First-Time Officiant: Becoming a Dudeist Priest & Officiating a Wedding
So many things to be grateful for this week of Thanksgiving, but I’d like to write about one experience while it’s still fresh in my mind.
My sister and her new husband, Autumn and Michael, got married in Savannah, Georgia last week. Not only that, they asked me to officiate their wedding. This being my first time, I was honored that they trusted me enough to not screw up their special day.
This role was especially important because it allowed our family to begin a new tradition. My father was a minister and his sacred side hustle was a source of fulfillment for him. He was able to marry a number of couples over the years, including my wife and me. He’s retired from the game now so I was next in line to step up to the altar. Besides, he was busy walking his daughter down the aisle.
Making it Legal
Only two types of people can do the marriage deed. Either a public servant(judge, notary public, etc.) or a clergy person(minister, priest, rabbi, etc.). A clergy person has the authority to marry people only when they have been ordained from a religious organization.
My father is a devout Christian who has attempted to live by the teachings in the bible. Even though many organizations offer ordination over the internet, he was so serious about his responsibilities as a minister that he flew out to North Carolina to take part in the Billy Graham Ministry Program.
In contrast, I am not religious person at all. From time to time, I’ll become inspired by Buddhist teachings, but I don’t believe in many of the theories—like reincarnation. I also don’t believe in a higher power, unless you count believing in the seemingly odd and abstract Simulation Theory. I didn’t want to get ordained just anywhere for formalities sake, I wanted to be connected to a religious organization that I was proud to be a part of.
That’s when I found Dudeism, converted, and immediately became a Dudiest Priest.
The Church of Latter-Day Dude was born from the iconic movie, The Big Lebowski. Yes, I know—that sounds absurd. Before you completely dismiss the idea that a religion could be founded on a movie, keep in mind that all religions are rooted in stories.
When you decide to believe in one religion, you’re making a choice to believe the stories that bind the religion together. Simultaneously, you’re also chalking up all other religions to be rooted in fictional stories. But that doesn’t mean you don’t recognize them as being religious organizations. For example, you still acknowledge Hinduism as being a religion even if you’re a Muslim— and vice versa.
The power of religion doesn’t lie in the accuracy of the stories but rather in how people live their lives based on them. Traditionally, these stories are in religious texts and books. In Dudeism’s case, the stories are in a screenplay and a movie.
Similar to all religions, this cult classic story is filled with lessons that help you live your best life. So much so that there are been numerous books written explaining the lessons that are portrayed on the screen. One of my favorites, The Dude and the Zen Master, records a dialogue between Zen master Bernie Glassman and actor Jeff Bridges(who played ‘The Dude’ in the film), where they draw comparisons between the movie’s message and Zen Buddhism.
Listen—I’m not trying to convert you over to Dudeism or even convince you that it deserves the same recognition. After all, a basic tenet of the Dudeist ethos is to say “Fuck it,” or “Yeah, well, that’s just, like, you’re opinion, man,” when someone questions upon the faith.
What I am trying to get at is that religion is a complicated thing. What exactly makes up a religion? Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost? Or is it doing that combined with a pair of testaments?
Dudeists like myself don’t pretend to know the answer. What I do know is that the word “religion” has its root in the Latin word “ligo,” or “to bind together.” With over 450,000 Dudiest Priests across the world, I’d say Dudiesm qualifies on that front.
I’ll spare you the details of the belief system and The Take it Easy Manifesto, but Dudiesm preaches non-preachiness, practices as little as possible, and respects everyone’s way of life. That’s something I can stand behind everyday.
Writing the Wedding Script
After I was ordained, I needed to figure out what to say during the ceremony. Besides Autumn and Micheal requesting a section dedicated to mixing a cocktail to symbolize their love(so ‘Dude’ of them), they gave me complete freedom on what to talk about. To my surprise, I quite enjoyed writing about love and marriage. It allowed me to think about my own marriage and to dig deep into my soul for the meaning of it all. I won’t bore you with the structural decisions that I made and instead just give you the wedding script in it’s entirety. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did creating it. Take’er easy!
Autumn & Michael’s Wedding Ceremony
Who gives Autumn away in marriage to this man?
Father: Her Mother and I
Oh, hey Dad. Sounds good. You may all be seated at this time.
*everyone sits down*
We’re all here today to celebrate the marriage of Autumn and Michael and to witness the commitment that they are making today. Anytime someone agrees to spend forever with another person, through all of life’s ups and downs, it deserves a special occasion.
Autumn and Michael want to recognize their parents for making this special day possible. They are incredibly grateful for the unconditional love and support that allowed them to become who they are today.
They want to thank everyone for traveling near and far to show support and encouragement of their love.
We would also like to acknowledge and honor the loved ones that aren’t able to be with us today. Our families have lost some truly special people over the last few years, and although we miss them daily, we know that they are always with us in spirit, especially today.
Finally, they would like to recognize everyone else who was unable to attend. With only so much space available, Autumn and Michael had to make difficult decisions on who could attend. So congratulations on making the cut! I know that their cats -The Dude and Missy Elliot- were especially jealous that they could not be here today.
MEANING OF MARRIAGE
As Autumns’ brother, I was honored when they asked me to officiate their wedding. I was actually quite nervous at first. I know, I know-- you’re all thinking that I’m doing a fantastic job already. But I had big shoes to fill. See, our father has officiated a number of weddings, he’s a legend when it comes to the side hustle of marrying two people. Since he had other obligations, like walking his daughter down the aisle, I was happy to take on the job.
As I researched things to say, I realized that a marriage ceremony has been an important part of life across nearly every culture, religion, generation, and society.
Throughout our lifetime, there will be thousands of important moments that happen to us, but this one is regarded as so critical, we acknowledge it by sharing it with others and spend a shit ton of money to ensure it’s the best damn party we can put on. Why do we do this?
Because despite all of our differences, love is what we all share. It is a universal truth of life. No matter who we are, where we’ve come from, what we believe, we know this one thing: love is what we’re doing right. Today, we’re reminded that the ability to love is the very best part of all of us.
That’s why these ceremonies are essential. It forces us to remember how important love is in everyone life. It brings us back to the foundation that binds all of us together. That is why you all are here today.
Either that, or you just came for the free food and open bar.
*pause and wait for everyone to catch their breath from laughing so hard*
Regardless, it’s hard not to feel the love today.
Today, on that foundation of love, we are witnessing the creation of a new home. Home is not where you are from, it is where you belong. Some of us travel the whole world to find it. Others, find it in a person. Autumn and Michael have found a home in each other and are eager to use that freedom and mobility to explore the world together.
The famous author Robert Brault once said that “What we find in a soulmate is not something wild to tame, but something wild to run with.” I believe that these two will run wild together, enjoying every moment that encounters them on their next adventure.
While you’re off traveling the world, remember that you have everyone here to hope with you, to support you, to be proud of you, and to remind you that love isn’t a destination, love is the journey of writing your story together.
It’s every moment that will create a page in your book of life. Yes, there will be big moments like getting married, starting a family and traveling to new and foreign countries together - but mostly it’s about the million little ones that will come in between. Falling asleep next to one another, making dinner together, binge-watching Netflix shows, or agreeing on crazy conspiracy theories that you dug up on YouTube… which for anyone that knows Autumn and Michael, there will be plenty of these in their book.
*pause for the knee-slapping laughs to die down*
These small, everyday moments will fuse together into a story full of adventure and love that makes life worth living.
Autumn and Michael have decided that they are better off together than on their own. They will now mix a cocktail to symbolize the merging of their lives.
*Autumn and Michael move to the mixing table*
The cocktail they have chosen is the “old fashioned.” This potent, but yet sweet drink from the Prohibition Era reminds us that there will always be tough times, but there will also always be something great that survives the adversity. The subtle sweetness of this cocktail has stood the test of time, as will Autumn and Michael’s love and commitment to each other.
The first ingredient is sugar.
*place sugar in an Old Fashioned glass*
The sugar cube represents the sweetness that Autumn and Michael’s love brings to their life.
The next ingredients are a dash of bitters and a splash of water.
*douse with bitters and add a few drops of water*
Life is full of “bitter” moments” that will at times test their commitment to each other. “When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. When life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”
A splash of water represents the purity of life and helps to dilute the bitters and sugar, bringing harmony and balance to the drink, reminding Autumn and Michael that balance and moderation in their life is key.
Now we add the whiskey, which is commonly drank at wedding ceremonies to signify a relationship that will stand the test of time. Plus, our family loves whiskey.
*add whiskey and stir until sugar is dissolved*
Now Autumn and Michael will add the garnishes.
*add orange slice*
The orange slice for them, represents the state of Florida where their love story started and where they will continue to build roots. Orange trees, from which this orange slice originated, are a symbol of love.
And now for the cherry.
This celebration here today surrounded by all their loved ones, is “the cherry on top” of their love story.
Autumn and Michael have created a strong and delicious cocktail symbolizing the life that they will share together. This drink can never be separated into its original ingredients, just as Autumn & Michael can never go back to the individuals they were before they pledged to join their lives together in front of all of us today.
Please raise your glass and toast to Autumn and Michael! –Autumn & Michael, please take a sip of the beverage you have created together.
Now that you’re under the influence, it’s time to get down to the forever business.
Autumn and Michael, you might have fell in love by chance, but you’re here today because you’re making a choice. You’ve chosen to be with someone who enhances you, who makes you think, makes you smile, and makes every day brighter.
Your relationship will take more than love...and plenty of cocktails.. It will take trust, to know in your hearts that you want only the best for each other. Dedication, to stay open to one another, to learn and grow even when it is difficult to do so. And faith, to go forward together without knowing what the future holds for you both.
The vows you are about to exchange serve as a verbal representation of the love you have promised to each other. Autumn and Michael will now share them with us all. Autumn, you may go first.
*Autumn reads her vows*
Beautiful. Michael, let’s see what you got.
*Michael reads his vows*
Excellent, we will now move on to the ring exchange. Autumn and Michael, if they haven’t lost them, you may grab your rings from your most trusted ring holder.
*get rings from Maid of Honor and Best Man*
People often say wedding bands are a perfect circle, with no beginning and no end. But these rings did have a beginning. All of the ring’s materials were once in the earth. Someone dug them up and they were liquefied, molded, cooled, and painstakingly polished. Something beautiful was made from these raw materials.
Marriage is like that. Even though it comes from a humble beginning, effort can create something extraordinary. As you look at these rings over the years, I hope it reminds you that you have created something invaluable. This will be a visible sign that they’ve committed themselves to one another. Or in other words, it’s a way to tell people at the bar that this is the real deal and you better back off.
*wait for the uncontrollable laughter to simmer*
Michael, please take Autumn’s hand and repeat these words:
I give you this ring, as a symbol of our love,
Michael: I give you this ring, as a symbol of our love,
for today and tomorrow, and for all the days to come.
Michael: for today and tomorrow, and for all the days to come.
Wear it as a sign of what we have promised on this day
Michael: Wear it as a sign of what we have promised on this day
and know that my love is present,
Micheal: and know that my love is present,
even when I am not.
Michael: even when I am not.
Autumn, please take Michael’s hand and repeat these words.
*repeat that beautiful shit for Autumn*
May you always be immersed in one another. Strive to bring light and enrichment in every single moment. And work to make every day one in which you both are proud of.
By the power vested in me by The Church of Latter-Day Dude, It is my honor and delight to declare you Husband and Wife. Michael, you may now kiss the bride!
I present to you the new Mr. and Mrs. Scanio!