In between eating a tremendous amount of beef (fiancé) and potato salad (me) and breakfast taquitos (both), we found time to attend the wedding of my fiancé’s cousin Friday night in Texas. The wedding was at a chapel perched high in Hill Country—simply breathtaking. Similarly breathtaking was the speed of the ceremony. It clocked in at under seven minutes. Short stroll down the aisle, quick reading from the officiant, he does, she does, bingo bango dunzo. In fact the officiant didn’t even read 1 Corinthians. He summarized it in a couple sentences. It will take longer for me to walk partway down the aisle, teeter on the verge of passing out, regain my composure, then finish walking down the aisle than it did for them to marry this weekend. We didn’t even have to sit down! Once my whiplash subsided and we made our way over the stone pathway to toward the reception, I thought, “Ruh roh. These folks are gonna be peeved when they have to sit through our hour-long Catholicpalooza.”
Brevity served this lovely couple well though and the wedding was perfectly fitting. The blushing young bride in this case was very low key. We all know that when I say I’m a laid-back bride that I’m totally full of crap, right? OK, yeah, well she was truly low key. Ditto her young Texas gentleman groom. Reflecting on the ceremony’s brevity, I thought of something a commenter had inquired about earlier this year when I was grumbling about having to attend pre-Cana classes. “Why are you doing a big church ceremony?” they’d asked.
Even though there is certainly appeal to a ceremony that takes less time than a frozen pizza requires to cook, it is not for me. For starters, I grew up with the Catholic Church. As huffy as I get over the portions of the catechism that I find troubling, the Church’s rituals still mean much to me. There is little in my week more calming than sinking into the rhythm of a ceremony that I could go through in my sleep. Secondly, my father, who is the one who raised us Catholic (Mom is agnostic), would most certainly enjoy seeing at least one of his children married in a Catholic church. My older brother got married in an Episcopalian church. (If that’s the one true faith, my father will eat his hat.) My older sister got married at a mansion in western Maryland. A Catholic priest presided at least, thanks to a donation that softened the edges of the requirement that priests can only perform weddings inside the sanctuary. But whoops! Turns out that priest was having a lot of edges softened. He was booted by the bishop after an audit revealed that he was grifting the diocese out of twice as much pay as priests are supposed to get. He hauled in a cool $68,000 in one year before getting busted. So that left me. Dad shall have his church wedding.
Finally, in what is the paramount reason for my unwavering desire to get married in the Church, you have the essential beauty of the marriage sacrament. Most people, if they give it any thought at all, assume that the priest marries a couple during the wedding ceremony. He does not. In exchanging their wedding vows, the bride and groom marry themselves to each other. The priest is just an observer as they bestow the sacrament of marriage on one another. For my money, that’s worth the full-service Catholic mass.
Provided I have a chair.