The Year of Weddings

shoesBy the Rev. Mary Kay Totty

This has been a year of great weddings! I love these joyous occasions when friends and family gather from far and wide to celebrate the love and loyalty of two people. I have officiated or attended at least eight of these wonderful events this year. I want to share with you about four of these weddings.

The year began in January, when two longtime members of my church became legally married after 25 years together; years where they shared tough times and great times; years when they adopted and raised two fine young men; years where they waited for their government and their church to catch up to the acceptance and love they found in family and friends. Floyd and Carlos were married on a Saturday night and it was one of those “pull out all the stops” celebrations. The church was packed – main floor and balcony. The grooms began crying as they processed in – each escorted by one of their sons. The reception downstairs was glitzy for our little church – rented china and silver, catered food, freely flowing beverages and a DJ playing salsa. We sang, we danced, we toasted, and the love that filled the space was vibrant and true and graced by God.

In May, another two longtime members of the church became legally married after 22 years together. Their celebration was much different, but oh so beautiful. They picked the date based on when Melany’s family from the Midwest and West Coast would be out east. For Melany and Cheryl, what was most important was to have those dearest to them present. The church pitched in to help in lots of ways – organizing, setting up, and running the reception – healthy nibbles and fresh fruit crisps. Another served as fashion consultant helping Cheryl and Melany put together outfits that went together. Their matching jackets embroidered with butterflies and their fab shoes were huge hits. Melany and Cheryl sang to each other as part of the ceremony. The love that filled the space was strong and generous and graced by God.

The third wedding was for dear friends who found each other in mid life. Kim had been long divorced and Greg was widowed, but life led them to each other. Their wedding was on a hilltop in the wilds of West Virginia – way out in the middle of nowhere, way back off the paved roads. When I finally arrived, I drove to the end of the narrow, tire-rutted lane winding uphill between dense vegetation that then opened into a wide meadow. It was a clear, beautiful Sunday afternoon. A big tent was in place with lots of chairs. The couple walked in together to some of the best blues harmonica music ever played. The reception included barbecue and homemade pound cake. It was a glorious day replete with laughter and music. The love that filled the air was joyous and sweet and graced by God.

The fourth wedding was in Maine. The couple married in the Episcopal Cathedral in Portland as they celebrated 15 years together. For Doug and Tom there was a bit of pomp, a bit of circumstance, and a whole lot of beauty. Present were family of chance and family of choice. There were small children and high school friends. Their bishop offered the prayer of blessing. The champagne reception sparkled with delight. The love that filled the space was beautiful and potent and graced by God.

Similar stories could be shared about the other weddings I've officiated. Each of the weddings was unique. Each couple was unique. Yet in all the important ways, each wedding and each couple were much the same: Two people, deeply in love, moved to make a faith-filled and public covenant of commitment to each other in front of God and their loved ones. Their love enriches the lives of those around them and makes a difference for the common good in our world. I am honored to have been a part of these four weddings – officiant for two of them, preacher for a third, and guest at the fourth. Truly these celebrations of love and loyalty are some of the most delightful parts of ministry.