“I was the deacon, assisting the priest who’d do the wedding. I’d caught the groomsmen half an hour before sharing drinks from a big bottle. I admonished them and confiscated the half-empty bottle. I thought that was the big issue of the day. I was wrong.
Thirty minutes later the church was full. The organist was playing Bach to fill in until the ceremony began. They’d already pulled out the white cloth to cover the main aisle for the bride’s grand entrance. The altar candles were blazing. The mostly sober groom and five groomsmen in their rented regalia were marching into place at the front, to wait for the bride. The maid of honor and five matching bridesmaids were already there.
The mother of the bride found me. I could see her tears, common at a wedding. She whispered. ‘Julie changed her mind.’ I asked ‘About what? Vows? The wedding candle? What next?’
‘About getting married!’ The mother said, out loud. ‘Can you talk to her? She likes you.’
I followed Mom back to the little bride’s room downstairs. Julie was there in a chair with her worried dad, wedding dress and veil on, tears streaming, mouth quivering. ‘I’m not doing it, I’m not doing it? I don’t love him he doesn’t care about this baby!’ (Baby? What baby?) She turned to her mother and almost shouted ‘you can’t make me.’ I did a perfunctory ‘Are you sure, Julie?’ I got a definite ‘yes,’ and said ‘OK, I’ll go tell Father Wozniak. Do you want us to tell the people?’ She did.
Thank God Father W. decided he’d tell the people. He went out, explained that the bride was having a bit of a thing, nothing dangerous, but that the wedding wasn’t going ahead. I don’t remember specifics, but he was a great speaker and made it sound almost . . .normal.
It was definitely the biggest breach of wedding etiquette I ever experienced, and later, when I was helping couples get ready for their marriage ceremony, I was always careful to be sure they were sure.”