16 Years and Three Days ago, Stephanie and I had a “Pagan” wedding

Will you accept Eris, the Goddess of Chaos, as a decent excuse, and allow Cyril, the God of Alphabetical Order, to clean up occasionally?

Last winter, when we were cleaning out the shed of our old house, I was surprised and somewhat delighted to find an old liquor box, covered with bird shit but more or less intact.

wedding box before cleaning

I cleaned it up.  Inside were dozens of paper strips.

vow box

The strips were cut from tractor feed paper printed from my old mid-90’s computer.

vows on table

They were wedding vows, written by Stephanie and me.

Will you promise to hide all evidence of eating the last microwave burrito and deny that till death do you part?

When we first talked about getting married, we discussed having a civil ceremony or some sort of funky little self-constructed ritual.  But Stephanie comes from a large Catholic family and well — it had to be Catholic wedding.  Didn’t really have a choice there.

In the eyes of The Church, our is a mixed marriage.  Stephanie is Catholic, and I’m an Agnostic with Pagan tendencies. (I just told the Deacon I was Episcopalian.)

Do you promise to celebrate the often forbidden fun parts of Christianity, such as The Cult of Mary, The Homoerotic Jesus, and the weird little critters that hide within the geometries and ratios of any decent cathedral?

I didn’t have a bachelor party.  In fact, I’ve never even been to a bachelor party.  My friends and I just never got into the habit of doing that.  The women of Red Octopus did throw a bachelorette party for Stephanie, but, being a comedy group and all, it was really more like a parody of a bachelorette party. Heck, I was even required to show up as one of the male strippers. Fortunately, I didn’t actually have to strip.

I guess, in a way, you could say the “pagan” wedding was my bachelor party.  Or you could say it was my consolation prize for having a Big Church Wedding. But it wasn’t a Brooks party.  It was a Brooks and Stephanie party. So many of our friends, both old and new were there.  Even a few of Stephanie’s brothers and sisters showed up.

Will you accept J. R.”Bob” Dobbs as your personal saviour for as long as it’s convenient?  Will you kill him on a regular basis, and then take him out to dinner?

Our wedding was hosted by Renee Williams, who was also one of the attendants, as was Greg Hinspeter.  Looming over us was a large paper mache puppet of the goddess Diana.  Renee had constructed Diana for an outdoor production of Shakespeare’s Pericles that was produced by Red Octopus Productions.  In the play, Diana looked like this:

Diana on bridge

In Renee’s apartment, her enormous body is folded up a bit, but her huge head and hands loom over everything.

A dear old friend, who sometimes uses the name S.L.A.G. in SubGenius circles, was our priestess.  At random she drew our the wedding vows out of the Jameson carton.  When the carton was empty, she pronounced us married and Stephanie and I sealed the deal with some long, nasty kisses.

Do you promise to obey the urge to consume alcohol in great abundance on all Academy Awards nights and hate all nominated films?

Two days later we had our official wedding at St. Edwards Church and it was quite a production, orchestrated by Stephanie, that culminated in a lamp lit, bagpipe driven stroll to the wedding reception.  There we fell into a sumptuous repast provided by Trios Restaurant and danced to live music provided by a great local band called Toast — who let me join them on the bassoon for a special performance of the old Glands song “Bicycle Safety.”  Our wedding was even mentioned in the High Profile section of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Even more interesting is the fact that our “pagan” wedding was mentioned in the Little Rock Free Press in their Low Profile section.  I thought it that was quite a coup.

Would you like ketchup with those fries?

Although our “pagan” wedding vows were little more than rude jokes, after the ceremony, I truly felt married.  The Catholic ceremony two days later just made it legal. And maybe the cosmos agrees — after all, three years to the day after our “pagan” wedding, our first daughter, Audrey, was born.  (Our second daughter, Celeste, was born on October 19th.  So maybe this only means that we used to have a lot of free time in January.)

In any case, Stephanie and I have now been together for 16 years.  And now that I’ve found the vows and started this blog, it seemed the right time to share the  NSFW video of our “Pagan” marriage with y’all.  There’s only one problem with that.  The video was shot with an old VHS camcorder in a room lit only by candles and one dinky flashlight.  The only time you can see anything is when someone takes a flash picture. So I extended out freeze frames of those flashes, wrote out the text of the vows so that you can read them whilst they’re spoken, and dropped in still pictures from the party and any other random illustration I could find to jazz up the visuals. Here’s the end result.  Think of as a weird slide show that uses the audio from the ceremony as a soundtrack.

And happy anniversary Stephanie.  Here’s to many more!


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