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I got it good. More than forty years ago I experienced the most incredible tingle moment – the moment my bride first appeared at the back of the church, and made her way down the aisle to become my bride. For me, each wedding I officiate hearkens back to that memory for me, and I do everything in my power to give each groom a similarly astounding tingle moment in their wedding.

A few summers ago I achieved that so well that I almost lost it!

It was our 39th wedding anniversary.

It was wedding number three that day. But this young bride was graced with beauty similar to my bride of so many years ago.

Without conscious effort on my part, every cell of my body reached back through the years to being forth and re-experience the memory of my own wedding so many years before. It took my breath away, because I have never lost the wonder of my mate, who has stood by me so faithfully all these years.

What a primer for one of those lovely evenings with the woman I love!

Rev. Ray Cross BA, Bth

My daughter was a wedding photographer and videographer for a number of years, and I worked along with her some. She shared with me the challenges of working at weddings, one of which was rude and uncooperative clergy. Her guidance has been so helpful in helping me to understand the challenges of wedding photographers.

Couples enlist photgraphers to document their weddings and pay them highly for doing so. As an officiant, therefore, I see my role as helping them, and all other professionals enlisted by the couple to do their tasks well.

As a wedding officiant I exercise control of the ceremony and can do much to help or hinder the total experience. So, I arrive early at weddings to talk with everyone involved so that we can each fulfill our roles well to the delight of bride, groom and guests. Once the wedding begins an astute officiant does not create a scene that disturbs a wedding. He/she moves with the proceedings, minimizing stresses and easing matters that are not moving as planned in the hope glossing over any disruption.

That is why I am so upset with the actions of the officiant in the YouTube video I recently encountered. It shows an utter disregard for the wishes of anyone but himself and makes God into an utter grinch. How rude of him to the couple, to the photographers, to the guests and to the Lord.

In my opinion this clergyman should give the couple a refund, an abject apology and, if he must behave in this fashion, he should cease and desist from ever again officiating a wedding.

The What Ifs

In my garden I have an ever-bearing strawberry plant — that’s right, just one. Because of that I treasure every berry that comes my way. I watch them begin, small and white. I can almost taste them as they plump up and turn rosy red. As harvest time approaches I cover the plant with a steel basket and place a brick on top. Yet, despite all of my careful planning, something, probably one of those rodents with a fluffy tail, sneaks my berry before I get to pick it. How can they possibly lift that basket, brick and all, and, without disturbing the soil, abscond with my only precious strawberry?!

Life seems like that sometimes. Even the most careful preparations don’t necessarily turn out the way we plan. That’s why I encourage couples to prepare for the unexpected in their wedding anticipations, and be prepared to roll with it and enjoy the day, however it may turn out.  Personally, I look forward to the unexpected in weddings. They generally provide opportunities for light-hearted banter and humour that sweetens almost every wedding I officiate.

Rev. Ray Cross BA, Bth

It had to happen that day — the busiest wedding day of the summer, one that started at 10 am and ended, after continuous weddings, at 6:00 pm.

We left in plenty of time, merging on to the Highway of Heroes to immediate gridlock, unaware that a motorcyclist, seeking evade police had jettisoned his female passenger into busy 401 traffic. Police closed the highway to investigate.

Fortunately, as is policy, we had the cell numbers of each couple at hand. As well, my wife, Diane, travels with me to navigate, manage paper work and deal with the unexpected. She quickly phoned the first couple at Sunnybrook Estates to let them know the situation. Then, due to my intimate knowledge of the area, we exited and scooted up side streets, made U-turns as necessary, and finally found our way through the clogged side streets and main roads to arrive at our destination only about twenty minutes late.

Since the couple had been informed of the situation by Diane’s call, and since other guests had been caught in the same quagmire, being delayed as well. Everything about the wedding went off as the couple had hoped – an unrushed, relaxed ceremony with all of the people they had invited present to lend their support.

As well, due to adequate spacing between weddings, we were able to catch up the lost time, arriving at the second wedding well before the hour, and proceeding through the ensuing weddings without a glitch.

It was a good day, despite a rocky beginning.

I just refuse to allow the unexpected to interfere with the quality of wedding officiating provided to those I serve.

Rev. Ray Cross BA, Bth


Nature is fickle. It can add to a wedding or diminish it with impunity, and woe to the couple that does not take into account the possibility that weather will not cooperate with their plans.

Last summer was no exception, though somehow the weddings I officiated seemed to escape the worst of it and many times benefited from the best of it.

One wedding, in Centennial Park in Whitby, seemed doomed by persistent rain the just kept dumping down as we waited in the gazebo for the bride. The limo arrived. The door opened. The bride stepped forth. And, not to be believed, but fact, the rain stopped immediately. The bride processed unmolested by dampening drops. We all celebrated in the wonder of bride-power.

Then there was the incredible wedding at the Whitby Centennial Courthouse. Everything went like clock work. The bridal party processed beautifully. The back doors closed behind the Maid of Honour. Then, with clock work precision, the back doors gently opened revealing a resplendent bride, glistening like an angel in iridescent white, accentuated by a glowing aura of sunlight bursting through from behind her, obscuring our vision of the bride like a spotlight in our eyes, then, as she approached, clearing vision, and a groom reduced to mush, in the wonder of her beauty. Heck – I had a hard time holding myself together, and it wasn’t my bride.

Rev. Ray Cross BA, Bth


What happens when a Catholic wants to marry but a priest won’t come?

It’s not unusual.

One couple recently fell in love with Trafalgar Castle in Whitby. It was the place they wanted to be married. A priest, however, would not attend because it was not in the holy ground of a Roman Catholic Church – though the chapel at Trafalgar Castle certainly lacks nothing of the expected atmosphere of a church, except perhaps, the images characteristic of Roman Catholic Churches.

Well, no problem!

The couple approached me to officiate.

Working together we designed a ceremony incorporating all of the religious components the couple and their family desired.

I also had a special meeting with the bride and her mother. Mom wanted to check me out to be sure I was a “Man of God”, clergy, ordained to serve in a priestly function. It was my delight to get to know her, to allay her fears and to reassure her.

The day of the wedding was truly exceptional. There were precious and touching aspects incorporated into the ceremony based on their faith and on their cultural heritage. I felt as though I was part of one of those Royal Weddings that hold us glued to our television every time they are held and televised to the world.

Most thrilling of all was to have the bride’s mother come to me after the ceremony expressing utter delight with the decorum and religious sensitivity of the ceremony.

It is always a delight to learn what is meaningful to couples and their families and to fulfill their highest aspirations for their wedding day.

Rev. Ray Cross BA, Bth

When meeting with couples I encourage them to insert personally significant items into their weddings. This sometimes comes forth in unexpected ways.

In a wedding last summer, it was down right deafening.

The couple I was marrying loved motorcycles – those gumbly, rumbly Harley’s especially. I know them well from the times we have been in Myrtle Beach during Biker Week. There is truly nothing like a hundred Harley’s rocking in formation on a beach road between high-rise hotels on a Saturday afternoon.

Well, I was warned…but not put into the loop completely.

I officiated a wonderful wedding with my back toward the water on the shore of Lake Scugog. As I pronounced them “husband and wife” and they moved in for the kiss, I sensed a rustling to each side.

Four jubilant open road enthusiasts mounted their Harley’s and in the zeal of camaraderie, they fired up two Harleys right and left.

WOW! If that wasn’t a kiss to be remembered. My chest vibrated like a bass drum, skin pulsating, ears ringing.

I loved it, because it was the special wedding of a special couple with special memories built in.

To me this type of creativity is really special!

I never got a chance to do these type of weddings during the years I pastored and officiated weddings in church buildings – I wonder why… (-: ?

Rev. Ray Cross BA, Bth


Weddings are illusionary – they express cherished ideals of devotion and delight. In them, brides are placed on a pedestal of almost regal honour. Then couples heads off to some incredibly unreal location to be pampered in luxury uncharacteristic what their life will be.

Then reality sets in. Whereas what got her to this place was sinking into his arms, now she is left with her arms in the sink. Now she washed\s his underwear and picks up after him. Then comes children, with all the extra responsibilities that adds to the equation.

Hubby often fairs no better. There are the stresses of financial demands, maintenance chores and the responsibilities of being a husband and dad.

With all this, what happens to the romance that drew you together, the romance that drew you to your wedding. Too often it gets lost, but it’s too precious to lose.

So, however illusory your wedding might be, search for ways to fan the flame of wedding delight throughout your years together. It’s the way it should be.

Rev. Ray Cross BA, Bth

Many couples don’t see the value of rehearsals nowadays, but when a wedding involves many attendants a rehearsal can make the difference between orderly grace and controlled confusion. This has been confirmed to me over and over. Once a wedding begins I am bound to the front with little ability to guide the procession, positioning and recessing of participants. Brides that book rehearsals enjoy the assurance that their wedding will truly approximate their dreams. Last night, as I led the rehearsal for Kristina and Jake, I was left with the fulfillment that all will perform to their optimum, and the peaceful delight in Kristina’s face was very satisfying — we had enjoyed moments of fun-filled creativity together.

Having watched many brides process up aisles at weddings, I have come to view the most important part of their gown to be, not the bodice, not the train, not the sequins, and not the bustle. The most important part of the gown is the front hem.

If this part of the gown is too low, the bride experiences the stress of that hem tripping her as she walks. This robs her of the regal gait she envisaged. It distracts her from absorption in the delight of her groom. It extinguishes her security in her beauty. The impression she has cherished to portray at her wedding for so long, is compromised by a little, poorly placed piece of cloth.

I would sooner see the hem of the wedding gown a little higher off the floor than a bride in distress due to her gown. This needs to be planned carefully prior to a wedding because, once the wedding begins, there is no adjusting possible and no turning back.

Rev. Ray Cross BA, Bth