Thursday, August 25, 2011

At a wedding, if anything can go wrong,..

The Wedding of my grandparents, Adam & Anna Hertle, c. 1900

I officiated a hundred plus weddings during my years as an active clergy-person. Today I would enjoy being invited to officiate  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.

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


  1. Excellent, Rev Saint! You bring memories to my mind.

  2. Your point is valueble for me. Thanks!

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  3. LOL! We do get wonky about weddings!!

  4. Excellant ! I laughed and cried. thank You, Needed to smile... I encourage everyone to read this wonderful man's work!!!

  5. Great post, Nick! When ministers get together, I love to get them telling their favorite wedding horror stories. They are hilarious. As is this one!! HILARIOUS!

  6. azsonofagun: Thanks, Rex, I’ll be you have some weeding stories, too.

  7. Lynilu : By “we,” do you mean females? I only remember one male acting a silly as that mother of the bride. Well… maybe 2 males!

  8. Welshcakes Limoncello : Thanks, Pat. And, thanks for re-twitting it on Twetter.

  9. Nanna : Thank you, my friend. I sincerely appreciate you endorsement!

  10. Billie Greenwood: I’m sure you are right. I have so many entertaining wedding stories that I once considered gathering them into a book.

  11. Please write about more of your wedding experiences. This one is a hoot.