Over 24 years of pastoral ministry I have seen and conducted an awful lot of weddings, but I have never seen anything like what I witnessed on Saturday July 7th of this year.
I had been out to the venue the night before to conduct the rehearsal. Everything seemed to be well in hand. The wedding was at a farm belonging to friends of the family. The barn had been swept, scrubbed and vacuumed and the groom had made a bar especially designed to match the rustic décor.
It looked perfect.
The tables were set and the chairs laid out and everyone remembered their lines.
I was sure that the day would go off without a hitch!
Unfortunately it was not to be.
Shortly before the actual ceremony the wedding coordinator failed to deliver on the agreed upon flower arrangements. No worries, a friend of the bride from our church went quickly over to Costco to buy fresh flowers to fill out the centre pieces and displays. When the staff at Costco learned that she was doing this to help out a bride, they immediately opened their fridges and made absolutely everything available so that the new flowers could match those that had been provided.
All of this happened instantly while the bride was completing her personal preparations. The wedding coordinator assured her that despite the issue with the flowers the meal would definitely be delivered as ordered. Thus assured, the bride put the matter out of her mind, walked down the aisle and married the man of her dreams.
The ceremony went off without a hitch.
They laughed, they vowed, they kissed, they signed and we cheered – just as it’s supposed to be.
Shortly after the ceremony however, while the bride and groom were having their pictures taken the bride received a text from the coordinator indicating that she was terminating the contract, packing up the food and going home.
As a pastor I always assume that there is more to the story and I believe that must have been the case here. Nobody torpedoes their own business and throws a hand grenade into a wedding without a very good reason indeed. Who knows what happened to this poor lady? Maybe her son was arrested, maybe her marriage fell apart, maybe her mother passed away – I don’t know, the text didn’t say and I don’t suppose it really matters. What matters is that 2 hours before the reception was supposed to happen she packed up her van and went home.
The bride, understandably, was devastated.
What happened next was nothing less than a miracle of God – and simultaneously a testimony to the power of love, community and friendship.
The family of the bride immediately came together in a circle of prayer.
A few friends from the church huddled around as well. One lady in particular stepped up to the plate. Despite being several months pregnant she wrapped her arms around the devastated young lady bride, looked her in the face and said, “I’ve got this. You go get your pictures done. Don’t even think about this. I have it covered.”
The bride went off with her man and did as she had been told. She had her pictures taken and they are absolutely lovely. How she managed to smile like that with everything going on I will never know.
But she did it.
By the grace of God, she did it.
And while she did it a group of people from our church and from her new extended family rallied together to save the day – with a little help from Costco.
Calls were made and people started showing up with strange and marvellous things. A man from our church arrived with a bar-b-q that had to be towed behind a pick up truck. It was a home-made job that appeared to have been designed for the cooking and grilling of dinosaurs.
Shortly thereafter another truck arrived with 100 pounds of charcoal.
A van departed to the church to get coffee urns, silverware and who knows what else.
5 others went to Costco with a shopping list as long as your arm.
When they arrived (for the second time that day) and explained to the staff what had happened everyone sprang into action. A new till was opened to by-pass the enormous summer lines; a team was assembled to help them identify the best cuts of meat and all the buns and salad they could carry.
Thus armed and equipped they rushed back to the barn in Oro-Medonte. The bar-b-q was now heated, the tables set and the coffee on. Every guest had been given a job and every one present did their piece and more to ensure that when the bride got back everything would happen exactly as she had imagined. It was a full court press but incredibly, they pulled it off.
Only 60 minutes late – 110 people were served a perfectly cooked meal of steak and salad in a barn on precisely 2 hours notice.
It was a miracle!
It was a marvel!
It was undeniably a gift from God.
“Thank God for Costco” was the phrase I heard second most that day after “what an incredibly beautiful bride.”
I went home freshly impressed with the importance of doing life in community. It matters that you get married in the church you grew up in. It matters that people feel invested in your life and happiness. It matters that your best friends are also your brothers and sisters in Christ. It matters that you pray as a family.
And it matters that you shop at Costco.
Not all those insights are equally significant but they all played a role in what became the most magical wedding of the summer.
The Lord is good and all his gifts – great and small – are to be treasured. Thanks be to God!
Pastor Paul Carter
To listen to Pastor Paul’s Into The Word devotional podcast on the TGC Canada website see here. You can also find it on iTunes.