I think traditions are very important. They link one generation to the previous one. My son recently graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The day before his commencement, he was enrolled in the Order of the Engineer.
That day felt like Christmas Eve. There was a magic and wonder I can’t describe. (Permit me to brag for one moment. He graduated with a triple major – Physics, Engineering and Math).
As we enter this month of weddings, don’t ignore the importance of traditions in weddings. I like what one person said: “Weddings are for family, marriage is for the couple.”
I’ve seen people ignore what I think are important wedding traditions. When I got married 30 years ago, we almost lost a very significant wedding tradition. I found myself caught between a rock and a hard place.
There was only one way to remedy it. I married her twice on the same day.
Yes, you read that correctly; I married my wife twice on the same day.
When I was about to be married, I was studying for ministry in The Salvation Army. My ordination to ministry would commission me as a Salvation Army Officer. That would occur one week before my wedding, and their policy is that officers must get married in Salvation Army uniform.
Great idea, I thought, until I learned my wife also was required to walk down the aisle in a dark blue uniform dress. Unfortunately, for my New Jersey-raised, 100 percent Italian, first-generation-born-in-America mother, that idea wasn’t going to fly. Her son’s bride would walk down the aisle in a white wedding dress. The line was drawn in the sand. Who would win?
I was caught between a rock and a hard place. I was not just a member of The Salvation Army but was about to become a commissioned officer with the rank of Lieutenant. However, my mother birthed me, raised me and demanded a “proper” wedding for her son. What was I to do?
To satisfy both parties without either one knowing about the other wedding, we would have two different weddings on the same day. In order to pull this off, we needed two churches, two wedding lists, two different sets of invitations, two wedding rehearsals, two wedding cakes, two preachers, and two photographers (actually, he agreed to cover both weddings for one cost).
As the planning began, if you asked what time was the wedding, there was a long “pregnant” pause because I had to remember “which wedding” you were invited to attend. The tricky part came at the rehearsal dinner (which occurred before the wedding rehearsals). Both weddings did not share the same bridal parties. Some members of the bridal party began to question the rumors they heard about a “second” wedding rehearsal. They understood but were quite surprised.
At 10 a.m. on my wedding day, my bride and I showed up at the church in our full Salvation Army uniforms. We invited all our friends from The Salvation Army. After the wedding we had a cake and punch reception. Everyone thought it was wonderful. They went home, and we went over to my parents’ house for a three-hour respite.
The grooms’ men and I got into our tuxedos. My bride (who was by now my wife) got into her white wedding dress. We arrived at church No. 2 at 4 p.m. wearing tuxedos and a white wedding dress. The minister “celebrated” the wedding of Tony and Dot. Afterward, we went to Tom’s Restaurant and had an Italian wedding reception. We got to our honeymoon suite by 10 p.m.
Don’t believe me? C’mon down to the Charlotte Rescue Mission and ask for my assistant. She’ll have my wedding album. You’ll find yourself flipping through the pages of one wedding, turn the page, and start all over again looking at a second wedding. Same couple, same day, different churches, different times.
And you thought you were stressed about your “one” wedding?” You get no sympathy from me.
I’ll be back in two weeks when I tell you the story of how I told my Italian mother (who lives with me) that my wife is more important to me than she is. Until then.
Rev. Tony Marciano is the executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission and a regular South Charlotte Weekly columnist. He is available to speak to your group. Call 704-334-4635, ext. 213, to schedule him.