Published in The
Melbourne Anglican September 2002
inadequacy of my theological education was exposed at the rehearsal
for the first wedding I celebrated. I was stumped by simple questions
such as "Which side does the father of the bride stand on?", and
"How can we sober up the groom?", and "Is Celine Dion an Anglican?"
It was a wonderful wedding. The bride looked stunning and the groom
performed his first miracle at a wedding. Performing my first wedding
was a miracle. The next week I bought a copy of 'Wedding Etiquette
Made Easy' and I still read extracts as part of the daily office.
clergy recite the litany of famous people they have married. I've
only managed to marry the infamous. One infamous bride, with a well
publicised criminal conviction, attracted media interest to her
wedding. Somehow television news and magazine articles managed to
cover the wedding without mentioning my name or referring to the
succinct (but poignant and witty) sermon that I carefully crafted
for the cameras. This was an unfortunate editorial oversight. Maybe
if I had preached on tithing at that wedding the church would have
received a share of the $10,000 that Woman's Day paid the bride.
take a wedding with a famous bridesmaid; a cat, who had been the
subject of a short film featured in the St. Kilda Film Festival.
I loved the film and the wedding. The bridesmaid was carried in
a lace and ribbon decorated cage and placed on the front pew. The
bride and groom requested that a friend of theirs play the piano
for the service. He was blind, deaf, and a great musician. My concern
was whether the pianist, the cat and I would start singing 'Amazing
Grace' at the same point in the service. The only sour note in that
memorable wedding was that the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages
hung up on me when I rang I ask whether a cat and a man who is blind
and deaf can be legal witnesses at a wedding.
learnt a lot as a marriage celebrant. These days I tell the bride
that if she wants to avoid pre-wedding stress she needs to remember
one thing, it's not her wedding, it's her mother's. A clergy training
video is now available called 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'. If
the archbishop takes my advice it would be given to priests with
the Bible when they are ordained.