A View From The Officiant

Weddings are beautiful events, but what is it like to see it from a perspective few see it from? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I recently got the honor of uniting my friends Joe and Lacy in holy matrimony. This was the first wedding I have ever performed and I describe getting to perform it as honoring and humbling. I thought that many people might not know what a wedding is like from the perspective of the minister, so I figured why not share it and have it open for anyone else I might train later on in ministry who will perform a wedding some day?

Naturally, I spent most of the time before the wedding with the groom. In fact, I never even saw the bride until she walked down the aisle. With Joe, I was his friend and counselor both who was asking him all the questions that needed to be asked. “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” “Do you know what you’re getting yourself into?” None of this was said to discourage him from marrying, but to let him really think about what he was doing. I also did tell him he doesn’t really know what he’s getting into. None of us do. He would learn over time.

Meanwhile, we also followed the idea that the groom should not see the bride at all until she walks down the aisle. When we passed by the bridal suite, I was Joe’s personal escort letting him know the path was clear and loudly announcing the groom was on the floor. (Yet the bride had so much make-up being put on she probably never came close to leaving the bridal suite.)

So let’s move straight to the ceremony. My own wife did play a part as when I walked in to the ceremony, she was walking right by my side and I got her to her seat before walking up. This I think is an excellent idea as it shows that the minister who is marrying is hopefully also taking marriage seriously.

There is nothing quite like getting to perform a ceremony and it really shows you the gravity of what is going on. In a sermon, you really have to make sure that the audience is paying attention so you spice it up with some humor or points that will catch the audience off-guard and make them wonder what you’re saying. Not so with a wedding! Everyone is already paying attention!

In the case of Joe and Lacy’s wedding, they wrote out their own vows and ceremony. They also gave me a hand in it with some things I wanted to say. (Such as changing the power invested in me by the state of TN and instead replacing that with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They wanted a Christian ceremony, but I guess they wanted me to decide how best to say it.)

I also made sure to put in a part about how the audience has a role to play in the ceremony. We so often think the wedding is just for the bride and groom. It is not. These events take place before witnesses for a reason. The audience is there to say “We believe in the unity of this couple and we are here to support them throughout their marriage.” If we had this building up of support as needed from a community of fellow Christians, perhaps the divorce rate would be lower than it is.

While the audience is paying attention, it was important to speak with volume. They needed to hear what was being said. I also know and tell anyone getting married that wedding ceremonies normally do not go perfectly. Mistakes will be made. Some people will flub over their lines. I know I made a mistake in a line at one time. Keep going. The show must go on regardless and you cannot focus on the mistake. You must go on with the marriage. (Geez. Maybe that’s also a good tip for the marriage. You think?)

There is something incredible in the time when it comes that you pronounce the couple as husband and wife. It’s really hard to describe but even later in the day, I would sometimes be trembling thinking about what had happened. Two people have their lives changed forevermore because of some words that are said, but something in the vows comes back to me as well. No ceremony can create your marriage. It is you who do that through how you live your lives.

Also, there is the added bonus that as you perform such a ceremony, you realize how important it is to honor marriage. This was something else I added into the ceremony in preparation as reminding the audience they were there to be supports because marriage is not honored as it used to be in our country any more. Performing this wedding made me want to make sure to honor the marriage that I have even more.

Of course, when all was said and done, while it was nice to get compliments, at that point, aside from signing the marriage license, I was a guest from that point on which included snacks and cake and oh yes, the dancing of course. (That also is another great benefit to having your wife at a wedding. Any excuse after all….)

As I said, this was my first wedding I’ve ever performed and I was thankful that it was done for my friends. My great thanks to Joe and Lacy for letting me play such an important part in their wedding. The ceremony was indeed beautiful, but make sure that what starts off beautiful stays beautiful as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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