MCCULLOUGH: Officiate weddings? I do

Nate McCullough

Nate McCullough

This past weekend, I married two people.

OK, I didn't marry two people. No, I'm already married myself, and I didn't test the limits of any laws. I officiated a wedding ceremony.

Let me explain.

It all started innocently enough with a trip to a bar to see a heavy metal band -- you know, as things like this often do.

My friend Steve Bishop and I were going to go see Anvil. Yes, that Anvil of the documentary that plays in an infinite loop on cable. I love their rags-to-riches, working-man rock 'n' roll story. Plus I'm a connoisseur of heavy music, so I like to go to rock shows. Steve is my partner in crime in these endeavors. I have known him for more than 20 years and he's always up for some head-banging.

So, there we were, standing in the driveway on a Friday night. Steve was putting some sort of fluid in his truck, so I went inside to say hi to his wife Nancy. I've known her since childhood, and she already claims Steve stole me away as her best friend, so I knew I'd be in hot water if I didn't go say hello.

She was downstairs with some girlfriends. One of her friends, Amy, was going to borrow a dress from Nancy, and Amy was trying them on and then getting feedback. In the process, someone discovered Nancy's wedding dress and talked her into putting it on.

About the time Nancy comes out in the white dress, Steve walks in. He looks at her, smiles a big, loving smile and says, "I'd marry her all over again."

And then I saw the wheels start to turn.

Their 20th anniversary was approaching, he said. "I should marry her again."

"Well, if you do, I can perform the ceremony," I said.

Then I had to explain it to him, as I will explain it to you now.

A year or two ago I was surfing the Internet when I came upon The Church of the Dude, a made-up religion based on the themes of the movie, "The Big Lebowski." I love that movie, so when I saw the link that said I could get ordained as a Dudeist Priest, of course, I clicked.

Apparently, because of freedom of religion, anyone can file the appropriate papers and be ordained. An email later, and I was printing my certificate, thinking I would pin it up in my office for a funny story, and that would be the end of it.

Then I opened my big mouth.

"Can you really do that?" Steve asked me, after I told him the website said I was legally allowed to perform wedding ceremonies.

"I guess so, as long as the state is OK with it."

He thought another minute and then leaned in close and whispered, "Don't tell anybody."

I didn't. And I promptly forgot about it -- until a few weeks later when I got an invitation to the ceremony that listed me as "The Reverend."

Now I'm in this thing up to my neck. But being only an Internet reverend and not an actual reverend, and having no desire to make a mockery of anyone's wedding vows or to insult the institution or ceremony of marriage, I wasn't sure what to do about it. But Steve was counting on me.

Off to Google.

Turns out, when a couple is already legally married, there's no paperwork for a renewal of vows. Anyone can perform the ceremony.

And I'm so glad I did.

Nancy and Steve celebrated their 20th anniversary this past weekend by renewing their vows in front of about 30 friends and family members with yours truly leading the event. They are a couple that is deeply in love and dedicated to each other -- and they are my dearest friends -- so being able to share that with them was a highlight of my life.

Plus, I made them both tear up with my speech, and that's quite an accomplishment, especially when it comes to the bride. That chick keeps her emotions in check.

I must've done a good job, because afterward Steve's mom asked me to come to Florida next year for her 50th wedding anniversary. But I think I'm retiring from the wedding circuit.

At least for another 20 years, when apparently, I'm doing this again.

Email Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.