A few months back, my niece surprised me by asking if I would consider becoming ordained so I could marry her and her fiancé. Those who know me can confirm that I ALWAYS have something to say, but this question literally left me speechless. After a few awkward, silent moments, my niece went on to explain that they wanted their ceremony to be done by someone who really knew them and would help make their wedding as unique and as fun as their relationship. No pressure there, right?
While I was honored by her wanting me to be such an important part of her special day, I was also terrified. So, I tried to point out the obvious fact that I was not a religious leader, a civil servant or even a notary. Not to mention I was a crier and she knew it. “I don’t want to ruin your wedding video with ugly crying,” I told her. She sweetly kissed my cheek and said, “Aunt Sharon, you did the puppet show for my 5th birthday party … I still remember that. I want to remember my wedding day just as fondly!”
I may have been the puppeteer 23 years ago, but it was now she who was pulling on my heartstrings. Of course, I said YES and then, as if on cue, I began to full out ugly cry. I am talking my eyes got puffy, red and bloodshot, my nose began to run, my skin got blotchy and my face uncontrollably began to bunch up in ways I never knew it could. Surely, this unattractive, scary sight would make her change her mind. But my niece just laughed, wrapped her arms around me and softly whispered in my ear, “Thank you, Aunt Sharon. I am so grateful for you. I know you will make our day perfect.” Then she happily left, and I began to freak out about what the heck I was going to wear … oh, and about the whole marrying her thing, too.
First thing I did was call the county my niece would be wedding in to find out what I needed to do to legally marry them. Turns out, getting ordained is the easy part. I went online, filled out an application, hit submit, and within three minutes, received an email bestowing all rights and privileges to perform all duties of the ministry! I did splurge and purchase the credentials package because if I was going to be a Jewish Minister, I at least wanted the clergy parking pass!
With that part out of the way, I began to concentrate on the actual script. This was the part I was most nervous about. I am a published writer – everyone was expecting me to be witty while still being heartfelt. Funny, yet serious. Traditional, yet totally unique. I shared this fear with my niece, who calmly reminded me of what Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” With these wise words in mind, I set out to create a ceremony that would help these two special individuals begin the next chapter of their lives encircled by the love and support of those dearest to them.
On Jan. 12, 2019, I stood in front of 115 people, but really in front of just two. I reminded my niece, and soon-to-be nephew, that the wedding vows they were about to speak were just a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things we’ve hoped and dreamed about? Well, I meant it – every word.”
I led them through their vows filled with promises to love and respect one another and build their dreams together. They exchanged rings and gave each other their hands, their hearts, their love. Don’t mean to toot my own horn (toot, toot), but it was a beautiful ceremony. Although my son insists that I accidentally said: “I now RENOUNCE you,” instead of “PRONOUNCE,” but I am about 99.9% sure he was just pulling my leg. I guess puppeteering runs in the family!