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Free wedding!

Monday, December 14, 2009

I honestly don't have much to say about this one, because I have no idea what the deal is.

Will defray wedding expenses of any couple who are willing to have ceremony (Catholic or Episcopalian rites) performed under certain reputable auspices, slightly different from established customs, wedding to occur within ten days.  Address M.E.F., Herald 23d St. Branch.

Here's my best theory, although it's pretty weak.  I think that there was a couple planning to get married and it fell through for some reason or another - one of them backed out at the last minute, perhaps.  But the whole thing is already paid for, so they just figure, what the heck, we'll let someone else have our date.

But that seems a little bit of a stretch, and it sure doesn't explain the rest of the ad.  First of all, I know that Catholic and Episcopalian rites are pretty similar, but they are still different branches of Christianity.  Now as a non-Christian this is something I don't know a lot about, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that a Catholic priest can't (or more likely, wouldn't) perform an Episcopalian wedding, and vice versa.  I know someone who had to convert to Catholicism in order to have her wedding in her husband's church.  And that's recently.  This is, you know, before Vatican II, so it seems like they would have been a lot more strict about these things back then.  (But, as I said, this is something I know nothing about so I could well be very, very off the mark here.)  I'd say maybe there isn't a minister ready to go so they're just offering you your pick, but if that was the case, why not let them have a minister from any denomination whatsoever?

In any event, let's say that there's a logical explanation that would makes this Episcopalian or Catholicism thing work.  There's still the "slightly different from established customs."  I guess this being the 19th century, "slightly different from established customs" could really mean anything.  You know, today getting married in City Hall isn't out of the ordinary, but I guess back in the day (if such a thing was even possible) it would be quite abnormal.  So I suppose that doesn't have to mean that they'd be getting married in a cemetery at the stroke of midnight or anything.  It could just be what we'd consider an insignificant difference but at the time would have been worth mentioning.

But I still don't get why anyone's offering to pay for anyone else's wedding anyway!  Thoughts?

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©2009 Pam Epstein


M December 14, 2009 at 11:37 AM  

Hrm. Not sure where/when this ad was placed, but here's my theory: M.E.F. stands for something like the Mormon Evangelical Foundation or (something like that), and this was a sly way for a then upstart (and heretical) branch of Christianity to try to proselytize and either gain converts or acceptance.

What do you think, way out in left field or plausible?


Meg December 14, 2009 at 12:56 PM  

I'm Episcopalian, and while it's true that most of the services are very similar -- if you're not familiar with one of them you probably won't notice any difference between them -- you're right in thinking that due to the rules of the Catholic church (and maybe the Episcopal church back then) one priest would not have been allowed to perform the other ceremony (Catholic priest can't do Episcopal ceremony, etc.).

Maybe the venue isn't a church, and they have a choice of priests, but the arrangements for a Eucharist and singers and whatnot have already been made and can't be changed. If say musicians have prepared for one type of wedding ceremony they may not want to change to another, and so they have to keep the ceremony structured pretty much the same way? I'm just guessing.

Anonymous December 14, 2009 at 2:44 PM  

Intriguing. May I ask, what was the date on this?

Pam December 14, 2009 at 5:16 PM  

M & Meg - I think both your guesses are reasonable possibilities. Meg's makes sense logically - but it still doesn't explain the "slightly different from established customs."

movingfinger - mid-1890s.

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