Weddings are confusing these days. I read that there is a rock star's son who will marry his ex-wife's mother. His son from a previous marriage announced his engagement to the mother of the rock star's former wife. The marriage will make the rock star his ex-wife's step-grandfather — I think.
People marry over and over. A pastor's phone rang on Tuesday morning. It was a call from a young woman who didn't identify herself. She stated that she wanted to be married on Friday of that week. This was to be her sixth marriage. Not wanting to sound rude, the pastor said that he did not do "spur-of-the-moment weddings." He told her he liked to counsel with the couple before the wedding. She sounded somewhat irritated by his response. After a pause, she continued, "Well, I'll find someone else to perform the ceremony, but I want you to know that I believe you are wrong about 'spur-of-the-moment weddings.' Some of my best marriages have been 'spur-of-the-moment.'"
People are married so many times that we now play the Married Name Game. For example: If Sandra Locke married Elliott Nes then divorced him to marry Herman Munster she would be Sandra Locke Nes Munster. If Liv Ullman married Judge Lance Ito, then divorced him and married Jerry Mathers, she'd be Liv Ito Beaver. If Snoop Doggy Dog married Winnie the Pooh he would be Snoop Doggy Dog Pooh. Well, you get the idea.
It's not easy being a person of the cloth these days. I knew one minister whose wedding ceremony consisted of, "Do you whoever-she-or-he-may-be take as your lawful wedded whatever-it-is-you're-planning-to-call-it?" One really got into the Regis thing. He asked the bride if that was her final answer or did she want to poll the audience. Another modern pastor told the groom it was now time to take the ring out of his nose and put it on his bride's finger.
The whole wedding scene seems so fake, even the wedding announcement. The groom could be the worst guy in the world and yet he sounds like a cross between Billy Graham and the Pope. For once I'd like to hear the truth. A wedding announcement that reads something like this: "The groom is a popular young jerk who hasn't done an ounce of work since he got kicked out of college. He has nice clothes and keeps a supply of money because his dad is a softhearted old fool who covers his bad checks instead of letting him go to jail where he belongs."
We lose touch with reality. The bride says, "The groom drinks a lot now, but he's going to quit when we get married." I want to say, "Do you know what a hundred to one odds are?" I talk to the couple and ask a few questions like, "Where are you going to live?" They don't know. "Have you finished your education?" They haven't. "Do you have a job." They don't. "What are you going to live on?" They shrug. Then they look at each other with goo-goo eyes and answer, "Love." They have the urge to merge and can't keep their hands off each other. The chemistry is there but reality isn't. I want to say, "I give you five years for this body chemistry to turn to toxic waste." Instead, I'm nice and suggest that maybe they should register paper plates instead of china.
Ceremonies are also getting more and more expensive and elaborate. I really don't want to see pictures of the bride and groom from their engagement or a video that would rival Hollywood. I want to say to the groom, "Wipe that silly grin off your face because you have no idea what is happening. You can't play this marriage video in reverse and walk out of this thing later on. This is real." I know the father of the bride isn't smiling — he's paying for this extravaganza. He feels like the Maid of Debt. He should say, "Her mother and I and VISA give this bride away."
When the couple asks how much they owe me for performing the ceremony, I want to say, "I'll take 10 percent of what you just blew in the last forty-five minutes." But I'm kind and say, "Just pay me according to your bride's beauty." That works. As a matter of fact, last month the guy gave me $200. I was shocked. I lifted the veil, took a look, and had to give $100 back. Just kidding.
I do admit I'd rather do funerals than weddings. They pay more and last longer. One retiring pastor said the first person saved under his preaching is a backslider, the first couple he married is divorced, but the first person he buried is still there.
Maybe a wedding is a funeral where you smell your own flowers. Or maybe a funeral is really a wedding when you "wake up" and find out what true love is.
Charles Lowery is pastor of Hoffmantown Church, Albuquerque, N.M., www.charleslowery.com