My goal in writing this blog is to entertain you at the same time as I’m giving you helpful advice to get you through your wedding planning process with the least amount of stress and elevated blood pressure. In other words, I’m almost always telling you to calm down, take a deep breath, and enjoy the journey. Almost.
I’m sure you can come up with countless nightmare wedding scenarios if you let your imagination run wild, but almost (there’s that word again) all of them can be dealt with by reminding yourself of one fact: by the end of the day you’ll be married to the most wonderful person in the world, and everyone will have had an outrageously good time. The limo breaks down? Other people can drive you there. The flowers get delivered to the same address in the wrong town? People have gotten flowers on very short notice before. You spill something on your dress an hour before you’re supposed to go to the church? That’s what Miracle Moms are for. And the weather? It is, as the philosopher said, what it is.
But there is one item you actually can’t do without on your wedding day. No, it’s not the rings, the food, or the musical accompaniment. It’s the person who has to perform the legally sanctioned duties of the officiant. Without that individual the whole day becomes a very enjoyable, but not legally binding, show.
Obviously, it’s impossible that Father Mike or Rabbi Bernie or Yogi Julia or whomever you may have chosen to preside over your nuptials is going to back out. Almost (grrr) always when people say they’ll be there for something like a wedding, they’ll be there. But things happen. People make mistakes on their calendars, family emergencies occur, streets get flooded, and cars break down. (Again, I’m sorry to add to your list of worries rather than reducing it, but I’ll offer solutions too!) Sadly, once in a while you’re standing there with nobody to actually marry you (in the transitive sense, for you other grammar nerds). Though your officiant may have a hard-and-fast contract signed with you and a rock-solid religious affiliation, sometimes God (or whatever you believe in) has other plans. This is when it might be wise to put a little faith in the great institution of the American government and come up with a contingency plan in advance.
Yes, we’re serious. Many representatives or other local officials have the power to marry couples legally as far as the state is concerned. Obviously, this depends on the particular state and its corresponding marriage laws, but we assume you’ve done your research on those by now. It’s often a perfectly acceptable way to get the job done. And after all, it’s not like your local rep has anything more exciting to do — your wedding probably beats appraising budget proposals or revising parking regulations or whatever it is people do at those uncomfortable-looking desks. Just promise him or her some free food, and you’ll be good to go.
Remember those old movies when someone pipes up that a ship’s captain has the authority to perform marriages on his vessel, and that saves the day? Maybe that applies to other authority figures, like a mayor or police chief or fire captain. It might be worth a phone call or internet search just to put your mind at ease. For the record, I’ve only seen this happen once in the hundreds of weddings I’ve attended, and that one had a happy ending with the aforementioned state rep filling in for a member of the clergy who fell ill.
And who knows? If you show your local pol a good enough time, maybe you can even get all those parking tickets forgiven!
I know this is (thank heaven) exceedingly rare, but did anyone have an experience like this? What was your solution? Did you have to fly off to Las Vegas to make it official?