Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Wedding Blues

With Puss-in-Boots recently blogging about all that goes into a wedding—a hell of a lot—I began remembering the hundred plus weddings I have officiated since I was ordained some twenty years ago. I truly enjoy marrying people! It has been perhaps my greatest pleasure as an ordained minister. However, beginning with the first wedding I officiated way back in 1987, I have gone into the process (premarital counseling, rehearsal, ceremony, reception) knowing that if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong and at the worst possible moment.

For example:

Very early in doing wedding rehearsals I learned that the presence of mothers—especially of the bride, but sometimes even of the groom—can make the process very difficult, sometimes even disastrous. I have always been thankful that usually (unless the couple wants the mothers to light a unity candle during the service) the mothers of the groom and the bride are the last to be seated before the entry of the wedding party. Seated almost directly before my eyes where, if they decide to cause any mischief during the wedding itself, I am at least forewarned.

Now, at the rehearsal that is an entirely different matter. One mother of the bride became obsessed with the notion that the groom and his party were not to see the bride and her party prior to their entrance during the service. She and I had an ongoing discussion during the rehearsal regarding from whence the bride and her attendants were to enter the sanctuary.

I need to share a bit of information. St. John United Church of Christ in Cannelton, Indiana, is a building a bit over a hundred years old. It isn’t huge as churches go, but neither is it the little white church in the dell. The front doors of the church open into a small entrance way and then directly into the sanctuary. There are double wooden doors separating the entrance way from the isle leading to the chancel. There is also a small doorway in the back of the sanctuary that opens onto narrow, winding stairs that lead to the kitchen in the basement.

The momma of the bride kept countering my instructions that the bride’s party gather and organize itself in the entrance way behind the wooden doors, which could be opened by the ushers when the processional began. She wanted the party to come up the stairs from the basement so that absolutely no one could see the bride and her attendants prior to their walking down the isle. By the end of the rehearsal—all of which was done with the bride’s party entering from the entrance way—I thought everything was set.

Ha! At the beginning of the wedding ceremony the groom and his party entered with me from a room behind the altar. All of us stood with out eyes focused on those double doors at the end of the isle. The organist began the processional and nothing happened. The doors didn’t open! Then all of us males standing there in front of the altar saw that little door to the basement open and the bride’s party begin to dribble through it, one woman at a time.

They each had come up that very narrow stairway and stumbled through that very narrow doorway. They were each wearing large, hooped skirts that would not fit through that narrow doorway. Thus, each woman entered the sanctuary holding her hoop up, almost parallel to herself, and exposing her, uh, underclothing almost to her waste.

The mother of the bride had won out. And the groom and his party—whom she did not want to see the bride and her party before the service—plus the officiating minister saw a hell of a lot more of the bride and her attendants than we ever expected or wanted. And I just raised my eyes to the heavens above and silently prayed a short, but very old prayer.

In a wedding if anything can go wrong, it will go wrong and at the worst possible moment.


  1. This is one of the many, many reasons I am against big weddings. I don't make many friends with this attitude, but I wholehearted believe the big wedding should go the way of the Dodo bird.

    They cost way too much, they're too stressful, I consider a big time-waster. I don't enjoy going to them and I hate being asked to be in them. It's not an honor, really!

    Sorry for the rant. But I didn't choose a big wedding and have never, ever regretted it.

  2. Nick, what a great post!
    I bet you could write a book about the weddings you officiated at!
    That must have created some interesting photos for the couple, lol!!!

  3. Hi Nick!

    Ha Ha... Vey interesting indeed. Poor bride.
    It is a difficult job you have to do.

  4. Personally, I'm a big fan of the drive-thru wedding... But, you probably could've guessed that... :D

  5. Sounds awful! I'm with Squirl. My husband and I quietly paid a visit to the JP's office one day while the kids were at school. We didn't tell anyone until it was already done. I didn't feel like battling my mother or turning something good into a big giant stress-out. Besides, we had been living together for years and many people just assumed we were already married. My husband is such a good sport. He didn't care where or how we were married, he only cared that we were. :-)

  6. I got married in June and agree with everything you said!
    Have to say though that even though my husband and i arent really religious our priest Father Chris made the day incredibly special by just being a wonderful man and i'm sure there are many couples who look back on their day and yourself with fondness as we do for Father Chris.
    Pol x

  7. Oh my!

    Things do go wrong at weddings, but fortunately for Jassen and mine's, it was just minor details. Although, one good thing that came out of it was the semi-true nature of my mother-in-law, both good and bad.:-/

    Anywho, our reverend that married us I think really enjoys his line of work, which made it into a very enthuiastic ceremony that many enjoyed. Even though I had the worst sinus infection ever, it was an overall good day.:-)p

  8. Fun tale, Santa. Takes me back to a galaxy long, long ago when I coordinated big events for several prestigious hotels and off-premise caterers. Whoo boy I've got me some stories.

    Thanks for the memories. Good times. Of course I used my innate "psychotherapeutic" skills the most when dealing with personal occasions like weddings. I found things went fabulous when I could get the bride, groom and any parents-still-on-speaking-terms together over a fancy dinner and insanely expensive wine while deciding on menu, seating, room organization, ceremony styling, etc. The rehearsals went a lot smoother with preliminary shmoozing.

    I'll bet you have a ton o tales, y'self, eh?



  9. What an embarrassing way to start a wedding.

  10. Excuse me, it's not always the bride's mother wot causes the havoc! I speak as a past bride's mother. I was very well-behaved.

  11. heehee!

    Yeah, I avoided any talk of a big wedding when my husband and I announced our engagement. We were married by a justice of the peace in a pretty little garden at city hall. No one was there except us, and the woman who officiated, whom I don't even remember because(*warning sappy moment*) all I can remember is us giggling and staring into each others eyes. My poor sister had a big wedding the year before and all the stress and planning and money spent was enough for me to want to elope.

  12. Oh, the trials and tribulations of being a pastor! That was hilarious. Please share more stories of your ministry.

  13. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH HA HA HA HA HA HA! Nick, that was the best laugh I've had since I got sick.

  14. If the women were stupid enough to come up those stairs the mother can’t be blamed. Jeez. That must have been quite a sight!


  16. Small, laid-back, outdoor wedding - the only way to go.

  17. ` Nick! Are you going to marry her? With a name like chica40208....

  18. Hi Nick ~~ Great post about an embarrassing start to the wedding.
    I'm sure you have more stories to share with us. Last night I posted
    The Bishop's Candlesticks on my blog.
    I hope you do not mind that I got it from you. Good story. Take care, Regards, Merle.

  19. If it be true that “if anything can go wrong…” then a wedding ceremony is excellent preparation for married life. Good post, Rev Saint Nick.

  20. Thats brilliant. Unfortunate for the bride, but brilliant in comedy. Not that weddings should be funny.

  21. I've gone off wedding.
    Now that I know what comes after.
    I've taken to running after bridal carriages shouting "don't do it!" who knows maybe I can save somebody.

  22. Hello, Sometimes Saintly Nick, my great friend.
    Greta work, thank you! I love you text.
    Have a good weekend

  23. Let's make that a lesson for all you future brides out there, make sure the bridesmaid dress you pick out are small enough to fit through a door!

  24. ...and the bridesmaids too!

    Very funny post! I can't imagine what that woman must be like as a mother-in-law. "Controlling" is the word that comes to mind.

  25. I would have loved to have seen that story in photographs,
    Whats with the mothers anyway?

  26. i am so glad my husband and i eloped.

    we arranged a very small civil wedding to take place in the courthouse in Reno (no tacky wedding Reno chappels LOL..and family only.)

    tom's mother literally called at the last minute...we were on our way out the door.

    she claimed to be too sick...and wanted us to postpone the wedding. after it had taken months for us to arrange the same days off, etc...

    we said, nope. we're getting married...(tom smelled a rat), and the rest of his family boycotted! (turns out no one had any intention of attending.) when we came back from Reno...his mother was NOT sick, and admitted that she thought he shouldn't marry me. and she was trying to save him from me, and figured a postponement would give the family enough time to think of something. (we'd been engaged for 9 months...)

    i was divorced; i wasn't catholic; and sin of all sins...could no longer have children.

    btw, we were married 23 years. he died suddenly of a heart attack 25 october, 5 years ago.

  27. On the upside, usually when disaster occurs at a wedding, it is a sort of mitzvah for the bride and groom. At least, that's how we Jews get through it...that, and a bagel with a schmear.


  28. Hi Nick,
    I've been married for 19 years, been to countless weddings, and totally agree with what you have said LOL.
    Sorry I haven't been by for awhile.
    Hope you and Alex are well.
    Take care, Meow

  29. oh nick thats dreadful... you must have some stories to tell dude!
    i must be honest- the moms cause a lot of grief...
    i plan weddings as a hobby, and i'm hoping one day to turn it into a business- and my biggest stumbling block is the bride's mom! they seldom understand that i am not there to impose my wants and ideas on the bride- i am there to help with the phoning and the googling and the follow ups... they're VERY protective of what they see as their job and it very hard not to upset them...

  30. When I think of weddings I think of tears. Your story made me laugh…laugh until I cried. Thank you.