Every ceremony is wonderful. The brides are beautiful and brimming with hope, promise and thoughts for a wonderful life together. The grooms are excited, usually dressed to the nines and the audience shares the joy and the love in palpable ways.

Today’s ceremony was conducted at the correctional facility in Manson, NC. The table that the bride Michelle, groom Tony, myself and first Michelle’s father David, followed by Tony’s sister Sharon sat around was a 3′ x 3′ solid wood table bolted to the floor in the visitation room. There were no notes, or other papers as nothing could be taken into the visitation room. No rings could be exchanged.

Only 3 “visitors”, could be present at one time so we went through the ceremony twice. We officiated a wedding ceremony between Michelle and Tony witnessed by her father. It was sweet, halting, and stilted. I wrote the ceremony, but made no attempt to remember it word for word or line by line. The vows written in advance by Michelle and Tony were abbreviated and ad-libbed. The emotion and relief we felt around the table was totally unnoticed by the other inmates and their visitors in the room and unsanctioned by the prison staff.

After concluding the ceremony in front of David, he left escorted by Officer Greene and was replaced by Tony’s sister Sharon. We went through a slightly different version of the ceremony again. As Sharon was also a witness, the North Carolina requirements of willing bride and groom sharing vows in the presence of an ordained reverend and 2 witnesses was satisfied.

The honeymoon will have to wait until such time as Tony is free, but with Michelle working tirelessly on his behalf there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel for him and for Michelle.

Michelle and Tony, I wish you all many years of happiness together and look forward to the day that I officiate a more traditional wedding for you in front of many more of your family and friends.