On September 10th, I married (officiated actually, it’s not a 3-way union) Suyeon Kim and Mauro Refosco. Mauro and I have worked together since the mid ‘90s. He’s a great musician and friend, and his band Forro In The Dark is on tour with Gogol Bordello at the moment. Su joined us periodically on our last tour, which lasted almost a year, from 2008-2009. They asked me to officiate, and I agreed, having heard that one can become a minister who can officiates weddings (depending on state regulations) by registering online. That I did, and here is a copy of my certificate from the Universal Life Church.
I also received, for a small additional fee, a parking sticker that notifies parking enforcers that I am clergy, as well as some other paraphernalia. Whether the clergy sign gets me a free pass here in New York I don’t know, as I don’t have a car.
I also had to register as an officiant with City Hall—the same City Hall where weddings take place. I went downtown, church paperwork in hand, waited in line, and eventually signed a huge crumply book that was hauled out from the back room somewhere—very old school analog and loads of fun.
Others at this not-so-romantic place were getting married. They were dressed up appropriately, and I took a few snaps on other people’s cameras so their whole group could be in their pictures. In an alcove was a painted backdrop of City Hall, and folks were posing in front of it while hired photographers and family friends took snaps. This was a tiny bit odd, because the real City Hall is just across the street; in fact it is visible from the windows opposite the alcove. Sometimes the simulation is better I guess—certainly more convenient. I’m assuming City Hall weddings were once actually performed at City Hall, which would make it like the process in France where the local mayor of each arrondissement wears a sash and performs the legal duties in a nice old building.
Anyway, upon registering, the city gives one a second certificate that makes one a legal officiant for New York. Each state, or maybe each town, has its own book.
The ceremonies (Western and Korean) were held a few days after I registered, at Smack Mellon studio space in Dumbo—a nice big room that is sometimes used for events when it’s not an art or performance space. I dressed the part, wearing black (though no dog collar), as I felt looking sort-of-like a minister would make it seem more real, even though it was real.
Su and Mauro wrote their own vows. I made a little speech about them and their big decision before I got to say various phrases like “speak now or forever hold your peace” (thankfully, no one appeared suddenly to disrupt the union), “by the power vested in me” and “I now pronounce you, man and wife.”
My job was now done.
These folks also seemed to be the caretakers of the Korean wedding rituals, including the outfits. After eating and drinking a bit, the bride and groom changed into Korean outfits that were custom made by the caterers, and the traditional ceremony began. In addition to the custom undergarments and fancy super-embroidered outer coverings, they also knew what was to be done when, by whom, and how. You get two services for one—catering and tradition upholding!
Part of the Korean ceremony consisted of Mauro and Su bowing to various family members, each in succession, and sharing a small cup of soju—a strong, traditionally rice-based drink, that is a little like vodka.
Natalie, who preformed on our last tour, was wedding planner, and Steven Reker, who also performed with us, was bartender. (Reker’s band, People Get Ready, have just finished a wonderful record.) Family members came from Brazil and Korea, and there were lots of musicians present as well.
Members of Forro In The Dark provided some of the music, and the party continued the next day at Nublu. I would like to be able to offer my services for other needs: marriages—gay, straight, Hindu or Sikh, exorcisms and private confessions, but I think for the time being I’ll stop here.