Humor can get us through some very sticky moments. Picture the following scenario: The beautiful bride descending the staircase with her beaming father to the hushed awe of her guests. Such a poignant moment. She's so elegant, so poised, so radiant …until her heel catches on the step and she tumbles, landing on her backside and unceremoniously bumping down several steps with all the grace of the proverbial bull--and a drunken one at that--in a china shop.
There is a massive intake of breath from the crowd. Dad hovers protectively, assessing for broken bones. The string quartet keeps playing, uncertain of what else to do. The groom instinctively begins to walk toward his blushing (more like crimson) bride. Seconds later, however, the bride has risen to her feet, scanned the crowd and upon settling her gaze on her distraught husband to be, looks him straight in the eye and says "No, honey, I'm not chewing gum!"
The crowd bursts into uproarious laughter and many begin to applaud. Relieved, the groom returns to his spot at the front. Dad extends his arm and with a flourish, the bride tucks her hand into its protective crook and continues down the staircase. She's hardly missed a beat. Now, this is a gal with class! Once again, humor has saved the day.
In days past, the idea of incorporating humor into a marriage ceremony was considered a sacrilege. Most weddings were held in churches or the judge's chambers--neither of which is generally considered a place of fun. The closest thing to humor might have been a grin as the flower girl made her halting way down the aisle, or a stifled giggle by the cousins as Uncle Harry dozed off in the back pew. Weddings were more about ritual than celebration and there was no tolerance for silliness. Marriage was serious business! Perhaps a guffaw or two could be permissible at the reception, but at the ceremony? Never!
Thank heavens those days are past and couples now have options to customize every facet of their ceremony to reflect their personalities. And since most of us thrive on humor, there's no reason to leave it out of the ceremony. Now, I'm not talking about turning your officiant into a stand-up comedian; we certainly don't want to detract from the significance of this special day. I am talking about infusing your ceremony with some lightness and playfulness that will leave you relaxed, your guests energized and conclude with you feeling, "Wow! That was really "us!"
It's difficult to script humor. More often than not, the opportunities simply present themselves (although hopefully not the one described above). An experienced and creative officiant will always be on the alert for such opportunities and should incorporate them into the ceremony. I always arrive for the wedding 20-30 minutes early so that I can spend a few minutes mingling with guests. What they don't realize is that I am shamefacedly eavesdropping for little tidbits of information that I can share in the ceremony (without embarrassing anyone). Even though I've gotten to know the bride and groom over the months of their wedding planning, I generally obtain my best material from the guests.
You can assist your officiant by telling him or her some amusing stories about your courtship. Did he propose in a creative way? Does she have an unusual pet peeve? How did you meet? What makes you laugh together? What passions do you share? How did that first meeting with her parents go? There are many possibilities if you stop to think about it.
If your officiant just doesn't get it, then there are other ways you can incorporate humor (starting by firing your officiant, but that's another article). Here are ideas that I've seen other couples work into their ceremony with great success.
Have each member of the bridal party be introduced as they start down the aisle. You can have an announcer say something like, "introducing Jason, the best friend and college roommate of the groom. Jason has known Groom for 10 years and is eternally grateful to Bride for taming Groom's wild side and helping him calm down. Without her, Groom never would have passed Western Civ." This not only allows for a fun opening, but it gives the guests some knowledge of just who your bridal party members are. You can end with the bride by saying, "And now, please stand for our bride, introduced for the last time as Ms. (First name) (Maiden name).
Consider a funny reading as opposed (or in addition) to a Biblical or serious one. Dr. Seuss's "Oh the Places You'll Go" is fun and appropriate for a wedding.
Include an amusing line in your vows. There's nothing wrong with promising to love him unconditionally, to vow to comfort you when his team loses and drink beer with him when they win. From his end, he can vow to spend the rest of his days making her happy and promise to always put the seat down, replace the toilet tissue roll and bring her flowers once per month. Although I'd refrain from using a vow that is being circulated on the internet, "May all of our ups and downs come only in the bedroom." Try that one in front of 150 relatives and the loud thump you hear will be both of your mothers hitting the ground in simultaneous dead faints.
If amusing vows aren't your thing, then write or adapt a blessing that your officiant or a family can read that includes a funny line. Consider something like this for a couple of diehard sports fans:
May your joys be as bright as the morning,your years of happiness as numerous as the stars in the heavens,and your troubles but shadows that fade in the sunlight of love.
And may the only time your home be divided be when the Red Sox and the Rockies play in the World Series. (Insert a line to suit your own situation.)
Think about adding some of the following amusing quotes on love and marriage:
"Love is like war: Easy to begin but hard to end." - Anonymous
"Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can't sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can't sleep with the window open." George Bernard Shaw
"Three things can't be hidden: coughing, poverty, and love." - Yiddish proverb"No man is truly married until he understands every word his wife is NOT saying." - Unknown "A happy home is one in which each spouse grants the possibility that the other may be right, though neither believes it." - Don Fraser
"Love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity." George Bernard Shaw
"Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine." Lord Byron
"Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired." Robert Frost
And my personal favorite:
"Love is much nicer to be in than an automobile accident, a tight girdle, a higher tax bracket or a holding pattern over Philadelphia." Judith Viorst
However you decide to incorporate it, humor can be an integral part of your wedding ceremony. Make it fun, make it light, make it about who you are as a couple. Just don't make it about a priest, a rabbi and a minister going into a bar!