Les bon temps roulez (the good times roll) in New Orleans

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I was touched by their trust in me, and I felt honored. I was also quite scared. This could go a lot of ways, I thought, but I wanted it to go only one way — perfectly. There would be a procession to the chuppah, the ceremony, the vows, the pronouncement and the breaking of the glass.

Ah yes, the pronouncement. I had to become a minister (nondenominational) in the American Marriage Ministries in order to legally perform the ceremony. According to the laws of New Orleans, specifically Orleans Parish, I had to file an affidavit with the Office of Vital Records. That was the easiest part. I filed the papers and that was that. I never heard from them. I called and they said I was good to go. Don’t I need some kind of official credentials? I asked. No, they said. Laissez les bon temps roulez, the clerk said. Let the good times roll. It is, after all, New Orleans.

Over the past year I researched wedding ceremonies, from ancient to modern times, from Tibetan prayers to Native American rituals. I read love poems and went back to my favorite novels and thought about Amy and Jeff and how they met and what they dream and where they hope to go in life. I thought about what I see and admire in long-time marriages, and I wrote that into the ceremony.

I told the story of how their mothers fixed them up. I know, I know, it’s so unlikely. But that’s the way it happened.

The wedding was in an old bank that has been restored as a venue for parties. It was lit only by gas lights and candles. My niece looked so beautiful; you couldn’t take your eyes off her. The bridegroom choked up and nearly cried when he began his vows. The family and friends gathered in the room laughed when they were supposed to, and many had tears in their eyes.

It was magic, my friends.
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