The title of this post is written somewhat tongue in cheek, since yesterday I had the good fortune to assist photographer Bryan Allen with a unique wedding - B.A. has the habit of getting a song in his head while preparing for a shoot and kept singing that until I convinced him that, given the circumstances and the weather, "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" would be a better choice.
Because this was the wedding of one of the members of the Governing Body of the Jehovah Witnesses. I learned that there is no one person who leads that faith - rather, there are eight members of the Governing Body, as it is called, and five of them were present yesterday for this celebration. So this was akin to a sort of conclave of cardinals, with one of their members getting married to a woman who was of Fiji royalty.
The setting was beautiful, at an exclusive resort in the Smoky Mountains, despite a persistent rain throughout the day. And the ceremony was very simple. I expected that - no music, no pomp, simply a sermon about the role of a Christian man and a Christian woman in a marriage, an exchange of vows, an exchange of rings (but no "with this ring, I thee wed" as the Witnesses eschew traditions with pagan roots, hence why Christmas and birthdays are not celebrated), and then sign the legal documents. Sure, as a Catholic, I prefer the smells and bells, but it was lovely in its simplicity.
I also learned that Witnesses are allowed to drink, in moderation. But no toasting, since that is of pagan origin. No bouquet toss - in fact, the bride did not have one. No cake cutting, which I will assume is also of pagan origins and so not done. Think of a polite cocktail hour followed by inner, then dessert and coffee. Actually, at dessert, the "emcee" - on of the groom's longtime friends - was quite entertaining, reciting Fijian prose and Australian poetry of a humorous nature. There was one about a priest baptizing a fellow with the name Maguiness as that what was on the bottle of whiskey that I could have considered mildly anti-Catholic ("A Bush Christening" by Banjo Paterson) but no, I think it was more in the spirit of poking fun at themselves (most guests were Australian, as was the groom).
And before someone asks - no, copies of "The Watchtower" were not handed out as wedding favors. Behave. Nor were any Jackson family members in attendance - I mean those Jacksons, not the groom's family.