When my longtime friend Robert and his soon-to-be-spouse Patrick asked me if I'd consider officiating at their upcoming nuptials, my immediate reaction was — wow! And why?
Apparently, they were having trouble finding someone to preside over the ceremony, as most of the possible candidates were either too religious or too hippie-dippy. Where were the regular, secular folk who were vested by the State of New York to do the deed? Robert said he didn't want some muumuu-wearing stranger, who knew nothing at all about them, to serve such an important role. He wanted a friend. He wanted me.
His request gave me pause — not because I'm a devout churchgoer (I'm not). Or because I hate speaking in public (I'd sooner go the dentist). I hold no doubts about the sanctity of a man wedding another man (please). The truth was, I wasn't certain I could honor this monumental responsibility. For example, I've always been terrible with paperwork. What if I screwed up something essential? Failed to mail a document on time? Used blue ink instead of the required black? Let's just say that bureaucracy has never been my strong suit.
In the end, I agreed. To get ordained. Online. Through the Universal Life Church. Which I did for a small fee. Suddenly, I was a minister. "Reverend LPK?" I thought. Yes, that has a nice ring to it. It looked good too, as I signed it as my official title in the enormous, dusty, Harry Potter-like book of marital wizardry at the City Clerk's Office in Manhattan.
By the way, if you've never been, the City Clerk's Office is one of the happiest places on earth. Joy is oozing out of the hallways. Every conceivable kind of couple — short, tall, fat, skinny, same race, mixed races, same sex, ancient, barely 18, Arab, Swedish, Togolese — they're all there, arm in arm, smiles plastered ear to ear, decked out in their wedding best or dressed down in jeans, and every one of them pleased as punch to legally jump the broomstick in the name of love. If you're ever feeling down in the dumps, go wait on line for a few hours in this building. It's like a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart.
Okay, fast forward to the night of the big event. I wore a black mini-dress, a nod to being a newfound woman of the frock, and made my way to Brooklyn in killer pumps. Just before I caught the train at Union Square — I swear this is true — I walked by what appeared to be a Dominican friar in full, ankle-length priest garb, with a heavy cross swinging against his chest. He caught my curious stare — I took his presence to be a sign from above — and instead of being defensive, he smiled back beatifically. We were obviously cut from the same cloth.
When I arrived at the trattoria where the service was to be held, I immediately slammed back a glass of Prosecco. Then another. I was already feeling bubbly, so pleased for my pals, but a little liquid courage goes a long way when you're about to oversee such a sacred rite.
As I was slugging down the last sips of sparkling white wine (I swear, I never drink like this), I noticed the guests beginning to file in. There was the lesbian rockabilly couple, friends of Patrick's, who both wore cat-eye glasses and Forties' garb. The State Department and Peace Corps alumni — Robert's tribe — immediately started chatting about foreign policy. The banker types wore suits too warm for the humid weather, while my husband, in his handsome seersucker, looked mildly bemused knowing full well that I was secretly coming apart at the seams.
Robert and Patrick — flanked by Patrick's diminutive mother, solo tonight because her husband of decades had died just weeks before, tragically missing his beloved son's nuptials — entered, sweetly holding hands. They were beaming.
After a few more drinks and some happy chitchat, it was finally time. I emphatically clinked a champagne glass and everyone took a seat.
I teetered in my 4-inch heels, tipsy with happiness, and began to speak about my 26-year friendship with Robert. I recounted how we had both worked at the same coffee shop during our college years, and how we wound up in New York at the same time, and then again in D.C. I told the story about how Robert met Patrick in the nation's capital, and how they'd been the first two to visit me in the maternity ward, both times I had kids — both times sneaking in cold bottles of pale ale for the recovering mother.
Robert and Patrick then recited their vows, and I, of course, got the final words that sealed the deal — "By the powers vested in me by the State of New York, I now pronounce you married!" They kissed, we hooted and hollered and the deed was done.
After dinner, after cake, after more — maybe too much — prosecco, I hugged the happy couple goodbye. And then I thanked them — for trusting me with the most important night of their lives.
For the record, I didn't use blue ink, nor did I forget to mail the paperwork. In fact, should your tastes lean toward reverends wearing black mini-dresses and pink pumps, I just might be your girl.