The merry month of May is the wedding month par excellence. There the most important day in the life is to remain in memory. Many bridal couples want something special. Pastor Regamy reports on his experiences with church weddings.
Interviewer: When it comes to weddings, there are always outlandish ideas: Underwater wedding in a diving suit. In a hot air balloon above the clouds. In church to the music of Helene Fischer. What was the most extraordinary wedding request you experienced?
Father Regamy Thillainathan (Director of the Diocesan Office for Vocations Ministry in the Archdiocese of Cologne): With years in ministry, you've experienced a lot of things. There are actually many requests where you are kind of irritated at the beginning. Is this meant seriously or is it more of a joke?? But most of them are really serious.
For example, I already had a request if I would be willing to marry them in their garden, because that's where they would prefer to be. I always respond seriously to the requests. Many things can be clarified in conversation and perhaps also make clear why I perhaps have a different position than the bride and groom.
But I think the most important thing, and the brides and grooms deserve this, is to first take them seriously. It's about their day and for them it feels like the most important day of their lives. And then they also have a right to be well accompanied on this day. And there are many things that can be made possible. But there are also limits in terms of dignity and location. On the other hand, there are also things that are perhaps not so simple after a closer look.
Interviewer: So getting married in the garden is not possible?
Father Regamy: No. But, I have shown them our churches. I was with them in one afternoon in all six churches of our parish and showed it to them. Then they have directly fallen in love with a church.
Interviewer: So the place should be a church?
Father Regamy: Yes, it also has to do with the meaning and importance of the sacrament, that this is also a place where this is expressed.
Interviewer: And how is it with the clothes? No one has ever stood before you in a diving suit?
Father Regamy: No, I have not experienced that yet. In spite of all these bizarre things, most people don't have a classic idea of what a church wedding is about.
Interviewer: What kind of music can be played at the wedding ceremony?? Have you ever had the wish to play Helene Fischer in front of the altar??
Rev. Regamy: I have also had secular music in the wedding ceremony. But there it requires a close look. Which songs fit at all and what the lyrics are. I always look at the texts together with the bride and groom and ask them if they are aware of what is being sung.
Sometimes it is so, that especially with English lyrics, people are surprised, what kind of lyrics they are. For example, on the famous song by Leonard Cohen, "Hallelujah". There are texts that are very questionable. And when you go through the lyrics with them and they become aware of the content for the first time, you realize yourself how embarrassed they sometimes are because they hadn't noticed it before.
Interviewer: Foreign languages sometimes help?
Rev. Regamy: Exactly! To deal honestly and also with goodwill on the part of the pastoral care to seek the discussion with the bridal couple. To say to them: This is not possible, I find first of all not fair and secondly also impertinent towards the bride and groom.
That's why I always say I'll take the time and that several times to look at with the bride and groom, how does this story actually come about, that they want just this or just that. And what do you want? What is the message behind it? And let's get it in somehow? That's why: I pay attention to which songs are played during a wedding ceremony. Also together with the bride and groom. What fits and what doesn't fit? The strange things are rather the side ies or the side construction sites, which actually turn out to be traps in the end.
Interviewer: For example?
Rev. Regamy: I had once experienced that the bride and groom thought it was nice when the bride's nephew brought the rings forward. The nephew was two years old and simply lost a ring during the wedding ceremony. This is simply not noticed. And then when the ring was brought forward with a ceremonial escort, it was then noticed that one ring was missing. And then maybe they can imagine that first of all the big search started because they didn't know exactly where this ring was last seen.
I have also experienced that the rings were not to be brought forward until later and were on a tray. Then one of the rings took on a life of its own and rolled into the vents of the heater. The sexton had to come out and then remove this grating.
Since those first weddings, I also know pretty well that the rings have to be on the altar beforehand. That's where I had to gain my first experience as a newcomer to the profession. After that I said: I won't do it anymore!
Interviewer: "Beginners" is also a good keyword, because there are often people, visitors, relatives, friends, who have perhaps never been to church before and don't really know what they are supposed to do there? For example, this famous case of an uncle or a friend coming and standing there with a cell phone and really filming directly into the nostrils with the camera. What do you say when you have people like that in church??
Reverend Regamy: It doesn't happen to me at all, because before the wedding I go out of the sacristy into the church and greet people. I welcome them first. I am happy that they are here. I am also happy that so many people want to share this important day of the bride and groom with them. First of all welcome.
And then I'll give you two or three technical hints: First, that there are official photographers and that they should please refrain from taking pictures themselves. The second request is to see if they have their cell phones on silent or turned off so that there is not an awkward scene later in the wedding ceremony. And there you notice again and again that many people actually then start to turn off their cell phones or put them in silent mode.
Interviewer: And what has been your most extraordinary wedding so far?
Rev. Regamy: The most extraordinary wedding was, I think, a wedding in Nice of a young woman that I accompanied for years, that I more or less raised. And that was fascinating simply because there was a Coptic clergyman and there were the additional rites. I must also mention the luxury that these families have brought with them. Starting from the cars to how the church was decorated. That was already one of the most extraordinary weddings I've had.
The interview was conducted by Heike Sicconi.