Fall wedding season is here and my wedding calendar is booked. Actually, the weekends are booked. I still have room for week-day weddings. Over the 30-plus years I’ve been officiating weddings, I’ve seen a lot of changes and trends, and I’m not talking about bridesmaid dresses.
Thirty-plus years ago most couples didn’t move in together until after their wedding. Now almost everyone has been living together prior to getting married. In fact, some couples already own a house together and others have already had their children! The record for weddings I’ve officiated for number of children together prior to marriage is five. The longest a couple was continuously together prior to marriage is 30 years!
Commitment ceremonies were once the only option for same-gender couples. Now many states have legalized marriage for all people and the majority of the population seems to be in favor of same-gender marriage.
Church membership and affiliation may be going down, but the number of people who still want to be married by a clergy person is holding steady. Interestingly, many self-proclaimed athiests and agnostics still want a clergy person to officiate their ceremony. The overwhelming majority of weddings I have done have been outside a church building and many have been quite unique (Remind to tell you sometime of the Harley/Hells Angels wedding).
The small, rural town we now live in Texas is a destination wedding locale. There are no shortage of beautiful locations for weddings in our county. Many venues – wineries, ranches, state parks, museums, galleries, public areas – and our great year-round weather offer beautiful settings for formal and informal weddings. And since Texas doesn’t require any witnesses, some weddings are quite private with just the couple and me.
My first wedding of the Fall season was Saturday. The couple lived a few hours from here, so I only met them prior to the ceremony. Since their guest list was small and the wedding was informal, there was no need for any rehearsal. We communicated over the phone and email and created a ceremony that combined traditional and personal elements. The wedding took place on the grounds of the bed-and-breakfast they stayed. The bride wore a western-style blouse, jean skirt with embellished back pockets, and boots. The groom was in jeans, plaid western shirt, and boots. I was the most dressed up person and I wasn’t even in my marry-and-bury suit. A few were taking pictures with their mobile phones and someone videoed the ceremony with their iPhone. No flowers, no attendants, but a small circle of close friends and family sharing in their joy. No fancy or expensive reception, no wedding cake, just simple food and drinks to share together. It was beautiful, simple, personal, and joyous.
With all the nastiness going on all around us, it’s nice to have events, like weddings, that bring people together for joyous celebrations that affirm life and love. I’m always honored to be a part of couples sealing their commitment to one another in marriage as they begin their new life together.