On June 22, the Summer Solstice, aka Midsummer Night, I had the honor of marrying 2 adorable friends of mine – Ben & Jaime -both young enough to be my children, intoxicatingly in love, ridiculously glamorous & earthy and authentic. That about sums them up! I had never performed a wedding before, so I was understandably anxious when they asked me – what if I messed up their special moment? That could be awkward and mortifying! Ben & Jamie seemed strangely confident that I would be wonderful – how they could be so sure, considering I had no previous experience, was a mystery to me!
At least I couldn’t be worse than the minister who officiated Ben’s father’s wedding in January! He was a dead ringer for the minister in the movie Hangover 2. Wait a minute – It was the same guy! But his delivery wasn’t very smooth, and he kept mispronouncing the groom’s name and stumbling on the dialogue – I wondered if he had gotten sloppy after the luxury of getting to do multiple takes on film! Note to self – do not make the same mistake! There are no second takes up on that podium!
What was bizarre, is that I had become a minister back in January, when another friend of mine had told me that she might want me to marry her and her boyfriend. I really wanted the 2 of them to tie the knot, so I was inspired. Within 24 hours, I became an ordained minister – it actually was far easier than I expected!
After a brief meeting with the bride and a flurry of emails back and forth, I plunged into unfamiliar territory – the writing of a sermon. I agonized over it. I wanted it to be perfect for them. Casper suggested that I do it like the priest in Princess Bride! – thanks, honey, for being sooo helpful!
I guess I am a good advocate for marriage – I am married, for starters, through the thick and the thin of it. I have no illusions about what it takes to make a marriage work – lots and lots of work! I am both a romantic and a pragmatist. I believe deeply in the sanctity of marriage, and the institution of it, and the power of a witnessed covenant.
I wove all my life experience into my writing. Thank goodness I got a stamp of enthusiastic approval from the couple – I definitely poured my heart and soul into their ceremony.
They sent a car for me to pick me up at Denver airport and gifted me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a lovely gift basket in my hotel room. I was touched by how thoughtful and appreciative they were.
At the rehearsal brunch, Ben shared about how his heart had physically hurt after he met Jaime, “I think it was because it was having to expand to take in all of her.” He pointed to his beloved, beaming. “I am the luckiest man in the world!” The love in the room was so palpable. The waterworks unleashed! Get a grip, girl! I hoped I didn’t cry during the ceremony!
Later I went back to the hotel to get dressed, and to my horror, saw that my pale green silk dress was covered in yellow blotches. Ugh! Why had I not noticed this before?!! How embarrassing! I had not brought anything else to wear! I looked in the mirror – this was decidedly a little more boho then the chic that I had planned! I prayed that the flounce of the silk would distract people from seeing the discoloration!
The bride decided that all the women in the wedding party should be barefoot as the wedding was in the garden – thank goodness I just had a pedicure! She thought it would be lovely for my feet to be covered in sparkles – which was fine by me – anything to take the focus away from the dress! Unfortunately, the maid of honor was a little too liberal with the glue spray can – which had to be applied so that the sparkles would adhere – and she glued my toes together – making my feet look webbed!
It was almost show time! I could feel my heart pounding a bit too fast! I tried to take a deep breath, but there wasn’t sufficient give in the bodice. I don’t remember the dress feeling this tight! I am not sure how much was attributable to the altitude, but I was definitely having a hard time breathing. Crap, I was not feeling super confident! I started texting my friend Gabrielle for support – she kindly coached me into a more subdues state!
The garden had been transformed into a fairy wonderland with white rose petals everywhere. I trotted down the aisle, after Ben’s youngest sister who was dressed as a fairy flower girl, twirling my dress rather energetically to prevent the silk from sticking to my gluey-webbed feet. All the while praying that no one notice the tacky stains or the webbed feet!
I made it to the podium! Yeah! – Without tripping on my dress – which was precariously long in bare feet, or catching on fire – the groom’s sister was carrying a giant flaming torch dangerously close to me!
Ben joined me under an arbor draped in white orchids, wisteria and crystals. Miraculously, I became calm as soon as I focused on the joy in Ben’s face as he watched his stunning bride approach. Her face was overflowing with light and love and joy. Crap, I could feel the tears welling up again. And I had no Kleenex tucked away!
I rang a bell and plunged into my sermon. All 3 of us were nestled together under a cascade of white flowers. It was so intimate. I saw tears spilling down the bride’s face – it was contagious. At least she had access to her husband’s pocket handkerchief – I thought it might be tacky if I asked to share it! Then my nose started running! A couple of times, I turned away, trying to wipe the snot away, without being too obvious! I had never seen a minister cry before, I wondered how professional that was! Oh well! Couldn’t be helped!
They repeated after me, “You are my life, you are my love, my best friend…” Rings slid onto expectant fingers, I pronounced them husband and wife. And then, in a flash, it was all over!
Every single guest came up to thank me afterwards, saying that it was the loveliest ceremony they had ever witnessed. Oh boy, was I grateful! And grateful that Ben & Jaime had faith in me and had coaxed me to go beyond my comfort zone. They both announced, “We could never have done this without you!” Which might have been a bit of an exaggeration! But generous, none the less!
Jaime’s manager came up to me afterwards to congratulate me. “Well, you probably do this all the time, it’s your profession, after all!” I died laughing. “I’m an actress, I’ve never done this before!” He looked so confused!
Truth be told – I loved the experience. It was so rewarding. Every word I uttered was such a testament of love – it just poured out of me, straight from my heart.
I would do it again, in a heartbeat!
Excerpt from the ceremony ~ a passage that Jaime picked ~
From “Corelli’s Mandolin” by Louise De Bernieres
“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides
you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined
together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is
not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal
passion… That is just being “in love,” which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over
when being in love has burned away”
10 Replies to “I pronounce you husband & wife!”
What a lovely story! You had me in stitches about your dress ans toes! Well done Catherine and congrats to the newly weds! 🙂 🙂
Pretoria, South Africa
Beautiful, Catherine. I hope the happy couple is happy forever. Thank you for sharing that passage.
Congratulations to the Couple and to you on your first completion of Marrying folks. What a wonderful place to begin a lifelong journey. I could imagine all the flowers and the bare feet.
Catherine- Your stories are always so visual, entertaining and profound. This one of the truest representations of your essence. Congratulations on discovering another part of your essence and expressing it in a way that not only invites everyone into the experience but helps us all feel like we participated in the celebration. I hope I get to see the wedding video!
Lovely, Catherine. I think you transported us all to this ethereal, filled with love, wedding. I think the webbed sparkly toes were perfect. You were a gnome in their garden. 😉 Wishing the happy couple eternal love and friendship
Thank you Catherine, for sharing such a lovely story; for being so honest about your insecurities (ones that we can all relate to) and for the wonderfully insightful quote for Captain Correlli
I am in love with this! I am crying, relating and laughing all in the same moment.
I really like Casper’s idea (Princess Bride) – you know you could fall back on that if your dress really did catch fire! Great that you had the courage to do this. It is an extremely important job and I’m sure the tears only enhanced the importance and enhanced your human qualities. Cestitum vam!
Thank you for sharing! I absolutely love this! Wishing all the happiness for the newlyweds!
So lovely you write wonderfully if there such a word.