Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

So You Really Want To Ruin A Wedding

Some links before we get ourselves started today. Norma was catching up. Parsnip had an update. Eve had some haiku.Krisztina wrote about motherhood. Maria wrote about poetry. And Mark is taking part in an anthology.

Now then, today I'm up to no good. As usual. This is one of those did I actually write that bits. I have an occasional series featuring the wrong sort of people to give a eulogy at funerals, I've gone in the other direction with this, namely the wrong minister to handle a wedding. Enjoy!

"We now come to the stage of the service in which the minister gets to deliver some thoughts and meditations on weddings and on marriage. You know, quite often it is customary for a minister to speak at length about First Corinthians 13, with its emphasis on love. It is, after all, a popular passage of Scripture, quite meaningful for the occasion, and, well, I've made use of it in the past. 

To be honest, it's probably been used in one way or another for millions of times in millions of services by now, so really, how much more can one person say about that particular passage of Scripture? Well, so why not take things in something of a different direction? I thought instead of concentrating on Scripture, I might instead share some stories of weddings gone horribly wrong.

You know, I am reminded of a story from seminary about the old school preacher who decided that for his message during one wedding, he would go for the more unorthodox theme of the day. Yes, he chose to talk about prostitution. Call them what you will. Hookers. Tricks. Whores. Ladies of the night. Harlots. He used pretty much every word you could think of and went on and on about prostitutes. All while smiling benignly at the bride. How that man managed to make it through the wedding without someone coming up from the congregation and killing him is something of a marvel.

How he got out of town is another story, but, well, one drives really fast when people are coming after you with torches and pitchforks.*

As ministers, we all have those kind of stories. My good friend Reverend Steinwick tells a story that's quite a tale to be told. If you heard it from anyone but a minister, you'd think it was a soap opera. It seems he was marrying a couple who had been together for some years. They had gone through a great deal of trials and tribulations, and there they were, on the happiest day of their lives, when all of a sudden the doors opened. Everyone gasped. It was the groom's first wife- the same wife who had been lost at sea five years earlier and never found. The same woman who had once been involved with his brother for years on end as she waffled back and forth between the two of them. And she was alive and well, shocking everyone with her oh so convenient timing, her story of amnesia that seemed to go on forever, and the mysterious prince who turned out to be not such a nice guy after all, what with his schemes for world domination and a weather device in his castle's moat.

It's been three years now, and Stone, Calliope, and Andromeda still can't figure out who's supposed to be married to who. All while Stone's little brother Mason keeps trying to get Calliope to notice him again.

I'm reminded of a story Father Callaghan told me last year. He was officiating over a wedding at St. Peter's in the spring. Lovely occasion, amiable couple. All's going perfectly well, they're doing their vows, and it was just then that the doors to the sanctuary open, and in come five Mounties. One of them looked particularly cranky. The good Father wasn't quite sure why he was so cranky, mind you. Anyway, this particular Mountie said the groom was under arrest for extortion and fraud, something about bribing public officials, grand theft, and serial jaywalking. Father Callaghan admitted that he was shocked- totally shocked. Not quite so much as the bride, who looked horrified and humiliated. And even more so, the mother of the bride. As Father Callaghan put it, it seemed like she was going to blow a gasket.

Anyway, the groom's asking if they can do this later, the bride's asking for an explanation, the bride's mother is calling the caterer to tell them not to open the champagne, and the Mountie finally identifies himself as an Inspector by the name of Lars Ulrich. Father Callaghan told me the groom blurted out, and I quote, when did the drummer from Metallica join the Mounties?

It seems this Mountie didn't like that, and knocked the groom out. Weddings that end with the Mounties hauling the groom out to face felony charges... well, at least no one will ever forget that one, right?

Not all wedding disasters have bad endings, mind you. Reverend Atchison told me she helmed a wedding last summer that was quite memorable. A young couple, Alicia and Andrew, were getting married, but she could tell something was wrong. Maybe it was the groom being something of a self absorbed prat, as Helen put it. Maybe it was the bride's mother Ursula being an overbearing monster. At any rate, Helen came up to the point in the service when she asks the bride and groom if they take each other to be married. Andrew did the whole thing effortlessly.

Alicia, on the other hand, wouldn't answer. Helen asked the question again: do you take this man to be your husband? It's a fairly easy question. Unless, of course, you don't love the guy you're marrying. Alicia's mother was fuming at this point. After all, there's her daughter just saying nothing, staring off at no one in particular, not meeting anyone's eyes, and making Ursula look bad by seeming indecisive. Did I mention Helen thinks that Ursula's an overbearing monster?

Finally Alicia just blurted it out. She couldn't marry Andrew, because she was in love with her maid of honour.

 Ursula blew her stack over what she saw as a public humiliation and swore to never forgive her daughter for making her look bad. Andrew walked right out of the church and ended up marrying a Vegas showgirl three weeks ago. And Alicia? She and Caroline are getting married in December, so hey, that's a happy ending, right?

I would like to close with an experience I've had in this sort of thing, from the church I last served at. It was just supposed to be another wedding. Michael and Julia seemed so happy together, so in love. The wedding was just perfect. Flowers in the church, violinists playing, glorious sunlight illuminating the stained glass windows in just the right way. There we were, before the assembled guests, and I came up to that point in the service when I ask that question: does anyone have any cause why these two should not be married. You know, it's supposed to be a hypothetical question. No one actually expects an answer.

All of a sudden, a hand went up. Becky Gutherie. She stood up, and said Michael couldn't marry Julia when he should be with her. After all, as she put it, was she not going to have their baby? You can imagine the gasps in the congregation, and well, Becky was visibly along at this point. 

So there's Julia, asking Michael if any of this is true. And there's Michael, looking like a deer caught in the headlights. And then there's Rachel Carruthers, standing up and claiming Michael was the father of her three year old daughter Michaela, and that he belonged with her. And if this wasn't bad enough, Julia's sister Adrianna gets up at this point and says she's in love with Michael, and insists if he marries Julia he'll always regret knowing she's the one who got away.

Long story short, the bride broke the groom's nose. After seven other women all rose up to lay claim to him or demand child support payments. The last I heard Michael's caught up in endless court hearings, while Julia got her own revenge by writing a best seller: How To Make Your Cheating No Good Ex Rue The Day He Cheated On You. 

Apparently Natalie Portman is playing Julia in the movie adaptation."

*By the way.... the story about a minister preaching about prostitution? Totally true. My parents had friends. In their case, the groom's brother-in-law officiated at their wedding. He was a minister, and a male chauvinist pig. He preached about prostitution at that wedding. That speaks volumes about what he thought about the happy couple, doesn't it?

I've always thought the best man should have taken that minister out back during the reception and beat the living daylights out of him. Hey, the Big Guy would have said the Not So Good Reverend had it coming.


  1. Oh dear, there are just too many things that can go wrong, weddings are a health and emotional hazard :)

  2. This is the single best argument I know of for elopement. Or maybe just living together....

  3. This is why my wedding only had my parents and my sister and my husbands parents and his brother. Small and nothing went wrong. We had our reception the following weekend and it was just fun without the nerves or anything.

  4. Hmm. These anecdotes make one want to go to a justice of the peace for a nice quiet ceremony!

  5. @Grace: they certainly can be.

    @Norma: either one will do.

    @Diane: good idea.

    @Kelly: that makes more sense.

    @Cheryl: it does, yes.

  6. That should be on the cover of their wedding album.

  7. Fabulous !
    If I ever get married again (hahahahahahahah whoohoo, let me get my breath back) I want to have the service done at a drive through with Elvis.
    In a convertible Pink Cadillac (or white with Turquoises) The Square one would be in the back. In the car following would be friends in a convertible
    Cadiillac maybe in lilac..
    Of course I would be wearing 1950 diamond sunglasses.
    Life is good.

    cheers, parsnip

  8. lol! This cracked me up. Those are quite the stories!

  9. We couldn't find the bride and groom, at my daughter's wedding just after the ceremony. The caterers kept coming to me with questions, and I didn't know, since they ran the wedding their way, with 2 dads, 1 step-dad, 2 step-moms, etc. Turns out the priest, in the chapel next door, scarfed them away for a beer after the photos were done. IT was quite funny, really. Great post.

  10. We couldn't find the bride and groom, at my daughter's wedding just after the ceremony. The caterers kept coming to me with questions, and I didn't know, since they ran the wedding their way, with 2 dads, 1 step-dad, 2 step-moms, etc. Turns out the priest, in the chapel next door, scarfed them away for a beer after the photos were done. IT was quite funny, really. Great post.

  11. Very funny. I'm presided at innumerable weddings and I've attended many. I'm very glad that at my age, I am required to never do another one and attend another one. We had a saying in a bowling league one time - actually it was the name of our team and appeared on our shirts: WAPITATI (translated means - What a pain in the ass this is. :)


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