I performed a wedding as fire department chaplain last night at a historic venue. They are always fun to experience, but this one was kind of special. It was an historic (that’s another word for old that has been renovated) fire house in the Heights area of Houston. They now rent out the building for events of all kinds. It did have a few unusual quirks about it. My favorite was “The Door” off to one side. Apparently at one time the building was used as a temporary jail, so the door to the cell is still intact. It looks like one of those solitary confinement cells with the tiny little window that opens to check on whoever is inside.
The wedding itself went off pretty well. There was a wardrobe malfunction with one of the bridesmaid’s dresses before we could begin, though. A zipper broke, so they had to make creative use of a bunch of safety pins. Pretty impressive, if you ask me.
The mother of the bride almost lost it when she was being seated. Her bottom jaw was quivering, just on the edge of uncontrollably. She simply refused to allow tears to fall. Quite a few other ladies didn’t worry about holding back, though. One of the bridesmaids (one of the bride’s sisters), broke into tears when she saw the flower girls. Chris said she saw numerous guests crying as well. Intense moment, I suppose. I got a kick out of the arrival of the best man. He was the six-year-old son of the groom. He also doubled as the ring bearer. He almost ran down the aisle “escorting” the maid of honor. And when she let go of his hand, he marched straight up to me and handed me the little ring box and proudly and firmly said, “Here.” Perfect job, young man. I set the box down on the floor behind me until I would need it later on.
Both the bride’s father and step-father were in attendance. In fact they both escorted her down the aisle. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I asked, “Who presents this woman to be married to this man?” They handled it well, though. First the birth father said, “Her mother and I do.” Then the step-Dad added, “Her mother and I do.” Logical solution, don’t you think?
Back to the tear situation, there was that one time during the ceremony that was a perfect, Hallmark moment. The groom was saying his vows. He voice was breaking, ever-so slightly with emotion. And one solitary tear slowly dropped from the bride’s eye as she listened. And at that moment she was beautiful.
We added an unusual twist to the ceremony, since this was an unusual family. The groom had two children, the afore-mentioned six-year-old best man and a nine year-old-daughter, one of the flower girls. The bride had a five-year-old little girl, the other flower girl. And the bride was pregnant with her new husband’s child. They wanted to incorporate the kids into the ceremony in a more intimate way than just being attendants. So I came up with a series of vows they could all take. Dad repeated vows to Mom’s daughter. Mom did the same to Dad’s two kiddos. Then I added a little twist. I said, “Well, we have quite a new creation going here, don’t we? But wait. I think someone is missing. Does anyone know who that might be? The kids’ eyes lit up since they were in on the little secret. One of them finally blurted out, “David!” (The unborn baby’s name). So we determined to include him, too. All five of them spoke some “welcome to the family promises” to the unborn baby. It turned out really sweet. Especially when the five-year-old, who was just supposed to respond, “We will,” with her new brother and sister, started repeating the whole statement after me. Her Mom glanced down at her with just a twinge of pride and whispered, “Wow, you did that really well.”
We got them all hitched together and headed upstairs for the reception. There was one problem, though. Two of the grandmothers were in the small elevator together. As it slowly (very slowly) moved upward, one of them somehow managed to push the emergency “Stop” button. So they were briefly stranded a few yards off the floor in the glass elevator until a rescuer with an elevator key could rescue them. An emergency recuse at the wedding of a fire fighter. Well, I guess if you are going to get stuck in an elevator, what better place to be?
The meal was one of the most unusual I have ever seen. The food was cooked in some kind of food truck outside the building and carried in, one tray at a time. But it was the menu that was so unusual. As you walked through the buffet line there was first a bowl of macaroni. Then you could choose from three sauces. Next came toppings for your concoction. Cold green peas. Some kind of seasoned ground beef. It all looked kind of weird to me, so I passed. The next part of the line was someone cutting what looked like prime rib and putting it into little biscuits. Now that looked a bit more interesting. But just past there, the final table of options had already caught my eye. There were chicken strips and white gravy. Grilled chicken. And then my all-time favorite table. Tiny little chicken sandwiches and baby hamburgers. With all the fixin’s. I grabbed up a burger or two and one chicken strip with gravy and called that wedding a big success.
James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
Father, be with David and Jalyn and the kids as they learn to mesh together as a family. Amen.