Ethics & Religion
October 3, 2007
Column # 1,362
An Innovative Wedding
by Mike McManus
SILVERTHORNE, COL – My wife and I mentor couples preparing
for marriage and attend many weddings. None were as innovative as one
last weekend of my nephew, Brian and his bride, Sara.
They both work during the day for a firm that manages trials
of experimental drugs, but in the evening they are actors. In fact,
they and four of their acting friends from college moved to New York,
where they worked during the day but were improv actors at night, hoping
to make the big time.
While in New York, Sara contracted cancer of the leg. She
underwent a painful operation and had to postpone their wedding. After
four years they all returned to Denver, where they do improv acting at
night. Determined to dance at her wedding, Sara took up long-distance
biking to rebuild her strength.
How could the couple honor their divorced parents, two of
whom had remarried, stepparents and partners? My brother Tim had
remarried Rhoda; but his first wife, Judy remained single. Sara’s
mother had remarried; her father, Don, was living with Cecily.
The wedding program was a
PLAYBILL for a show called “The Big Love.”
Listed as the Executive Producers were the parents: Don Alan
with Cecily Crowther, Eveyln Alan (Sara’s mother) with Philip Zorc,
Judith McManus, and Timothy McManus with Rhonda Knop. There were no
references to who was married.
To the music of a guitar, Tim walked in holding Judy’s hand
up high, and Rhonda’s hand high on his right. He honored Brian’s mother
and his current wife.
Chairs were set up in a circle next to a babbling brook,
with a view of the Rocky Mountains painted with the golden leaves of
When the bridesmaids and groomsmen entered, they formed a
semi-circle around the wedding guests. Each of them spoke about the
character of the bride and groom, focusing upon an assigned word, such
as Family, Honor or Connectedness.
The first groomsman spoke about Playfulness: “You have
taught me how to bring joy, how to keep things light, how to smile.”
Another on Integrity: “Be true to your own moral compass. I see you
being true to each other.”
A bridesmaid reflected on Passion: “Your minds and hearts
are full of energy, in the spring of life. You have a desire to explain
the world to each other, fierce joy and endless passion.”
Another defined Compassion as “to suffer with,” and said
each “had an awareness of someone else’s pain, and a desire to
ameliorate it.” She said that Sara “felt safe with Brian,” adding that
“There are three types of compassion: for yourself, for others, and for
something larger - a commitment to the arts. We can all say `I promise
to live compassionately.’”
On Growth, a bridesmaid said, “Each sunrise is another
moment to begin growing in intimacy and passion.” The final bridesmaid
talked about Balance: “Your blending of two families and extended
families is amazing to watch.”
The service was conducted by Andy MacDonald, dressed in a
Scottish kilt and his wife, Circe, whose long stole indicated she is an
ordained minister. They had known the couple for more than a decade.
Andy said, “You are a model of loving devotion to each other. You share
the same sensitive wisdom, a forgiving sense of humor.”
Circe told them, “You have chosen to love each other, to
love for life. You have brightened our lives. We are here for you.
Sweetly keep the promises you made today.” She asked each, “Do you
choose consciously and happily to use the power of marriage to hold him
(her) as a green garden in a life pasture?”
After saying “I do,” each vowed to “stand beside you in good
times and bad, as a covenant partner, to console you, to make all
decisions with you, to strengthen you, to be your partner, to be my best
self and to treat you with respect.”
Instead of spending a huge sum for music, at dinner
individual wedding guests or whole tables stood to sing a love song.
Upon hearing the word “love, the bride and groom kissed!
It was an unorthodox wedding in which the wedding party
played an active role. Bridesmaids and groomsmen usually stand in a
silent tableau. Why not have them actively participate, describing the
character of the couple they know better than most of the wedding