I never thought it would really happen, but it did.
The bride and groom had purchased a little elopement package from me which included an hour of photography and the officiant, plus recommendations. This package was for the couple and less than 4 guests. Several months out from their wedding date, the bride told me the groom’s uncle was a Bishop and would be officiating. That’s no problem for me. I still would be attending to insure all would go as planned.
We talked, emailed, and texted many times throughout the planning period and even more during the few days before the time of the wedding to make sure all was running smoothly. Everything had fallen into place perfectly!
It was a beautiful morning in late August. Not too terribly hot, actually. The ceremony was scheduled for 10am on the beach at Jekyll Island. I had planned to arrive on site about 45 minutes ahead of time and had touched base with the photographer before I left my house to make sure he was in route as well as the bride to see how she was handling the morning. Everything was on schedule! Awesome!
When I arrived, I was a little surprised by the number of guests that had already arrived for this wedding. I was expecting an elopement, but this had turned into a full blown wedding! The photographer arrived and we walked into the crowd, hoping to see the Groom and the Pastor to give last minute directions and answer any questions before the Bride arrived.
The Groom was obviously nervous, but ready to get this thing started! I instructed him, along with his groomsmen to follow the photographer down to the beach before his bride arrived. I asked him where his uncle (the Pastor) was. He did not know.
The bride texted me saying she was in route and would be there in a couple of minutes. She also asked where the Pastor was. No one knew. No one had any idea where he was. It was now 10:25am and no sign of the Pastor. The bride arrived and stayed in the car with her bridesmaids waiting on my instruction.
Well, never say never! Before I left home, I made sure my black robe was in the car and my IPad with my wedding ceremonies. I had not prepared a ceremony for this couple, since they had their own Minister, but could pull it off in a pinch in an emergency, if I had to. I had no idea this ceremony would be the emergency!
I explained to the bride, who was in full panic mode by now, that I had my book in the car and I would take care of it. Just give me a few minutes to get to my car and back. She said they had special vows that they wanted to use and Asked if she could email them to me. Sure. I took a few minutes to copy and paste and to add the special vows they had written together. Zipped up the robe, grabbed my iPad and announced we were ready to begin.
The 40-50 guests followed me down to the ceremony location on the beach. It was hot as blue blazes with that black robe on. The sun was beating down and the breeze was no where to be found. As I directed the guests to gather close in a semi circle, I explained to the Groom that the Pastor had not shown up, but not to worry because I would officiate. He was ready!
Just at that time, the Pastor walked up. I unzipped my hot robe in a New York second and said, “I’m glad to see you!” He smiled and stepped under the wedding arbor as everyone waited for the bridesmaids and the bride to begin the ceremony.
But…that’s not all. We were just about to begin, when the Groom came over to me and asked if I had a copy of the special vows that they were going to be saying.
I said, “Sure, I have them right here, since I copied and pasted them into my ceremony just a few minutes ago. Do you need them to go by, during the ceremony?”
He answered, “Yes.”. So I handed him my IPad with my ceremony. I really was thinking he must have been so nervous, he forgot to bring his vows to read to the bride.
So the bridesmaids and then the Bride arrived and the ceremony began. I noticed the Pastor had an iPad book/holder just like mine. Isn’t that a coincidence? He began reading. How could that be possible? He was reading MY wedding ceremony that I had written from my IPad. I recognized it immediately and had to chuckle.
I always read all of my ceremonies from my IPad and it can be difficult in the bright sunshine to read the words from the IPAD due to screen glare and especially if you are wearing sunglasses. He was wearing sunglasses and would pause frequently to see the screen better. It was at those times that I prompted him with the next word, under my breath, of course.
The part that amazed me the most was that he changed the wording on the special vows the bride and groom had chosen for their ceremony.
“Do you promise to love, honor, and obey?”.
WHAT? OBEY? No one obeys any more. That’s not at all what was written. He changed the vows to say what he thought they should say instead of what the couple wanted to say.
I felt really bad for this couple. What this goes to prove is that you need to meet or at the very least, talk with your officiant or Pastor ahead of time and make sure they know your wishes for your vows and your ceremony. It could happen to you.