I’ve lost count how many weddings I’ve performed in 30 years but I’ll never forget my first wedding when the words “You may be seated” never came from my mouth.
Yes, the congregation stood throughout the entire ceremony.
Apparently, I have so much commanding authority that no one dared sit unless I said so.
The sanctuary of First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach had comfortable
cushioned pews but it didn’t matter since the wedding congregants could only
fantasize about resting their weary legs and dropping their backsides onto one.
Since that experience I’ve concluded that a more effective form of persuasive
torture than waterboarding might be to force prisoners to stand in one position
for hours at a time in a mattress store surrounded by seductive Serta king pillow
Here Comes the Bride, but first …
OK, so maybe I was little nervous about conducting my first wedding. Maybe I
was hyper-focused on getting the words in my wedding script just right since I
misunderstood the wedding director’s cue and walked out a side entrance with
the groom and best man to the front of the church before a single member of the
wedding party, including the parents, had walked down the aisle. Maybe I forgot
to scribble the words “You may be seated” atop my script.
Maybe I was so present in the moment, enveloped in the divine responsibility of
uniting the couple in holy matrimony, that I was oblivious to the fact that Ron and Kali each had grandmothers in attendance, petite women in their 80s who were standing and probably hanging on for dear life to the back of the pew in front of them.
Ron’s family members were Italian Catholic and Kali’s family was Greek Orthodox.
At the rehearsal on Friday Ron whispered to me that this was the first time that
his or Kali’s family had been in a Baptist church. I’m guessing that the next
afternoon’s standing wedding may have been the last time that their families
ventured into a Baptist church, at least for a wedding.
Regardless, the freshly wedded couple got a standing ovation as they recessed out. Of course, perhaps people were applauding because the wedding was over and that I was not in charge of seating at the reception.
Back at ya
The soloist at that wedding, Kim Childress, got a really good laugh at my
But I got the last laugh when years later I was performing her wedding to Jimmy in the exact same location. During the kneeling prayer I called her “Beth”. Twice. I had my eyes closed during the prayer so I did not see as Kim turned to her kneeling groom and inquire, “Who is Beth?”
Decades later I still get a Christmas card every year from the Bouchillons signed, “Love, Jimmy & Beth” with a winky face. Baptists forgive but they never forget.
Since then I’ve seen numerous wedding bloopers and scares ranging from fainting groomsmen, tripping fathers, and a bride warning me just before the ceremony began that she had the stomach flu and was iffy but wanted to proceed.
Fortunately for all present, she made it through the ceremony without incident.
However, I’m inclined to believe the honeymoon probably wasn’t all that the
groom had dreamed of.
I’ve had one ringbearer on stage pick his nose aggressively throughout the
ceremony as if he was digging for gold while another ringbearer continually did
that little dance that tells everyone “I should’ve have gone pee pee before the
I’ve had flower girls suddenly freeze like a deer in the headlights while others
have had meltdowns in the aisle. One flower girl refused to distribute petals
because she wanted to keep them. One flower girl walked behind her sister and
picked up her twin’s sprinkled petals and put them in her own basket. Today that
girl has either grown up to be a very conscientious housekeeper or is doing jail
time for grand theft.
In conclusion, with all the foibles that can happen during a wedding, I would just
like to go on record in defending myself and say that the bride in ’93 who caught
her hair on fire with the unity candle — that was NOT my fault.
Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin
(www.ramonpressontherapy.com) and the author of several books. Reach him at email@example.com.