Wedding receptions may be rife with fun and excitement, but it’s the ceremony that serves as the heartbeat of the big day. The first kiss, the reading of the vows, the exchanging of wedding rings, the confetti toss—there’s nothing like these tender moments to evoke all the feels. A wedding may spill with emotion from beginning to end, but the feelings peak during the ceremony—it doesn’t get more real than when you’re literally promising to spend the rest of your life with someone. And when those emotions are captured unfiltered on camera by a great photographer, what could be more priceless?
Seriously, what melts your heart more than a crying groom? Not much, we think, but there are a few close seconds—a bride’s emotional reading of her vows or her reaction to hearing her partner’s vows, the significance of slipping the wedding rings on each finger, the timeless beauty of religious ceremonies, and those intimate touches, coveted looks, and in-between moments you just can’t put into words. While we love a good posed photo, these natural shots are must-haves that will be cherished forever.
We’ve gathered it all—from excitement and joy to the heartfelt and compassionate, there’s some serious wedding ceremony magic right here that promises to tug on your heartstrings.
Marleni couldn't help shedding a few tears as she read her vows to Ezinne. Unplanned, in each of their vows they talked about the day they first met and the major impact it had on them.
The look of pure joy on Derek and Jake's faces during their Palm Springs ceremony is infectious. There was not a dry eye during their vow exchange, and it's easy to see why.
Help From a Handkerchief
This pair made ample use of their handkerchief, which was passed back and forth between the two of them during their ceremony. They just couldn't keep a dry eye!
Marvin and Serena held each other in a warm embrace after exchanging rings and sharing their first kiss as newlyweds. The stunning view of Moab that backdropped their ceremony creates a scene straight out of a movie.
These two holding hands and snuggling up close during their ceremonial reading is the epitome of love. Sam and David just can’t let go of each other—and we adore every bit of their sweet embrace.
Alix and Anwar's ceremony concluded with a cheerful song as they recessed back up the aisle. These two were all grins as they made their way under falling flower petals to the tune of Kerwin Du Bois’s “Too Real.”
One More Kiss
When the couple just has to stop in the middle of the aisle for another kiss. There wasn't one bit of Pichon and Marcelle's wedding that was short on the romance.
We love a bride and groom who know how to have a good time. This elated pair is basking in that just-married glow.
A Glimpse of the Bride
Sometimes the first look is best kept for this very moment. The blissful sight of his soon-to-be-wife, Christina, heading down the aisle had Corey in tears.
Hands to the Sky
Presenting the newlyweds—this couple is seriously ready for their happily ever after. We love the energy and excitement in this photo.
Laughing and Crying
From tears to laughter, this vow reading is the best kind there is. Safe to say this intimate elopement is full of all the feels.
Tears of Joy
We love the juxtaposition of a smiling groom and officiant with a tear-dabbing bride. Though it was only a two-person wedding, there was definitely no shortage of emotion during Candice and Matthew's hilltop nuptials.
Letters From Loved Ones
This couple used their best friend as their officiant; he collected letters from their loved ones and read them during their elopement as a sweet surprise. As anyone might imagine, the tears started to fall.
Second Cry of the Day
Danielle and Rodney had an incredibly emotional first look earlier in the day, which had both parties crying on sight. We just love the fact that Rodney teared up again for his lovely bride during the ceremony.
Readings From the Soul
There wasn't a dry eye in sight while Brogen and David professed their love for one another. A combination of personally written vows and the groom's recital of a Plato passage on soulmates did these two in at the altar.
Groom Catches Bride's Tears
This bride got a little emotional while reading her vows, leading to this pure moment when her sweet groom reached across to wipe her tears. Talk about goals!
Crying During the Recessional
The love in this photo speaks volumes. Nothing makes our hearts melt like a groom shedding a few tears—and all the way back up the aisle, no less.
A bride’s tears are equally moving. When captured in black and white, the emotion is immediately made timeless.
Religious ceremonies never fail to create the most intimate and sacred of moments. These two are wrapped into one as they join in matrimony and spirit.
These smiles tell the story of pure happiness and a giddy kind of love. Alice and Armin just can't put those wedding rings on fast enough!
Like a Movie
There’s something magically romantic about a rose petal toss as the couple makes their exit down the aisle. While it looks like the immaculately executed closing scene of a romantic film, this cinematic moment is just the beginning of Celia and Michael's happy ever after.
Giving Away the Bride
We love a good father-of-the-bride moment, and we love a good bride-and-groom moment. But everything all in one? Goosebumps.
That feeling when you literally become connected. The cheery bubbles top off this pair's merry moment.
Putting on the Rings
This groom could not be more ecstatic to marry his bride. After tearing up through the vows and ceremonial readings, Luis is more than ready for Noeme to put that ring on his finger.
First Kiss as Newlyweds
We can’t get enough of the palpable joy and smiles behind this first kiss, making for such a beautifully raw moment. And bonus points to the groom for this adorable face grab.
Caress of the Cheek
Is it a hair tuck? Is he wiping her tears? Either way, when a groom is reaching across the altar to touch his bride's face, our hearts melt a little.
Find someone who looks at you the way this handsome groom looks at his beautiful new wife. We can't get enough of how happy they look with those thousand-watt smiles.
High Five the Groom
When you high-five your best friend because you’ve got the girl. This is quite possibly the cutest capture we've ever seen.
Double the Tears
You know it's an emotional ceremony when both the bride and groom are wiping away tears at the same time. This one hits us right in the feels.
One of the most adorable parts of this photo is the way the bride is smiling while drying her eyes. A beautiful example of "tears of joy," and we feel it in our souls.
Married by the Bride's Sister
Having her sister marry her and Sakhe was so special to Upile. But it was actually the groom's idea to have her do it, "Meeting her moved him, and he couldn’t think of anyone better to help us join hands and futures," Upile recalls.
A Single Tear
That sole tear says it all—vows that tug at the heartstrings and will never be forgotten. The way these two are gazing into each other's eyes is also cause for some serious heart-melting.
Tying the Knot
How adorable are these two? This high five over (literally) tying the knot evokes elation that is more than contagious.
Vows for the Stepdaughters
If there was a single tear left unshed after Abe and Rachel exchanged their loving words, that was soon lost when the bride surprised everyone with another set of vows. “Rachel prepared special vows for the girls as well, which were heartfelt, genuine, and there were very few dry eyes afterward," Abe says.
Vulnerable and Sincere Vows
The look of sincerity is so evident between Dulce and Dennis as they recite their handwritten vows. "Our vows included a lot of anecdotes of our journey together, a lot of promises...but mostly, they included heartfelt words that brought us to tears, as they showed our most vulnerable selves, vowing love and respect for each other for the rest of our lives," Dulce says.