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Shotgun weddings, tying the knot, and a Baptismal Font

Having clerked at the courthouse and witnessed countless ceremonies over which the judge presided, I decided this was a perfect opportunity for a stay-at-home mom to get out to meet new people, get dressed up, do some local travel (200km radius), and enjoy one of the happiest days of people's lives.

My interest followed a long stint as a Justice of the Peace (JP), not to be confused with a Marriage Commissioner. JPs in Canada deal with prisoners, not happy couples headed for marital bliss. Justices of the Peace and Marriage Commissioners are both government appointments and are supposed to be available 24/7. So, yes, I switched over to a much more enjoyable and varied (more weekends, less midnights) agenda, busy in the summer but filling a need year-round, and this suits me perfectly.

Eventually, with the passing of my husband, I was able to transfer my appointment to Southern Alberta and my roots, Pincher Creek born and raised. That was 20 years ago and I have so very much enjoyed the people, the places, the experiences I have had here in and around Lethbridge.
And I love people … I love to hear their stories, how they met, where they come from. And every bride and groom has an idea of what they would like their ceremony to reflect and so you have the opportunity to help them achieve that dream, to personalize their ceremony to fit their lifestyle or personality, Romantic, Formal, Modern Chic, or to create a theme … oh, yes, sometimes the guests and I get to really dress up … 1800's, 20's Gatsby, Hawaiian, Medieval, Classic 50's, Country, even Halloween.

And I get to perform ceremonies in unique circumstances … in a field, a barn or two, an airplane, on a ski lift, the side of a mountain, on the rocks of Writing-on-Stone, the Waterton Shoreline cruise, -30 and the wind blowing so hard someone had to hold me up, +30 where you can feel the sweat running down your back …

I am always learning … music selections for ceremonies are as individual as the couples themselves, so I've broadened my music tastes … learning to pronounce names from every culture imaginable is a challenge; I remain undaunted and do my best. Knot tying, sand/stone/grain/glass/wine blending ceremonies … so many ways to express unity and togetherness, often including children or extended families. Dogs "sometimes" make excellent ringbearers. The couples themselves are as diverse as seemingly mere youths to octogenarians and beyond.

"So, you can imagine my surprise when I arrived to find everyone had begun celebrating … nary a sober person in sight."

David Guenther for Lethbridge Living -07.JPG
I was asked to share one story - my family tells me I should write a book because so many fun, sometimes quirky things happen - but I've decided to go way back and tell you about my first "real" shotgun wedding. Now, I know you are all thinking "Universal Studios" when dad comes down the aisle with his expectant daughter and his "piece" - but bear in mind that the marriage couple and their witnesses must be sober when you perform a wedding ceremony. So, you can imagine my surprise when I arrived to find everyone had begun celebrating … nary a sober person in sight. When I explained I could not perform a ceremony that day, that I would return the next when the bride and groom had sobered, yes, that's right, a shotgun was drawn and pointed. Thankfully, level heads prevailed, the gun was put away, and I did return the next day … there were a lot of apologies made that next morning; good people having fun, so clearly I wasn't deterred.

Now, if you have occasion to ask me about the baptismal font, you'll have a hearty laugh.
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