Thursday, April 9, 2009


As those of you who've read my profile blurb know, I'm a wedding officiant. Those of you that haven't read it, go 'head. We'll wait. {humming the "Saving Grace" theme. Seriously great song.} You back? Okay.

Today I got a call for my services. A local alterations/tuxedo place has some of my cards, and this lady, whose name is Brandon, interestingly enough, picked one up. I sensed some hesitancy right away. That's not too unusual. For most brides, this is the first time that they have done anything like this, and they aren't sure what they should be asking, or need to know. I try to gently lead them into the information we both need.

But that wasn't the reason for this bride's hesitancy, although there were several. First, she's Catholic, from a big Italian family. Her fiance is a WASP, and they don't want to wait a year for him to convert to be married in the Church. So while they want a wedding expressing faith, there's a bit of a line to walk. Not a problem. Many of my couples are of mixed, little or no faith whatsoever. I reassure her on this point.

She tells me that many ministers want them to join their church before they'll do a service. Ludicrous, to my mind; being forced to join a congregation is hardly a recipe for a meaningful religious experience. Others won't do an outdoor wedding - I've done more outside than in.

I learned long ago that when someone has an objection to something you're trying to sell, or win them over to, that the third objection or problem is the real one. And so it was. Brandon opens with, "I'll be honest with you; we've talked to another non-denominational minister." Okay. I have a pretty good idea who that is, there aren't many around here, and more about her shortly. Brandon continued, telling me that the minister wasn't happy with them doing their own vows in addition to the traditional ones, and I haven't any problems with that, as long as they are respectful. I don't care if they provoke laughter, you understand, just not be rude. The bride assures me they'll be in good taste.

Then the kicker. Brandon has an autistic son whom she wants to be the ring-bearer. The other minister said she wouldn't be responsible for that, that Brandon would have to provide someone to walk with him down the aisle so that, and I quote, "...he won't freak out."

Do I need to tell you that said minister lost this service? Whether I get it or not (her phone was dying and she'll need to call me back), there is no way in Hades this couple would hire her. This mother is mortally offended and well she should be. Her son is used to her family, and she is surely the best judge of whether or not he is capable of being her ring-bearer. It's just outrageous that this minister had the nerve to say this.

I'm not surprised, though. I've sadly heard way too many stories about her. A DJ with whom we've worked many times told me the first. He was doing a wedding, and the bride is frantic because it's past time for the service to start and the minister is not there. When she finally does arrive, she insists on the remainder of her payment being made upfront before she'll start the service, stressing the bride even more, and disrupting everything.

Now, I'm all about getting the green upfront, doncha know? But I do it no later than a week before the wedding so it's one less thing to worry about for the bride and groom. I certainly wouldn't hold up a service for which I were late (has never happened, btw) to demand payment. After all, the marriage isn't legal till the minister signs the license, and if you're worried about payment, you just wait to do that part till you're paid. No muss, no fuss. This minister also touts her 'counseling' the couple. I don't believe in counseling a couple; most ministers have little to no psychology training (I do and still don't force-feed counseling on them) and most couples resent the imposition. But I've been twice told that her much-vaunted counseling consists of a five-minute meeting to get the contract signed and get a least once in a McDonalds!

Of course, I cannot tell brides any of this without looking bad myself. But I'm furious for Brandon's sake, and for my own. This woman is giving those of us that really care about making the day all the bride dreams of a bad name. And no one has the right to rob a child of being a part of his mother's wedding day, even if it might require a bit more effort.

A minister shouldn't just behave with at least a modicum of dignity. She should make sure she accords it to everyone else, too.

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