I've been officiating a lot of weddings recently. It's the season, to be sure, but I'm not entirely certain why I've had so many. Call me lucky, I guess. Each wedding is special in its own way, but some are extra-special. I had one of those yesterday.
I met Randy and Elaine rather randomly about two months ago. They were new to the area and were looking for a minister to officiate their wedding - somehow they'd gotten my name. They came to my office the following week, and it was then that I learned this would be a wedding like no other. See, Randy is a fan of "The Andy Griffith Show." I've talked before about the tie between Mount Airy and the infamous Mayberry in this previous blog, if you're unaware. It's a huge part of this community's identity and a big part of its charm.
The more I talked to Randy and Elaine, the more I realized that calling Randy a fan of TAGS was putting it mildly. This guy was obsessed. That's why they wanted the wedding to take place just down the street from the church at the Mayberry Courthouse, a former service station that's been remodeled to look like the interior of the courthouse Sheriff Andy Taylor once made famous. They would arrive and leave in Barney's squad car, hold a small reception at the soda shop a few blocks up Main Street, and spend their honeymoon night at - you guessed it - The Mayberry Inn. Just to see this guy's excitement as he talked about the Mayberry-ized wedding would make you smile, whether you're a fan of the show or not.
They wanted to have it at 1pm on Sunday. So after finishing up worship and grabbing a few things from the office I walked the two blocks down South Main Street from the church to the faux courthouse. They were already there, along with Elaine's sisters and another friend. As you'll see in the picture below, both were wearing Mayberry-like attire: Randy in overalls and a USA flag bowtie; Elaine in a simple dress that would've made Aunt Bea proud. In all, six people witnessed the ceremony, easily making it the smallest wedding I've ever been part of.
I stood behind Sheriff Andy''s wooden desk with the old-school phone and typewriter, gavel, and interchangeable name plate that read "Sheriff" and "Justice of the Peace." I began with my usual welcome and then Randy and Elaine shared their own vows and exchanged rings. It was very sweet, and the sincerity of their love for each other was really touching. I said a prayer and then pronounced them husband and wife, Mayberry-style.
The Andy Griffith theme song kicked in (thanks to a sister with her finger on the CD player) and the newly married couple posed for a few pictures, like this one to the right (sorry for the poor quality). They took a few shots from inside the jail cell as well, and then it was time to hop in the squad car and head to the reception. Then the coolest thing happened. Apparently while we were inside with the wedding, some tourist types had gathered outside waiting to come in. They actually wound up being part of the crowd that blew bubbles as the couple exited the courthouse and got in the squad car. There was a family of four, three teenage girls wearing what looked like softball unis, and a elderly group of six. I just thought it was so cool that they all jumped right in and celebrated the moment, not having a clue who these people were. Now that's Mayberry for ya.
I walked to the post office a few blocks up the street and mailed the wedding licenses - a habit I've developed over the years as a means of getting those things out of my possession as soon as possible (makes me nervous!) On my walk up there the squad car passed by, honking its old-timey horn. Randy and Elaine waved out the window at me, grinning from ear to ear. They seemed so incredibly excited and happy with their Mayberry wedding. Ah, young love.