Apr 4, 2019

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My Biggest Pet Peeve

I wanted to take a moment to muse on something one of my grooms asked me at an organizational meeting earlier this year. He actually asked me a number of insightful questions, but this was probably my favorite. I made a note to write about it at a later time and it looks like that later time is upon me. The question he asked was “What is your biggest pet peeve about officiating?” I took a minute to mull it over because I don’t think I had ever been asked that question. But I do like the answer I generated, so I guess the time was well spent.

My biggest pet peeve is family pressure. I say this knowing full well that it is not something that affects me directly, but I’ve seen it take a toll on many of the couples I’ve worked with to one degree or another. It usually goes something like this: I meet with a passionate and fun-loving couple who want to have a good time at their ceremony. They want to laugh and celebrate and enjoy every moment of it. (this is my favorite kind of couple to work with) However, then the “BUTs” start popping up.

“Oh we absolutely bonded over watching anime together, BUT don’t mention it because my family won’t know what that is.”

“We moved in together after dating for 6 months, BUT don’t put that in the ceremony because grandma is old fashioned and she will call us sinners”

“We want to have a pagan unity ceremony, BUT my mother would not approve”

These are the some of the saddest moments for me. In the same couple of seconds, I get to see the light and excitement in a person’s eyes and then watch it fade from the pressure exerted, sometimes through implication and sometimes more forcefully, by family members. At my core, I want to celebrate all of the wonderful parts of a couple’s relationship and I want the ceremony to include everything that they value. I understand there are a lot of stakeholders and a lot of nuances to consider when building a ceremony. It is important to consider the feelings of others, but it is also YOUR wedding day; not theirs. In theory it should be what you want it to be, not what you think others would want it to be. In a perfect world, family members should put their own ideas aside and be there for the couple getting married regardless of their own proclivities.

But the world isn’t perfect and parents help pay for things and so they have some ground to stand on to make requests and people care about their extended families so they want to make them happy or, at the very least, not upset them. So the positive fallout from this is that I‘ve gotten really good at walking the line (as Johnny Cash puts it) without ever crossing it. I know where to throw in a mention of God without making the whole ceremony religious. I can include subtle references to things where anyone who knows about it will totally get and appreciate it, but anyone who doesn’t will find it pleasantly innocuous. Language manipulation is something I’m pretty darn good at. So at a wedding where two men are getting married, but Aunt Ruth does not approve of a relationship like that, I don’t spend 10 minutes forcing gay pride down her throat, but I do celebrate the beautiful relationship they have regardless of gender or sexuality. At an unthemed wedding for 2 people who love Harry Potter, I don’t go into nuts exploring the exploitive plight of house elves, but I might quote Dumbledore without using his name. I rather like the challenge of it all.

So what’s the point of all of this chitter-chat? Just know that it bugs me when people can’t be themselves at their own wedding. But do know that I am very good at helping make the ceremony awesome in spite of the pressures a couple may feel from extraneous sources. I’ve got your back.