|My Very First Wedding
all remember our "first's": First kiss, first real date, etc. And I
remember my very first wedding ceremony.
I was a newly ordained Roman priest and the following week I was at my first
assignment. Among other things, I inherited the weddings the previous associate
pastor have scheduled and the first wedding I performed was the following weekend.
The couple were old enough to be my parents. It was a second marriage for both. Both their
spouses died of cancer and they met
in the grief support group.
I was more nervous than they were. During the vows I had the personal pronouns switched
("her" instead of "him" and vice versa), but I quickly corrected
myself. Right after the vows I turned the microphone off. The couple were then to go to
light the Unity Candle off to the side. But before they went, the bride - in a
sweet, motherly voice - whispered to me as she put her hand on my arm: "Oh Father
Steve, you don't have to be so nervous!"
I almost laughed out loud at the advice!
Usually it's the officiant who tells the couple that!
(or: "What Was On Your Mind?!?!")
One of the vows couples may choose for their wedding ceremony includes the lines:
"I will laugh with you in the good times
and struggle with you in the bad."
At one wedding, the groom repeated the first line correctly:
"I will laugh with you in the good times"
However, the second line, the groom said:
"and struggle with you in the bed."
Unaware of his mistake, the groom innocently looked out at the wedding guest's hysterical
laughter...which made everybody laugh all the harder. I had to make an instant
pastoral decision to either have him repeat the line or just let it go.
By the time the laughter subsided, I decided to just let it go.
I didn't want to embarrass him at such a crucial point in the ceremony and I reflected
that making a life-long promise to "struggle" with one's spouse in bed can
indeed be a worthwhile vow....
Since then however, I have substituted "bad times" to the line,
to spare a future groom from speaking what may be on his mind.
Yes, Virginia, (Just as there is a Santa Claus)
Brides Do Faint at Weddings!
When I first started to perform weddings as a Roman priest, at least one person fainted
at a ceremony every year. When fainting occurs, I asked some of the wedding party to take
the fainted person to the sacristy (side room off the sanctuary) where water and some hard
candy was available. To lighten-up the situation, I would then say to the horrified
guests: "And you thought this only happened in the movies!" and everybody would
Since then, I have learned from a nurse a fool-proof way to prevent the wedding party from
fainting and since I have shared this good advice to the wedding party at rehearsals, (I
humorously refer to
the "dirty F-word" during rehearsals - FAINTING) I haven't had a single fainting
situation during the last two hundred or so weddings.
A Theatrical Wedding
I had the privilege of performing a wedding at the Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud. The
Paramount was built about 1900 and had a charm unique to a building from that era,
ornately decorated and restored to it's original splendor.
The couple cordoned off the first three or four rows in front of the stage so that the
family wouldn't have to crane their necks looking up at the couple and wedding party.
After the processional, but before the welcoming address, I remarked that even though this
wedding is in a theatre it really felt like church to me - everybody was sitting in back!
A Wedding at the Zoo
I recently performed a wedding at the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley. No, it wasn't
outside on Monkey Island! It was inside in the fish aquarium area. As usual, I was
about 45 minutes early for the wedding, waiting for the bride and groom and wedding party
to arrive. I looked at the various exhibits and fish - it was very interesting! I was
rather disappointed though that the two dolphins in the dolphin tank were pretty shy -
they were out of sight, resting or sleeping at the top of the tank.
Eventually everybody came and the couple wanted the ceremony to be right in front of the
dolphin tank. So I took my place with my back to the tank and the ceremony began.
During the ceremony I felt that the wedding party and guests were a little
"distracted". I didn't know why. Everybody reacted positively to my humor, so I
know it wasn't me.
Immediately after the ceremony, "everyone" was excited to tell me that during
the ceremony the two dolphins began to swim around and do pinwheels and put on quite a
show. By the time I looked behind me, the dolphins were out of sight again. So even the
dolphins were "swimming with joy" during the ceremony!
I would like to think that it was my sparkling personality and terrific homily the couple
selected (the dolphins started to do pinwheels when I said "we are exuberant"
for the couple at the beginning of the homily) that caused the dolphins to celebrate with
us. Well, I can hope this was the case, can't I?
|Cell Phone Forgetfulness
one wedding I performed, the best man's cell phone went off just before the groom was to
repeat the first line of his vows after me. There was dead silence as the best man fumbled
to turn the ringer off. The bride and groom both had a smirk on their faces.
With the microphone on, I turned from standing in front of the couple and stood in front
of the best man. In the most serious voice I could muster, I said to him: "You know
Brian, you'll never going to live this one down!" Everybody broke out in laughter.
The Rolling Ring Caper
I remember at one wedding the best man fumbled with the wedding rings as he took them
out of his pant's pocket and dropped them on the hard linoleum floor. The bride's ring
fell flat on the floor; however, the groom's ring started to roll away...to the floor
heating vent about five feet away. I muttered to the best man that he'd better "take
a dive for it". Thankfully, the best man had a good eye and quick movements so
that he grabbed the ring before it disappeared in the vent!
Being Late at His Own Rehearsal
Rehearsal was set at 5:00 pm at Irvine Park near downtown Saint Paul. Everybody was
there on time, except for the groom. 5:15 - no groom; 5:30 - no groom. The bride,
Kathryn, started to get worried - as all of us were. I was afraid that Christopher
was involved in a car accident. Kathryn called Christopher on her cell phone. "Where
A few minutes later Kathryn told us that Christopher couldn't sleep the night before so he
decided to take an afternoon nap and forgot to set the alarm clock. Kathryn woke him
up! Because he had to drive from Plymouth through Friday rush hour traffic to get to
downtown Saint Paul, the rehearsal really didn't start until almost 6:30. Instead of being
angry with him, we were all relieved and thankful he was there!
The Shotgun Wedding I Did...
Yes, I did perform a shotgun wedding.
It was at the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club in Prior Lake. The couple were young
sweethearts, "from high school" sort to speak.
During the seating of guests at the outside covered shelter, one could hear loud
"popping" sounds (I could even hear them with my hearing aids turned off!).
After the processional music ended and before the welcoming,
I said: "Periodically during the ceremony you will hear 'popping' sounds. Those are
the sounds of skeet shooters firing their shotguns in an effort to shoot down clay
targets. But let me reassure everyone that this is not a 'shotgun wedding!'"
I had to wait a few minutes for the laughter to subside....
The Largest Wedding I Had
The largest wedding I had was that for a Hispanic couple.
For Hispanics, a wedding is an especially important family event and family members are
involved as much as possible. The guests numbered about 300 people. And the wedding party
The wedding party consisted of four flower girls, two ring bearers, a dozen bridesmaids
and a dozen groomsmen, the maid of honor and the best man, plus the bride and groom.
Thirty-four (34) people in the wedding party! I felt like a choreographer or movie
director during rehearsal! I needed
The Smallest Wedding I Had
The smallest wedding I had was at the couple's home. The groom was Danish (living in
the U.S. for a dozen years), the bride was American. Just immediate family were invited -
all together about a dozen people. The couple wanted their mothers to be their legal
witnesses (both fathers were deceased), so they stood on either side of me opposite their
son/daughter who stood opposite us a pace away.
As the groom started to repeat his vows after me, he started to cry - copious tears were
streaming down his cheeks. Each word of his vows came out very slowly and laboriously as
his lips were quivering with emotion. It was very moving. Even though his mother was
crying as well, she reached under her sleeve and pulled out a spare handkerchief and gave
it to him.
Then the bride repeated her vows after me and she started to cry - copious tears streaming
down her cheeks, lips quivering with emotion. Her mother was crying as well, but pulled
out her spare handkerchief and gave it to her.
By the time the vows were said, I was overcome with emotion and I was crying. And the
family were crying.
We were all crying....
A Word of Warning on Your Wedding Night...
A couple whose wedding I performed e-mailed me after they returned from their honeymoon
to share their wedding night experience with me. I pass it on to you as a word of warning.
To inhance the romantic atmosphere of their wedding night, the couple lit a number of
candles and turned the lights off. No too long into the evening, the smoke from all the
candles set off the hotel's smoke alarm and soon the Minneapolis Fire Department was
pounding on their door.
It was quite embarrassing as the couple was in the wedding suite and had to scrambled out
of bed. They had to vacate the suite for an ordinary room.
So a word of warning for newly-weds at a hotel:
GO EASY ON THE CANDLES!