It is not that often that I have to go to a wedding, so today was a notable day. Every other wedding I have ever gone to has been with my wife, but today was different. She was at another meeting so when I returned she wanted to hear my story.
This is what I remember—it may not be entirely accurate, but it will have to do. Two weeks ago at our weekly men’s Bible study—there are about 14 of us who regularly attend—one of the men, a newcomer named BD announced that he was going to get married in two weeks and that we were all invited.
An aside here: Texan alpha males often go mainly by initials, so I am following that practice. I am also referring to the bride with her initials, mainly because feminist equal-rights groups are petitioning the Texas state legislature for the use of initials for all Texas women. BD’s new wife is not Texan, but she will undoubtedly be adopted by Texas and will find that left or right wingers will use only her initials in formal settings.
Men immediately began to make mental excuses on why they couldn’t be there: one had just bought an ox and wanted to try it out, another had farm business to attend to, and so on. But then the pastor informed us that he would be marrying them and any excuses were theologically eradicated. The pastor was doing his part and we would do ours.
Someone was bold enough to ask “who is the lucky woman?” but there was not much else to say. After all BD was older, had long white hair, and wore cowboy boots and a Stetson, so he must have known what he is doing.
Today was the day. Our Bible study met at its usual time and then all of us (except for one or two who claimed they had other duties) went to the chapel at DaySpring Baptist Church for the wedding. As I said, none of us knew BD very well and none of us (except BD) had ever met CG, the bride-to-be. So we decided that in all fairness to both, at the chapel some of us would sit on the bride’s side and some on the groom’s.
Sid, our pianist, who is well known in Waco, was our member who played the piano. While he worked the scales, the sounds reverberated wildly in the small room as other members of the Bible study tried to talk. BD was sitting in the back, holding his Stetson and his best man (Stan) was seated beside him. Stan would later have to give the ring to the pastor, so he was trying to remember which pocket he had put it in.
Our pastor, the leader of our Bible study, had a tie and blazer on so we already knew that he was ready for his task. The rest of us looked rather sloppy, casual might be a better word, although Stan had on a tie and so did one of the other men.
Another couple who knew BD would also stand at the front with the couple, Stan and his wife, and of course the pastor. The chapel is small, so we were able to fill about a quarter of the seats. Actually, BD told us before the ceremony began that they had planned to elope but couldn’t, so they were having the wedding here in Waco. I don’t remember why they couldn’t elope but it may have had something to do with not having a ladder—I’m not sure. We had asked BD earlier if he had paid to rent the chapel and he said he had, so the wedding could legitimately and legally go ahead.
The pastor explained briefly how it would take place: Sid would play an appropriate entrance piece or two and the two couples, BD and the pastor would go to the front of the chapel and wait for CG. The pastor told me that I was then to go across the hall and tell her to come into the chapel and get married. I was very nervous: what if she refused, ran out into the parking lot or, worse still, fainted? One of our group is a retired pediatrician and would probably know what to do, so I felt somewhat relieved. I had to this point never seen CG, so what if there were two women standing there and I beckoned to the wrong one? Fortunately, only CG was there, quite ready and willing to make her way into the chapel and to the front, standing next to BD.
The pastor gave them their money’s worth: he exhorted and exalted them, reminding them of the joys and sorrows of marriage, the gift of companionship, and the eternal bond of it all. I looked at the men—some of them were crying, undoubtedly as they remembered their own vows so many years ago and realized how miserably they had failed. I reflected on my own wedding and how, somehow, 63 years later we were still together and loving it. I tried not to cry, but sniffed once or twice.
At the appropriate time, the pastor asked for the rings and Stan fumbled a bit but found the one for BD. I didn’t see who had the one for CG, but it miraculously appeared. Rings were then exchanged, some Scripture, another prayer and then the vows and pronouncement. For the vows, the couple were instructed to stand facing each other and hold hands. BD had a beautiful Mona Lisa-like smile on his face. The pastor, using modern language, did not betroth them—he simply said they were married. Then, just before the final presentation of the new Mr and Mrs BD, the pastor led the couple to a kneeling bench and asked them to kneel and pray. In some ways, it was the most difficult part of the service. I could hear the knees creaking and the bones cracking as the BD and CG got down and up. The prayers of the on-lookers helped them, I am sure.
The pastor allowed the new couple to kiss—someone yelled “Not too long.” Sid then played an exit piece, the bridal party departed, and we went outside to congratulate Mr and Mrs BD. We had some sandwiches and punch and it was all over. Not quite—we had to have photos taken before one of the men decided that he should ring the church bell.
I can imagine the traffic stopping for miles around, folk removing their hats and scarves, perhaps muttering a prayer, and looking around for the bell tower. I hope so, because it is not often that a couple gets married and has the nerve to invite 14 men (rather old) to share in their wedding. So sincere congratulations to our fellow Bible study member BD, a novus homo, and to CG, with her new nom de guerre.
As a Roman general once said, “O rus, quando ego te aspiciam? which, if the book I am consulting is correct, means “O peace of the countryside, when shall I behold thee again?”