“You want me to do what?” I remember asking my ‘rent-a-daughter.’
“Marry us,” she replied. After assuring me that going online, clicking the mouse a few times and giving a credit card number legally allows one to officiate, how could I refuse? I’m always up for an adventure, little did I know what an adventure it would be.
That first wedding is by the far the largest, maybe the craziest, but by no means the most bizarre. On St. Patty’s day, 2007, there was one-hundred ninety sets of staring eyes, a good chunk of them old friends and acquaintances enjoying the irony of an anti-marriage advocate dressed in a collar performing nuptials. That ceremony was laced with so many jokes I started to believe I was a stand up comic, or maybe that was the Irish whiskey and water I had stashed in the lectern.
To stand before a couple on their big day and utter sacred words – I’m not talking religious, I’m talking sacred – there’s a difference. To feel that energy, that zoom, it’s amazing – it’s an incredible privilege.
Since, I’ve done fifteen weddings, some of them pedestrian, others – memorable. Sometimes I’ll go almost a year between ceremonies, once I did two within five days. Most are outdoors, one was in a haunted Bed and Breakfast. That in mind… lets get to the stories.
The Most Bizarre – Halloween Night, Sportman’s Bar – the groom enters in a coffin, the bride marches to the Undertaker theme! In the ceremony love was replaced with misery and the reading was from Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare. By midnight, the groom was running naked up and down Railroad Ave. Fun times!
Most Challenging – Tarkio Lodge, incredible setting, the cliffs of the Alberton Gorge as a backdrop. Ceremony fairly orchestrated – an opera singer belted out two songs. Less than an hour before the ceremony, I learn the couple decides against the vows being written in second person. Panicked, I scribble third person vows onto a tablet and shoehorn them into the ceremony.
Most Humbling – On a November night, days before Thanksgiving I do a six PM ceremony in the bar. It was memorable because it was a cold night and the bride was barefoot.
Most Intimidating – Having to learn a few words of Piegan and performing them in front of Piegan scholars. I’m sure they had low expectations, but, man, I’ve always idolized the Blackfoot. Maistoinna Standing Bear in my book Shangri-La Trailer Park is Blackfoot.
These are the memorable weddings, but, none of them compare to the look on people’s faces, the bride included, than last weekend’s. It was the first wedding I presided that had a skit built into the ceremony, and the first to have a surprise for the bride.
It began as an old-west wedding, the bride, dressed as a saloon girl being drug against her will to the alter to marry a tycoon. The groom rides up on a horse and fires his gun into the air. He shoots the tycoon and his hired gunfighter and forces the preacher – me – to do a wedding.
Everyone settles into their seats and the real ceremony gets underway. Everything is fine a dandy until I ask: ” if anyone believes this couple should not enter into matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.”
The brides mother stands and shouts: “I object!”
The bride’s jaw hits the ground and the groom reaches for his six-shooter and pops a cap into the mother-in-law. (Disclaimer – actual bullets were not used and no mother-in-law’s were harmed in the process.) The surprise was total and the look on people’s faces was priceless. Total Shock and Awe!
The best part, it was the bride’s mother’s idea. Well, not to get shot, but to throw in an objection. Who says weddings have to be stressful?
(Once I get my grubby hands on the video, I will post it to the blog. )
Oh yeah, since I began officiating weddings, I did something I swore I’d never do, I got married!
PS: I have a fairly good track record. To my knowledge, there have been two divorces, not a bad batting average.