Officiant Vignettes

Wait, is there TOUCHING too? 

Here is the sound a wedding officiant makes when the wedding is ten days away:


It’s kind of a throaty, gutteral whine – a cross between Marge Simpson’s disapproval sound and the sort of noise an anxious dog makes before a hurricane.

I usually make the sound while rocking back and forth, or with my head buried in my hands as the MS Word document titled ‘KRISTIN AND KYLE SPEECH’ blazes at me from the computer.

As the day that I have to deliver the speech grows closer – that prick the Earth just hurtling around the Sun with no regard for the fact that I’d like a little bit more time to proof this shit – I’ve caught myself making the sound in a variety of new environments. Yesterday I did it in the car. Three hours ago I lay face down on my bed and went hnnnnnnnnnnnnngggghhhhhhh for like two minutes. That may not sound like very long, but try it sometime and you’ll see.



List of words I cannot use in my speech:

SUCCESS – Can easily be flubbed into “suck sex.” Everyone laughs, I start crying, wedding ruined.

INSIST – Sounds too much like “incest”. Incest is not a concept people want to think about during a wedding.

PUBLIC – One letter away from “pubic.” Could possibly say “pubic” by accident. If not, perhaps unruly teenager or surly usher will loudly draw the comparison. Resulting disturbance implicitly my fault for shoddy word choice. Ceremony derailed, friend humiliated, wedding ruined.

SHTICK – Very similar to groom’s last name, could cause confusion among hearing impaired or audience members not listening closely. Could possibly mispronounce as “shit.” Difficult to enunciate into microphone. Avoid Yiddish entirely.

NAGGING – Might accidentally say “nigging”, a crude racial slur planted in my subconscious by a racist former roommate. Could cause extreme discomfort and embarrassment, moreso if one of the four black people who live in Oregon are in attendance. Video goes viral, disowned by family, wedding ruined.


I had assumed I would be delivering my speech from behind a podium. This was a reassuring assumption, however unfounded, because speaking from behind a podium resolves a lot of the anxiety a speaker usually has to deal with.

You can rest your hands on the podium, you can put your notes on it, you can have water in there, and if you get a boner during your speech, nobody has to know. Podiums are the public speaking equivalent of bumper bowling or tee ball.

A week ago Kristin told me there wasn’t going to be a podium – just me standing there with both of them right in my face looking at me, and the whole wedding party looking at me, and all of their friends and families looking hnnnnnnnnnghhh

I was all, “Woah, hold on. No podium? I’m not the strapping young public speaker I was in 2005! Throw me a bone, here!”

And Kristin was all, “I give literally zero shits about your problems because I’m still trying to coordinate every other aspect of this ceremony and reception.”

And I was all, “Hnnnnnnnnghhhh”

And Kristin was all, “What was that sound?”

And I was all, “I don’t know, but I’m not going to stop making it until after July 13th.”


I never know what to do with my hands when I’m speaking. Four years on the speech and debate circuit and I still wind up making the same two gestures every time: Holding out my right hand at a 45 degree angle, palm out, while twisting 30 degrees at the torso, or holding out my left hand at a 45 degree angle, palm out, while twisting 30 degrees at the torso.

I’ll be the first to admit that this looks stupid – especially when I do it 50 or 60 times in the course of a five minute speech – but what alternative do I have? Have my hands hang limply at my sides? Clasping them in front of my belt buckle doesn’t work, because experience has shown that that position just increases my urge to hold one of my hands out at a 45 degree angle, palm out, while twisting 30 degrees at the torso.

Pockets are my friends. During the winter months I wear a grey hoodie that allows me to bury my hands in my pockets while I talk. During the summer months, I wear black gym shorts with big pockets I can put my hands in. (When I go out in public I pair these shorts with an old grey T-shirt and running shoes in order to give the impression that I just got back from the gym, which is just major league deception.)

I very much want to deliver this speech with my hands in my pockets, but then that would lend a really casual, Sammy Davis Jr. vibe to my best friend’s wedding, which probably isn’t what she’s going for.


I have been told that I frequently run my right hand through my hair when nervous or under pressure.

I cannot allow this to happen during the wedding.

If compulsively sweep my hair back during my speech, an unruly teenager could begin to lead the audience in loudly counting the number of times I’ve done it.

Video goes viral, gets featured on Tosh.0, wedding ruined.

I must break this habit before the wedding.

To do so, I need to practice my speech without running my hand through my hair.

At first, I considered putting peanut butter in my hair to discourage myself from touching it, but quickly dismissed the idea as it was both a tragic waste of peanut butter and could possibly attract ants.

Instead, I have decided to wear a hat when I practice my speech.

By covering my hair, I will be unable to touch it, and can break my habit.

Because I do not own any hats, I have decided to improvise, and have fashioned myself a crude do-rag out of an old T-shirt for rehearsal purposes.

Should I prove unable to break the habit in the next ten days, I will purchase a more formal do-rag to wear during the ceremony.

Truman Capps hnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh