Yesterday was an awesome, awesome day at UUCA! (And technically it was a memorial service, not a funeral, but “Ten Weddings and a Memorial Service” doesn’t sound nearly as good, right?) Here are just some of the amazing things that I witnessed (more or less in chronological order):
- A boatload of volunteers at UUCA by 9:15am (many were much earlier) scurrying around hither and yon to get the place ready for weddings. We had members posted outside to greet and lead visitors into the building while watching for possible protesters (we had none). We had a welcome table set up and staffed to sign up couples for weddings with 6 ministers available to conduct services (Revs. Mark Ward, Lisa Bovee-Kemper, Sarah York, Sally Beth Shore, Diana Ritola and Pete Tolleson). We had a large and skilled hospitality team to set up tables, flowers, punch, sparkly grape juice, coffee and an amazing number of donated sugar-infested treats (“What’s a wedding without cake?” is clearly a UU motto). We had an event photographer (look for photos online as soon as Jules gets back to the office later this week). We had escorts for our couples so they could meet with their officiant and make it to the wedding on time.
- Large and extended applause all around when Carol Taylor and Betty Mack walked in for their wedding. More than 50 people in attendance at the first wedding of the day. Congrats Betty and Carol! Mark’s emphatic delivery of the line, “By virtue of the authority vested in my by the STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA!” accompanied by the verbal notation that he had waited a long time to say that.
- And then, the weddings of strangers. Well, not strangers anymore because we were allowed the privilege of witnessing incredibly touching moments in each and every ceremony. Our crew of ministers did a truly lovely job of personalizing the “standard” service they each had for their use. Although they often had no more than 20 minutes to speak with the couple, they were able to weave in personal references so that the ceremonies were not only more meaningful to the couples but those witnessing the event might know something about these brides and grooms as well.
- Clouds of witnesses. Now this phrase may not have been used in this context in its original appearance, but it does a great job of describing how I felt as part of a group that would move from one wedding to the next, so that each wedding not only had an officiant and the required 2 witnesses, but a group of people who could be touched, applaud and celebrate each ceremony.
A MEMORIAL SERVICE Then, right in the middle of these festivities, we sent the wedding celebrations to the RE Commons and made space to celebrate the life of Marylee Davis. This was a small service, but I think we did a nice job of making space for this more somber occasion and for the family members and friends who attended. Mark officiated at this service.
- While the Sanctuary was unavailable for weddings, we offered outdoor weddings to couples. The somewhat gloomy morning had become a lovely, breezy sunny afternoon! Turns out we have two or three spaces on campus that are wedding-ceremony-friendly.
- Over the day, the number of volunteers at hand waxed and waned as people had other commitments, but as the afternoon progressed, more and more people were arriving as some folks were able to leave work early, some folks picked up their kids from school and brought them along, and the energy on the campus ramped up again. I can only say you shoulda been there!
- The last wedding of the day was sort of a mirror image of the first one. Although it was completely unplanned, our first and last weddings of the day were UUCA members.
- Large and extended applause accompanied the arrival of Pete Tolleson and Ronnie Marable when they walked in for their 5:00pm wedding. Ronnie’s (or Pete’s–mixed information on that) granddaughters were there to act as flower girl and ringbearer, and this too was a lovely service, very different from Carol and Betty’s, but no less touching. This wedding was also conducted by Mark.
- A cake cutting. As previously mentioned, our supply of cake items overfloweth. So, near the end of the day we realized we had one more cake that hadn’t been put out yet. Well, what better use of that than to have Pete & Ronnie cut the cake? It was one more natural-yet-surprising moment in a day that was full of them.
AND THE FINISH
- As clean-up started, UUCA members and their families were relaxing at tables, David Ray was playing guitar, little kids were doing what little kids do, and everyone seemed just a little reluctant to leave. It was a great day, for our couples, for North Carolina for heaven’s sake, and for UUCA.
- Oh, and what about that over abundance of cakes and cupcakes? We know that one cupcake supply was taken to Room in the Inn and we made a significantly larger donation to the VA hospital. Doesn’t everyone need cake?
Once I got notified that there was yet another piece of information to digest about yesterday I had to get to it right away AND how grand it was to read!!! Thanks Linda for doing such a marvelous job of capturing the energy, excitement, collaboration, and marvelous sharing that took place yesterday. I have NOW officially popped every button off my clothing with pride and delight in our UUCA congregation. We ARE living the Beloved community and that is AWESOME!
I had the joy of sitting next to a gay couple who were so enjoying the wedding of Pete and Ron. They are not married yet, they are busy being students, but now they can look forward to planning a North Carolina wedding in their future, when their time comes.
I am deeply grateful to be part of this congregation on this historic day. Thank you, Linda, for the description.
I am so proud to be part of this loving community that will open its heart and its doors (and its cake pans) to do this wonderful thing for our neighbors and friends. This is what it means to be Standing On The Side Of Love.
What can I add? Except for the fact that I was exhausted at the end of a day of attending weddings. I didn’t know I was a wedding junky until Monday. From Carol and Betty through Pete and Ron, I was there. (Okay, okay. I had to go away briefly for a stewardship call.) The atmosphere was electric. I couldn’t separate. Such a rush! Such pride in my faith community.