Many couples who contact me to assist them with their weddings are unchurched. And they’re unchurched not because they’re lazy or thoughtless, just the opposite. They have made a conscious decision that the church of their childhood simply doesn’t speak to who they now are, and I deeply respect that.
About half my clients come from Catholic backgrounds — they seek me out because they want to get married in an outdoor setting, and a priest can’t do that. Or perhaps one of them isn’t Catholic, or has been divorced. Together we create a beautiful script that reflects their relationship. Even firmly RC family members are moved by what we put together.
One story I love to tell is about marrying an older couple from a strong Catholic background. When I stood up at the front and looked out at the bride’s side and the groom’s side, I saw folks in their 60s, 70s and older who began by just glaring at me (it was obvious I was not a priest!) At the end of the ceremony, I blew out the unity candle and finished up at the front until when I turned around, there was one tall gentleman with white hair standing there alone — looking at me. I went up to him and asked if there was anything I could do to assist him.
“Well, I just want to tell you something!” Uh oh, here we go. “Yes, sir, what would you like to tell me?”
“I didn’t get my nap in!” Hmmm, how does one respond to that? “Oh, I see, you mean because this wedding was shorter than a full Catholic mass?” “Yes, it was shorter, but that’s not why I didn’t get my nap in.”
This was beginning to feel like pulling hen’s teeth. “Okay, sir, please tell me why you didn’t get your nap in?”
“Because it was interesting!” By now, he had a twinkle in his eye, and we gently laughed together as he told me how much he had enjoyed the freshness in the language he had witnessed. “If my late wife and I could have gotten married like this 55 years ago, we would have done that!”
Can you see why I love doing what I do?