Saying the right encouraging word at the needed time can be the difference between someone doing something that makes the world a better place or giving up. Over the past twelve years I’ve officiated over 150 wedding ceremonies to some very flattering revues. My friends were the first to take a risk on me and over the first 80 ceremonies I was constantly experimenting and reworking ideas until I found a really great formula (my apologies/appreciation to my friends, the guinea pigs). Because of my unique style, I’ve had some fantastic moments including the blessing of doing Doug Gilmour’s wedding ceremony two summers ago after he saw me and thought I was great. After the ceremony, his one son came up and said how much he loved it, especially the line where I said, “Growing up my dad was a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, so I was naturally… a Montreal Canadians fan. That is, until one day, when a certain player was traded to the Leafs and that all changed – I became a Leafs fan. And who was that special player? Kirk Muller.” I was pretty excited when I came up with that line. I was, in fact, a big fan of Doug, so being able to go to his house and spend time with him and his then fiancé (a really awesome woman) was dream level special. What’s crazy is that wedding was booked the day after I had seriously considered giving up doing weddings.
Several months before booking the Gilmour wedding, I did a ceremony that was… less than ideal. Everything seemed to go really well at the ceremony with both the photography and DJ saying it was the best ceremony they had ever seen (pretty incredible compliments to receive). Several months later, however, after I put the ceremony of my mind, I received an email from my denomination telling me that I was under investigation because the mother-of-the-bride hated me so much she wanted my license removed. Soooo all good feelings about that ceremony and my abilities were gone. This woman was Dutch Reform, a very conservative denomination. I’m now afraid of Dutch Reformers even though I look like I’m Dutch Reform (God has a sense of humor). Fortunately, the bride loved me and told the leaders of my group that her mom was crazy, so it worked out. Unfortunately, this was an incredibly traumatic experience for me since I’m a natural people pleaser. It hit me so hard I almost gave up doing weddings because of it… and then I received the call from Doug Gilmour’s then fiancé. It was incredible timing.
Fast forward a year and a half, and after about forty great weddings, I was feeling pretty good again and then I booked a last minute wedding two days before New Years from a referral I was given from the venue coordinator who was a big fan. I was hesitant to say yes because it meant I was writing a ceremony over my holidays, but I liked the groom when we talked. The ceremony seemed a little off, but the coordinator was happy. A few days after the wedding, however, I received a seething message from the bride refusing to pay me. When I talked to her, she claimed I had said things I never said like I somehow made fun of people with disabilities, which didn’t make any sense because there was nothing about that in my ceremony (as you’d expect). It was brutal, especially because I had flashbacks from my last disaster situation and as a business owner/performer, Google Reviews can make or break a business like mine, and this wedding stuff could affect my career as a therapist. Fortunately, I had already promised some friends I’d do their weddings that summer, so quitting wasn’t an option, and I was able to push through and recover again.
Fast forward a year (it doesn’t end there) and I agreed to do a wedding for a last minute couple on New Year’s (I’m never doing another New Year’s season wedding). Again, I was hesitant, but like before, I was recommended by the venue and felt a sense of obligation. During the ceremony, when I was going through a jokey three minute section on love, which I have used in some form or another over 80 times including Doug Gilmour’s where it killed, she interrupted and asked “When is this going to be about us?” That was the exact moment I knew without a doubt I was not what she wanted. As expected, I later received an email from the bride. She was surprisingly kind and respectful and by far the nicest of the three disappointed women, but being the third mishap, I was on the verge of finding someone else to do the weddings I had scheduled for this year. I was done with upsetting people… until a bride was adamant I do her wedding last week because she had seen me before. I really didn’t want to do it, but it ended up being one of the best ceremonies I’ve ever done. The crowd was amazing with full on pause-for-cheering-for-the-joke moments, which is the dream for any comedic performance. The two biggest factors that made this ceremony great: the bride and groom laughed and had fun, and (the secret to making it one of the best ceremonies) the bar was open before the ceremony. If a bride asks me how she can have the best ceremony possible: Give people booze (it’s very Christian). That, and do what this couple did: have fireworks go off at the end of the ceremony. That was cool.
After the ceremony, a very cheerful woman came up to me and said, “That was simply amazing,” and kept walking. For some reason when she said that I almost burst into tears. I’ve had lots of great compliments after officiating a ceremony, but the timing of this one and the genuineness behind it broke this wall of pain I had been harboring. I’m still not 100%, but that compliment was a huge deal for me and reminded me that the right compliment can be the difference of someone giving up doing something that has brought a lot of joy to others and giving up. No matter how long someone has done something, sometimes we just need to be affirmed. No matter how shy we are or intimidating it can be, we should always take the time to share our appreciation for people doing things that make the world a better place.
Tip: If we ever want someone to compliment us, we need to be the first to offer compliments to others.
This week may you try to give someone a compliment every day.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, Learning to love dumb people