Professional wedding photographers regularly witness powerful displays of love and emotion as part of their job. So when the person behind the camera starts crying, you know there’s some seriously sentimental stuff unfolding before their eyes.
We asked photogs to share with us a wedding moment that moved them to tears. Below, 21 poignant images and the beautiful, and sometimes heartbreaking, stories behind them.
"This moment had me struggling to see straight through my camera. While planning her wedding, my bride's mother passed away and the whole day was full of mixed emotions of sadness and joy. In her memory, the couple had placed a large framed photograph of the mother of the bride in her seat, which is not uncommon. The moment that caught me off-guard was during the wedding ceremony when I stepped behind the altar to catch an alternate angle of the vows and saw the father of the bride, resting his hand on the frame, just as he would have held her hand had she been there. As he teared up, so did I." -- Ashley Gerrity
"This couple had a small, intimate wedding ceremony with only their immediate families present. When they shared their vows, they were extremely heartfelt and personal. There was no fanfare or performance. The groom spoke first to his mom and then to his soon-to-be wife. He shared thoughts from a letter he had written to his mom about how he had found the love of his life. It showed the depth of his love and the thought that went into his relationship. The respect and love he had for the important women in his life was touching and enough to bring tears to our eyes." -- Marc and Brenda Bergreen
"Sophia and Sean had decided to give each other gifts before seeing each other for their first look. When Sophia opened her gift from Sean, she saw it was a scrapbook. The minute I saw her bring her hand up to her mouth and her eyes begin to fill with tears, I could barely see through the viewfinder myself. Sean had given her a scrapbook filled to the brim with memories they had shared together with the promise of many more." -- Michelle Lieb
"Matthew and Jamie are two gorgeous people with hearts made of gold, and seeing them walk down the aisle with their two little girls, pure happiness radiating on their faces as they were about to exchange their words of devotion -- there wasn't a single dry eye in sight. There's just something so captivating about two people who love each other so deeply that their own joy and emotions make you feel warm and fuzzy inside." -- Lauren Laveria
"Robert and Meg met each other 30+ years ago. They had a great love, broke up, lost touch, married other people, had adventures and families, suffered losses, and then – when they were both were single again and had comfortably accepted that it was their destiny to be alone – found each other again." -- Nicole Chan
"Vinita hugging her brother (with her father in the background) after her wedding ceremony. It's a traditional part of the Sikh ceremony where the bride's family does a farewell called the 'doli'." -- Gurminder Banga
"Lydia and Brandon tied the knot with Brandon’s adorable 7-year old-daughter in tow. Lydia wrote special vows just for her and read them during the ceremony. Not a dry eye in the crowd -- including me." -- Jennifer Smith
"I said to [the groom] Adrian, 'I have a question for you, but I want you to tell the answer to Roslyn and not me.' I continued, '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?' In a matter of moments I could start seeing Roslyn's eyes glisten, then the most beautiful tears streamed down her face. Then I found myself crying. Oh love, you are oh so precious." -- James Day
"Karen and Becky planned a Christmas wedding at their church where they were finally able to marry after a decades-long romance. I cried behind my camera during the entire ceremony and a guest towards the back of the church offered me tissues." -- Leah Moyers
"I almost always cry during ceremonies, but this moment especially got ahold of me because of the sweet connection Jena, the bride, had with her dad! He spent months building this treehouse deck and clearing some of his land for their wedding and everything was so beautiful. It was a huge labor of love and he dreamed about walking her down to her groom the whole time he built it. To see the pride and love on his face during that moment, and the loving look on her face seeing her groom, it completely took my breath away!" -- Abbi Hearne
"Britt and Allison were so excited to share their day with their favorite people in their favorite place on the Cape. They even spent months handpicking a postcard for each guest for their escort cards and wrote a personalized note on the back of every one! After months and months of hard work, their day had arrived. The morning of, they got ready in adjacent rooms so they could surprise each other. As Britt walked up to Allison for their first look, I saw that Allison was trying to hold it together but as soon as she saw her beautiful bride, that overwhelming feeling gave way." -- Karen Eng
"This picture, taken at a father-daughter first look, made me cry not once, but twice. When the bride's father walked in the room and saw his daughter in her wedding dress, he was immediately overcome with emotions. The bride thanked her father for the dress and for giving her the dream wedding. In return, he simply said thank you for being such a wonderful daughter. Later on, when I was in the car with the bride, she shared the story of her dress and how she had been to so many stores to find the perfect one. The one designer store she had not been to yet (but was totally in love with) was very expensive, and she thought she couldn’t afford anything there. When her father heard of this, he took her there and bought both his daughters and his wife outfits from their favorite designer. Seeing this outfit on her was so overwhelming for him as well as for her." -- Priyanca Rao
"This wedding was like a dream and definitely made me cry. Some of these people you see in these photos were their friends but many were random onlookers at Burning Man. The emotion and connection was unreal. Magical. You can feel the love in the photos." -- Steph Grant
"The bride and groom sat back-to-back on a swing so they wouldn't see each other, as they read love letters to each other before getting married. It was the sweetest thing ever ." -- Jill Tiongco
"I was ugly-crying at this moment. Backstory: Three years ago, my friend passed away before he knew he was about to become a father to this beautiful little girl. Tomás delivered his vows to Fina and her 2-year-old daughter, promising to honor her father and always be her daddy." -- Justin Haugen
"Brit and Lisa's daughter gave a toast at their wedding. She made a moving speech, noting how they've always felt like family, and it only feels right that it's official. There were tears from everyone, but especially her moms." -- Liv Lyszyk
“As familiar as we get with emotional moments at weddings, there is always something very touching when the groom cries.” -- George Fotopoulos
"I have a younger daughter so when the daughter and dad see each other on the wedding day is such a special moment for me. The bride got ready at her parents' house and she walked down the stairs to see her dad. I always try to talk with Dad prior so he knows this is the last moments he gets to spend with his daughter before she's married, so to enjoy it and don’t be afraid to show emotion. So the bride is crying, the dad is crying, and I am crying. Thank god for autofocus." -- Brian Mullins
"This image shows a simple moment between a mother and her son during their reception dance. But I was crying as I took it, as were all family members witnessing this moment. Just days before the wedding, the groom’s mother discovered that her brain cancer was inoperable and that she only had weeks to live. She didn’t want to impact her son’s wedding, so she shared the news with the immediate family, but not with her son, the groom. I was told the news when I arrived to photograph the wedding and I spent the day trying to keep it together as I tried my best to create important photographs." -- Rob Greer
"The couple giving the toast is a simple photograph, but during that speech they announced that all the gifts and proceeds from their wedding will be donated to help kids in Nepal get a better education. I thought this was so absolutely selfless and thoughtful for such a young couple." -- Mari Harsan
"This was the moment Kate turned around and saw Natasha in her dress for the first time. She was full of emotion to see her beautiful bride, and there truly wasn't a dry eye around!" -- True Photography
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.