Bride-to-be Blogger Carly: Designing Our Ceremony (With a Little Help from Pastor Dad)

Bride-to-be Blogger Carly: Designing Our Ceremony (With a Little Help from Pastor Dad)

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I’ve always loved weddings. Growing up as a PK (or “preachers kid” for the majority of you who are unfamiliar with the term), we lived across the street from the church where my dad was the minister. I can remember many a Saturday, looking out the front windows of our house to see the bride and groom enter the church, and, an hour later, emerge to a shower of birdseed. Sometimes my mom would walk my sister Claire and I to the church, where we’d tiptoe into the back pew to watch the ceremony.

Seeing so many weddings, Claire and I would settle for no less than the real thing when we performed nuptials for our Barbies and stuffed animals. We’d sneak into dad’s office and borrow one of his hymnals to follow the official service and read the proper vows. We weren’t messing around.

So, because wedding ceremonies (both real and make believe) hold a special place in my heart and memory, it’s important to me that mine be really great. And not just great for Sean and me, but for our guests as well. We want the ceremony to feel personal and joyful, not at all stiff or super-serious. When we met with the church minister this wee—aka Dad—we were very happy to find out that we would have a lot of creative freedom to choose how the ceremony will look and feel, as well as what will be sung and said!

As a PK, I’m commonly asked if my dad will be the one to preside over my wedding. It’s a legitimate question—he is, obviously, qualified. I remember asking my dad once if he would be the one to marry my future husband and me. He replied that he’d rather not, if that was okay with me. Instead, he’d like the day off to just be my dad. I’ve always appreciated that, because I’d like for him to just be my dad that day too.

But, while my dad will not be the minister to marry us, that certainly doesn’t mean we can’t get married in his church! So the decision of where to get married was an easy one for Sean and me—Old St. George’s Methodist in Old City, the oldest Methodist church in the country. We are very excited about this choice, not only because this church has meaning to us (it’s the church where my dad preaches, where I teach Sunday School, and where my family attends), but also because it’s an absolutely gorgeous place, embodying the colonial charm and character that Sean and I love so much in Philadelphia.

Since my dad won’t be marrying us, however, we needed to find someone who would. Luckily my dad has one or two (hundred!) friends in the biz, many of whom I grew up knowing, so we asked my dad’s childhood friend John (formally Bishop Schol) and seminary roommate Bruce to do the job. Both happily accepted, and we’re thrilled to have family friends guide us through the ceremony on our Big Day.

Neither John nor Bruce lives nearby, so while they will preside over the ceremony, we will do most of the planning with my dad. So we sat down with him this week to talk through the ceremony and start to think about what we need to do before the actual day. Before going to the meeting, Sean and I hadn’t thought much about our ceremony. Well, we found out there is way more to decide than we realized (while being a PK has it’s perks, that doesn’t include having your wedding planned for you!).

We learned that we will need to select two-to-three readings and the friends who will read them, a few pieces of music and musicians to perform those selections, which version of vows we want to read, and, to some extent, which order we want all of this to happen! It’s funny, I’ve been to quite a few weddings and have noted here and there that I liked a song or reading, but now I’m wishing I would have written them down—there are hundreds upon thousands of love songs and hymns, bible readings and poems to choose from!

Old St. George’s has a wedding packet we were given that suggested some musicians, songs, and readings, so that will give us a good place to start. But my dad’s best advice was to think about the message and feelings we want to send our guests, look for music and songs that reflect that, and then think about the instrument (piano, guitar, brass, voice, etc) that would best work with the piece. That’s our first homework assignment. (Any suggestions? We’re thinking we’d love an acoustic guitar …)

We talked our way through the ceremony and obligatory to-dos that followed, and finished our meeting with my dad reading us the benediction (or closing words) of the ceremony, which, to paraphrase, remind that couple that this ceremony is meant not only as a blessing for them but to be a blessing for others who know or will know them. That together as a couple, they should live as an example of love; that the ceremony be a celebration of that love and an inspiration to those who witness it. Thinking about (and typing) those words now brings tears to my eyes—and really puts our wedding day into perspective for me. Yes, we are going to have beautiful ceremony and yes, we are going to throw an amazing party to follow, but above all we are going to leave that day as husband and wife and show everyone else how much we really love each other—and that’s a true cause for celebration.

Amen.

What sorts of things did you consider when putting together your ceremony? What was most important to you?

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