After so many weddings, we three officiants at A Perfect Witness (Jayne, John and Bob) think we’ve seen it all, and every time one of us mentions this, something new happens. There is no end to the surprises that can befall a wedding ceremony. My mom always said, “Hope for the better and expect the worst.” When planning your wedding, however, I think your thinking should be more like, “We’ve planned for everything. Now let’s see what happens.” Allow yourself some sense of humor and you’ll be able to make some unfortunate and unplanned events seem less horrific.
Bad Things Can Happen
In some families, parents and grandparents simply want to influence and control everything. Arguments generally begin over customs and traditions, and these are often really differences in religious values. No religion is more at fault than another; it is the generational differences that cause wills to clash. The bride and groom often have discussed religion and arrived at their own decision, which is different than their parents and grandparents. There arguments rarely get solved. If the older generations do not decide to keep their opinions to themselves after they have made their wishes clear to the bride and groom, it is often enough to sour the entire event.
Facing insurmountable arguments about a church wedding or a beach wedding, with all the attendant bickering that would not end, the bride told her mother and grandmother to have their own wedding and eloped with the groom. Their decision and actions surprised few, if any, of their friends, who gave them lots of love and support. In discussing this with the bride and groom, I helped them discover that this was all good, and was the first time the bride ever stood up for what she wanted. Mom had declared, “I will never forgive you.” Grandma told the mom to “Get over it. She made the right decision. I was hoping all along that she’d stand up for what she wanted,” which revealed where resolution might be made.
At one of my very first weddings, the bride was already exercising her will in many areas. Mom brought a table, cloth, three candles and a lighter, placing them next to me seconds before the ceremony was to begin. The bride knew nothing of this, and when she saw the setup, threw a hissy fit right then and there. When the bride composed herself and stood before me with her groom, she whispered to me, “Just ignore the candles and my mother.” I did. I had to leave right away, so I do not know the final outcome, but by the way the groom reacted, I’d guess the bride won.
The Best Laid Plans…
Rain on a wedding day is both a blessing and a curse. A good beach wedding will have a rain plan. If you plan ahead, you can reserve a pavilion where everyone can meet for the ceremony. Sometimes, a beach wedding just goes on, especially here in Tampa Bay when the rain is warm. Lightening, however, demands getting off the beach immediately. A new beach hotel (5 stars) and one of the first five weddings there, called for some finesse. Everyone was seated on the beach and the processional was about to start. I was at the arch when the first clap of thunder followed a spider web lightening display that left the out of town guests awestruck. I instructed the guests how to smoothly get off the beach without trampling the old people, and they were all just under cover when the clouds opened. 45 minutes later, a ballroom was ready and everyone walked in, glad to be moving forward. The ceremony was good, yet there remained a palpable tension. As I got to the point where I would normally pronounce the couple husband and wife, I closed my book and said, “You endured a lot today, and you look very anxious. In fact, looking at you right now, I am reminded of a very famous line from the movie When Harry Met Sally.” A hush fell over the audience, then one middle-aged woman laughed a laugh everyone knew was from her naughty thought. I lowered my glasses on the bridge of my nose and said, “Probably not the line you’re thinking of.” More laughter. “I’m thinking of that famous line, ‘When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.’ So, without further delay, I pronounce you husband and wife.” Cheers and laughter filled the room, and everyone was back on track again.
Some believe rain on a wedding day represents the bride’s old boyfriends crying after her. I like to think that works both ways. In many cultures, marriage is referred to as tying the knot, and the Hindus point out that a wet knot is harder to untie. Regardless of your own cultural superstitions, it’s too late now to Scotch Guard.
Make it Your day, your way! and be prepared for anything. Ask your officiant how s/he can help you deal with known and unknown contingencies. You’ll be glad you did.