Tuesday, August 25, 2009

No Wedding Bell Blues

I felt like the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his Merry Band of Moonie Ministers presiding over multiple weddings as I officiated at a dual ceremony last night at our neighbor’s house.

I found out a couple of weeks ago that Ken and Corina, who live right next door to us, were planning to get married by a Justice of the Peace. They’ve been together for seven years and have two kids, but hadn’t been able to make their relationship legal until now. Maya and their two-year old daughter, Jira, squeal with toddler delight whenever they get together.

So I went to Corina and said, “I can do the wedding. C’mon, we’re neighbors and friends. I’d love to be part of it.”

“We’re not doing anything special,” said Corina, a 25-year old Romanian. “We’re just going to sign the papers in our home. Very simple.”

Then she added, “And my sister is going to get married, too.”

Adina is two or three years older and has been dating Marco, someone she met at work, for not quite a year.

So I rubbed my hands together in glee and said, “Great. Two weddings. Two sisters. I can’t wait.”

Yesterday, the four of them went to the County Registrar’s office and brought in the appropriate documents (birth certificates, legal IDs) and left with more paperwork (marriage license, temporary certificate) for the minister-rabbi-priest-officiate-neighbor to complete.

We had to wait until after 8 pm for the ceremony to begin. Verna and I needed to get Miguel and Maya to bed and Marco and Adina didn’t get off work until 7:30. Verna and I brought over a digital recorder and a chilled bottle of champagne.

When we got to Ken and Corina’s everyone was watching the tail end of a baseball game. Adina said, “We have to call our mother.”

“No, we’ll wake her,” Corina said.

“But she wants us to wake her,” Adina insisted.

After the call, their mother went online so both of Adina and Corina’s parents could watch the ceremony via web cam.

“How do you say ‘nice to meet you’ in Romanian?” I asked, and then repeated what Corina said. “Tell your mother ‘Down with Ceausescu’.”

Ceausescu was an evil Romanian dictator who terrorized the country in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Everyone laughed after I denounced him.

First we signed the licenses and I filled in the marriage certificates. Ken and Corina and Marco and Adina served as witnesses for each other. Then we gathered in the living room as Jira rolled on the floor and her 9-month old sister, Kaya, who has just started walking, tried to grab the camcorder wires.

I made some very brief comments about how special wedding ceremonies are, then looked directly at Marco and Adina:

“Before I continue, I need you to know that I have been officiating at wedding ceremonies since 1997 and everyone is still married. So I am counting on you two not to ruin my track record. I have a reputation to maintain. So if you think for any reason things aren’t going to work out, let me know because I cannot continue.”

Marco and Adina smiled. “You won’t have to worry about us,” Marco said.

Then, being the good Jewish boy and Jewish scholar that I am, I read a brief passage about love from First Corinthians in the New Testament. “Love is patient…” etc.

I paused and felt a surge of emotion bubbling inside me. Tears started to well in my eyes. “And now,” I managed to say as I looked first at Marco and Adina, then at Ken and Corina, “it is my pleasure, granted by the State of California and this community of friends and neighbors, to pronounce you married.”

Verna, who was filming the festivities, shouted from the kitchen, “You may kiss.” The couples kissed and then Corina informed us that her mother and father were crying. I yelled, “Mazel tov” then we popped open the first bottle of champagne and toasted the foursome in Romanian. Something about having a great married life.

Ken and Corina and Marco and Adina have plans to wed next year again in a Romanian Church in San Francisco. They are already processing the necessary paperwork to get Corina and Adina’s parents travel visas so they can attend the ceremony.

“And you celebrate with us then,” Corina said to me as we all hugged and posed for pictures.

“Yes, yes,” I said. “I’m planning on dancing with your mother.”

“Oh, no, no.” she said. “My mother is too wild for you. She is the kind who dances on the tables all night long.”

“Well, you tell her that I may not be a good dancer,” I said, “but I will dance on the tables with her.”

So now my date with cultural destiny and a rowdy Romanian woman who has never flown on a plane is set. I only hope I don’t provoke an international incident. After all, I do have a reputation to preserve.

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