Yesterday, I had the privilege of officiating my niece Jenna's wedding in Jacksonville, Florida. The fact that she and her finance, Karl Mareth, asked touched me deeply.
I've had the privilege of watching my niece grow from a infant into the sparkling and confident young woman that stood before me yesterday. Her tenderness, sense of humor and passion (especially for the Philadelphia Eagles) makes her a delight to be around. And, judging by the number of wedding guests (almost 200) and size of her wedding party (nine), many others feel the same way.
Given the extreme importance (and reverence) of this event, and being uncomfortable (very uncomfortable) speaking in front of a large group of strangers, preparation for this duty weighed heavily upon me. Ever since they approached me back around April, I've mulled over what to say, how to make it meaningful, personal (but not sappy), and appropriately humorous. After a great deal of prayer, discussion with Karl and Jenna, and insights and support from my wife, I was able to craft a ceremony that I thought struck just such a balance.
Unfortunately, the Thursday and Friday before the wedding day the temperatures plummeted from the 80's into the 40's, as a cold front moved into the area. It poured for two days straight.
Did I mention it was going to be an outdoor wedding?
The morning of the wedding was slate gray, windy and depressingly dreary. "There was no way they could have an outdoor wedding in conditions like this", I thought to myself too afraid to speak the words aloud --because I knew there was no "plan B".
As we gathered at the Club Continental later that afternoon, the skies began to look a little less hostile. The clouds were thinning and the winds quieted to a whisper. I truly believe it was the prayers of Jenna, her parents, her relatives and friends that brought about this divine intervention. Because as if on cue, as the ceremony started, the clouds stepped aside allowing the sun to shine on the beautiful couple.
My jitters also evaporated as the young couple stood before me smiling and teary-eyed. I couldn't help but be caught up in their joy. As if by magic, the words began gracefully falling from my mouth. I even remember, while reading the script aloud, one part of my brain said, "Wow, this is going really well!"
The ceremony concluded and I was proud to introduce to the world: Mr. and Mrs. Karl and Jenna Mareth. Everybody had a great time at the reception and after-party. Making for a truly perfect wedding.
I wanted to sincerely thank God for the seeds He planted which developed into my sermonette; Karl and Jenna for putting up with all my questions; my wife for her input, and listening intently each time I rehearsed; and my family and relatives who gave me reassuring smiles and "thumbs-up" throughout the ceremony.
And lastly, thank you Karl and Jenna for meeting, falling in love, and making me part of your history. It is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.
PS - I would also like to thank Don Kimball from Jos. A. Banks for his patience with choosing and altering my suit!