remarkable about Hugh and Frances Blair and Bill and Geraldine White. They enjoy their grandchildren, help out at church and enjoy hobbies.
But they are remarkable for what they can teach us about true love: It is a commitment to stay together no matter what comes. Happy Valentine's Day to them and to you!