Not long ago, my lovely cousin Claire asked me to officiate her wedding. This was a bit surprising to me because 1. I expected to be the Best Man (I always expect to be the Best Man due to my sheer awesomeness) and 2. I had zero qualifications for officiating a wedding ceremony. Sure, I'd been to dozens of weddings. Heck, I even was the groom in one of them. But I'd never been the one standing between the bride and her husband-to-be, asking them to put rings on each other and saying "Are you sure you do?"
The last time I was that involved in delivering a mass was many Super Bowls ago when I was an altar boy. The duties of that position were quite simple: put on white dress-looking gown, tie rope around waist, stand when priest stands, sit when priest sits, try not to fall asleep. I did this until I was forced to retire in '93 due to an incurable case of Not Wanting to Do it Anymore.
When I received that phone call from Claire, I was delighted. It's not often you get asked to be part of a wedding ceremony, especially one where you can stand in front of hundreds of people and say things like "We are gathered here together today to join these people in holy matrimony" and "Don't forget to purchase your copy of OH BOY, YOU'RE HAVING A GIRL – I hear it's hilarious." I was touched she had considered me for the role. I gladly accepted the honor and then immediately called my mom to tell her the news.
"Hey Mom, did you hear? Claire has lost her mind."
I'm kidding, of course. This honor bestowed upon me was not something I planned to take lightly. If I were to be a good wedding officiant I figured I must study up on my scripture and research as many wedding ceremonies as possible (thank you, YouTube) that way I'd be knowledgeable enough to pass any test thrown my way. I spent hours and hours learning, absorbing and understanding everything there is to know about standing up on that pulpit and delivering an amazing wedding for my cousin, whom I love, and my soon-to-be cousin-in-law Ryan, whom I'm still upset with for not naming me his Best Man.
After nearly four months of preparation, I went to the Universal Life Church Monastery's website to learn about the steps I would need to take to become an ordained minister. The wedding wasn't for another six months, so I figured I had plenty of time to go through the rigors and take any and all classes/tests needed to complete my mission and earn my degree. I clicked on the button that said "become ordained online." My journey was about to begin.
First Question: Name. (Well that was easy enough.)
Second Question: Email address. (No problem. Better not use my FozzieBear one. I need to show that I'm taking this seriously.)
Third Question: Home address. (Done and done.)
Fourth Question: Do you certify that you are over the age of 13? (I think my balding head is proof of that.)
Fifth Question: Choose a password. (PeteRose4HOF)
I had now finished step one on my journey. It felt good. The only thing left was a button that said, "Submit Ordination Request," so I clicked it.
Seventeen dollars later, I was officially an ordained minister.
It's rare that you are asked to play such an important role during one of the most monumental moments of a loved one's life. I have very few cousins, but I'm extremely close to all of them—have been since before I had dreams of being an alter boy. I learned how important family was from my Grandma Klems, who went out of her way to make sure I not only saw my cousins regularly but thought of them as brothers and sisters. Knowing that I get to officiate the wedding ceremony of someone I consider my sister will go down as one of the most meaningful and memorable moments of my life. For that, Claire, I thank you. (And Ryan, from the bottom of my heart, there's still time to reconsider your choice of Best Man.)
So I'm officially a minister and am free to marry anyone who wants to get married. In fact, don't cross me or I will sneak up behind you one day and marry you to someone you don't like. Plus, if my daughters so choose—and the time is right—I can be the officiant at each of their weddings. How exciting! Though, I won't allow them to date until I'm dead, so this may pose a slight logistical problem.
Oh Boy, You're Having a Girl
(A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters)
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