Tag Archives: weddings

The Quest for the Ring

It’s becoming quite popular for couples, at their wedding ceremony, to have a trained owl fly in carrying the rings.

This works well outside, but indoors can cause problems; e.g. once, when it had been arranged (and I’m usually told at the last minute, because the person conducting the ceremony isn’t really that important!!!!) that this should happen, the owl – on cue – flew from the back of the sanctuary and alighted, not on the Best Man’s wrist as planned, but on a rafter above the organist.

Our organist almost “had a canary” (sic) as he had an aversion to our feathered friends.  He really was in a flap!

Despite the very best efforts of the “owl man”, the birdie would not move – not helped by some guests taking photos on their phones (friends, how did I end up in this sorry state, after over 40 years of ministry?)

This reminds me of a similar situation when a particular organist was heard muttering, “Bugger off! Bugger off!” at an owl which had decided to perch above his organ console.  The minister who was trying to conduct the ceremony without much success at this crucial juncture in the service crossed the chancel floor, and, forgetting that his lapel attached “mike” was still on, said “James, don’t say that!  Just say ‘shoo! shoo!’ and it will bugger off without further prompting!”

Which brings me to a recent marriage that I conducted in a local Castle wedding venue.

The “owl man” didn’t turn up.

What to do?

Well, the owner had a cunning plan; he has a cute little dog called Ernie, and it was decided to attach the actual rings (the Owls just carry dummy ones) to the little fellow’s collar.

The Groom was asked to put a piece of bacon in his kilt sporran (I’m not making this up – it honestly did happen); the idea being that Ernie  would run into the Great Hall – enticed by the smell of his favourite treat, and the rings (in a pouch) would then be retrieved.

Ernie’s big moment arrived. He ran into the Hall at the appropriate moment. He ran here, there, everywhere – except toward the bridegroom.

Eventually, his owner cornered him under a chair.  The rings were retrieved. And Ernie got his piece of bacon!

{do you remember Benny Hill’s song “Ernie, the fastest milkman in the west”?  Well, here’s to Ernie, the fastest wee dog in the South West of Scotland!}




Below – the one and only Ernie the dog


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The first two were posted by my friend (and one of my successors at Greyfriars Church in Trinidad)

The Rev Clifford Rawlins:

  • One wedding in Greyfriars saw me giving the nuptial blessing, “God the Father, God the Son…” when the bride’s mentally challenged uncle jumped up and blurted out, “AND GOD THE HOLY GHOST!” And I continued, “God the Holy Ghost…” And the man responded, jumping up and flicking his fingers in the air like a schoolboy, shouting, “See! See what I tell allyuh! Same thing I say! I know he was going to say dat!”


  • Another one by a colleague had the groom tell him, “Jes now eh Father, gimme a minute.” And he proceeded to turn around and scream, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” After which he faced he minister again and calmly asked him to continue with the service.


and these from a website:


  • The uncle of the bride sent a request in since he could not attend. He asked someone to read 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love; instead perfect love drives out fear.” Unfortunately, the reader quoted John 4:18 at the wedding: “For you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”
  • The groom’s ex-wife stood in the back of the sanctuary yelling “not” as the pastor read 1 Corinthians 13.


  • This outdoor wedding had a stray dog as a guest. He kept bringing a tennis ball to the pastor and putting it at his feet.


  • During the wedding service, a guest’s phone loudly declares, “You have reached your destination.”


And two of my own:

  • After the Marriage Schedule had been signed, and the legal formalities completed, the bride and groom (both Beatles fans) walked up the aisle to the song “Ticket to Ride”


  • Just as another wedding ceremony began, a guest’s phone rang – the ringtone was the theme from “Mission Impossible “





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Wedding Belles

A colleague mentioned that he recently had a bride-to-be on the phone, who said : “My fiancee and I have been to see your Church from the outside…does it have a centre aisle….you are one of a few whom we are considering for our wedding venue….how much does it cost?…..

Another minister friend once said to a couple “I hope the centre aisle and the photogenic steps are not the only reasons for you getting married in the church.” They never came back!

I once conducted a wedding in a particular hotel.  After the ceremony, the marriage party walked the few yards  down the street to have their photographs taken outside the nearby church

When I was minister at Inveresk Kirk, which has a rather  large sanctuary, at one particular rehearsal (the bride was a parishioner) the lassie looked around in awe and said “It’s awfy big!” That was her first visit!

The layout of the building – whether it has a centre aisle, or the length of said aisle – should not be a criterion for someone to deign ones kirk with their presence. Stage management (best video/camera angles) is trying to manipulate so much these days when it comes to wedding services. I once did tell a video guy who was virtually leaning on my shoulder to **** off – luckily it was during the last hymn, but perhaps the sound was still active!

Regarding the choice of hymns…. “All Things Bright and Beautiful” and “Morning has Broken” are very popular choices, because they are often the only hymns they know (from schooldays); however, a bit of cheeky inventiveness – once after the signing of the schedule, the couple exited to the Beatles “Ticket to Ride”. Deary me!

And, finally …. for the time being… (another colleague was asked):  “can I put baby pink bows on each of those pewy thingies…?”

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Once or twice got a phone call from a prospective bride who announced “I’m getting married” (to which this cynical auld Meenister would answer “How nice”.) She would then continue, “And we’d like you to perform the ceremony” (“What a kind thought” – no, I didn’t actually say that).

“Let me get my diary”

“It’s the whatever of July at 3 o’clock”

“Sorry, I’m already doing a wedding at that time”

Silence – then panic- “But we’ve already booked the reception!”

“How about getting in touch with one of my colleagues to see if he or she is free?”

“No, I really wanted your church as it’s got a long aisle to walk down!”


from a colleague:  Prospective Bride on phone : “My fiancee and I have been to see your Church from the outside…does it have a centre aisle….you are one of a few whom we are considering for our wedding venue….how much does it cost?…..”


When I was minister at Inveresk Kirk, which some of you who have visited will know is rather large, at one particular rehearsal (the bride was a parishioner) the lassie looked around in awe and said “It’s awfy big!”  That was her first visit! And after the wedding, never came back


Once had a wedding in an hotel – after the ceremony, the marriage party walked the few yards down the street to have their photographs taken outside the nearby church


Phone call: “Could we get married on Christmas Day morning at 11 o’clock?”

“Sorry, there’s a Service on then”

“Well, maybe afterwards – at our house – all the family will be there”

“Would love to, but I’ve got family and relatives coming to the Manse”

“You could always have your Christmas Day lunch with us”

“Sorry, don’t think that’s possible  – look, how about Boxing Day instead?”

“Can’t – that’s when the baby’s due!”

(well, she tried again six months later, but I was away on holiday; then about a year after that and success!  The babby was now old enough to be a flower girl) 

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American Shutdown (October 2013) via Huff Post

How The Government Shutdown Affects Religious Groups
Kevin Eckstrom, Cathy Lynn Grossman, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, David Gibson, Adelle M. Bank, and Katherine BurgessReligion News ServiceOct 09, 2013
WASHINGTON (RNS) As the government shutdown enters its second week, some religious groups are starting to feel the pinch, and they’re also finding ways to reach out.

More than 90 Catholic, evangelical and Protestant leaders have signed a statement rebuking “pro-life” lawmakers for the shutdown, saying they are “appalled that elected officials are pursuing an extreme ideological agenda at the expense of the working poor and vulnerable families” who won’t receive government benefits.

Starting Wednesday, evangelical, Catholic and mainline Protestant leaders will hold a daily “Faithful Filibuster” on Capitol Hill with Bible verses on the poor “to remind Congress that its dysfunction hurts struggling families and low-income people.”

Here’s how the shutdown is impacting religious groups in ways large and small:

Rescheduled weddings

The national parks closure has prompted a blessing for some couples locked out of their planned wedding venues. Churches are opening their gardens and doors to shutdown refugees.

First, Washington Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde invited displaced couples to wed at the Bishop’s Garden at the Washington National Cathedral. There are at least 11 weddings booked during the next two weeks, diocesan spokesman Jim Naughton said. Three have been held so far.

Then, a small church near Cincinnati, Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador in Mount Auburn, Ohio, followed the cathedral’s lead.

“We have a small garden, but it’s really nice,” the Rev. Paula Jackson told a local website. “We don’t know how long this shutdown is going to last … This is one thing we can do for people, who have a very important moment in their lives planned.”

For couples whose Grand Teton National Park wedding dreams were dashed, there’s hope: St. John’s Church in Jackson Hole, Wyo., is offering shut-out sweethearts the spacious community green in front of the main sanctuary.

St. John’s Rector Ken Asel said he will put out the word that the biggest private green space in Jackson Hole will be available for the couples. Unfortunately, St. John’s most famous chapel, the Chapel of the Transfiguration with its window view of Grand Teton, will not be available because it is surrounded by the national park.

Workmen who needed to winterize the building for the season had to outrun park rangers once the roads through the park to the chapel were locked down.

D.C. sites shuttered

The play “The Laramie Project,” about gay rights icon Matthew Shepard, was scheduled to be performed at the historic Ford’s Theatre in Washington, but several of its October dates have shifted to the nearby First Congregational United Church of Christ. The theater, where President Lincoln was shot in 1865, is operated through a partnership between Ford’s Theatre Society and the National Park Service.

Church bus accident

The National Transportation Safety Board might have investigated the Oct. 2 church bus accident in which eight people died in eastern Tennessee. But all of its highway investigators were furloughed.

“In this particular case I think it’s highly likely that we would have responded to it, but again, with our investigators furloughed, it’s impossible to do that,” Sharon Bryson, the NTSB’s deputy director of communications, told NBC News.

Charitable funds dry up

The government shutdown also threatens to reduce or shutter charitable services operated by faith-based groups that use federal funds.

As Catholic News Service reports, the Diocese of Wichita (Kansas) is covering the costs of programs for homeless families and battered women run by the local branch of Catholic Charities. In Washington, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said it would be able to continue assisting immigrants through its Migration and Refugee Services for a couple of months if necessary.

But officials also made it clear that these are only stopgap measures that still leave the poor and vulnerable at greater risk.

“It is hypocritical and shameful for those who tout their commitment to family values to show such callous indifference,” said an Oct. 2 statement released by Faith in Public Life and signed by a range of Catholic and other Christian leaders.

Contraception mandate lawsuits

Justice Department lawyers are asking for more time in a case challenging the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, which has drawn strong opposition from a number of religious groups and institutions, including a suit filed by Geneva College in western Pennsylvania.

During the shutdown, government attorneys “are prohibited from working, even on a voluntary basis, except in very limited circumstances, including ‘emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property,’” federal attorneys told a federal court in Pittsburgh, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Military chaplains

The shutdown caused some initial confusion about whether military chaplains would be able to perform religious services. The House passed a resolution Saturday (Oct. 5) urging the secretary of defense to not allow the government shutdown to reduce religious services on military bases. The Senate has not yet voted on the bill.

Military chaplains continue to work during the shutdown, but the resolution was aimed at contract chaplains involved in performing religious services or conducting religious activities, according to Military Times. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he would reinstate almost all of the 350,000 civilian employees of the Defense Department, which was expected to allow contract priests to say Mass.

Still, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services says the shutdown is threatening Catholic service members’ religious rights. “Priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide are not permitted to work — not even to volunteer. During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so,” warned John Schlageter, general counsel for the military archdiocese.

Fun for furloughed federal employees

A short walk from the Capitol sits Sixth & I, a restored synagogue that is now part synagogue and part cultural center and that has proven especially popular with younger Jewish adults. During the shutdown, Sixth & I sponsors “Shutdown Central” under the motto “A shutdown shouldn’t mean putting your mind to rest. Let’s make something out of this nothing.”

On any given day, that means a roster of programming that can include improv classes with local comedians, a class on government transparency and a knitting circle. But every day there’s “Political Ping Pong,” board games and the constant streaming of “The West Wing.”

In Vernal, Utah, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church offered free lunch to furloughed employees on Sunday (Oct. 6): “We recognize that those who are employed by the Federal Government are an integral part of what makes our community work and that their loss of wages is through no fault of their own.”

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The Famous Old Blacksmith’s Shop at Gretna Green

The Famous Old Blacksmith's Shop at Gretna Green

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September 15, 2013 · 11:04

The Reverend I M thick

Desperate from thirst and dehydration, a visiting minister was ushered into the vestry twenty minutes or so before the service was due to begin.

He noticed, on the desk, a very large glass of water which he greedily and thankfully gulped down.

It was only after he had slaked his thirst that he noticed the dead flowers lying in the waste paper bin.


Nervous minister in strange church being listened to by a vacancy (or search) committe, went up to the pulpit only to find that there was no way in; he’d gone to the wrong side and looked totally puzzled and consequently distraught. Glad to say he eventually found it with some help and preached a blinder of a sermon. He got the job.


A retired minister colleague who used to conduct a shedload of marriage ceremonies in and around Gretna Green was once nearing the end of one particular wedding service, when his mobile phone rang.  Instead of ignoring it, he answered.  It was from another venue nearby, asking where he was.

He answered (and remember that this is during a religious ceremony):  “Won’t be long – once I’ve finished with this lot”

“This lot” rightly complained and he was banned for a while.

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I Do, I Do, I DO!!!

The Meenister’s Log

A wedding is a solemn yet a most joyful occasion, yet by the look on the faces of the mothers of some brides, it looks more than an ordeal which they are enduring.

However, the vows (sacred and special as they are) can provide some light relief.

“Do you, John, take Mary to be your wedded wife, and, in the presence of God and before your family and friend, do you promise to be a loving, faithful and loyal husband to her, as long as you both shall live?” Answer: “I do”

At one ceremony, I asked “Do you, John, take Mary to be your wedded wife… And immediately he answered “I DO!”

I continued, “And in the presence of God……. do you promise to be a loving, faithful and loyal husband….. again: “I DO!

we persevered “to her, as long as we both shall live?” At last “I DO!”

With that the best man stated to hum the Abba song “I do, I do, I do”

The bride’s mum muttered “that will be his Waterloo!”

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The Meenister’s Log

It can affect young and not so young alike.

A colleague who must have been daydreaming, at the Sunday Service, after the first hymn pronounced the benediction.

Another friend routinely forgets to announce that the offering will be collected and has to be reminded by a choir member.

I once forgot that a troop of Boy Scouts, camping nearby, was coming to church one Sunday – and hurriedly, extemporised a youth address as well as modifying the sermon to be more inclusive.

Sermon notes have been left behind on the study desk -often.

On two separate occasions, a minister has not turned up to conduct a wedding and I’ve been asked to “come off the subs’ bench” to do the needful.

Several colleagues have gone to the wrong crematorium; I once went to the wrong cemetery.

One minister friend, at a cremation, got the name of the deceased wrong several times – until a family member shouted at him, telling him the proper name; thereafter, he wrote out the names in very large handwriting.

Well, we’re only human….. as far as I can remember.


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Inappropriate Calls – 2

The Meenister’s Log

On holiday in Buckinghamshire one year, visiting Windsor, and my mobile phone rings.

“Hello, it’s Anne from the switchboard – are you enjoying your holidays?”

“Yes, indeed, and the sun’s shining”

“Oh, it’s a bit dull here”

“Well, I’m in a lovely part of the world and am just crossing the bridge to Eton”

“Oh, it sounds lovely”

And so the conversation continued, until she said “I know you’re on holiday, but there’s a staff nurse in Ward **, who would like to speak to you;I’ll put her through”

“Hello, this is xxxxx from Ward ** – hope you’re enjoying your holiday; I wonder if you have your diary to hand – I’ve just got engaged and we’d like you to conduct our wedding”   Doh!


Phone rings.  “Hello, we’re getting married and we’d like you to conduct the ceremony”

“When is it?

“Saturday, August 5th at 3.00 p.m at St.Michael’s”

“Let me check my diary”   …..   “Oh, sorry, there’s already a wedding at the Kirk at that time”

Panic – “but we’ve already booked the reception!”

(putting the cart before the horse — or something like that)

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