The very first wedding over which I officiated took place at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Augusta, GA. I was the Associate Minister of the church, and I’d been there about six months, coming right out of Seminary, fresh, naive, wet behind the ears, innocent, and simply dumb as dirt. For gosh sakes, I grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, graduated from Arkansas State University, that great academic powerhouse (NOT!), and managed to get INTO Seminary on academic probation (from which I was released after one semester, for the record.)

I’d arrived in Augusta single but engaged, was ordained on a Sunday in August (when it was 108 degrees–that’s another story) and then married the following Saturday in Montgomery. Yeah, a pretty low-key week.

So the Senior Pastor, Dan McCall, bounced this wedding to me, and I’d managed to meet with the couple about four times, doing my best to offer premarital counseling, wanting to die when I spoke with them about sex, but we’d gotten through it all, planned the ceremony, and the big evening was upon us.

I recall that it was about a week before Christmas; 12/17/83 to be precise, having just checked my record book. The church was resplendently decorated with poinsettias, making flowers for the family easy. And nonexistent.

The time came for us all to enter, and I came in with the groom and Best Man, we took our places and I watched as the doors in the back opened, and I saw the first Bridesmaid.

She was wearing solid, basic black. Now, today, that’s “chic,” or so I am told, but in 1983, it was more than cutting edge. I recall thinking, “Wait a minute; is this a wedding or a funeral!” To top it off, that first Bridesmaid was about 8 months pregnant. The ladies, instead of carrying flowers, were carrying Christmas wreaths (cute), but with this lady, the wreath was resting horizontally on her belly, rather than hanging vertically like all the others.

Anyway, I recovered, I hope that my face did not give away the shock, and everyone else came in, took their places, and we proceeded through the service.

We reached the point in the ceremony when the couple have repeated their vows, rings have been exchanged, and I had pronounced them “husband and wife.” It was time to pray for the couple, and it was their desire to kneel for the prayer. I said, “Let us pray,” and nodded to the groom to hold the bride’s arm as she knelt. He did so, she proceeded to kneel, and I thought, “Oh, sweet Jesus. She’s wearing a hooped skirt!”

Now, think about that. What a lady will do in a case such as that is to pull the front of the hooped skirt forward, and kneel under it. This bride did not do that, she simply knelt, ending up on the front of the hoops, which had the result of popping the bottom of her dress back, so that there was a clear view of . . . well, whatever there was to view.

I have no idea what I prayed or how I prayed it, because all I was thinking was that Hollywood had just lit up, and everyone had a free view. Before I said “Amen,” I whispered to the groom to stand the bride up, NOW, hoping that all the while “every head had been bowed and every eye had been closed.”

We finished the ceremony, took pictures, and I wandered to our Fellowship Hall where the reception was. One pass let me know that I would not be lingering, and I went home soon thereafter, grateful to have survived my first wedding.

I have well over 300 weddings under my belt now, with plenty more stories to share. Stay tuned, my friends.