Many of you may remember that just a little over a year ago I was maid of honor in a wedding. A wedding that was elegant, beautiful, detailed – the bride thought of everything. From the lovely bouquets in which she specifically and thoroughly picked which blooms she wanted to include, to the hand-dyed silk ribbons that adorned the bouquets and boutonnieres and wound their way through the reception tables’ centerpieces, to the couture wedding dress that made her look like a Disney princess as she and her groom danced their first dance as husband and wife under the twinkling white lights that were strung from tree to tree.
It was, for lack of better expression, the wedding that every little girl dreams of having one day.
And until a few months ago, I sort of figured that’s how most weddings are. Everything you see on social media is generally the same [aside from the theme and color scheme, of course]. White dress + groom + bridal party + flowers + aisle + alter + wedding guests + reception. All of it is always there.
Well, almost always.
My best friend got engaged two winters’ ago, and, due to the fact that her fiance had never even wanted to get married [or so we all thought], they decided to keep their wedding very small. Family and close, close friends only.
But, even small weddings are costly and stressful. After a couple of months of trying to find a venue they liked under $10,000 [with no luck], they decided to forgo a “traditional” wedding altogether. After a couple of Google searches and a call to the city of San Marcos, it was determined that only two other bodies were needed for the couple to say their “I Do’s” – a witness and an officiant.
And so it came to be, after a drunken FaceTime from the two of them last fall in which my best friend and her fiance asked me to officiate their wedding, that I would be their ordained minister. I used the website my aunt and uncle got ordained through, went online, and [literally] two minutes later I was official. Sarah Jack, Ordained Minister of the Universal Life Church, Nondenominational. At your service!
After a weekend of bachelorette festivities in Temecula, California, and absolutely zero wedding planning whatsoever [save for the location and the accommodations], the three of us set off for Avila Beach, just north of Pismo and just west of San Luis Obispo. A place near and dear to all of our hearts. The groom’s best friend, the witness, was to meet us there.
Up until the week leading up to the wedding, I had no nerves or qualms about the upcoming nuptials. I figured once I knew what my friends’ vows would be, I could form my speech around that. That idea went right out the window the minute I heard that they hadn’t written any vows. “We’ll figure it out when the time comes,” my best friend said. Having nothing to relate to except for the carefully planned and detailed wedding that I had been a part of last spring, I had difficulty wrapping my mind around the casualty of it all. And that’s when my nerves started to set in. Now what would I say? Would I even be able to find words? At what point do I read them the traditional “I Do’s” and initiate the giving of the rings?
I needn’t have worried so much, if at all. The day of the wedding was like any other day of the year. My speech came together that morning, and then the four of us had breakfast on the beach and spent the rest of the day sightseeing. It wasn’t until six pm when it was time for us all to get ready that the soon-to-be bride and groom first parted ways. They were married just after sunset, on Avila Beach, with one witness and one ordained minister – the air was warm, the sky was beautiful, the water was calm – the evening was absolutely perfect. The entire day was perfect. Perfect for them.
The experience itself is one I will treasure forever and never forget. Having the opportunity to officiate a wedding was nerve wracking, but so amazing and unique – something I may never have the opportunity to do again and I’m so, so glad that I did. If anybody ever asks you to officiate their wedding – DO IT. Do it, do it, DO IT! You will not regret it. It is both exciting and humbling, and, for me, it really gave me a new perspective on love. And, while a bit intimidating, it gave me a chance to say something heartfelt and meaningful to two people who are promising their lives and their souls to one another. The last words they will hear before being bound in holy matrimony.
If it sounds so final and so binding – it’s because it is. But it isn’t scary. It’s exciting. It’s the adventure of a lifetime. And having the power to send them off on that crazy adventure is something I hope everyone will be able to experience at one time or another.