The first thing that you need to know is that, including the bride and groom, there were exactly 14 people there. It consisted of both sets of parents, his sister and niece (easily in the top 3 cutest kids in the entire world), her aunt and uncle (I think), a best man, the pastor, and the P.o.C.s. The two of us were the only non-related people besides the best man there, which I think I need to feel flattered and privileged about.
It was, as I've mentioned, at her parents' house, which is set back in the woods a little ways inside a gated community near Amish country. Up until this point, I've always thought of gated communities as treeless, soulless subdivisions where homes cost $500,000 or more. I've now been disabused of that notion. This was a wooded area around a large scenic lake, where houses have a few acres in between them. The house itself was a marvelous rustic layout, warm and inviting, with a deck on the upper level overlooking a stream and a waterfall.
The ceremony itself took place in a garden laid out with flat stones and adorned with benches and a modest fountain. The nine guests other than the pastor, the couple, and the witnesses sat in chairs after the couple took a short processional walk to a Sting song that I couldn't identify.
My piece of the service was brief. I based my reflection on Colossians 3:12-15, partially because I'd been barred from using 1 Corinthians 13. This was probably the one and only time that I'd be able to base a wedding homily on The Decemberists' The Crane Wife, as it has taken on special meaning for the couple. So much so that as I launched into the story of the crane wife, they both tried to keep it together. At the same time, a quick glance at Mrs. POC revealed that she was a little confused about why I was telling this story, evidenced by her mouthing the words, "What are you doing?"
Hey, have you ever heard the story? If not, here's the Wikipedia version:
The Crane Wife is an old Japanese tale. While there are many variations of the tale, a common version is that a poor man finds an injured crane on his doorstep (or outside with an arrow in it), takes it in and nurses it back to health. After he releases the crane, a woman appears at his doorstep with whom he falls in love and marries. Because they need money, his wife offers to weave wondrous clothes out of silk that they can sell at the market, but only if he agrees never to watch her making them. They begin to sell them and live a comfortable life, but he soon makes her weave them more and more. Oblivious to his wife's diminishing health, his greed increases. He eventually peeks in to see what she is doing to make the silk she weaves so desirable. He is shocked to discover that at the loom is a crane plucking feathers from her own body and weaving them into the loom. The crane, seeing him, flies away and never returns.
After this, I talked about the difference between a love that needs a reason and a love that doesn't: the husband of the crane wife being the former and the love described in Colossians the latter.
The pastor said a prayer over the wedding rings and a separate prayer over the engagement ring, which I thought was interesting and different. And the last bit of the service was an anointing of the couple's eyes, ears, head, lips, hands, and feet, which I'd also never seen before.
And then they recessed to "I'm Gonna Be" by The Proclaimers.
"I'm Gonna Be." By The Proclaimers.
How often does that happen?
And then we had dinner. The bigger reception is in a few weeks.
This was, by far, one of my favorite weddings ever. It was intimate and stripped of all the fluff and in a beautiful setting, and it reflected the couple while acknowledging God as the center and source for their relationship. Pastors may go a lifetime wishing to be a part of weddings so small, simple, spiritual, and stress-free. Even as just The Homily Guy, I freaking loved it.