“Dear Mr. Sepinwall,” the email began, “Hello! My name is Katie, and my fiancé Paul and I are big fans of your writing and podcasts.”
Katie went on to explain that she and Paul were big fans of TV in general who had bonded on their first date over the realization that they both liked reading my reviews of their favorite shows, and that their wedding would be TV-themed. And then she hit me with this:
Would I like to be the officiant at their wedding?
The thought of presiding over someone else’s wedding ceremony had never occurred to me, but the second I read Katie’s email, I knew I wanted to do it. It was like getting to cross an item off my bucket list seconds after it had been added. I met with the two of them in my office to be sure they were both nice people and seemed like a good match (I’d hate to think I helped create a marriage that was doomed from the start) and soon agreed to do it.
The easy part was getting ordained. I registered with the Universal Life Church — in a bit of symmetry, I’d only recently conducted a public Q&A with Bryan Cranston where he read passages from his memoir, including the story of his own adventures as an ordained ULC officiant, and had just put the finishing touches on a book about Cranston’s most famous role — and then sent the proper paperwork to the city of New York to be registered there. I’d seen plenty of sitcom episodes (from Gilligan’s Island to Mad About You) about long-married couples who discovered their weddings were invalid due to the minister’s credentials, so I knew to make sure all the t’s were properly crossed and i’s dotted.
The harder part, even given what I do for a living, was writing the remarks themselves. This is a big responsibility, man. If a recap I write isn’t articulated quite as well as I want it to be, but still gets the general point across, I can live with that. Do a subpar job on someone’s wedding ceremony, and that’s guilt that doesn’t subside anytime soon.
Fortunately, the two of them offered up not only insight into what they loved about each other, but some shared favorite TV shows they would enjoy hearing me mention in the remarks (I squeezed in all their requests except for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which got cut after the first draft when I realized my discussion of it overlapped too much with what I had to say about The Office), which prompted me to do this whole riff on lessons great TV has to offer people about to embark on a life together.
This is how it turned out (apologies for the lighting, but what made for a great view for the guests made for lousy iPhone cinematography):
And that’s not even including the rest of the day, which featured bride and groom passing a universal remote control back and forth as they delivered their personalized vows, TV themes being played on piano as several members of the wedding entered, and tables named for individual shows. (My wife and I wound up at the Seinfeld table.) As a bit of a TV nerd myself and someone who loves happy occasions, it was both a treat and a privilege to get to be a part of this, even if it never would have occurred to me to try if Katie and Paul hadn’t contacted me out of the blue.