If you’ve been reading the ULC Monastery blog lately, you’ll recall that Scott Underwood, drummer for the pop band Train, got ordained in the online church to become a wedding officiant. We’re happy to say Underwood successfully performed a wedding – his first legal ceremony with his online ordination on Thursday, 16 August, in Cleveland, Ohio. The band’s “rock concert wedding” uncannily resembled the traditional wedding ceremony, at the same time offering a unique and creative twist for contemporary couples.
The ceremony itself started off in the audience as frontman Pat Monahan sang the aptly chosen blue-eyed soul anthem “Marry Me,” a Top 5 hit for the band. Some of the happy couples in the crowd of 4,000 got engaged there on the spot, as the band performed a mix of their own hits and those by bands like the Rolling Stones, the Doobie Brothers, and Sly and the Family Stone. The quirky ceremony even included a duet by Monahan and his daughter, Amelia, as well as a chorus of young girls who sang along to the song “Mermaid.” At one point, he invited two young fans onstage and presented them with an autographed guitar before ending with the number “Sing Together.”
But the onstage wedding officiated by Underwood was the highlight of the evening. The ceremony took place mid-show, when the drummer, who became an ordained minister back in June through our online church, invited a young couple up onstage to exchange wedding vows. The groom happily declared “I do,” and, after replying with “I definitely do,” the bride threw her bouquet into the audience–which essentially served as the wedding party. Adding to the celebratory, feel-good atmosphere were the sounds of train whistles and chugging locomotives which announced the band’s arrival, followed by the festive, mariachi-inspired “50 Ways to Say Good-bye,” off the band’s latest album, California 37.
It certainly isn’t your grandmother’s (or even your mother’s) idea of tying the knot, but the off-beat concert points to an emerging trend in contemporary wedding ceremonies. No longer is there a clear line between ordained minister and those seated in the pews (or cheering from the audience, as in the present case), nor is there such a clear line between the betrothed and members of the audience. Ministers who want to perform a wedding like Underwood’s are helping to blur the line between wedding couple and wedding officiant. In a way, this is a good thing. One might call this the “postmodern” marriage ceremony.
Not everyone will favor “rock concert weddings” over traditional ones, and some of us will always prefer to tie the knot at the altar, where a traditionally ordained minister in a traditional brick-and-mortar church presides over the exchange of wedding vows. But innovations in the way we say “I do” reflect changing attitudes, and this means adapting our wedding traditions to emerging social mores. This, in turn, means recognizing and appreciating our increasingly egalitarian values.