Saturday, May 29, 2010

Past Weddings

I am trying out the heading without all caps. ( Yes, Sue, this is all about you.  I never noticed I used caps until your blog.)  I don't think I like no caps.  It just doesn't look like an important title.  And goodness knows if I write it, it is important.  You all let me know, all caps or not.  I reserve the right for the final say.

I only did 2 weddings this week.  Monday I woke up with a case of the icks and didn't go in.  Wednesday was really slow.  And I can't even remember anything about the two weddings I performed other than one bride wore a yellow organdy dress that needed ironing.  So I am going to go back to my pre blog  time and share how I wound up marrying couples in Alameda County, CA and a couple of weddings.

I am a Volunteer Deputy Marriage Commissioner. Don’t you just love a good long job title? If they can’t pay me, at least they let me sound important. Three and a half years ago I read an article in the newspaper about Alameda County’s marriage desk. I read about the clerks marrying couples, how many ceremonies a day they did, and how the clerks were pulled from their basic job to perform wedding ceremonies. The point of the article was to get a volunteer staff to take over the weddings. I read this several times and then called for an appointment. I did the orientation, was sworn in, then had on the job training. I could hardly believe the state was going to let me marry couples.

The county building is in downtown Oakland, California across the Bay from San Francisco. The Bay Area is a very diverse area. People from all over the United States and the World live here. And they want to get married. We have Chinese, Mongolian, Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese, Scots, and Brits. There are people from Fiji, Tonga, Sweden, France, Ghana, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa, and any other country you can think of. Now the only reason I bring up the countries is because the couples' names are so difficult to pronounce. I  have trouble with every day American names. Remember I grew up in the mountains of Kentucky and we don't talk like the people in CA. I have a college degree, but names are my kryptonite.

Now to the weddings: The clerk brings me the completed license, I check everything on it, and do the bookkeeping paperwork. Then I go into the lobby and call out the names on the license, hoping I have not butchered the names too much. Think about names: Andrea could be Ahn-dray-uh or An-dree-ah. Or there was once AND-REE-A. Then we have Diem pronounced Dean. Fuapou which is Foe (rhymes with no) pow (rhymes with cow). I have sticky notes to write the names phonetically so during the ceremony I will say their names right. We go upstairs to the wedding room, I perform the wedding, the license is recorded and the couple goes on their way. Sounds simple doesn’t it? Sometimes things go strange.

 I picked up a couple and we went up to the wedding room. I found out if they had rings to exchange. Did they have their own vows? Is anyone going to stand with them? And then I began the ceremony. I had forgotten one little piece of business. I didn’t say please turn off your cell phones. As I was asking “Do you take this woman…” the Groom’s cell phone rang. And he answered it! I had to tell him to hang up. I thought the Bride was going to walk out.

Cell phones are more addictive than crack. Even when I ask people to put them on mute, they don’t. They keep talking and talking. Guests have talked all through the wedding like nothing was going on. I had a witness (witnesses must be in the room by law) walk out of the room to talk on his phone. I stopped the wedding and had to go find him.

I married one couple who were in their thirties. As I gave them the certified copy of the marriage license I explained some things they needed to do. She needed to contact Social Security and DMV to do a name change and the bride says to the groom, “What is your last name?”  Did they just meet on the street corner? Was it instant lust?

I told you, I have no endings. Only beginnings.


Janet Rudolph said...

Left me laughing? good post.

vallerose said...

Fascinating. I prefer the Upper/Lower case headings. I agree that cell phones can be a nuisance, but helpful when necessary. It might be fun or sad to look through the divorce filings in five years and see who has or hasn't lasted.

kts said...

i LOVE this post love KEEERsten