February 8, 2022
By Pastor Jeff Fox-Kline
I love weddings.
I love being a wedding guest, but more than that I love being a wedding officiant.
I know that there are the horror stories out there, and I think most pastors have at least one or two. Brides or grooms with unreasonable expectations, parents of the betrothed that insist on their own way, family dynamics that produce moments of pain at an otherwise joyous occasion.
But I love weddings.
I’ve done a few weddings throughout my career, and each one of them has had its own special memories attached; whether it was the grandfather’s beautiful poem, the vows written for the stepchild, the families zoomed in from the Philippines, my friends married in a bookstore basement, the pandemic delayed wedding that ended up picture perfect. And not that I play favorites, but some of them stand out even more: being able to be the officiant for two different family members, for two of my best friends marrying each other, and soon for my other best friend who will be in town for the first time in years stopping in for a visit and a quick wedding.
A marriage exists between two people, and there’s no one person who will ever fully know the depth and breadth of any relationship. But as a pastor, I’m invited along to become intimately involved in the story. Through pre-marital counseling I’m able to watch couples recognize those areas in which they gain strength from each other, and I’m able to watch as they realize strengths that were previously unknown. I get to witness the glances and honesty that they share in unguarded and open conversation.
I love writing the homily for weddings.
It’s a brief reflection, and usually forgotten pretty quickly, but it is such an honor to find the intersection of scripture, worship, the particularities of the couple, and the reality of a lifelong committed relationship. The thing about homilies is that the good ones are forgotten within a month, but the bad ones are remembered forever, and it makes the responsibility even more important. As part of my preparation for a wedding I send out a set of questions to the couple, some getting to know you stuff – what do you do for a living, how did you meet, who proposed and how, what is an ideal vacation. Those sorts of questions help to give an understanding of each member of the couple, but the meat of the questions come when I ask them about their partner – what do you admire in your partner, what is something that they help you with, what is a memory that stands out to you with your partner. These questions are answered separately and I don’t divulge the answers ahead of time. This makes the homily not just something that I share with the couple, but something that the couple can give to each other on that day.
I love weddings because they are stressful.
They are hard to do, hard to plan, and come with a lot of baggage. And I love being a partner in those stressful times. I love pulling the best man or maid of honor aside and instructing them to make sure the couple gets food during the reception. I love running a rehearsal to help everyone know that the next day will go just fine. I love reminding the couple that no matter what happens, they will be married by the end of the day.
I love weddings.