Hanging up the phone after talking with our niece, my wife turned to me and said, “She wants to know if you’d officiate her wedding.”
“She wants me to marry them?” I asked.
Yup. That’s what she wanted.
Heck, yeah, I’ll do that! Several reasons:
#1) I’ve been a part of this child’s life since she showed her sweet face to this world, so I’d probably do just about anything for her.
#2) She and her fiancé share a wonderfully quirky sense of humor. Anything that went wrong at the wedding would just be a funny memory for them. (That’s the way we should live our entire lives, I think.)
#3) - and this is where it gets selfish - I always harbored this notion that when I retired from radio, I’d become a tent revival preacher.
I’d buy a big tent, hire a couple of corn-fed gals with high hair and the voices of angels, and I’d hit the road with my own traveling salvation show.
Look out! The Right Reverend Tibby is coming to your town!
I’d pitch my big tent right next to the local Wal-Mart, set up the folding chairs, and set out my hand-painted plywood sign that says “Gospel Sing & Healing Tonight. 7 p.m.”
The heavenly voices of my gospel girls would rain down on the ears of believers, getting them in the mood to hear some good words from Reverend Tibby, who would take to the stage and whip the flock into a frenzy with a bunch of ‘amen’s and a whole lot of ‘hallelujah’s. Then we’d top off the night by beseeching the sick and afflicted to come forward for a-healing, hoisting them from the quagmire of holy dilapidation.
In my younger years, I’d watched the Rev. Ernest Angley do such work on TV. Cripples would rise up from their wheelchairs. The blind could see. And the deaf would hear.
I especially liked how he ‘healed’ the deaf. He’d stick his fingers in their ears and say, “Evil spirits come OUT!” (‘Out’ must be said in two syllables.) Then, he’d pull his fingers out and demonstrate how he’d worked his miracle.
“Say, baby,” he’d instruct.
“Baba,” they’d weakly reply.
‘Say, baby,” he’d say a little louder.
“Say, bay-bee!” he’d holler.
And sure enough, he’d have them saying ‘baby’ and ‘mama’ and a few other words before presenting them as free from the demons that had robbed them of their hearing.
Pass the offering plate, y’all!
I thought that might be a fun way to spend retirement.
I ran into a road block fulfilling that dream as I actually retired. That being, I was way too lazy to be preaching every night. Come 7 o’clock, I want a belly full of wine and pork chops.
But now…. now… The Right Reverend Tibby was being called on. The dream was alive!! Rev. Tibby done been asked to marry somebody. Can I get a ‘hallelujah?!’
As if the story needs to get better, it does.
This event would take place in the state of Alabama.
Alabama is a fine state. It is. I especially like their state flag. It’s a big red ‘X.’ I always figured many years ago, the Alabama flag committee didn’t know what to put on their flag, so they decided to put the governor’s signature on it.
Where else would The Right Reverend Tibby be asked to officiate a wedding but in a state where first cousins can marry each other?
Let’s put that aside, though. Alabama or not, I needed to make sure any marriage I officiated would be legit, so I did what any right-thinking person would do: Googled it.
Turns out, in most states anyone can be the officiant. You’re basically just signing the marriage certificate as a witness the couple has ‘solemnized’ (the legal word) their relationship. Once the couple also signs it and turns it in to the court, it’s done.
Good enough. Not.
I needed more. Thankfully, more was easy to find. It’s called American Marriage Ministries, claiming almost half a million registered ‘ministers.’ Online registration was free, easy and produced a cool certificate.
By golly, I was now an officially official officiant. My chest swelled up as big as my head. I grabbed my banjo and headed out to Alabamy!
The wedding was lovely. In true Southern style, after the morning ceremony, brunch was served. Grits, bacon, eggs, biscuits and fried chicken and waffles. The only hitch, in fact, was the bacon ran out before the demand did.
(Reverend Tibby pro tip: If you’re having a Southern wedding, don’t run out of bacon.)
Before leaving Alabama, I admonished the newlyweds my reputation as a marrying minister was now on their shoulders, and they had better not let me down.
I bet that will keep them together in stormy weather. In fact, I fully expect that will keep them together through the heartbreak of reading this and finding out there was not enough bacon.
This story could very easily end with ‘happily ever after,’ but not so fast. And let me assure you, if this last piece were not true, I would make it up as a fun way to end this story. But it is true:
After the wedding, the happy couple headed out to honeymoon in Orlando.