Seven Things Your Wedding Minister Thinks (but Doesn't Say)

June, as we all know, is the traditional "wedding month." Our sweet friend Erin, whom you may recall as the Kentucky gal who preaches in the desert, and who learned it all from her days as a sorority rush chair, was kind enough to share a few words of advice for all our readers who may be walking down the aisle this month. As always, Erin's essay had me laughing and crying and just being so proud to claim her as my sorority sister and my friend. Y'all can find more of Erin's beautiful writing on her blog, Irreverin.-- HCW

Some Stuff the Minister is Thinking as you Plan your “Perfect Wedding”
Erin loved getting to marry her brother Chris...
1. We roll inward eyes a little when you say you want 1 Corinthians 13 read in the ceremony. Yes, love is patient, love is kind. We get it. But we have to actually SAY things in the service other than ‘do you take this man/woman, etc,’ and well…that little gem of scripture has done been said. It’s been said a lot. Give us something to work with, other than the magic of your love.

2. We die a little inside when we say, ‘the church will provide a wedding coordinator for the rehearsal,’ and you say, ‘oh, no, my mother’s going to do it!’ Trust us. That will not end well for anybody.

3. You are not going to shock us with your family drama. No matter how many crazy siblings, inappropriate uncles, or unconventional marriages you bring into the church, we have seen it all. Oh, and also? 9 out of 10 of us could care less if you are living together. And even if we did, we know you are lying when you talk about ‘my apartment.’

...and her other brother Chris!
4. No, you cannot take down the purple Advent décor in the sanctuary and replace it with red and green stuff that ‘matches the dresses.’ Baby Jesus doesn’t care ‘what it looks like in the pictures.’ You want a church wedding? This is a church.
5. If your cousin ‘who’s a preacher’ insists on reading something from Genesis, we get to approve which translation he’s packing.

6. We triple dog dare you to question our fee. If you do, we will ask you how much you are paying the caterer, the band, the wedding planner, the hairdresser, the bartender; and then we will gently remind you that while our services are the cheapest of any of these, we went to more school, and spent way more time planning for your perfect day.  Grace is free, but our time isn’t. Also—eye rolling and inward groaning aside—from this day forward, til death do you part, we are invested in your marriage. We want it to succeed, and that’s why we’re blessing it. I don’t think the bass player feels the same way about the sanctity of this whole business.

7. And finally, as you plan that perfect day, remember that:

“Perfect” is a dangerous word. For life in general, and for marriage in particular. Chances are, if you have unrealistic expectations of this day, you likely have some unrealistic expectations about marriage, as well.  Expect that there will be a big family meltdown, a major hair malfunction, and/or something in the neighborhood of a bird flying into the sanctuary and dropping an unwanted gift on your grandma’s corsage. Likewise, accept that you will gain a few pounds over the next 50 years, and so will your spouse; you will fight, you will lose money, you will face disappointment—possibly in each other. Life will get messy, and even the most perfect-est, magazine-worthy, color-coordinated and professionally choreographed wedding in the world will not keep that from happening.

So put down that Southern Living wedding edition, step the ^!%* AWAY from Pinterest, and get ready to actually BE married. For better, or for worse. If you go into your special, perfect day in full awareness of all the ways that the wheels can come off, then you will actually have FUN at your own wedding. You will see every little hitch and hiccup as a welcome and introduction to the full, joyful, and unpredictable life you are about to enter, with the person who is your soul’s delight.  Their shoes will not always match you hair accessories… in fact, unless you are getting married in high school (please, don’t) and you still have prom to look forward to (just, please, no) then your attire will probably never match again. And yet… a life shared in love—in all its sacred messiness—is so much better than even the most ‘perfect’ day you can imagine.

Because ultimately—even if we can’t read it without rolling our eyes a little—love gives you life. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things.

Love endures all things. Even the perfect blush and bashful wedding.

Love never ends. 

Everything I Really Needed to Know About Ministry, I Learned as a Sorority Rush Chair.

HerKentucky is thrilled to welcome Erin Smallwood Wathen for another brilliant post! I first met Erin when we were sorority sisters at Transylvania; I love this beautiful essay on how our Phi Mu days prepared her for her work in the ministry! -- HCW

I used to want to be a dancer. Preferably on Broadway. I wanted to be an English teacher. I wanted to be the boss of a newspaper or magazine. I wanted to write children’s books. I dabbled in the idea of sociology, and had a brief affair—you know, college experimentation—with what life might be like in the non-profit world.

But never in 800 years would it have occurred to my pre-adulthood self that, “Hey, I’m going to be a preacher!”

Yeah, God’s got a sense of humor like that. This calling sneaked up on me like an April snow in Kentucky—you know it can happen, but you never quite let yourself read the signs, you know? Anyway…I spent my youth, and even my college career, utterly oblivious to the signs that I was headed for a life in ministry.  And yet, I was being shaped for this calling at every moment along the way.

I look around at my life every now and then and say, you know, I really caught a glimpse of this pastor gig when I was teaching dance. Or waiting tables. Or when I found my first real soul friend in 7th grade. Or sitting on the porch with my Mamaw. Or reading the first few books that really blew the top off the world.
Growing up Kentucky, I learned the sacred nature of hospitality, especially where food is involved; I developed a sense of place, and a love of the vernacular; I valued music, art and literature that is engaging, authentic, and unfussy; and really, I just took in the truth that air, soil, and even the moisture in the air smacks of something holy. Every breath of the place—making me ready for this time in my life, whether I knew it or not.

And while it may not sound as spiritual as, say, tobacco hanging in a barn or good bluegrass music or real fried chicken: everything I really needed to know about ministry, I learned as a sorority rush chair.

1. If it fits on a t-shirt, it’s probably not that important. But
2. matching tshirts are still important, in a philosophical sort of way.
3. Fake it til you make it. The appearance of a growing organization will actually evolve into a growing organization.
4. Sleep deprivation is a bonding experience. (Rush week=mission trip, church camp, leadership retreat, Holy week, etc)
5. A beautiful, welcoming space is not an extravagance; it is hospitality.
6. Singing loudly is more important than singing well.
7. Manners, manners, manners.
8. Put the pretty people in front.
9. We’re all pretty people.
10. As long as there’s food, people are happy.
11. The more important a ritual is supposed to be, the more likely you are to laugh at inappropriate times.
11.5. Laughter=also a sacred ritual.
12. Voting people out will always come back to haunt you.

There are no big moments, small moments, or waiting spaces. There is no downtime, and there is no endgame. It is all the perfect, winding way of grace, and it will always take us somewhere good, eventually…Someplace where the grass is blue, the people are real, and ‘fried’ is not a 4-letter word.

You can read more from Erin on her blog, Irreverin, and her Facebook page.