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St Valentines Day

I had a bit more of a traditional St Valentine’s Day weekend than a single guy has any right to expect. To get it you have to understand the origins of the day. According to legend St Valentine was a priest who continued to marry soldiers after the emperor banned the practice fearing it would weaken the army. So Valentines Day should really be more of a celebration of marriage than romance.

That being said Saturday night i went out with a young couple to Sycamore a fancy restaurant with a seasonal/local menu to plan their May wedding ceremony. This will be my 9th wedding (not counting my own) and my first since Halloween 2003. I did my first wedding in the late 90s when a friend asked if i could do their ceremony. I looked into it, got ordained on the internet for the Universal Life Church, and applied f0r my license to solemnize marriages in the State of Ohio.

It went really well, the bride asked me to be sincere and that has been my watchword. Personalized and sincere. I really like doing weddings, its an exciting time to share with people and it is one of the few times in our society that we ask ultimate questions of what we really believe in. Most of the people who want a friend or acquaintance to do their wedding have no set religious beliefs. There is this vague tentative agnostic-paganism prevalent in most of my friends approach to spirituality. There are also family members with more traditional beliefs that you also want to speak to you. I at least want to also honor my own spiritual principles. It makes for this really interesting tension as you try to dump the bullshit but keep enough to meet everyone’s expectations in the shared experience.

The first wedding I did was Christian/Jewish. That was easy i stuck to the old testament. I found this nice reading about “two are better than one. How can one be warm alone?” It was such a sweet idea that just laying together is a spiritual act. I really wanted to use a Jesus quote so i just referred to him as the Sage of Galilee, as i had seen in some Jewish works.

It was a big hit and that led to several more weddings, a Christian/Native American one, an atheist one complete with a quote by Mumia Abu Jamal. I married my former brother-in-law which was particularly flattering because his uncle was a minister.

The most different wedding i did was based in West African spirituality. It seems the essence of ritual is spontaneity to provide room for the spirit to move, so i was largely unscripted. I had folks in the back light candles and say a few words about the bride and groom and then passed the flame across the hall to the bride and groom with everyone saying something. it was sweet.

I’ve done two holiday weddings one on New Years and one on Halloween. The New Years one was tough because i had just separated from Amee two weeks before the wedding. Oh I cried before driving up there, the last thing on earth i wanted to do, it also was fun, got hit on by a former co-worker and got her number even though she had a date with her. Being a wedding minister is a little bit like being a rock star, especially if you’re the drinking and smoking kind of minister, with a novel, spiritually nuanced message, delivered with some panache. The Halloween wedding was perhaps my best. The theme they wanted was horror movies and i worked that into a whole child like thing, they had great music, a ghost story and a fun crowd and the ceremony was a big hit.

This will be my first wedding in Missouri. No license required. Might generate some more gigs. And i love this couple which makes it quite a bit more fun. So this year, divorced though i may be, i was more than ok with being single on the big couples day. I got to celebrate the real reason for the season and feel a part of something special.

Categories: history, religeon
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