Published: Wednesday, Nov. 25th, 2020
“Normally, in a ceremony, I’d talk about what a beautiful future a couple has together, but they didn’t have one,” she says, looking down.
The AMM minister sharing this story with us officiated this particular wedding years ago, but talking about it this morning over Zoom, it’s easy to see that the memory still feels fresh. (We aren’t using names here because we want to respect the privacy and grief of the bride and family.)
“He was dying.”
Like most officiants, she was used to meeting couples at the start of their journey together, not the end.
That’s what’s expected, after all… a happily ever after. And it’s why typical ceremony scripts often paint a rosey scene, capturing a love story and talking about the couple’s many years ahead, filled with new beginnings as they build a life and family together.
The ceremony was grounded in the joy, devotion, and love they'd found together.
But when this AMM minister was asked to perform a ceremony for a couple with a groom in the final stages of cancer, knowing that he would be dying within days of the wedding, she realized all those trite, fluffy, formulaic ceremony scripts would have to go out the window.
She’d have to write something new. Something special. Something honest. And while she wasn’t sure she could do it, she knew she couldn’t say no.
“I put on my big girl pants and did my job,” she says, “I kind of put my head somewhere else.”
She kept her thoughts focused on the couple’s devotion to one another, reflecting on all the joy they’d found together, and kept the words of the ceremony centered in the present, grounded in their love for each other. By focusing on their personal story, she was able to write a custom ceremony script that honored their unique circumstances.
The day of the wedding, script in hand, she walked into their bedroom, where the groom was lying down and wrapped in heavy blankets. It was so warm she could feel herself start to sweat, but she remembered why she was there. She held it together throughout the short ceremony, and when the couple kissed, she felt she’d done something important.
Afterward, she told us, she definitely sat in her car for a few minutes and cried. Officiants are, after all, some of the biggest hearted people you’ll meet. Wedding officiants spend most of their working hours getting to know people in a unique and up-close way, at one of the most emotional and impactful intersections of their lives. But despite those few tears, she said there was nowhere else she’d rather have been that day.
“You feel so blessed by coming into someone else’s world, when they’re about to leave this world,” she says.
Here at AMM, we think it’s a gift to be able to come into someone else’s world every day and any day, in every ceremony, showing up for couples in whatever way they need support. We think what our officiants do is truly incredible, honoring couples in unique, honest, and personal ways.
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