Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Donut Shop Wedding, Part 3: The Ceremony

A few minutes before 5:00 I got up off the couch, picked up my wedding manual, and headed to the donut shop, still hoping against hope to get in and out of there as quickly and anonymously as possible. As I pulled up I noticed that Curtis had turned around the open/closed sign to allow a little privacy for the ceremony. When I came in I quickly scanned the room, about 15 people, most I had never seen before and none were from our church. Praise God. If I don't know them, maybe they don't know me.

How can I describe the happy couple? They were dressed in matching western wear, black jeans and boots with fancy white western shirts with pearl covered snaps, three on each cuff and two on each pocket. They also had matching black cowboy hats with white silk bands, but they were stowed on the hat rack. They were all smiles and - you guessed it - she was smiling a big toothless grin. (Just once it would be nice for the man to win an argument.) The groom didn't seem too put off by this as he showed me the marriage license and thanked me for coming.

It was time to begin. Where do you stand in a donut shop to perform a wedding ceremony? We all shuffled around until I was directly under the big menu board mounted on the wall. I noticed that bear claws and apple fritters were only $.99. I love those apple fritters. Everybody soon settled down and we began the ceremony.

Not many pastors have had the experience of hearing a bride repeat her vows without any teeth. It went something like ". . . to hab and to hode fwom dis day fowwood . . . dil deab do us pawd." I could scarcely stifle my own laughter enough to repeat the words for them. Snickering all around. It was a moment - comic and cute and kind of touching all at once. (I wonder if God holds us responsible for promises we make without any teeth. It'd be hard for him to take us seriously, wouldn't it? Not sure on that one.)

We finished with what had to be a pretty mushy kiss. Congratulations all around. I moved quickly to a table to fill out and sign the marriage license, anxious to make my exit as politely as possible. As I gave the groom their copy of the license he shook my hand leaving a wadded up $20 bill in my palm. "That's for you, preacher. And I wanna tell ya, I wasn't exactly straight with you this morning when we talked."

"Really?" I thought nothing he could say would surprise me now. I was wrong. He left me completely speechless with his final words to me.

"Yeah, ya see, to tell ya the truth, I been married five times before, but I want ya to know, preacher, this was the nicest wedding I ever had."

As I drove home it hit me. What if he was telling the truth? Could there really be five weddings in the history of the world tackier than this one? Couldn't be. No way.

Having made my escape, I breathed a big sigh of relief. It was over and with a little luck, I could put the whole crazy episode behind me. I had no idea that there was one more unavoidable act in this play. Stay tuned for the final installment.

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