Since retiring from my “day job,” I’ve been doing a lot of wedding ceremonies. By “doing,” I mean performing, celebrating, or officiating them—take your pick. It’s been a real eye-opener for me.
I just checked my records, and I’ve done an average of about twenty per year. With all that’s involved with preparation and performance, it keeps me busy. The “eye-opener” is concerning popular wedding venues. I’ve done ceremonies in national forests, municipal and state parks, inns, vineyards, wineries, museums, backyards, family decks, harbors, private homes, restaurants, farm markets, antebellum mansions, hotels, farms, old historic buildings, botanical gardens, resorts, golf courses, bed and breakfasts, country clubs, community centers, and I’ve even done one a few in churches (imagine that).
Scheduled for a Prison
I’ve done them in gazebos, pavilions, log cabins, waterfronts, living rooms, courtyards, basements, historic chapels, in front of arbors and fireplaces, near airports, on riverbanks, beside swimming pools, on rooftops, atop battle site ruins, and recently did one next to a putting green. I also had one scheduled for a prison once, but it was cancelled—not sure why.
The garb has been varied as well. I’ve been asked to wear everything from jeans to a tux, from a clergy suit to a robe, but usually a regular suit and tie. I was even asked to wear my hair in a man-bun once. I acquiesced, but I’m thinking that will be the last time for such a spectacle. I almost forfeited my man-card that day.
I don’t mean to bore you with these longs lists and details, but I personally find them to be fascinating. It used to be that the crowd would gather in a house of worship, listen to the “I do’s,” and move to the place of revelry (the reception). These days, everything is in one place. Hence, it’s not totally uncommon to see a few of the congregants with a beer or glass of wine in their hands. I’m still trying to get over that one.
All Things Nuptial
Regardless of all these new variables, there’s one common thread that never changes. At some point, I’m handed a packet from the county courthouse. This packet usually contains the unsigned marriage license and a variety of other possible items. These can be such things as receipts for the license, applications for name changes and new social security cards, advice concerning babies and blood work, instructions for wedding officiants, and informational brochures on all things nuptial.
I usually take the packet and tell the happy couple I will return anything they might need along with their handy-dandy keepsake marriage certificate by way of the U.S. Mail. This was true of my last wedding as well with one new twist. Among the extras I needed to return were two blank applications for concealed handgun permits.
I must say, this gives new meaning to the term, shotgun wedding. I probably shouldn’t ask them about it. If they tell me, they may have to kill me. Living near D.C. has its drawbacks.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]