More years ago than I care to admit, I had the honor of serving on a local church staff. One of the “perks” as I saw it at that time, was having the legal requirements to be able to officiate a wedding here in the state of Oregon. As time passed, and life changed, and I left my position at the church, therefore, the ability to officiate a wedding.
As life would have it, a few years later I was asked by a couple whose daughter was recently engaged if I might be able to officiate the wedding ceremony. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to help them, but I would check the current regulations with the State, County and City offices. Long story short, turned out, just as life does, things had changed and jumping through a few legal hoops allowed me to perform the ceremony. Then, not long after, I received another call from other friends in similar need, and yes, the next chapter began. I’ve probably now officiated in the neighborhood of some 30 wonderful couples beginning their new stage of life together. It is a privilege and an honor, it is all the things you might think it would be. Filled with some deep emotional moments and typically a little humor along the way. I get to know some people in ways I would never otherwise get to. I’ve been referred to as “Pastor”, “Father”, “Rabbi” (not sure why that one), “Reverend”, but as most of you know, I’m most comfortable being Fred. I’ve officiated in churches, on beaches, at lakesides, on mountain tops, golf courses, and at homes. But one of my goals in the process is to always keep the focus on the who, never about the where.
A little side note (as I’m prone to do): Far too often the bride will share with me after the ceremony, “Wow, it all happened, I can’t even remember being there!” To any couple walking through the process of a marriage ceremony, don’t let all the planning, prepping, scheduling, decision-making steal the joy of your ceremony together. Give yourself time to breathe, to relax, to “smell the moment”, you’ll never, ever repeat this exact moment again, don’t let it slip away. Nuff said!
Over the years, a soft voice would periodically speak from the back of my mind, “I wonder why I continue to do this?” While it is indeed a privilege, it is at the same time a little anxiety filled, wanting to find the right words, to meet and get to know the couple, their stories, (in filmmaking vernacular, the back story). Wanting to create a ceremony that is just theirs. It never really dawned on me that each of these times it was prepping me for one of the greatest days of my life, January 26, 2012, to officiate over my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding. From the moment Aaron & Marie asked if I would officiate, I was so thankful for all the others who had asked before. So thankful for all the times I had considered it being my last one, that I kept saying yes as it prepared me so well for this moment.
To stand with Aaron & Marie, their families and friends at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, to share the highlights of their childhoods, their high school days, their college days, their ventures out into their careers, and the very special day of November 2nd, 2007, when their eyes met each other for the first time. How over the next few weeks, Aaron convinced others to share some closely guarded information as how to contact her. How he found the 20 seconds of insane courage to ask her out, the moment that changed their lives forever. To share the story of the night they chose to venture their next steps, their next years, their lives together as husband and wife. To share the words with them as they faced each other, with such pure light in their eyes, pure love in their hearts, and spoke their vows to each other. To have the honor to introduce them, for the first time, to the world as Mr. & Mrs. Aaron & Marie Bass. Well, words will never convey what I felt, what I feel in my heart for them both.
Aaron, Marie, I will never be able to thank you enough. I am humbled by you both. I so look forward to lifetime of memories and magical moments to come. I send my greatest gift, a father’s love, to you!!!!
I don’t know what you all are doing today….but for heaven’s sake….have fun…fred!!!