Clergy Corner, Feb. 17, 2017
A few years back, Hoopeston St. Anthony Pastor PATRICK O'NEAL presided over the wedding of two Civil War re-enactors — "complete with hoop skirts for the ladies and authentic reproduction uniforms for the guys," he says. "Yes, they were all Yankees."
Sinai Temple Rabbi ALAN COOK was once up front for a wedding where the groom forgot his socks at the hotel and nearly got married in his bare feet. And Cook himself was the groom.
As Valentine's week comes to a close, we invited area clergy to tell us about that unforgettable experience they had before getting around to 'You may kiss the bride.'
SHANNON CAUGHEY (inset)
Twin City Bible Church, Urbana
"I was about a third of the way into a ceremony I was officiating when I noticed the bride seemed to be fading fast. I paused and whispered to her, 'Are you OK?' She responded, 'I can't breathe. My corset is too tight!'
"My pastoral training hadn't covered what to do in situations like this. In fact, I'm sure the word corset was never used in any of my seminary classes. So I looked in desperation to her soon-to-be husband — if she survived the wedding ceremony — and her bridesmaids. They sprung into action, whisking her away to a private area behind the sanctuary. Meanwhile, I gave a vague explanation to the congregation about the need for a 'pause in the ceremony to fix some things.' The bride soon returned, much happier and healthier. Now she can honestly say of her wedding, 'It took my breath away.'"
Stone Creek Church, Urbana
"I once did a wedding at Homer Lake where the bride came down the aisle to a Harley Davidson motorcycle being revved up. It was so loud. At that same wedding, the groom was having trouble reciting his vows and as a result was being heckled by his friends in the crowd. What followed was a lively banter that included a few four-letter words."
Faith United Methodist, Champaign
"It happened at a ceremony I did at Lewis and Clark Community College. We got through the vows and it was time for the ring ceremony. I put the groom's ring on my Book of Worship — and it rolled right off. But that wasn't the worst part.
"Right behind my feet was a heat grate. I moved about as fast as I ever have to catch it right before it rolled down the hole. We still all laugh about it and believe it or not, the bride's sister actually asked me to do her wedding a couple of years later."
St. John's Catholic Newman Center, Campustown
"A few years ago, I had a wedding in Bloomington for a wonderful couple, Jeff and Erica. Jeff was a rabid Cubs fan and commented right away on some of my office dcor; as a down-stater, I grew up rooting for the red team in St. Louis. During marriage preparations, he would regularly say things like, 'I'm not sure about working with a priest who is a Cardinals fan. Maybe we should try another church.' For the most part, I held my tongue and went on with the preparations.
"As I started the sermon on their wedding day, I instantly thought about how I could even up with him on his trash talking. In the midst of the sermon, I turned to the bride and said, 'Erica, I'm so happy for you to be marrying this good man. I think he is an excellent man and you know you can always count on him. No matter what happens, no matter how bad a situation gets, no matter if even year after year after year there are disappointments and shortcomings — even with all of that, I know he will be faithful to you. How can I be so sure? Because he is a Cubs fan.'
"The whole congregation roared and then applauded."
Ogden and Broadlands UMC
"I was doing a wedding at a church where there were three steps from the floor up to the pulpit area. The wedding party was at the bottom of the steps and I was at the top.
"During the homily, I took a step forward and stepped off the step on accident. I put my hand out to catch myself and of course hit the bride in the shoulder. She managed to help me correct the fall and we went on as if nothing happened.
"I am pleased to say they are still married and a part of the church in spite of my acrobatics at the ceremony."
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