The call came late. I’d counseled the couple in preparation for their marriage, but someone else would officiate. Four days before the wedding, the pastor’s son fell ill, forcing him to cancel, and the couple asked if I would perform the wedding. I said, “Yes, of course. Love to.”
The late notice meant we had to pass up attending the rehearsal and dinner the night before. “No problem,” the couple reassured, “We’ll get someone to stand in for you.”
The next day we drove three hours and arrived a comfortable 45 minutes early. Plenty of time for the wedding planner to go over the last bits of preparation.
Everything was ready; twenty minutes to spare. I asked where I could put on my tie, and the planner pointed me to an old estate house located just left of the flower garden adjacent to the grass lawn where the wedding would take place. A few people were beginning to spill into the courtyard, escorted by well dressed ushers.
I’d better hurry. Oh, quick reminder. My wife, Elaine was with me. Trying not to betray my anxiety over the lingering minutes left before I needed to be in place, I said to Elaine, “Hey Honey, I’m gonna go to the back room to put on my tie. Can you please get me a glass of water?”
“Sure, baby. I’ll have it ready when you come out. Oh, and don’t forget this.”
“Oh shoot, my belt, I totally forgot about that.”
Five minutes later, ten minutes left, my tie well placed around my neck, I ran out panicking. I looked to the left, then to the right and saw a groomsman tucking the last bits of his shirt into well creased trousers. I rushed to him, barely able to keep my now evident panic under full control.
“Hey buddy,” I gasped. “My belt snapped. Do you happen to have a spare?”
“You won’t believe this,” he shot back. “I don’t know why, but I brought an extra with me. It’s on the bed there, in that room.”
“You’re joking, aren’t you?” If he was, I did not find it funny.
“No,” he replied laughing. “I really don’t know why, but I did bring an extra.”
I rushed over to the bed, grabbed the belt only now registering that the young man was easily thirty pounds lighter than me. I took a deep breath, held it and rushed the belt through each loop in record time. I slipped the buckle into the first hole, let out my breath and felt the tire-like part of my belly fold comfortably over the belt.
It would do.
Where’s Elaine. I’m really thirsty now.
Five minutes to go and I strutted confidently, tummy tucked, to the center area where a few lingering groomsman were making last minute preparation. I saw Elaine who graciously extended the glass of water my way. With minutes to go, I gulped half the glass down in one swig, longing for the refreshment to pass my parched tongue and quench my thirst.
I expected to hear myself say, “Ah, that was good,” but instead another sound came with great force out my larynx accompanying by three hard coughs and a harsh gasp.
Looking at the empty glass I sputtered at the nearby groomsman, “What in tarnation is this?”
“Oh,” he said, barely veiling a twinkle, “I think you just drank a glass full of Vodka.”
“Elaine, this is Vodka, not water!”
“Oops. Sorry babe. It was in a clear blue pitcher that looked like water. And there was a small sign next to it that said water, I think.”
No time left. I met the other guys at the side of the house ready to march into position. I usually feel a twinge of nerves about this time before positioning myself as the officiant at a wedding. But, instead, I felt a calm, and with it a bit of a light head. A nightmare scenario played out in my mind, and I became anxious again.
What if I say something really stupid?
What if I stumble when I get up there?
What if I start peeling my clothes… (Stop it Mitch. Don’t go there.)
Fortunately the effects did not go further, and I did manage quite well through the ceremony. However, I will have to blame the collapse of a table at the reception that I leaned on, to it’s poorly propped legs, not mine.
The moral to this story? If you’re a pastor, always bring an extra belt with you, and don’t ever ask your wife for a glass of water before the ceremony begins. Unless of course, you’re looking for a good story to tell.
Do you have a brief wedding story you want to share? Reply in the comment section below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your story might show up in an upcoming blog!!
* Every detail of this story is exactly as it happened.