I officiate a lot of weddings. Over the last 29 years, I’ve conducted over 200 of them. Not all of them have been in churches. So, I have learned to adapt. Because of that, one would think nothing surprises me. Think again.
Last night, I attended a wedding rehearsal for today’s 4:30 pm event. Surprisingly, the rehearsal was held in a Township party room, just big enough for 5 long tables. Those tables had already had been set up. There was no center aisle or designated space for us to rehearse. Clearly, the highlight of the evening was the food which was catered by the bride. She was still opening bags of chips and Tupperware when I arrived.
The rehearsal was scheduled for 6pm. At 6:20, some of the wedding party were seated in family clusters at the tables. The rest of the party hadn’t shown up. Finally, I decided it was time to start. The bridesmaid no-shows would have to follow someone else.
To make things worse, there was no wedding coordinator. Some churches provide them to make sure the wedding party walks down the aisle at the right time. They make sure that boutonnieres are on straight. They sew on a button or organize ushers, if need be. They make sure the marriage license gets signed and back in the hands of the bride. In my opinion, they are priceless. After the mothers are seated, I walk in from a side door with the groom, standing up front. So, I am in no position to line up bridesmaids in the back. Last night, however, I gave it a shot. I positioned the bride and groom under the large screen television. It was almost in the center of the room. We pushed back some tables. I imagined seats and stationed the parents in their places. Then I walked the 5 giant steps to the other side of the room to line up everyone else.
That’s when I met the ring bearer. He won’t be carrying the actual rings. He just wanted a part in the show. I also met the 2 flower girls under the age of 7. One of them will be pulling a wagon with their 5 month old baby sister in it. Picture that. How do you think that’s going to go? Last night, the baby was not willing to rehearse her part, so we had to pretend she would cooperate during the wedding.
If that weren’t stressful enough, we had no music with which to rehearse. Nobody could remember the song to which the bridesmaids were entering. If someone had remembered, we could have brought it up on an iphone. I might have hummed it loudly, if I had just known what it was. Unfortunately, it wasn’t written down anywhere. The bride and groom had ordered programs, which were printed months ago, before I was contacted. Ann’s Bridal Bargains was having a sale. The programs only list the seating of the mothers, entrance of the bride, exchange of vows and rings, sand ceremony and pronouncement of marriage. The rituals of a wedding ceremony have changed. Have you noticed that?
Now, don’t assume that I was completely uninformed. The bride and groom had given me the address where the wedding ceremony will be held today. That’s right. It will not be in the Township party room, but in a barn in another part of town. The bride also had told me that she was processing on her father’s arm to the song “God Bless the Broken Road,” by Rascal Flatts. It will be played by the DJ hired to emcee the “boogie down” at the reception. She also told me that her father would probably be drunk. I can’t wait . I can’t wait because meeting people where they are ……. doing church in a different way.