Katie called and said, “I want you to marry us. I saw your ad in some magazine in Ouray.”
(Wow, I finally paid for the ad!) Katie & Will lived in Denver and were to be married in Ouray with about 80 guests in attendance. The three of us had a few informative phone conversations and a few detailed email exchanges. On my hour and 45 minute drive to Ouray the day before the wedding I was feeling both excitement and ease because I felt such a good connection with this bride and groom. And I was staying overnight in Ouray – almost a vacation along with officiating a wedding in the mountains! What could be better? Well it gets better…
They had told me about an old historical hotel that was inexpensive for Ouray and several of their peeps were staying there.
I had been invited to the rehearsal dinner and was somewhat apprehensive since as the “minister” I am often treated differently. What a pleasant surprise for all of us!
The groom and I got a chance to talk about his jitters and the things he and I could do to ease them. I got to remind the bride to assign her “coordinator” Aunt and “let go” by at least the next morning. (It gifts your friends and family to be ask to do something for your wedding. This allows you to be present for your own ceremony, enjoy your friends and family and not have to think about what goes where or comes next in the sequence of events.)
A few 4-wheel drive vehicles owned by the wedding party (this is Colorado) took us up into the mountains to a meadow flanked by rock walls and giant old trees. Rehearsing with parents, the ring bearers and all 4 bridesmaids and 4 groomsmen in the exact spot was such a relief. We all knew what to do when and figured out how the bride could “enter” in this setting. Everyone felt more at ease as we bumped our way back down the mountain.
Refreshingly, the rehearsal dinner was outside in a local park with food made by friends and family.
I was delighted to be part of many intriguing conversations with people of all ages.
I went back to my room and rewrote much of the ceremony on my laptop, as I had gotten a much better feel for these two lovely people. They choose not to write their own ceremony (other than the vows) and let me surprise them. The next morning it took me some time to find a place in little Ouray to reprint the ceremony, but the library came through. A wonderful woman in a gift shop even provided me with nice paper from her own stash.
After my printing foray up and down the mountainous towns sidewalks there was still ample time and energy for a hike before I needed to shower and prepare myself. The hotel was gracious in allowing me coming back in to shower and dress in the shared bathrooms, even after I had checked out of my room.
We gathered to pile into the large open jeeps they had hired to take all 70 of us up the rocky road. I said to the jeep driver, “My hair will get messed up.” He said, “That’s the least of your worries honey.” “But I’m the officiant.” “Oh well, in that case you can ride in the cab with me.” Yippee. (Remember, I show up in many of the ceremony pictures and I don’t want to embarrass anyone. )
They had a canopy set up with delicious drinks to refresh their guests before and after the ceremony. Containers of wild flowers adorned the mowed meadow, along with a few folding chairs for parents, grandparents and those who needed to sit. People cheered their friends/the wedding party as they walked up the aisle. It was such a light good-hearted crowd. The brother of the bride read a poem during the ceremony and the groom’s stepfather told a little history story. It felt like all of us gathered were participants in their marriage. As they walked “out” lavender was thrown to bless them and the meadow.
Many people asked me how long I had known the couple because “the ceremony was written just for them.” I like to connect with people afterward so I can possibly pick up any constructive feedback. “What a beautiful thoughtful ceremony,” is what I heard most that day.
The jeep drivers who had been waiting some distance away said they could hear everything I said because voices reverberated off the rock cliffs. Those crusty old guys and younger ski types were even impressed with the beauty of it all.
Everyone headed back down for the party at the historic hotel. It looked wonderful but it was time for me to head home, via the hot springs. What an honor and delight it was to be a part of this new beginning for Katie and Will.