Call me a wedding connoisseur. I’ve been to well over two hundred weddings. I’ve been to large weddings and small weddings. I’ve dined at huge wedding feasts with hundreds and broken bread in an intimate restaurant with twenty. I like weddings.
Now I usually play a fairly significant role in the weddings I attend. I wear my black robe and white stole. I’m usually in a picture or two, front and center with the couple. I have a good time at weddings.
This past weekend I attended a wedding and that’s all I did. Not once did I pray aloud. I did not read a Scripture nor did I give my wedding homily. I sat in the pew with the rest of guests and watched with great happiness of the wedding of Bailey Pruner and PJ Heckman.
I’d like to think that I had something to do in bringing this new newly married couple together. Actually, I didn’t. They found each other here at church when PJ was our Director of Music Ministries and Bailey was brand new as our Associate Pastor. Many of you were shocked speechless when you learned that they were engaged. Two-thirds of you had no inkling that they were even dating. I knew. They told me but then they went about their courting quietly and carefully.
Between them, Bailey and PJ know about 50 pastors. Any one of them would have been happy as a clam to wed these two. PJ and Bailey chose a friend who had walked with them from almost the start—Chris Miller. Then, he was one of our Seminary Interns, now he is an Assistant Pastor at a church in Northern Ireland. They flew the Preaching Panda (have you seen his website by the way? Here is a link: http://preachingpanda.com/)
Bailey and PJ’s wedding was held on Saturday, April 23rd in the sanctuary of the Presbyterian Church at Toms River, New Jersey. This has always been Bailey’s church home.
Here are some of my professional observations about this wedding.
1. You wouldn’t want to say anything bad about either the Pruner or Heckman families that day. Early in the service, Chris Miller asked both families to stand and pledge their support of the couple in their marriage. Well more than half the congregation stood. There were a lot of members of the Pruner and Heckman families walking around that day and they clearly love Bailey and PJ. Lots of things bode well for this new marriage, but strong family support is at the top of the list of their strengths.
2. Chris Miller hit it out of the park. This was Chris Miller’s first wedding. He was cool and poised and terrific. During one of the first weddings I did years ago, I recall the groom leaning over to me and whispering at one point, “I thought I was going to be nervous, but I didn’t think you would be nervous!” I guess he noticed that my legs were shaking and I was sweating a lot. Not the Preaching Panda! Chris spoke and preached with unmistakable pastoral authority. His wedding homily was one of the best I’ve heard, not that I get many to hear wedding sermons other than my own.
3. They treat each other well. I had headed home before the cake was cut but I did see a Facebook post with the video of Bailey and PJ cutting and sharing cake. They were kind and considerate. There was no shoving or smearing of cake in each other’s faces or hair. It’s a small thing, but I think the way you eat cake can indicate how you will talk, how you will work together and even how you will argue. All these things can be done kindly.
My rating of Bailey and PJ’s wedding is five stars out of five stars! And that’s as good as it gets. Congratulations!