Weddings, Funerals, and Other Accidents of Grace #2

February 6, 2013

Wedding ceremonies happen at all times of the day and night. That said, I think the earliest ceremony at which I have ever officiated was a 10:00 AM ceremony, and I don’t think I have done one any later than 8:00 PM. My preference, frankly, is noon.

That’s probably because my own wedding ceremony was at noon. But I have learned through the years that there are some advantages to that time.

For one, Emily Post says that a noon ceremony is as “high” a wedding as an eight PM ceremony. We wore Dinner Jackets at my wedding. Two, the couple will wake up on the day of their wedding earliuer than they want to, and the first thought that crosses their mind before their feet hit the floor is, “Today’s the day!” The longer they have to wait for the actual ceremony, the greater the buildup of anticipatory stress, and the higher the likelihood that they will murder someone in a snap of rage. Having the ceremony at noon has them getting on with things.

A noon ceremony also allows them to enjoy the reception, to hang around for a good while and enjoy the party and the people before making their getaway. It’s actually possible to travel some on the wedding day with a noon wedding, or at least not to feel rushed about things post-ceremony before leaving the next day for the honeymoon.

I recall one noon wedding in particular. It was not a large ceremony, in fact it was in the Wilson Chapel at Peachtree Presbyterian Church (which seats a little over 100 people). It must have been summer, because as we were starting the ceremony, a frog-choker of a rainstorm, with accompanying thunder and lightning, broke over us. (Thank goodness it was not an outdoor ceremony, which are often dicey with weather. I always tell people when they plan an outdoor ceremony that “I’m in sales, not management,” pointing out that I can’t control the weather.)

At any rate, the ceremony had begun. I’d welcomed the congregation, and made the appropriate statements about marriage. I’d delivered the “Charge to the Couple,” in which we essentially acknowledge that if the couple will do certain things, then God will do certain things.

In the ceremony that I use, next comes the “Questions of Intent.” This is that historical question that lays it all out, asking the couple–each in turn, first the groom, then the bride–if they REALLY want to do this.

So this particular Saturday, as a storm moved in around us, I looked at the groom and asked, “John, will you have this woman to be your wedded wife, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in healt, and forsaking all others, will you keep yourself only unto Jane, as long as you both shall live?”

No sooner were the words out of my mouth, than a terrific clap of thunder BOOMED on top of us, shaking the Chapel and startling everyone in it. The groom himself darn near jumped out of his shoes, and as the thunder echoed off into the distance, and everyone settled back into the ceremony, I simply looked at the groom, cocked my head to the side gently, and raised both my eyebrows as if to suggest that God was listening in, ever-so-expectantly, for his answer. The bride and groom both, as well as everyone in the Chapel, caught the humor in the moment, and lauged, as the groom said, with more enthusiasm than he would have used had the thunder not hit at the moment, “I WILL!!!”

It’s never a bad thing to laugh in a wedding.

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