After more than a dozen years of officiating weddings, it’s always a surprise when something new comes up. Just recently more than once I found myself saying, “Well that’s a first!”
Pregnant brides are definitely not a first. We’ve had many expectant couples as well as those with older children acting as ring bearers and flower girls and/or bridesmaids and groomsmen. However, this particular pregnant bride, stricken with morning sickness, poor dear, found it necessary to keep a waste basket handy throughout the ceremony, just in case. Okay I hadn’t run into that before. Fortunately, she got through her vows while holding onto the contents of her stomach. Hopefully her queasiness will subside long before the joy of being a newlywed becomes normal everyday married life. (Better yet, we can always hope the joy of the honeymoon will last forever, especially after the first trimester!) And speaking of joy, I believe it was at that same wedding in which I encountered another first: the groom’s mom let out a joyful “WHOOP!” when I pronounced the couple married. I hope it didn’t startle the massage client in the office next door. But at least it was a happy sound.
I've seen some unique rings, but none more so than the skull ring one groom wore. was also a first. I say hey whatever floats your boat. If you and the bride like it, I like it!
Then there was the planning session of the upcoming ceremony with a couple, who requested that after I ask them the “I do” question, I add one more question: “Do you pinky swear?” Apparently it was a private joke they often tossed back and forth between them. They had even given one another pinky commitment rings. Well that’s a new one on me, but if that’s what they wanted, I told them, sure, why not? It reminded me of another wedding in which the couple wanted me to follow up the “I do” question with, “Is that your final answer?” Sure, why not, I say. I’m all for firsts of any kind when it comes to love and creativity, and a couple wanting to commit the rest of their lives to one another. After all, creativity and humor are good ingredients to a long-lasting bond.
Have you ever noticed that weddings seem to be getting shorter? Short and sweet is what many couples want, and the most guests appreciate it, too. It’s kinder at outdoor ceremonies where everyone is made to bake in the sun or when restless children are involved. That said, there is also such a thing as too short—which may not be so sweet. The guests will likely feel shortchanged if the wedding becomes just a blip on the screen.
I have always made it a practice to send couples a script of their ceremony beforehand. This leaves some tinkering room if they want to add or omit a poem or other ceremony segment and to make sure the language reflects their style. Some couples panic when they get five pages of script, assuming that the wedding is going to be an hour long. I’ve seen them start snipping and cutting until there’s not much left. So I tell them I will do it that short if they really really want me to, but my original script would not translate into a wedding that is nearly as long as they think.
First of all, I use a large type font so I can easily read it on their big day; that fills more sheets of paper. Secondly, it takes very little time to read through text. Five pages amounts to about ten minutes, tops, even when I speak slowly and deliberately as I will on their big day. If there’s a huge wedding party, the processional can add a bit more time. But even if there’s a long distance to cover and they space out the bridesmaids and groomsmen rather than bunching up, the whole parade rarely lasts longer than two to three minutes.
Candle lightings take a minute or so and sand ceremonies slightly longer, particularly if children or other family members participate. Still, it normally does not amount to more than a couple of extra minutes. Poetry readings may take a minute or two each. For couples who choose an additional two or three ceremony elements such as a ring warming, presentation of flowers to moms, or a wine ceremony, all told, these will likely add only a few minutes. In my experience, the entire ceremony from processional through recessional rarely exceeds 20 minutes. More often it is 10-15.
What is much more likely to eat up time at a wedding is the waiting beforehand. Uncle So-and-So takes the wrong exit and is retracing his steps on the freeway; or I’ll get everyone lined up and invariably a member of the bridal party will be MIA in the rest room; or the bride has a wardrobe malfunction and/or her hairdo won’t do what she wants. There are lots of reasons why a wedding may take more time than expected, but it won’t be because I’ve gotten longwinded! I will leave long discourses to the orators and sermons to the preachers. As a wedding officiant, I vow that my words will be elegant and yet succinct. I will make the ceremony long enough to convey the meaning and feeling, and short enough to keep everyone awake.
We officiated at a wonderful place for a wedding this weekend, the Portland City Grill, which is located on the 30th floor of the US Bancorp Building, better known as "Big Pink" in downtown Portland. The view is spectacular and the setting sophisticated and classy. The bride told that the prices are surprisingly budget friendly. Most venues charge one price for a regular party or gathering, and then a much higher price when the word "wedding" is mentioned. But Portland City Grill charges the same reasonable price for either type of celebration. We snapped this photo just minutes before Saturday's ceremony began. The guests were all waiting with anticipation! http://www.portlandcitygrill.com/private-dining.php
We live in an electronic age for sure. While virtual weddings aren’t legal yet, at least not in this State, guests are finding inventive ways to “attend” a wedding from afar. While officiating one such ceremony I noticed the bride holding something next to her bouquet. I mused: A small Bible? A photo of a departed loved one? Nope, turns out it was a cell phone. Dad couldn’t come, but he was right there with her on speaker phone.
At another wedding of an older couple, their daughter stood with them holding her brother, or at least the laptop through which he was Skyping from Hong Kong. After the ceremony, the family posed for an interesting picture; the sister stood between her newly married parents, holding the electronic version of her brother, whose smiling face filled up the entire computer screen. It gives a new meaning to the expression “talking heads.”
Speaking of “talking,” it’s a good idea for the guests to hit the mute button at their end. I recently officiated a wedding at our chapel in which guests were Skyped in from New Zealand. I’m sure they were not aware that we could all hear their running commentary, in a thick New Zealand accent, amongst each other. "Crackie!"
At still another in-home wedding, a young couple traded vows in front of the fireplace before a dozen or so guests. They perched on the living room couches and chairs, with two more on the coffee table—that is, two laptops. One was connected to loved ones in California and the other to a branch of the family in Canada. Following that ceremony, the couple squatted down in front the coffee table with a glass of champagne, in a virtual toast to each computer, and to the kinfolk who could not be there in person. I wonder if wedding invitations will change their RSVP Yes-lines to: “I plan to attend in person,” or “I plan to attend via cyberspace.” Yes, it certainly is an electronic age we live in!
One of our couple's family members re-created this cake, inspired by one they'd found on Pinterest. We think they did a masterful job and it made their mini-reception, following the wedding at our chapel, very special!
We loved joining Megan & Robert at their wedding on Sunday, at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Portland. It boasts 9-1/2 acres of beauty: walking paths, a large lake with ducks and geese, and lots of beautiful plants including of course rhododendrons. It is gorgeous in spring when they are all in bloom, and also beautiful and green this time of year. What a lovely place for Robert and Megan to begin their married life together!
For more information on the park, here's a link: http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/finder/index.cfm?PropertyID=27&action=ViewPark
A farm wedding, in this case a working farm and also B&B, makes a picturesque backdrop for a wedding. While capturing an image of the bride and groom and their large wedding party, we caught a weather vane in the background, while a llama watched from just outside camera range. Chickens were walking about, and the inside of the barn had been transformed into a sparkly fairy-like place for the reception. The flower girl clearly loved posing for pictures. Congrats to Rachael and Jesse!
Here's a creative hood ornament found at a recent wedding we officiated. Sure beats shaving cream and a trail of tin cans.
Here’s a creative idea for a wedding processional that does not include a flower girl. We recently officiated at the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse in Hillsboro, a really great vintage farmhouse turned brewery and wedding venue. This ceremony took place just outside the historic octagonal barn. They did not have a flower girl at this wedding, instead prearranging a swirling design of rose petals down the aisle. The groom’s parents flew in all the way from their home in Germany. I also snapped a photo of the bride revealing her feather garter: Cute!
I'm the founding minister of Wedded Your Way. I love helping people tie the knot!