Monday, May 29, 2006

Wedding Distractions

My bride and I have been to three weddings recently, one every other weekend, involving the children of our friends. The three have all been very nice, enjoyable affairs. The brides all beautiful, the grooms all beaming. But all three have been different. The services have been meaningful and the receptions outstanding in every respect.

The first was held on a beautiful, pleasantly cool, cloudless Saturday afternoon in the bride's immaculately landscaped backyard adjacent to the eighth fairway and green of the local country club. The reception was held under a large tent erected on the premesis. It was a first-class affair, but the least formal of the three. There were no distractions from golfers, since the eighth hole had been closed for the duration of the wedding activities. There was no "Fore" during the vows.

The second, with surronding events, was the most formal of the three. It was a High Episcopalian/Anglican service. The reception was held at the North Carolina Country Club in Pinehurst.

The third, held at our local church, a Presbyterian service, was more formal than the first, less formal than the second, somewhere in between. Beautiful music provided by the organist and a violinist, including "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" and "The Lord's Prayer". The father of the groom, an ordained lay minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, participated in the service. He delivered The Scripture Reading (1 Corinthians 13: 1-13) and the Wedding Meditation. It was quite a moving moment to observe. It was a wonderful wedding ceremony.

(Note to Tom, the self-proclaimed "Presbyterian Worship Nerd": The service did not contain an Affirmation of Faith...I asked our Associate minister, who was sitting with us, what was the position of the Church re: using an Affirmation of Faith in a wedding service, and she said that some families chose to include it while others do not.)

The reception, with delicious food and drink, was held at the scenic lakeside Belk Center on the campus of St. Andrews Presbyterian College, where the mother of the groom is employed. It was a festive affair, and as is often stated in the society pages of the local hometown newspaper or the church newsletter, "A good time was had by all".

But, this is about Wedding Distractions. What distractions? Well, if the latest wedding had not been held at my home church, and if I were not on the Worship Committee that helped draft the Wedding Policy, I may not have noticed. But, since it was, and since I am, then I did notice. The policy clearly states that flash photography is fobidden during weddings, and this includes the professional photographer employed to chronical the event. This information is furnished to the families of the bride and the groom. We have an audio-visual system with two cameras and several microphones to record all worship services, weddings, and funerals. Flashes interfere with the auto settings of the video cameras. Plus, it is a Worship Service, not a rock concert or sporting event.

First I noted the flashes of cameras coming from various parts of the church, like you see from the stands at the Super Bowl or a night-time NASCAR race, as if the flash will go further than about 9 - 10 feet. Next, I heard the repetitive, distinctive, plastically annoying, raspy grinding sound as the thumb-driven wind buttons of disposable cameras were activated, followed by more flashes. Just as the bride's procession began, the professional photographer jumped in and backpedaled in front of the bride and her father, flashing away...almost falling... and finally pushing his way into a pew, nearly knocking down a guest whose eyes, at that time, were focused on the bride. Then the man sitting just in front of me, held up a digital camera blocking my view. When he took a picture, and a flash emitted from his camera, I could not contain myself. I gently tapped him on the shoulder and informed him that flash photography was not allowed in the sanctuary during services. He must have thought I was crazy, since there were other flashes going on at that very time. That's what I mean about distractions. I guess we will have to resort to putting a "No Flash Photo" logo on the wedding bulletins.

Then there was the toddler held in a parent's lap on the back row, who did his best to compete with the minister's Greeting and Opening Prayer. I surmise that the parent took the child out of the sanctuary after this, since I did not hear him/her after this, and I cannot imagine such a chatty toddler suddenly becoming quite and staying so for the rest of the service.Unless, of course, the parent stuffed something in his/her mouth. Why do parents do this? Another logo needed?

Finally, there is the applause. I guess it is acceptable, and really not a distraction, since it is so common after the minister introduces the couple as Mr. & Mrs. ------- ------ for the first time. Must be the Presbyterian in me, a member of the "Frozen Chosen" who do everything in order; but I feel uncomfortable clapping during any worship service. I appreciated the "No Applause" notice in the second wedding bulletin. Felt much more comfortable.
Perhaps the above with a cross hatch would get the massage across

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