Local pastors were asked by the South County News religion writer, John Fulton to share a few of their memorable stories about weddings they have performed.
Rev. William Planck
(This is their personal story told in first person)
My wife and I were the principals in a “hillbilly” wedding when I was serving as associate pastor.
The idea was that I, as the groom, did not know who I was going to marry.
The wedding party was at the front of the church, with my wife playing the bride.
The pastor was escorting me, in my bibs, T shirt, over-sized boots and straw hat, from the back of the church to the front.
Every time I passed a woman or girl, I lunged at them and said. “Is this the one?” to the delight of most and the startled rejection of others.
When we got to the front, the pastor’s wife, a reserved “old church” woman, was my wife’s maid of honor and the head usher was my best man.
When we arrived at the front I was introduced to my bride.
Keeping in character, I said, “If it’s all the same to you I’d rather have this one.” as I lunged at the pastor’s wife.
She gave out a scream and ran off the platform. So, in character, I took off and chased her all the way around the church to the delight of everyone except the pursued.
When we got back to the Platform, I was again introduced to my bride, and told that she was the one. Vows were exchanged, which include such things as “sloping from the same troth”.
After the vows, we were pronounced man and wife and retreated to the back of the church with a standing ovation from everyone.
“Tha, tha, that’s all folks”
Pastor Buff Coe
I have always believed that if I ever wrote a memoir of my pastoral ministry, wedding and funeral stories would have a prominent place. At such events, we ask people who have little or no experience with such ceremonies to participate in rituals with which they have little familiarity and probably no prior experience.
My first such memory concerns a wedding that took place in 1978 during the great blizzard of ‘78. The groom’s family brought the food for the rehearsal dinner to the church on snowmobiles since that was the only way in or out of their road.
My next memory comes from the early 1990s. The wedding took place in the chapel of the large suburban church where I was the associate pastor. It was February and the heat was on. It was warm in the room and I suspect the men in the wedding party had been celebrating a little too much the night before. At the point in the service where I asked the best man for the rings, he said, “I can’t see s—,” and he toppled over. (You may want to edit this story for publication, but that is what he said.)
The other situation involved a couple who had been married for 40 years. Everyone knew the relationship was troubled, so no one was surprised when the husband moved out and the couple divorced. However, after a few months, the two of them began dating. Later, the husband moved back into the house and eventually they asked to be married. I figured that if they didn’t know what they were getting into after 40 years together, nothing that happened in three sessions with their pastor was likely to change their minds, so I went ahead and presided at the wedding without the usual premarital sessions. They remained together until the husband died a few years ago.
At one of my first churches, which averaged about 40 in Sunday morning attendance, we kept the heat turned down when the building was not in use. Before each wedding, I had to remember to turn the heat up so the building would be at a comfortable temperature. The only heat vent in the sanctuary was a large metal grate in the floor about halfway down the center aisle. At one of my first weddings, which took place in the wintertime, I conscientiously turned the heat on so the building would be comfortable for the ceremony. Unfortunately, the furnace kicked on just as the processional was starting, so the bridesmaids each had to pass over the heat grate which blew their fluffy petticoats up over their heads! After that experience, I learned to turn the heat off at least five minutes prior to the ceremony so the bridesmaids did not have to hold their skirts down as they walked down the aisle!
Pastor Ed Courtney
I have found in doing wedding ceremonies “things” will happen and you must be ready to be flexible and innovative at all times. The only wedding I ever had where there was a problem was when the best man forgot the bride’s ring. During the portion of the service where the rings and vows were to be exchanged I put my hand out to receive it from the best man and he just looked at me like I just shot him. With very wide eyes and a shrug of his shoulders – NO RING. In that moment I thought, “You had one job to do and you dropped the ball.” I smiled and leaned into his face saying, “Play along, reach into your pocket and hand me an imaginary ring.” He complied and I held up the imaginary ring, spoke of its significance and the groom took the imaginary ring and recited his vows slipping the imaginary ring on her finger. To my knowledge they are still married and with the real deal -–a real ring.
Pastor Greg Culver
I don’t have a funny wedding story so far as those types of stories go. Mine tend more toward the awkward type like a bride on the verge of a nervous breakdown because the “perfect day” was unattainable. I’ve had mothers contend with me for control of the wedding. A lecherous father hitting on the maid of honor. A groom who showed up drunk (It was a wedding I immediately cancelled, much to the chagrin of the entire family. But the warning was given at the rehearsal.).
During my twenty years, I have also officiated over some very beautiful, poignant moments when the couple teared up when sharing vows to one another and holding that promise before God. Another couple, the first thing they wanted to do upon be wed was share Communion with their family and friends. An older couple who giggled so much they had to take time out to suck on their oxygen before the ceremony ended.