I picked out my white Marilyn Monroe style wedding dress, the pearl baby’s breath hair pins, and an understated cubic zirconium round cut pendant. My choices were more limited as the wedding planner presented my fiancé and I with a small menu of options for the bouquet, the boutonniere and the celebrant. This was a fancy elopement – vows taken on a gondola in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. We contemplated Elvis marrying us but neither one of us were big enough fans of the Pelvis to warrant that.
I’m Jewish and my husband is agnostic and since we were getting married on a Saturday, the rabbi wasn’t available (yes, they actually will provide one at the Venetian). We decided on a civil ceremony, and agreed to a secular sermon complete with phrases about the joyous union of two people and a man and woman facing the world stronger together. God was not involved.
Unfortunately, when we arrived at the designated meeting spot, the pastor asked me if he could say the word God during the ceremony. I honestly thought he would mention God only once, maybe twice. I hesitated, and against my better judgement said yes but he could not mention Jesus. He snidely commented “Ok, I won’t try to baptize you either.” At that point, I should have rescheduled the wedding but the gondolier called our name to embark on our journey to marriage.
Before the wedding day, I familiarized myself with the passages he would read. However, as we floated down the fake Venetian canal on our wedding day, my head started to spin. The pastor not only brought up God several times, he went completely off book and referenced the Bible and the Lord. The pastor had co-opted my wedding!
I sat there torn between looking deeply into my almost husband’s eyes and pushing the pastor overboard. I hated the fact that I was angry during my wedding ceremony. I hated the fact that someone else imposed his beliefs on one of the most special days of my life. I hated the pastor at the moment I was to profess my everlasting love to my fiancé.
My husband and I with Antonio (I actually have no idea what his name is) before being double crossed by the pastor.
I sat there wondering if I should speak up but decided not to because I did not want to cause a scene during our wedding. My husband had no idea what was going on in my head as this was the one time I stayed quiet while deeply upset. I didn’t want to ruin our special day, yet I let this selfish pastor ruin it for me.
You might think, “how apocalyptic to say RUIN your special day.” My husband said later “It’s not about the ceremony, it’s about marriage.” as I cried to him how disgusted I was with the pastor and insulted by his arrogance. While I understand these sentiments, a bride has expectations. She is the queen for the day and an insolent pastor has no right to fuck with that. I complained to the wedding planner and told her she should never let that man officiate for a civil or non-Christian wedding ever again.
Four months later we invited a few friends to celebrate our matrimony at a dinner party. Before the meal, each person took a turn to read one of The Seven Blessings, a Jewish ritual from ancient rabbinic teachings.
In reality, I am not a religious Jew, however, when the pastor turned my secular wedding into a Baptist oration, I felt betrayed. I don’t keep kosher or stop writing on the Sabbath (I am writing this on a Saturday morning) but incorporating Jesus into one of my life’s key events felt like heresy. My Jewish Sasha Fierce had arrived.