- 5 years ago
- Wedding: March 1998
I invited my friend and his boyfriend, who is our officiant, over last night. “John,” the officiant, has also been a friend of ours for a few years. He has always been agreeable, kind, and very polite toward me. But his behavior last night was very off-putting, and as our wedding is 8 weeks away, it’s left me wondering if I need to backtrack.
My partner and I are atheists. We wanted someone we know to marry us (the result of going to too many weddings with ministers who couldn’t get the names of the people right – even once!), and we wanted a non-religious figure. We sort of compromised – John was ordained on-line (which is legal in our state).
I paid him $200 – the ceremony itself is about 10 minutes, and I’m having a semi-rehearsal party the week before the wedding for everyone to practice, which is also about 20 minutes. I made it clear from the start that I would write/gather the readings/vows, and he would just read them. The extent of his job.
I’m not anal about this stuff – I’m not going to cry if it isn’t memorized, even if he reads monotone off a paper. As long as it’s done and legally binding.
But last night, he asked me to see the finalized vows. These were patched together from two different sources. Many sentences do begin with “To” or “And.” A few sentences in a row began with “Its.” Speaking and reading something are two different things – read aloud, I still feel the vows sounded nice.
John didn’t. In fact, he tore into them immediately – citing prepositions at the beginning of sentences, “all the commas,” and so on. He “doesn’t speak that way.” He even told me, “I’m judging you right now. I thought you were a writer.” I politely stated that I didn’t write them (can you imagine if I had?) but that I liked them.
He made a big deal out of it, and my friend, “Adam,” started trying to get him to shut up. John persisted. The whole thing lasted for 5 or 10 minutes, and I excused myself to go do something else. The tension was still there when I came back, but they had dropped it.
I don’t care if he doesn’t read it word-for-word, and I never told him he had to – in fact, I’ve said quite the opposite. But if he’s planning to revamp as much as I think he plans to – what the hell am I paying him for? This is a side of this man I’ve never seen before, so I’m still taken aback. I couldn’t believe how rude he was and how pushy he’s been about it, considering he’s already been paid for it. Shut your mouth, do the job.
I’ve talked to my fiance about it, but he believes that John was just “joking.” I don’t think so. Before the night was over, he was criticizing the end of the vows too. I did have it listed that he would mention he would dismiss tables for the receiving line before pronouncing us husband and wife.
There are many reasons for this – no one will remember that if it’s said right at the beginning of the ceremony. And after we’re pronounced husband and wife, people will be too excited to pay attention to what else he has to say. I was going to print programs, but decided against it because my family is doing so much more than fiance’s family – and I’d much prefer to avoid the drama of it (otherwise, I would’ve put it on the programs).
I don’t want the money back, but I’m considering telling John and Adam that my brother really wants to marry us (he’s agreed to be the back-up, and after seeing the vows we’ve selected, has said nothing but good things about it). If they choose to or choose not to come to the wedding after that point, it’s their choice.
I’m worried that “John” will alter things behind my back because he doesn’t “talk that way.” That’s not what I paid him for, and I can see this becoming a power struggle very quickly. Or rather, I think it already has.
My fiance thinks I should let it all go, say nothing, see what happens. And while I don’t actively want to lose a friendship, I’m also not going to be a doormat at my own wedding and pay someone to insult me.
What would you do?