Attending a Religious Wedding? Let’s Hope It’s Not As Bad As These

Two quick items related to religious weddings:

Maybe not news, but news to me: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wants U.S. members to marry in ceremonies that exclude literally everyone who is not an active Mormon adult. As an apparent form of spite, Mormons who want to have both a civil ceremony (that all their friends and relatives can attend) and a Church-sanctioned one (for sufficiently pious Mormon folk only) will have to wait a year for a temple marriage. Slate quotes a former Mormon, Jean Bodie, who knows whereof she speaks, having spent 35 years in that faith. “Rejecting and excluding your inactive or nonmember family is a mark of being a good Mormon,” she says unreservedly.

For some Mormons, this means soul-searching, awkwardness, and some degree of social unpleasantness:

Wendy Reynolds of Kenmore, Wash., said that she saw the matter in a new light when she went from being excluded to doing the excluding. “I was a bridesmaid four times without being able to attend the ceremony,” Reynolds told me. “It wasn’t a big deal because I knew all along that I wouldn’t be able to go. I didn’t think it was strange until I was getting married myself and had to leave several of my closest friends and the majority of my family off the ceremony list. I was married 20 years ago, and I’ve never recovered from this.”

I just came across this recent video of a pastor going off on a videographer and photographer. It’s hard to know what came before this, but it doesn’t look like either of them were in a place where they shouldn’t be.

“This is not about the photography. This is about God!”

… the sour-pussed clergy member thunders nonetheless.

I’ve been to more than my fair share of weddings, and I’ve never seen an officiant get upset like this — in the middle of the ceremony no less. By reacting as he does, he spoils the “solemn” occasion a lot more than a couple of quiet guys with cameras do. You can see the bride and groom tense up. The same happened, probably, to all the guests. A sweet moment, a lifelong happy memory in the making, is now marred by childish territorial behavior and outright negativity.

If “this is about God,” why would this pastor make it about himself and his needs instead? I’m extra-surprised because the ceremony didn’t even take place in church, his personal fiefdom. It’s an outdoors wedding. (Maybe he’s just upset that the photographers no doubt get paid a lot more for being there than he does!)

What was the most uncomfortable religious wedding you’ve ever attended? Please share in the comments!

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • Joe_JP

    I don’t think “God” really is the ultimate thing here. If it was a secular deal, he could have said it was about the glory of marriage or something. Also, yes, I would like to know the whole story. Was the photographers intrusive beforehand?

  • Crazyeyes

    Whaaat? Talk about arrogance. When I was getting married, the pastor (a family friend) we asked to marry us tried to tell us we had to attend his church and raise our kids (because of course we were going to have kids, according to the Word of God) if we wanted him to officiate. He also told my (now) ex that he needed to lead me spiritually, not vice-verse. Ya, we got married by justice of the peace.

    Also, in my very religious upbringing, I had friends that actually, in their piousness, considered standing up in church to protest a wedding…that whole “if anyone sees any reason these two should not marry” because they felt it was their conscience and God telling them to do so. I don’t know if they ended up doing this, but thinking about it now I can’t even imagine how horrible that would be.

    I’ve been to a fair share of very pious Christian weddings, and it’s interesting to see which pastor they pick to do the wedding. Most of these weddings, the ceremony turns into a mini-sermon – making the service an entire church service and a platform to preach about women’s and men’s Biblical roles in marriage. It always made me uncomfortable, especially when the woman vows to submit to the man, as my sister did.

    • Lando

      One of the clearest memories from my little sister’s wedding was the 5 minute tangent about jebus washing disciple’s feet, and how icky that must have been. What could have been “take care of each other and show love” turned into countless awkward looks at the front of the room.

    • Col Nokobolov

      I’m an atheist, but this seems a bit daft to me. If you weren’t religious, why did you want to be married in a church, by a pastor? And why act all surprised when they try to – gasp! – bring God into it, and say what the Bible has to say about marriage?

      • allein

        I’ve been to plenty of church weddings where they managed to leave out the more misogynist bits.

        • Stephanie Austin

          Our wedding was like this. We were married in a small chapel at Forest Lawn, Glendale. The marriage coordinator was very cool. She asked us what type of ceremony we wanted since not everyone goes the religious route and pointed us to a pastor who met our needs.

      • htomc42

        Me too- and it’s almost always the parents who are pushing those inappropriate church weddings on their kids. It’s hard to argue when those same parents are paying for everything.

        • Christine

          And parents pushing church weddings on their kids are why churches have rules about not marrying non-members. Why the parents think that it wouldn’t apply to their kids, I don’t know, but it’s really sad that those rules are needed. If your kids are old enough to get married, they’re old enough to know what they believe.

      • Guest

        I’m not sure who you are referring to. The couple in the video was not married in a church, and the commenter you are directly replying to specifically says that she didn’t get married by a pastor.

  • primenumbers

    It’s the couple’s ceremony and marriage and they should be calling the shots. All the workers, including the minister should be subservient to their wishes.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I’ve been to many weddings, and over the years the photographers have increasingly resembled paparazzi, buzzing around like annoying insects, with the apparent attitude that the couple’s, the families’ and the guests’ experience and enjoyment of the event is not nearly as important as the photo op.

    So in fairness to the pastor, this incident clearly exists in the context of the previous several minutes, about which we have no information. Without knowing what contributed to this final boil-over, passing judgment on him is premature and not fair.

    We should not get our exercise by jumping to conclusions, as tempting as it might be for some to jump up and down on a cleric.

    • Canadian Atheist, eh!

      It sort of looks to me like it’s only because of where they were set-up (in/at/behind the evidently makeshift altar), given that he says they can go “anywhere but here,” meaning not “the wedding” but the vicinity of the altar. Otherwise, yeah, you’re right.

      I avoid weddings whenever possible, religious ones in particular. That said, I was a “best man” just two weeks ago, also outside but otherwise secular in every way. The officiant was all service and had even apparently done a Star Trek themed ceremony at some point in the past. Good times.

    • the moother

      The sound of SLR shutters in 2013 is anathema. Cameramen can be more subtle.

      • Terry Firma

        Virtually all wedding photographers use DSLRs. Those cameras all have shutters, and mirrors that rocket up and down. Unless we all move to leaf shutters or iPhones (fat chance), some shutter noise is part and parcel of the job. I guess some are more disturbed by it than others. Me, not at all.

        • Christine

          What ticks me off is that my FIL claimed that DSLRs don’t make noise, so there was nothing wrong with photography during the wedding. Given he amount of free-lance photography he does, there is no way he wouldn’t have known how LOUD the (*&@#$@#$* camera was.

          • Terry Firma

            I’m not disturbed by DSLR shutters but maybe that’s because I’m a photographer. The Nikon D3s bodies I use have a Q mode (for Quiet) that silences the autofocus beep and makes the shutter and mirror move more discreetly. Most (D)SLRs make the usual clanking noise. It’s been that way for half a century. For me, nothing to get worked up about, but it’s clear that different people have different aural bugaboos. For instance, I can’t stand the sound of mosquitos and Creed songs. ;-)

            • Christine

              No fair! In return for being really really easily distracted by camera shutters I should have a higher mosquito & Creed tolerance.

            • MineApostasy

              Even my D7000 is much quieter than many commercial DSLRs on the market; I can only imagine how much quieter the D3 is.

              Until they make a mirrorless camera that’s worth a damn I don’t think we’ll be seeing a shift. TTL is just too useful, and for those of us who have invested a lot in glass, well, it would need to work with our lenses as well. I’m not holding my breath.

          • MineApostasy

            Anyone who leaves the beeping on is an ass. The shutter and mirror can’t be helped, but the little tinny “ding” whenever it focusses can, and should, be turned off by default.

            • Christine

              It was just the clicking. The problem is that churches are designed to magnify and reflect sound, so every noise gets very very loud. So if you’re used to doing photography outside, or in an carpeted area, you’re not going to notice how loud it is.

    • MineApostasy

      As a freelance photog I can only speak for myself and others I know, but we always ask very specific questions of the bride and groom relating to where they want us, specific shots that they would like, what portions of the ceremony to cover, etc. True, we tend to buzz around to get a lot of good, dynamic shots, but we’re tradesmen working for the bride and groom, not for a magazine.

      [Addendum: I usually ask the bride and groom to give me a few photographer "safe spots" so I can move between two or three areas without being in anyone's way. I also bring my long-focal-length lenses so I don't need to be close.]

      • colleen7

        Because you are a smart photographer Mine! Long focal lenses, thank you!
        I can’t understand why the video and photographer thought it would be a good idea to stand right behind the arch! Imagine the view of the wedding for the guests. So every single person who attended the wedding had to stare at the backs of the bride and groom, the face of the minister and a huge flashing camera and camcorder pointed at them. Yuck. But so many photographers are only concerned about the visuals of the pictures and thereby ruin the visuals of the event itself.

  • Heidi McClure

    I don’t understand the person who said she was excluded from attending as a bridesmaid, but then had to exclude people from her own wedding. Is she a Mormon or not? If she is, why was she excluded from the other weddings. And if she’s not, why was she excluding people from hers?

    • Terry Firma

      I took that to mean that her fiancé was a Mormon and she had converted, but I could be wrong.

      • Heidi McClure

        Ah, ok. Thanks.

    • musical beef

      It’s more likely that she in fact was Mormon, but had not performed the magic rituals (“taking out endowments”) that are necessary to enter the area of the temple where marriages (“sealings”) are performed.

      Ya, younger siblings are excluded from attending temple marriages.

    • Kevin

      So, I get the Mormon ceremony deal with wait a year before the temple wedding after having a civil ceremony (not that it isn’t stupid, but I get it). So, why can’t they just have the temple wedding first and then the civil ceremony?

      • allein

        My thoughts exactly.

      • LizBert

        A lot of them just have both at the temple, much like getting married in a church. The problem is if you have a none Mormon ceremony first, like at a park or the court house or what have you. Which you might want to do if you want friends and family there. If you do that then you can’t get sealed at the temple for another year. And if something were to happen in that year and one of you died, you would not be able to meet together in heaven. For realz.

        • midnight rambler

          But that was Kevin’s question – why not do the temple wedding first, with just a few people from the church in attendance, and then a civil one the next day or something? If your non-Mormon friends and family can’t be there no matter what, it doesn’t matter if it’s before or after the civil ceremony.

          • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

            Because money.

            • midnight rambler

              Huh? What does money have to do with what order you have your ceremonies in? And if you’re a true believer, wouldn’t you think that the temple wedding is the “real” one and should come first anyway?

          • LizBert

            Probably because in the US people do not have separate religious and civil ceremonies. When you are married by a minister or priest or Mormon bishop, you are automatically married in the civil sense as well. In some countries you have to have a civil wedding and then a religious one if you so desire, in the US you only need one. Most Mormons have a big reception after their temple wedding that is open to everyone, but it’s not the wedding itself. I think it would feel weird to go through the motions of a wedding again if you knew that you were already legally and religiously married and everyone there would know it’s just an act put on because most of your friends and family weren’t allowed to see the real wedding.

            • midnight rambler

              So then what’s the big deal? In all the weddings I’ve been to, I would have gladly skipped the tedious ceremony.

              • LizBert

                I think that there are many people who don’t feel the same way. I know a family who was really hurt that they weren’t able to go to their daughter’s wedding because they were not Mormon. While the ceremony may be boring, it’s also important to many people.

    • Claire

      She could be Mormon, Mormons have a thing called Temple Recommends where they asked questions about their bishop like if they their law of chastity, pay tithing, etc. She could have not gotten this thing too if she was underage since for weddings they don’t allow children to my knowledge.

    • Christine

      Never mind, this was explained better below me.

      What I don’t get is what you need bridesmaids for if not the pagentry at the wedding.

  • HitchhikingInSvalbard

    I attended a Catholic wedding last year where the priest, in the middle of the ceremony, called for a local politician to come over to the altar. He shook his hand, and encouraged everyone in attendance to vote for him in the upcoming election.

    I like the guy (the candidate) quite a bit, but this was a disturbing development for a wedding. It was probalby the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in a church.

    • flakingnapstich

      Did the priest clear that shenanigan with the bride and groom first?

  • MineApostasy

    I’ve not been to many, and I realise this is probably chump-change in comparison to many, but I went to a high-Catholic wedding. Two-and-a-half hours in the 35 degree Virginia heat in an old, poorly air-conditioned building, where the celebrant practically whispered, only in Latin, to the chalice. I was there for the couple, but I don’t really understand why I was at the wedding, itself. Plus, I was probably the only one in attendance who had the benefit of actually being able to understand the celebrant, or, rather, I would have if he’d spoken loudly enough for the room to hear.

    Then I got to sit, very awkwardly, with a group of self-righteous, early 20-something yuppies who were all married and going to vote for Mitt Romney in the upcoming election. At least there was an open bar. I very happily got drunk and jovial enough to enjoy the idiotic spectacle.

    • Itarion

      35 deg C, or 35 deg F?

      Sorry, you’ve got some people on the idiot American system in the audience. Guessing Celsius cause you said heat, but wanna be sure.

      • MineApostasy

        35 C (why I added “heat”, though I realise that could have come off as facetiousness).

        Hahaha, no, it’s fine. I’m an American, too, but I’ve lived overseas all my adult life. I’m also a scientist, so SI units are my friends.

        Even before getting involved in the sciences or leaving the country I couldn’t understand why we didn’t just switch over completely to the metric system, or at least start phasing in metric and imperial units on everything. It’d make packaging for the international market easier, tourists would be happier, and we wouldn’t have multi-million dollar screw-ups at NASA that leave a mars lander little more than an impact crater.

        • Heidi McClure

          We did start phasing it in back in the 70s, under President Carter. Thus 2-liter bottles. But people whined about it, and it never went anywhere after that. Same thing happened with solar power. Carter was all for it, but people whined and out it went. Three guesses which people wanted to conserve… er preserve the status quo.

          • MineApostasy

            Yeah, I heard about all that (I was only born under that hack of an actor). I also heard that Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House only to have Ray-Gun tear them off as soon as he moved in. What a spiteful, pitiful man. Man, Spitting Image (UK political satire show with puppets) got it right when they were talking about Reagan and Thatcher.

        • Physeter

          What I hate most is “ounces” that are weight – like 16 oz in a pound – but also “ounces” that are actually fluid ounces – 16 ounces in a pint, 32 ounces in a quart. You never know if you’re buying stuff by weight or by volume.

          • midnight rambler

            i just had to take a pesticide applicator exam, and the study guide is a full-on illustration of why the imperial system is stupid and we should be using metric units. There’s a lot of stuff about getting dilutions right, and they don’t even use consistent imperial units, so you get questions about things like mixing tablespoons of concentrate into gallons of water and figuring out how many acres that will cover.

          • MineApostasy

            Oh man, ounces are horrific. I mean, you’ve got the old Troy system, which is 12 ounces to the pound (for precious metals and gems — the origin for the UK currency in its non-decimalised state), or you have the avoirdupois system with 16 ounces to the pound.

            I’m pretty certain fluid ounces are an invention that tried to take a good idea (1 mL of distilled water at STP is 1 cubic-centimetre, and the mass of that is 1 gram) and do the same with imperial units where one fluid ounce is the amount of volume one ounce of water occupies. I think some countries may have used wine for this, too. (I’m lookin’ at you, England.)

            If you, too, enjoy the act of creating more and more accurate measurements you should do what I did and go into metrology!

        • Christine

          Speaking as a Canadian, please do this. I’m tired of 473 mL bottles, and having to think so much about context when I see something like “quart” in a recipe. (Is it old, or is it American? Which quart do I use?)

          • MineApostasy

            It’s just wrong, tbh. :)

            The /worst/ I’ve dealt with is the difference between US and UK pints of beer. a US pint is fully 20% smaller. Beer also costs, like, 6 or 7 dollars in a pub. What the hell? If I wanted to pay more for less, and of worse quality, I’d… well i wouldn’t. :/

            (I can go down to my local for a pint (568 mL) of a real Scottish cask ale for £3.20 in an expensive area of Edinburgh. When i was last in Virginia I would usually find Miller or Coors on draught for $5, or $7-8 for a good beer like Arrogant Bastard or Devil’s Backbone.)

            • Christine

              The price and size are the least of your problems here. Our default beer is a lager. You need to find a specialty place to have even generic commercial ales, and cask condition is even rarer. (Also, a pint is generally not actually a pint. As long as they don’t advertise it as such they can get away with it, because it’s a standard measure. Weight & measures says it has to be an Imperial pint, but they don’t force you to sell it by the pint.)

              • MineApostasy

                Huh, I didn’t realise that they didn’t have to sell them as “pints”. (Though there is a difference between an Imperial pint and a US pint due to differences between Imperial Gallons and the US definition of a gallon, further confusing an already confusing charlie-foxtrot.)

        • EchoDodgerBravo

          Celsius is not fine grained enough to give a good sense of outdoor temperature for the average person and inches are far superior measuring unit when working with wood because they are easily divisible by 2, 4, 8, 12, etc. I agree on weights and volumes though.

          • CRShelton

            I am skeptical that the average person could tell me the outdoor temperature and be consistently accurate within 1 degree of F, or that the average person would change their behavior enough for each degree of F that it would be important to them to have that fine grain. As for wood I have no idea why you think inches are easier to divide than any other unit, or why you would be working in 1/12″ increments.

            • 3lemenope

              Wow, kismet. I had pretty much verbatim this exact argument the other day with a colleague. I played the role EDB did in this convo. And my colleagues’ argument (your first argument there, that Fahrenheit degrees, as small as they are, really don’t give a user more real functionality; 70 degrees feels just like 69 or 71 degrees) convinced me that I was wrong.

              Never underestimate the power of a good argument. :)

              • CRShelton

                The most temperature sensitive activity I can think of that an average person participates in is cooking. Even then, the most finicky recipes that a home cook will attempt (eg. Hollandaise Sauce, Tempered Chocolate) still have a few degrees F of leeway.

            • EchoDodgerBravo

              dividing 3/8 by 2 is easy math for a carpenter, it’s 3/16. Doing that with centimeters is a lot more difficult without a dial caliper. Also on an English ruler you usually have markings down to 1/32 of an inch and you can split that with your eyes down to 1/64 th of an inch. on a metric ruler you only get down to half a millimeter.

              • 3lemenope

                You wouldn’t do that with centimeters. You’d use tenths (a.k.a. millimeters). One half-millimeter is about 1/50th of an inch.

                • EchoDodgerBravo

                  Do what with centimeters? I referred to a half a mm, not cm. In carpentry, you are always dividing things by 2, 4, 8. Like I said, this is much easier done in the English system. I is a design feature. Metric has areas it works well in, but it is not best in all situations.

                • 3lemenope

                  Do what with centimeters?

                  Serially divide them in half. The division progression used in Imperial units is an artifact of the fact that they’re kludgy as hell. Places which are fully metric have carpenters who work with metric units just fine, and do so without memorizing reciprocal powers of two. The reason you find it easy is you were trained to do it this way.

              • CRShelton

                I just don’t understand what you are getting at. Dividing 3/8 by 2 is 3/16, no matter what the unit is. You are clear that you think a finer grain measurement is inherently better, but I don’t agree. The difference between 1/64 inch and .5 mm is very small: about .1 mm or 1/250 inch.

                I thought that wood expanded and contracted on a regular basis much more than .1 mm, but I am not a carpenter. Can you give me an example of a project that would require such precision, in which you would still rely on “eyeballing between the ruler lines”? If you are working at that level, why would you rather deal with increments of 1/256 inch instead of .1 mm?

        • UWIR

          My understanding is that F was chosen to be the normal weather range in England; it generally stays between 0 and 100. You almost never need negative F unless you’re really far north. And the NASA lander being destroyed because of metric/English confusion? That’s what they want you to believe. Fnord fnord fnord.

      • JuneAbend

        Hey, Buddy-boy… if Fahrenheit was good enough for Jesus H. Christ, it’s good enough for me!

        • Itarion

          Fairly certain he didn’t use Fahrenheit, since it didn’t exist until the 18th century.

          • Lagerbaer

            that was the joke

          • Physeter

            Jesus invented Fahrenheit. Satan wants us to use metric, because it doesn’t take any faith to move a decimal point.

            • allein

              It does for those of us who are hopelessly mathematically disinclined.

          • Fentwin

            Sar-chasm; the gulf that can exist between an author of wit and their intended target.

            Besides I think Jesus measured molecular energy using the Gesundheit scale.

            • JuneAbend

              Gesundheit = god bless you!

              (This to aid the apparently irony-disabled on our team.)

              • 3lemenope

                Irony disability or not, Gesundheit does not mean, in either German or English, “God bless you”.

                It means “[to your] health!”.

                • MineApostasy

                  THANK you. Ughhhh. It fits a similar idiomatic niche, but it’s like Slàinte (Gallic) or Iechyd da (Cymraeg)… those were both toasts, but you get the idea…

                • JuneAbend

                  Wow. Just…wow.

                  In all my time I had lurking on the site, I have come to anticipate your comments to be informative, on-topic, erudite, and witty. Pedantic and humorless is a surprise.

                  Yes, we all speak a bit of German, French, and Spanish here, being educated people.

                  My intent was to compliment Fentwin, above for what I perceive to be very clever wordplay, in that “gesundheit!” and “god bless you!” are used with roughly equal frequency, after someone sneezes, at least here in the midwest.

                  Nuff said. My umbrage is likely as unattractive as (I find) pedantry. Life is sweet.

                • 3lemenope

                  Sorry if it came off as pedantic, it just hit upon a pet peeve. I’ve heard many a person insist that Gesundheit means “God Bless You” in all seriousness, and it’s just one of those things.

                • JuneAbend

                  No offense taken…I get the same feeling when someone says “Me and her went to the store,” or “irregardless.” We’re good!

        • MineApostasy

          I always jokingly referred to the “H.” as Hernando to mess with the white-supremacist assholes (yes, I realise that’s redundant)

    • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

      Ah, the Bajoran Death Chant (aka Catholic Mass). Unfortunately, I’m too familiar with it. My condolences.

      • MineApostasy

        It was an amazing exercise in realising just how much I didn’t mesh with religious traditions.

        Oh, and I appreciate and accept your condolences. I offer mine for your familiarity with Vogon poetry.

      • Jacqui H

        The Bajorans can actually prove their gods are real though (even if they are only wormhole aliens) :)

    • M.S.

      At least Catholic weddings are usually good for an open bar, eh? ;-)

  • more compost

    My aunt and her family are Mormons. My aunt was not allowed at her daughter’s wedding because there was some i she hadn’t dotted or some t she hadn’t crossed.

    • MineApostasy

      Oof, that’s horrible. I mean, it’ll lead to higher attendance — or whatever — for the short term, but as traditionally Mormon areas get more diverse, and more and more Mormons move elsewhere those tactics will come back to bite them in the ass.

  • Paul Little

    When I got married, the priest and the photographer met before the day of the wedding, and the priest told him, “here you shall not go, and during this specific portion of the service, you shall not snap.” Aside from those two very specific and clearly explained restrictions, he was given free reign. It’s possible the same thing happened here, and the photographer ignored his explicit instructions. They do that. A lot.

    • Christine

      I was at a wedding where the photographer stopped the wedding more than once and had them pose differently/redo something to get a good shot. She was a jerk at the reception too. (And between the wedding and reception).

  • God’s Starship

    No pastor, you didn’t make it about god. You made it all about you and your ego, when it should have been all about the bride and groom.

    • Christine

      Nope, weddings are not supposed to be all about the bride and groom. They are about the families and friends. If they were about the couple, no one would pay $25k for a lot of stress that won’t be around afterwards.

      • God’s Starship

        Fair enough.
        At any rate, as much as people pay lip service to religion at weddings, I think most people really just want the pastor to say his lines, not ruin the moment playing Darth Officiator.

        • Christine

          True enough. It occurs to me just now though, that the bride & groom might have asked the officiant to make it a “rule” (I can’t watch the video), and didn’t expect his reaction. It can be a lot easier to explain “Sorry grandpa, it’s a rule that you have to behave” instead of trying to ask them to be polite just because you’d like it.

  • IDP

    There was the Protestant one some relatives of mine had with the most boring reception ever. During the ceremony, we were told about how the first ever wedding happened in the Garden of Eden between Adam and Eve, which was presented as a real event that happened with God officiating. They also tried to shoehorn in every relative a job, so I got volunteered to serve cake without my knowledge or permission, among many, many other bizarre things that had nothing to do with religion, so I won’t go into detail here.

    Because the reception was in a church rec hall (which is free, you see) there was no music, no dancing, no alcohol. Which struck me as very odd, considering the groom had a record for selling weed. But no, in a glorious example of following rules because they are rules and looking superficially holy, I got to attend a reception that was about as rockin’ as a fire station pancake breakfast. The photographer took pictures of couples who attended the “party”, but that was it, and I never saw my picture or even a proof, so there really was no point.

    • Crazyeyes

      Ooo. Once I left the faith I attended weddings with alcohol. Weddings need alcohol. You get all these people together, from both sides of the family, both sets of friends, or long lost acquaintances…you better have alcohol. I much prefer a non-Protestant wedding.

      • IDP

        Yeah, that was a big lesson learned. As we’d only ever attended weddings with alcohol, it struck us as particularly bizarre. You can’t even justify it Biblically considering that whole “Jesus turns the water in to wine” thing. I went to an anniversary party once where the husband was a recovered alcoholic, but even so, they had tubs of beer in ice because they wanted the guests to enjoy themselves…

      • allein

        Heh…my friend’s father is a Lutheran minister (though he no longer works as one, he did officiate at her wedding), and her parents would have preferred no alcohol at the wedding reception. She was marrying into the [very common Irish Last Name] family. Her in-laws volunteered to pay for the bar.

        • MineApostasy

          Recently I went to a wedding where the couple passed a quaich with fine whisky around as a first toast to the new couple. Now, it was also a humanist ceremony, so there’s that…

          Weddings absolutely need alcohol: how else are you going to get all those well-dressed individuals on the dance floor to do the Chicken Dance?

          • allein

            With or without alcohol, I do not chicken-dance. (If I’ve had enough alcohol to be uninhibited enough, I’m unlikely to be too inclined to actually stand up. Yes, I’m a total lightweight when it comes to drinking; it tends to make me want a nap.)

          • Christine

            If you need to be drunk to do the Chicken Dance, then you just don’t know how to party.

    • LutherW

      Cake! Hope it was not sweet and moist. Someone could have enjoyed some aspect of the event.

      • IDP

        The food was actually pretty good, and the cake was nice, but the rest…no. The plastic tablecloths were all mismatched shades of blue, and they all had these horribly cheap looking glitter tea light centerpieces which the bride asked that we not keep (as if we’d be tempted.) I understand being on a budget, but I have seen other couples do SO much better, and their receptions were more fun, too. At least that was better than another family wedding which I did not attend; in that, the bride decided she wanted fish bowls as the centerpieces, so they got all these feeder fish from a pet store and some creek water from behind the church (so I’m told) and, as those of you who understand aquarium cycling can predict, half the fish were dead by halfway through the reception. Super classy!

  • Surya Namaskar

    The reason why i’m not mormon for the past 25 or so years, they are an arogant and ignorant bunch, my mother is still caught up in that ‘cult’ and it is just unbelievable the hogwash they believe,,,with religions like mormonism and islam, is it any wonder we haven’t advance as a human race????

  • MeTheRobot

    Now this is going to sound funny coming from an Atheist but it is a religious cerimony and people seemed to have lost notion of it. And being a religious cerimony, the minister is absolutely right, it IS about the GOD that rules that particular creed is not about what a Hollywoodyan production the couple wants to make of it. The Minister made sure they understood he wasn’t just another ornament in the cake but the representant of the “Lord” as those of you who believe call it, simple as that. In his profession he earned his respect and he demanded it, nothing wrong with it.

    • Croquet_Player

      The minister should have made his requirements clear BEFORE the ceremony. Stopping it in the middle was jarring, to say the least. That poor couple.

      • Erp

        Perhaps he did. I’ve seen photographers in a church at a memorial service completely ignore the minister’s explicit statement ahead of time that photography was prohibited during the service (and rather blatantly by using flash and by getting up and going to the front of the church so they could get close ups with flash).

        • Croquet_Player

          Yes, we really can’t tell from the video, can we?

  • Alex

    At the last christian (protestant) wedding I went to, the pastor talked about the immense loss of personal freedom that marriage entails before moving on to an odd combination of name dropping and mentioning Auschwitz. Not super religious, but definitely on the weirder side.

    • MineApostasy

      During the wedding sermon: “Isn’t it lovely we’re all here today? Yes, the lovely couple have a long life ahead of them, but you know who don’t? That’s right: the thousands of ‘unbaptised murdered children’ (TM) killed by abortions every year.”

      Not verbatim, but a fair paraphrasing of one i’ve heard.

      • allein

        Yikes. I would demand a refund if the minister went off-script like that (assuming the bride and groom didn’t approve it, which would be even worse..).

  • fry

    Clearly rattled by his bald-patch taking centre-frame. Lucky for the photographers there he didn’t call forth two she-bears.

  • Nomad

    I’ve got a twofer. I got to attend the marriage of a cousin, where the cousin’s father commanded her, his own daughter, to submit to her new husband. Then for a followup, I got to see the same uncle tell his son’s new bride to submit herself to his son at his wedding years later.

    It’s one of those things where the family is nice as can be, it sometimes seems like Ned Flanders was based on that uncle, but wow their theology can get creepy.

    Oh yeah, and if anyone knows that Katy Perry song, Firework? Ugh, I had to sit through a revolting acoustic version of it at the last one. I’m not saying it compares to someone telling someone else’s daughter to submit to his son, but… it was pretty terrible.

  • Mick

    “I was getting married myself and had to leave several of my closest friends and the majority of my family off the ceremony list. I was married 20 years ago, and I’ve never recovered from this.” (Wendy Reynolds)

    Gee whiz. Who would have thought that ditching your family and friends would one day come back and bite you on the bum?

    • MWilson

      You would think it would but it doesn’t because that is what every other “faithful” mormon is doing. Not getting married in the temple is considered a very shameful thing and very much looked down on. It is overly complicated with stupid rules and just plain sad.

  • Erp

    I believe there are exceptions to the 1 year wait for Mormon sealings if they don’t have the sealing jointly with the civil wedding. First in countries such as France where you have to have the civil wedding in the town hall, there is no wait. Second some countries such as England and Wales require that legal weddings be open to the public (this was to lessen the chance of someone being coerced into a marriage) so Mormons have a civil service first followed shortly thereafter by the sealing. Third if the civil marriage takes place greater than a certain distance from the nearest Mormon temple (for instance a couple in Juneau, Alaska since the nearest temple would be Anchorage).

    As far as wedding photographers, I know my university chapel has very strict rules on weddings which includes rules on photography (however the photographer can then get access to certain not normally accessible parts of the chapel for pictures from above), flowers, music (the church organist must approve), rice/confetti/seeds (absolutely not), and time (they sometimes have four weddings on a Saturday so getting people in and out in a timely manner is essential so as not to ruin the next couple’s wedding).

    In general the couple to officiant relationship is not a simple matter of employer to employee. The officiant may have standards (and his or her organization also may have standards). It is up to the couple at least in the US to choose an officiant they can work well with. Don’t just choose an officiant because some members of the family want a church wedding (or something that looks like a church wedding); choose because you are in agreement with the officiant on what the wedding means and should be like in return the offiiant needs to be clear with the couple with how the officiant views the wedding and be ready to say no well ahead of time (I’m thinking here of the wedding where the minister balked at the ceremony because of the bride’s dress; there was some serious miscommunication or lack of communication ahead of the wedding by both parties). I think the one exception is an officiant who is employed by the government to act as an officiant; they should be more restricted on when they can say no (i.e., when government regulations or law prohibit the wedding from going ahead [e.g., one of the parties is so drunk as to be incapable of giving legal consent]).

    • David Kopp

      That’s all well and good.

      They’re still crazy and hateful.

  • Lagerbaer

    Well, all weddings that include a religious ceremony in addition to the civil one are weird when neither bride nor groom are religious.

    A weird one was where the bride was Lutheran and the groom Catholic and she agreed to do a Catholic wedding under one condition: Usually, the Catholic priest will agree to such an inter-confessional wedding only if both parents promise to bring up their children in the Catholic faith, yet she insisted that she wouldn’t do so with a daughter.

    The priest ignored this request during the ceremony and still made her promise to raise her children in the Catholic faith. It was fun to hear her swallow, hesitate, and then agree through gritted teeth.

    • htomc42

      It’s all about the families- they are the ones who insist on religious weddings when neither bride nor groom care about it one bit. They are usually also the ones footing the bill for it, and the reception, that plus a big guilt-trip are the leverage. For those in the audience who knew the couple, it was one big long exercise in absurdism. And they wonder why people are leaving religion in droves.

  • watcher_b

    I was not at the wedding, but my wife was and she related the story. The Pastor did his thing but part of his “sermon” was to remind the couple that now that they were married that their salvation Depended on each other. That if one fell away from the faith then they were BOTH going to hell. Nice uplifting ceremony there.

    Even if it were true, I don’t know why that needs to be brought up at the ceremony.

    We had checked out this guy’s church years before during the Obama/McCain election and hear this same pastor go on and on about how if Obama was elected then we would become a Muslim nation and women would lose all of their rights.

    Ya… he was special. What is funny is that his church is one of the few (if not only) churches in the area that has a number of programs to get people off of drugs!

  • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

    My cousin’s wedding- my grandfather told the very nice, very clueless, very Baptist minister that much of the family was Jewish (though neither the bride nor groom was). The pastor spent an agonizing sermon saying very ignorant and accidentally offensive things about Jews. He was trying so hard! But yeah, it was very awkward. No one was quite sure if laughing or taking offense or brushing it off was the best reaction.

  • Erin W

    My cousin’s wedding in Northern Pennsyltucky had a real winner of a pastor. I don’t know what set him off that day, but he felt it was both necessary and appropriate to praise my cousin and her fiancé for getting married in the church because “it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Not sure how his family took it, but my family were -really- not happy.
    The punchline: my cousin’s now-ex-husband apparently wasn’t so big on the whole sanctity of marriage thing. The marriage was over in less than a year after he got another woman pregnant.

  • gg

    I remember in the 80s when a woman in our close knit work place became engaged. We through her a very nice party and spent a lot of money on gifts. After the party, she told us that none of us would be invited to her wedding because none of us (some quite close to her) would be invited to the wedding because none of us were mormon. Awkward to say the least. Our work relationship never quite recovered.

  • Timothy R Alexander

    My aunt chris and her family is Mormon, and when her daughter got married what they did was hold the offical wedding that only the people wearing special underwear, then they held a reception a few weeks later for the rest of us.

  • Jonni

    Oh boy, I’m having flashbacks to my own very religious and embarrassingly awkward wedding! I was in a weird christian cult where weddings were performed as part of the regular sunday service – somewhere between the collection of tithes and the (cringeworthy) sermon. We were required to share a testimony as part of the ceremony, there was a long “alter call” inviting guests to repent of sins, and a dodgy church hall reception without alcohol. We’re still married after 17 years but have had all kinds of interesting issues to work through!

  • BlackMoon

    I attended a catholic wedding in late june, the church was hot and without too much air, and the priest just kept talking on and on for over an hour with his sermon, during wich you’re required to stand up. Result: both the grandfather of the bride and one of his elderly friends fainted (nothing too worrying, and thankfully there were some doctors between the crowd). Someone got near the altar and discreeetly whispered to the priest what was going on. He just went on with the sermon for another twenty minutes!

  • http://pandarogue.blogspot.com/ Yǒuhǎo Huǒ Māo

    My cousin’s wedding a few years ago got really awkward when he started to basically say “anyone who doesn’t get married in a church is doomed to divorce! It doesn’t count unless they get married before God!”

    • MineApostasy

      That’s why divorce rates for believers and non-believers are so wildly different, right?

      Wait, they’re not?

      Oh, that’s right, they’re pretty much the same. It appears that all of us are capable of making a mistake when it comes to our relationships. Heh, whoops.

    • Christine

      Oh, and if you both put Jesus as the centre of your marriage, you will not divorce. This is a guarantee, because no couple that did this has ever gotten divorced. Worst thing is, I had to go to two weddings with this guy officiating. I’m really really hoping that if the third sister gets married that they have a different officiant. (The really sad part is that this wasn’t the worst of what he did.)

  • Shoebutton

    I didn’t attend this wedding, but it came on the news just as I was reading this. I have never heard of an owl ring bearer.Hilarious
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24154366

  • htomc42

    I’ve long thought that ‘God’ is just a sock-puppet proxy for the psyche of the believer- which goes a long way toward explaining why people get so personally upset when you question that particular belief. The behavior of this ‘priest’ also confirms this- its all about his own personal ego and power trip.

    I hope that the couple would have walked away, but they were probably too shocked and “on the spot” to do anything. Shame on this mean-spirited egomaniac.

  • Art_Vandelay

    Come on…please tell me that’s a skit. That has to be a skit! The bride and the groom are fucking priceless!

  • Gus

    I’ve seen some obnoxious religious funerals, where the person’s death is turned into an opportunity to proselytize, where the family didn’t share the deceased’s faith, but gave them their religious funeral anyway and the whole thing was a long, uncomfortable church service with lots of proselytizing, and where the deceased did not share the family’s faith, but they had a religious funeral in their tradition anyway where no one involved seemed to know anything about the deceased, but I’ve never been to a religious wedding that I had any problem with. I guess I’ve just only been to the weddings of people who were decent enough to have decent pastors perform the ceremony.

    My favorite wedding was the first gay wedding I went to, back before they were legal anywhere. I don’t recall what kind of church it was, but it was a completely gay friendly church and a religious ceremony and very beautiful. I guess I’ve just been lucky on the wedding front.

    • MineApostasy

      The first wedding I ever went to was a gay wedding, too. Pretty great. In VA, no less. (It was a Unitarian Universalist church, if that makes any difference.)

  • MWilson

    I was also mormon for many years. My husband and I left the mormon church together but when we got married we had to exclude all of our siblings and most of our best friends. Most of them were active. You have to have gone through the temple ceremony to be able to attend temple marriages. That means you can be an active member who either isn’t old enough or just hasn’t gone through the ceremony yet and you can’t attend that wedding. It is absolutely, frustratingly stupid. I can’t tell you how much I want a do over. My brother and sister are two of my best friends but they couldn’t come to my wedding. Quite ironic from the church using the catchphrase “Family- Isn’t it about time”.

  • Mary Leinart

    My mom’s cousin converted to Mormonism to marry his wife, and his mother was not allowed to attend the ceremony, in spite of her being his only living family. Because things that happen in the Temple are SEEEEEEKRIT. (Apparently a lot of Mormonism is based more or less directly on the Masons.)

    • Anna

      I notice there are a few Mormon rituals on YouTube, but not a wedding ceremony. That would be a good project for an undercover atheist who’s deep in the religion. Get invited to a temple wedding and secretly record the proceedings.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_NFHFcSi-Y

  • Mira

    The looks on their face…man, the poor bride and groom!

  • Mira

    Honestly because of the mess that religion (in general) can make of things like weddings, I doubt I’ll ever get married. My parents are Christian–they’re not super fundies, but they’re pretty serious about their beliefs. My boyfriend’s mom (and new! [she literally wanted an Arabian model]) and stepdad are SuuuUUuUuper Muslim.
    Soooo…yeah. I’ll take a pass on that. If I were to be hitched it would be a secular wedding with plenty of alcohol and funsies. And bacon.


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