Right around Thanksgiving, people start looking for wedding coordinators, wedding books, and wedding officiants. In the flurry, I'm reminded of the months I worked with my Dad, learning how he officiated at weddings.
Dad had an insatiable interest in human beings, great curiosity about what made them tick. He coupled this with a sense of calm authority and warm humor, and his wedding clients found this combination irresistible. They trusted him right away, and formed longstanding relationships. A few sent him cards years later, and came to his memorial service.
Dad loved the theater of a wedding. "It has everything," he explained to me. "lights, costumes, music, scripts." He loved orchestrating, and he also enjoyed sitting back and watching the other professionals, the wedding coordinator, the florist, the photographer, the DJ, do their work.
Dad taught me to bring a sense of calm to the wedding. He taught me that you never know what will go awry at a wedding, but you can count on something, given that weddings are large groups of diverse people, with agendas, agreeing to show up at one place and one time. And that as long as the couple are married, everything else is really small potatoes.
He maintained that calm when a groom swallowed his own wedding ring during a drunken rehearsal (it did show up, cleaned, at the wedding). He even held his equilibrium during a hot air balloon wedding.
Finally, Dad taught me how to keep on being surprised by the ceremony, even as he performed more than a thousand weddings. It's easier to do this when you tailor the script to your couple, but still! "You've read your words lots of times," he would say, "but for everyone in front of you, it's the first time they really hear it. So don't rehearse it too much, and enjoy it." And I did.