Monday, October 20, 2008

My Most Ridiculous Wedding Experience Ever

Let me tell you about the wedding I officiated this weekend.  I'm calling it My Most Ridiculous Wedding Experience Ever.  And while I'm only 4 1/2 years into my ministry career, it'll be hard to top.

Right, so I've been meeting with this couple off and on over the past few months.  It was the groom's second marriage, the bride's first.  They've been together for 10 years or so already, and they have a 6-year-old son together.  But they wanted to formalize things.  And to that end, the bride.  Took.  Charge.

My first clue as to how this past weekend would go came during one consultation session when she basically took the UCC Book of Worship ceremony, metaphorically ripped it to shreds, and then finally said, "I'll send you copies of what I want read."  Other than my homily and one prayer, I basically had the entire liturgy handed to me.  I wasn't put off by it, really.  I made some suggestions about placement of the various pieces and explained why certain elements are usually included.  Besides that, I was okay with them (her) choosing words meaningful to the couple (her).

Fast forward to the rehearsal on Friday evening, which was scheduled for 5:00.  I sat in my office and heard various family and wedding party members trickle in, so I wandered out to greet them.  After a few minutes, the maid of honor's cellphone rings.  It's the bride saying that she and the groom are caught up in some last-minute details and will be about an hour late.



Not that it was time wasted.  I finished up my confirmation lesson, I tooled around on Facebook, I tweaked my sermon.  But it sure was a good thing that I didn't have any other plans.  The more I think about it, however, the more I think I'm going to introduce some kind of policy where the rehearsal starts when it's scheduled.  I don't know how to word it or ensure that people observe it, though.  Shoot...I figured that common courtesy took care of that to begin with.

So the bride and groom finally show up, and we rehearse.  So there's no chance that something completely absurd happens at the ceremony, right?

The ceremony is scheduled for 4:30.  They had a violinist play all their pre-wedding music (who was incredible, by the way), and then a CD for all the processional stuff.  So the violinist finishes and the CD starts.  An usher comes down to light the candleabras just like we practiced, and then it's time for the moms to be seated.  I keep looking for the moms.  There's no movement by the moms.  They're all just standing back there.

Finally, an usher walks to the back to tell me that the ringbearer (the couple's son) doesn't have his shoes and the bride refuses to let the ceremony proceed until someone drives out to get them (at least a 20-minute drive both ways).  Meanwhile, that one song on the CD keeps playing over and over and over.  Judging by the guests' chatter, I know that they're starting to figure out that something is up as well.  The bride's mom finally stands up front to explain, which doesn't seem to thrill them.

Well, long story short (about 45 minutes longer than it should have been), the ringbearer finally gets his shoes, they get married.  Afterwards I have assorted family members, including the groom, apologize to me for what happened.

The bride didn't, though.  I thought that was significant.

P.S. I originally was going to call this My Worst Wedding Experience Ever, but I decided that Most Ridiculous would be more fitting.  This is because the whole thing was so absurd that I can only laugh about it now.  And it's a great story.  At the same time, if anyone needed any more proof of how self-serving and wrong-headed the wedding enterprise has become, I offer the above.


Anonymous said...

I read your blog daily, but have never commented. Until now. I have been to several ridiculous weddings, and have been thinking for several years, that the idea of the wedding has changed much for the worse lately. Having only sons, I won't be able to exercise my wisdom in "not allowing" such an event to occur in my life (too bad, huh?). I've seen a 40 year old third-time married woman who never got a "wedding" give herself the "wedding of the century", complete with her sons giving her away, a dress off the cover of Bride's magazine, five bridesmaids, a giveaway wedding CD of their favorite lovesongs, a program that read more like a senior prom than a wedding, etc., etc. I've seen a bride sing to her groom (she's a wannabe country singer, and I guess she saw an audience and couldn't resist). They rode to the reception in a horse and carriage. I'm sorry, but all this nonsense is nothing more than grown women who feel entitled to being "Princess for a Day" or something. It's really getting ridiculous. Perhaps as a minister, you can kind of ward this sort of theatrics off while you are counseling them. The sad thing is, without the theatrics, some of the brides have absolutely no other reason for getting married. Just my two cents. You hit a nerve.


LutherPunk said...

Ok, you should do a blog carnival where you invite clergy to tell their wedding horror stories and then provide links to them all. I know you will come up with some crazy stuff!

Don Niederfrank said...

I'm glad to have couples invested in the service, but like CJH I am turned off by most theatrics. Sometimes they have been authentic and that's fine. Sometimes they've been sad attempts at being a princess for a day because they've been treated like dirt other days.

The worst, of course, are the spoiled brats. And second to them are the vicarious mothers. I've used the sentence, "What happens in this sanctuary is finally up to me." to good avail.

Sometimes they couple and/or mom just don't know how to do a sane wedding and out of their anxiety overcompensate. It's absurd that our society asks a young woman to plan to the last detail a major social event which will involve her future in-laws and which will cost her (or her parents) way too much money and then we tell her it's "her day."

I always lay this out for brides. Sometimes they just start crying with the realization. I also tell couples that the increased stress as they approach the wedding is natural, appropriate to the situation and doesn't mean they're marrying the wrong person. :-)

I've nearly stopped doing non-member weddings.

Oh, and coffeepastor, when you're working on the policy it should state that the church will not be opened for the wedding until the fees are paid, including yours. I'm still waiting for a check from an August wedding. (In a Jack Benny voice, "Gee, the seemed so nice!")