Sunday, August 16, 2015

by the power vested in me through the Internet...

I spoke via Skype with my brother Sean and his fiancĂ© Jeff last night. They're knee-deep in wedding preparations, and as Sean said, it's been crunch time for a while. They seem to be soldiering along pretty well, though; no freak-outs yet—not this early in the game. (The wedding is on October 17—almost exactly two months from now.)

We talked primarily about the order of events for the wedding ceremony. Sean and Jeff have already done their homework, and they designed a program that's roughly modeled on a typical church liturgy. It marks out when the guests are seated, when the procession happens, when certain ceremonial words are read, etc. They did a thorough job; I was impressed. We talked a bit about what readings the couple wanted—maybe something from Hyeon Gak sunim, something from Khalil Gibran, etc. The vibe that Jeff and Sean are looking for is something between interfaith (i.e., explicitly mentioning the wisdom of different specific traditions) and nondenominational (i.e., more toward a non-specific, almost Unitarian-style delivery—not just "nondenominational Christian").

I was happy to announce to my brother and soon-to-be brother-in-law that I am now an ordained minister in the AMM (American Marriage Ministries) tradition. Ordination was as easy as filling some online blanks and clicking a button or two. Feels weird, all the same: in the US, I can now legally officiate marriages, baptisms, and funerals. The weirdness obviously comes from the fact that I did nothing to earn this: it's a bit like going online and automatically receiving inkga (certification of enlightenment) from a Buddhist website.

Sean said that he wanted humor to be part of the ceremony. I joked that I was planning to step up to the altar, do a double-take, and shout, "No one told me it would be two dudes!" I might still do that. We'll see. Jeff thought that'd be a hoot.

There are a few more things for me to square away, legally, before I'm ready to travel to the States in October. I have to register in West Virginia as an ordained minister authorized to perform weddings, and I have to be licensed as a minister. It's not enough merely to be ordained. West Virginia has a website that offers a package to prospective wedding officiants; the package guides one step-by-step through the process of ordination, licensing, and registration. I've ordered that package; it's on its way. And if I understand correctly, licensing and registration (I feel as though I'm talking about a car) happen pretty much simultaneously. After all that, there's one final matter: the marriage license, and I'm not entirely clear about who's supposed to take care of what, but it's just a matter of reading further.

Sean and Jeff offered to pay half my plane fare to the States and back, but I told them I was expecting a windfall in September, so there'd be no need. They're already investing so much money in this event that I think it's best if they save their cash for more important transactions. So it's all coming together; I'm prepping on my end, and they're prepping on their end. They've got the harder job, by far.

In the meantime, yeah. I'm a minister now. Go figure.


1 comment:

Charles said...

I'm pretty sure the marriage license is something that the couple take care of themselves, and it is unrelated to the ceremony. (At least, that's the way it was when I got married.) So that's not something that you should have to worry about--just keep practicing your comedic timing.