Wedding Writing

Drabble count: 4 new Stargate drabbles

So I went to a wedding of an unnamed cousin at an unnamed Massachusetts college this weekend. My cousin is a graphic designer and over 40, and the setting was gorgeous, so this was far and away the most tasteful wedding I’ve ever attended. In fact, there may have been more good taste involved than in all the other weddings combined.

Weddings have an odd subculture all their own - I’ve always wondered how the chicken dance and the garter thing made it big. My cousin skipped those bits, but she didn’t manage to avoid the ceremony question. The unnamed groom is an atheist, so the officiant was a Massachusetts justice of the peace. I thought that might be an interesting change of pace, but it wasn’t.

Rhetoric is a lost art, so lost that not even the President of the United States can find it. Gone AWOL with it is the sense of ceremony. To pull off the wedding ceremony itself you need at least one of those, and usually both. For this reason, most weddings are flops long before the chicken dance. Many people don’t seem to realize that they are entirely unqualified to write a wedding ceremony. Being ordained minister, appointed justice of the peace, or even being the bride or groom does not confer the literary talent necessary to produce lines like With this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow.

What’s far more unfortunate than not being able to write the Book of Common Prayer is not being able to tell which one makes a better ceremony: the vows in use for hundreds of years or the new vows you and Tyler wrote for your “special” occasion. I’m not saying that no one can improve upon a traditional ceremony; I’m just saying that if someone can, it’s probably not you and it’s certainly not that nice justice of the peace I heard this weekend.

I’ve also seen my share of lovely traditional ceremonies marred by heartfelt sermons at the literary level of, say, off-the-cuff remarks by the President of the United States. This is only a slight improvement over impromptu vows themselves, and it’s a much harder problem to avoid. How do you stop the officiant from sermonizing? The best you can hope to do is find a known good public speaker, and we couldn’t even find one to be President.

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