Posted tagged ‘groomsmen’

38 Years!

July 28, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             July 28, 2017


38 is a weird number…illegal for any basketball jersey except the NBA! Rarely…okay, never requested by one of my middle school football players! I went and asked Google who was the best NFL player to wear the number 38 and got George Rogers of the New Orleans Saints. A good player, but not exactly someone who easily comes to mind! #39 is Larry Csonka, that one I could remember!

But today is a special 38. It’s our 38th wedding anniversary. On July 28, 1979 Carol Falettu and I joined hands at the front of the sanctuary of Community Presbyterian Church in Clarendon Hills, Illinois. Much of the day was a blur for me. I knew what I was doing…and yet, I didn’t know what I was doing! You know what I mean? Kind of like when a young boy goes in for his first kiss. He knows what he’s doing, and yet he doesn’t…and back in my day there were no YouTube videos for instruction!

I met her at the front of the sanctuary. My seminary roommate and friend, Randy Saunders, performed the ceremony. Two weeks later I officiated at his wedding. Unfortunately, a few years later he and Marlene split up.

My six groomsmen lined up to my left as I looked down the aisle. David “Hugo” Hughes stood beside me as my best man. A year later I’d preside over his wedding ceremony. A couple hundred people were there…I think! Doug Loomer sang and played his guitar, like we were two flower children merging together. I remember Don Francisco’s “The Wedding Song”, a Summer of ’79 wedding favorite!

Carol was radiant as her dad escorted her down the aisle. I could tell she was nervous and excited, and maybe wondering what in the world she was doing marrying a Baptist minister who was going to move her to Michigan? Just three years before she had been teaching pre-school deaf children in a Victoria, Texas school. She couldn’t have envisioned this day three years later when Rev. William D. Wolfe would promise her the moon…or, at least, his devotion!

I brought…not much into the marriage. A ’66’ Chrysler Newport given to me by my parents, a bunch of seminary books, leisure suits, and a toaster. When I had graduated from Northern Baptist Seminary about seven weeks earlier I didn’t even have to rent a U-Haul to transport my belongings to my first full-time ministry position in Davison, Michigan. Carol was the one with the wealth! She even had a couch, a twin-size mattress, and a twelve inch black-and-white TV! She was loaded! Her Mustang Fastback was hot, just like she was! In essence, we were a two-car family. We didn’t have two of anything else except toothbrushes and forks, but we had two vehicles!

On that wedding day we looked into each other’s eyes, glistened over with moistness, and vowed words to each other that dealt with devotion, perseverance, wanting the best for one another, and journeying hand in hand for the rest of our life together. We were naive’ and completely in love, but not completely naive’! I was marrying the third daughter of an Italian-American father and North Dakotan Mom. In my family “whine” was prominent at the dinner table growing up as we surveyed the dinner of neck bones, green beans, and boiled potatoes. In Carol’s family “wine” was prominent at dinner, and I don’t think she ever had to look at a pot of neck bones!

An unusual union, the two of us, but it’s worked in the midst of church drama and church celebrations, being surrounded by saintly people and people who ain’t! One of those saints, Rex Davis, loved a certain restaurant in Colorado Springs. When he passed away last fall at 95 and I was asked to do the funeral service, his family gave me a gift card to that favorite restaurant. We’ll celebrate our anniversary there tonight, thinking of him and all the other people who have graced our lives in this journey that has more often than not resembled Lake Wobegon comedy instead of Chicago drama!

Three kids, all grown and pursuing their purposes in life…three grandkids, who seem to have more energy than Colorado Springs Utilities…and an abundance, a multitude of friends who we cherish and love!  Marriage is not just two people. It is two people taking the lead in a caravan of hundreds who have journeyed with them.

Both Carol and I would undoubtedly say we have been, and are, blessed! We have now been married sixty per cent of our lives to one another! There will be no “whine”, or neck bones, at our table tonight, but perhaps a bit of “wine!”

Wedding Rain

July 3, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                               July 3, 2016


I am fortunate in many ways. One of those is being asked by couples to be the officiant for their weddings. I get the privilege of guiding them through their vows, grant the groom permission to kiss his new bride, and introduce them as a newly-wedded couple. Most of the time it’s a pretty cool experience. I stand up front in my marrying and burying suit and give the bride’s mother the nod as to when to stand.

In a time when a lot of people seem to trash the covenant of marriage it seems that a wedding is still seen as being that blessed event, a time of celebration and recognition of this new union.

When I meet with couples who are looking to get married we don’t talk about the wedding until the last session. All of the sessions we have are focused on what it means to be married…the challenges, the adjustments, hopes and dreams, expectations and dealing with frustrations. We talk about communication, deep and meaningful versus shallow and meaningless.

After those sessions then I guide the couple through the wedding ceremony, creating a celebration that is God-honoring and representative of who they are.

Weddings are also unpredictable. One ceremony I officiated was interrupted by the curtain in the chancel area of the sanctuary beginning to fall down. At another ceremony years ago one of the groomsmen passed out for a few moments. We got him propped up and continued. I tell those stories to the couple and make the point that we will not let the unplanned and unpredictable ruin the day; that the ceremony is about the two of them, not about perfection. It’s about them saying their vows to one another, not the fluff of the event.

This weekend I had the honor of presiding over the wedding ceremony of two young people who are awesome “kids!” I’ve known the young lady for seventeen years, coming to be her pastor when she was seven years old. The young man works at the same restaurant that my son is the chef for. He’s like a six foot three inch teddy bear who is deeply in love with his new wife. Fitting their personalities, the wedding was at a ranch. “Big Mike” and his groomsmen were decked out in blue jeans, dress shirts, ties, and black western hats. It fit! I was the only one in a suit, but they let me do the ceremony anyway.

And, of course, the weather reports were as indecisive as a kid with a dollar bill in a candy store. It could be okay…it could be raining…it could be sunny…it could be sunny with rain! The bride took a stand. “We are not getting married inside! If it rains, it rains!”

We pressed on, and at 1:55 the cousin of the bride began escorting grandparents down the aisle. At 2:00 the bridesmaids started their walk.

At thirty seconds after the clock struck two the rain started!

I took my glasses off and put in them in pocket. I motioned for the bride’s uncle to the front with an umbrella. He took his place, looking like my bodyguard/assistant, as the bride came down the aisle. The closer she got to the front the heavier the rain came…and there was no turning back!

We began as the bridesmaids wiped the raindrops off their brows. I trudged ahead, abbreviating statements without minimizing the sacredness of the ceremony. The bride smiled the whole time. The groom grinned as wide as the corral. We moved ahead through vows and the exchanging of the rings. My prayer got shortened a little bit, and Big Mike literally laid a wet kiss on his bride’s lips. I had them turn and face the umbrella-ed audience and as I pronounced them man and wife the rain stopped!

Eleven minutes! The ceremony took eleven minutes. It rained for ten minutes and fifty seconds!

And they were okay with it! In my prayer I asked that, just like the shower, God would rain down his blessings upon the newlyweds in the coming years, that they would look back at the day of their wedding…the rain and the gathering of family and friends…and see it as a symbolic reminder of how blessed they are.

I’ve always sensed that God has a sense of humor…God-humor, I guess you could call it. And wouldn’t you know it? About thirty minutes after the wet wedding the sun emerged to shine down upon the two “kids”, who now seemed a little more grown-up!