A couple of years ago, I was surprised when one of my best friend’s daughters asked me to officiate at her wedding. I was touched and honored that she chose me but, never having done this before and being more of a pragmatist than a romanticist, I felt like she might have picked the wrong person.
Here’s the first draft of the wedding ceremony I wrote (the names have been changed to protect the innocent)…
We are gathered here today to celebrate a momentous occasion…my first time officiating at a wedding! (Pause for laughs) And also the marriage of Hermione Gingold to Chaz Palminteri.
First, I have to be completely honest with you guys. Since the two of you have told me in confidence that you don’t want to have children…which I know is coming as a shock to your parents right now but I think it’s important that we all be open with each other here today…I think you’re getting married way too young.
You’re only in your 20s, for God’s sake! I know you think you know everything but, believe me, you don’t. It’s true what they say that the older you get the more you realize you don’t know. You can’t even begin to imagine how your life and the world is going to change over the decades to come. When you’re in your 60s like me, you’ll have trouble remembering most of the things you did in your 20s. Heck, you’ll have trouble remembering what you had for dinner last night.
It’s much better to get married later in life, when you can see what kind of person your spouse will eventually become, how successful they will ultimately be and what they will wind up looking like. These are not minor things. People change over time and the chances of you both changing in the same ways are highly unlikely. Fortunes rise and fall, and money is the number two reason for divorce in America. Infidelity is the number one reason and the older you are when you get married, the less energy you’ll have for that sort of thing.
Sure, you both look beautiful today but you have absolutely no idea what either one of you will look like 20 years from now. Have you seen Kirstie Alley or Kathleen Turner? Russell Crowe or Alec Baldwin? They were also gorgeous at your ages. Now look at them. They look like old, rumpled people who ate the younger versions of themselves.
Did you know that the current divorce rate in America is around 40%? That’s actually better than it was for my generation, which was closer to 50%. And the main reason it’s gone down is because, statistically speaking, most of your generation is getting married later in life. So let’s face it, the odds of you having a successful marriage at your ages are not good. Nobody wants to talk about it at the wedding but you know that some of your guests are thinking it. So I’ll just come right out and say it, “How long do you think it will last?”
Now, if you wait until you’re middle aged to get married then you have a much better chance of staying together for the rest of your lives because the rest of your lives won’t be that long.
Take me, for example. I didn’t get married until I was 45. And it was the best thing I ever did. My wife and I knew exactly what to expect when we got old, because we were already half way there. We’d achieved enough financial security so that we didn’t have that added stress on our relationship. And because we were still attracted to each other, we could accept the fact that our best looking years were behind us.
The institution of marriage was reportedly first created in 2350 B.C. when most people didn’t live past their 40s. Whoever invented it probably never imagined that people would someday typically live into their 80s. If they had, they probably would have invented divorces at the same time.
But obviously, nothing I’ve said here today has dissuaded you because you are both still standing in front of me. Which I can only take to mean that you must really love each other and want to spend the rest of your lives together. And I think that’s beautiful. So, let’s get on with this thing…
Of course, I didn’t say any of that. I was on my best behavior and performed a straight and heartfelt ceremony that everyone seemed very happy with. It was a lovely wedding and I’m just glad I didn’t screw it up.
And now that I am an experienced officiant, I am available to perform other weddings for a nominal fee and at your own risk.
Chat about this in the community forum here!