A reader wondered about how to be both officiant and Mother of the bride. What a great question!
My father was a Humanist minister and he taught me how to officiate at weddings. When I was ready to commit to Mark, a second marriage for us both, we asked Dad to officiate. We married in October, in a beautiful waterside restaurant, and then sat down with our 70 guests for dinner.
Most people knew that Dad was a wedding officiant, so it wasn’t surprising to the guests. Since he was already up at the ‘altar’ area, I walked down the aisle unaccompanied. That suited us both well.
I still have the ceremony he wrote for us in a red folder. When I reviewed it for this post, I was reminded that Dad had his private opinions about the existence of an Almighty, but because Mark and I requested a way to bring our faith to the forefront, he wove in phrases such as “With God ever present,” and “God, bless these rings,” etc. He wore a black judge’s robe during the ceremony and the removed it and became a dinner guest, and father of the bride, afterward.
What about when it is your first time officiating at a wedding, and you are a parent as well? I think it’s important to make it clear to the guests that your role of parent is different from your role as officiant. Here are some things to consider:
This is the stamp they chose
The brides arrived at my house late in the afternoon, having picked up their Santa Clara county marriage license the day before. They were already weary after a long, hard drive from Oregon.
We sat at my kitchen table with bottles of cold water. My daughter sat with us. We scrutinized the marriage license, which was in order.
I cleared my throat. “Do you, D, take M to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
“And do you, M, take D to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
“Then, by the power vested in me by the State of California, I now pronounce you to be a legally married couple.”
We cheered and my daughter signed the certificate as a witness. I made copies and slipped the original license into its envelope.
Then we had dinner.
Before you call this wedding completely prosaic and boring, let me continue: I had been with these women six days before, at a late morning wedding under a lace canopy in one of Portland’s botanical gardens. As four closest friends held the poles of the chuppah steady, the brides washed their hands in clear water and fed each other tastes of honey. A framed and witnessed ketubah, a visual reminder of their vows to one another, stood on an easel nearby. The ceremony lasted twenty minutes, and guests beamed with joy and even wept. Vows and rings were exchanged, and that day I said, “By exchanging your private affirmations, you have pronounced yourselves to be married.”
But that wedding is not yet legal in Oregon.
Later, the mother of one of the brides remarked on the fragile hydrangea blossoms that shone like bits of lace among the dark green bushes surrounding our ceremony. There had been no sign of blooms the day before.
Here are some thoughts about weddings, writing, and the world. Enjoy.