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Valley Voices: Time to move on after 238 weddings

Well, I’ve sung this song, but I’ll sing it again of the people I’ve met and the places I seen…”
Brandie Engemoen and Kurtis Rainer are shown getting married at the Rainer Farm in Darfield on Oct. 1, 2022, with marriage commissioner Leslie Stirling officiating. (Photo by MIKAEL KJELLSTROM)

Well, I’ve sung this song, but I’ll sing it again of the people I’ve met and the places I seen…”

Those are the words of Woodie Guthrie but they have been my song for the past 10 years. What a wonderful job I have had for those years. On May 25, 2012, I was appointed a marriage commissioner by the Registrar General of the Province of British Columbia. I can’t think of anything that could be more fun, more exciting, more of a privilege and more of a joy than to officiate at a couple’s wedding. I have loved every wedding. Each one is my favorite. They have all been unique as all couples are unique.

The weddings have been at different locations. I have been to the top of a mountain, down to the bottom of a hiking trail, at the edge of a canyon, to the confluence of two rivers, to ski hills, to resorts and to campgrounds. I have been invited to many homes. I have had the pleasure of hosting quite a few in my home.

The weddings have been large and small; noisy and quiet; fancy and down to earth. The wedding parties have been very large, very small and any size in between. In a few cases my husband, Bob and our neighbor Mark have been the witnesses. The couples have been all generations, all cultures and yes, almost all genders.

For those of you who don’t know me - I am a ham. I love making people laugh. I have often thought that perhaps I should have been a stand-up comedian. I love, love, love being the centre of attention. Therefore, it came as quite a surprise to me when I was first appointed. You see, for the first 20 minutes I was the third most important person in the room and then I would say the magic words “You may kiss your bride” and I would become totally invisible. I quickly found out that it wasn’t my fault. I was just no longer relevant. Bob and I learned to park in a good spot so we could make a clean getaway.

And of course, there have been lots of funny things happen along the way. Here are a few of my favorites:

At one wedding at our house we had to stop in the middle of the vows while one of the younger attendees had to go the bathroom.

One particularly wet weekend (do you remember this Tammy and Darryl) I got totally drenched at the first wedding and had to run home, shower, do my hair and change before rushing up to Clearwater for the second wedding where I also got wet.

At a backyard wedding close to the railroad tracks the bride walked down the aisle, turned to me and said, “You have 20 minutes until the next train goes by.”

I must admit that it makes me sad when I hear that a couple have split. I have been married for almost 54 years and I just cannot imagine anything different. I have always thought that the sign of a good marriage is when both people think they got the best end of the deal.

Over the 10 years I have married 238 couples. I have done two vow renewals which are not really an official part of a wedding commissioner’s job but they have been a joyful thing to do. I have married my son and daughter-in-law. I have married my granddaughter and grandson-in-law (if that is actually a thing). I have married the children of friends. I have married the grandchildren of friends. I have married girls that were my Brownies a lifetime ago and folks that were on ball teams that Bob and I coached. It was a particular joy to me that my final wedding was that of the son of a very close friend and his fianceé (now wife).

I have been honored to be a wedding commissioner. I have loved being a part of so many wedding days. It has truly been a wonderful gift to me.

I wish the same to Cherie Jardine and Vera Enshaw.