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The Anonymous Officiant: Heights, High Winds & Jurassic Wingspans at This Grand Canyon Wedding

Published Monday, Jun. 5th, 2023

What do you do when a California Condor crashes your wedding ceremony? Anything's possible when you get married at the Grand Canyon! 



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AMM Audio Articles · The Anonymous Officiant: Heights, High Winds & Jurassic Wingspans at This Grand Canyon Wedding




"I have officiated a number of weddings on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Although I am not overly fond of heights, I have never truly been uneasy – except for once.


The couple being married was from Australia, and the spot they chose for their ceremony was on a secluded, semi-restricted outcropping that stuck out over the canyon like a big rock finger. 

It was about 20 feet wide, which sounds fine unless you’re standing on it in the wind… 

Which I most certainly was. 


The couple was unconcerned about the clouds floating directly underneath us, and I was determined not to throw up or pass out.

Illustration of a wedding ceremony being performed at the Grand Canyon from an aerial view, with a light blue sky and reddish orange rocks, an officiant and couple standing on a protruding rock while three friends watch.

Illustration by Jessica Levey


They situated themselves in front of me with their backs to the canyon so the photographer could get a clear shot of their faces. We proceeded, and things seemed to be going well until the sky was suddenly blocked out by something directly overhead. 

I looked up just in time to see the largest creature I have ever seen in the sky. The wingspan was incredibly broad –  I immediately was reminded of the pterodactyls in Jurassic Park. 

The entity hovered for a few moments, then dropped as quickly and as silently as it had appeared. 



Illustration of a large California Condor swooping down over the wedding ceremony as the wedding officiant looks up surprised, and the bride and groom smile unaware

Illustration by Jessica Levey

California Condors have an impressive wingspan of 9.5 feet! 


We were all so startled that we couldn’t speak for a bit, and the photographer had not been able to capture the scene because she was unabashedly terrified. 

We finished the ceremony, the couple kissed, and we were joined by a forest ranger who came to check on how things were going. We told her what had just occurred. 

She said, “Oh, I should have warned you. There’s a female condor nesting just below where you were, and she’s very curious about what goes on above her. She was probably just checking to see what you all were doing.”
California Condors are one of the rarest birds in the world, and the California Condor is the largest bird in North America. A critically endangered species, a population of wild condors live in and around the Grand Canyon. 

The first nesting at the canyon occurred in 2001, just two or three years before Big Mama joined our wedding party, and gave the Australians something extra to talk about regarding their wedding day.

– Anonymous 



Illustration of a California Condor, a large black bird with a featherless pink head and throat, large beak and large feet with talons, and feathers in a poof around the neck

Illustration by Jessica Levey


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Are you the next Anonymous Officiant?


Tell your real wedding story in AMM’s The Anonymous Officiant


Hey, Wedding Officiants! Share your real wedding story, rant, or advice anonymously in The Anonymous Officiant.  


We’re accepting submissions of true stories, confessions, rants, and other revelations from the wild world of officiating. Do you have a secret, a cautionary tale, a wedding day disaster story, or exciting gossip? A true tale that's funny, heartwarming, scandalous, surprising, or informative? Something you want to confess, or get off your chest? 


Your secret’s safe with us! Submit a story or advice in 500 words or less to [email protected] or use the anonymous submission form linked below. 


Read our Submission Guidelines



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