Let’s call this the “Tale of the Battling Flower Girl.”
One of my very first weddings took place when I was serving in a semi-rural church in South Central Wisconsin. The couple was quite young, each being about 20 years old. The bride had her heart set on a very formal wedding, with quite a large wedding party, including both a ring bearer and a flower girl. The Groom had decided that his groomsmen and the ring bearer would all be dressed in fancy suits, complete with Panama Hats and walking sticks. The bride was in the traditional white dress, while her bridesmaids all were in lovely gowns with matching hats.
The night of the wedding rehearsal, everything went perfectly. I was confident that the next day, the wedding would go off without a hitch. I was wrong.
I had not anticipated that the night before the wedding, while the rehearsal would only take about one hour, the rehearsal dinner would go on until after midnight. The entire wedding party engaged in a huge feast that went until the wee hours of the morning, fueled by assorted adult beverages, and while I cannot swear to it, I do believe (from the smell that was coming from the parking lot of the VFW where the dinner was being held), many indulged in smoking a friendly joint or two.
The next day, the wedding was scheduled for around 1 in the afternoon. As the members of the wedding party arrived at the church, I could see that many were extremely tired (and even hung over from the night before). The worst though was the young ring bearer (the cousin of the groom, who at the time was about 6), and the flower girl (the bride’s little sister) who was 8. Both of them had been kept up at the rehearsal dinner and filled with caffeinated soda until their respective parents took them home. Needless to say, they were not in very good moods when they got to the church. Especially the flower girl, who insisted that she didn’t want to have any part of the ceremony at all. Having raised two children myself, I knew how to appeal to her vanity, and explained to her that her job was even more important than mine, as nobody was going to want to take pictures of me, but everybody would be taking pictures of her.
The time for the ceremony finally arrived. Lined up in front of the chancel, bride and the groom holding hands, the best man and the maid of honor standing right behind them, and right behind them, the ring bearer and the flower girl.
So there I was, reading the vows to them when out of the corner of my eye, I could see the little ring bearer, resplendent in his suit and Panama Hat, raise the walking stick that each of the groomsmen had been outfitted with, and taking a few steps sideways, casually hit the flower girl.
She did not take this well. With a shout of anger, she turned and began to punch the little ring bearers lights out. The adults, too shocked (or too hungover, take your pick) just watched in amazement as the two began to punch, kick and struggle on the floor, rolling under the front pew, (in the process dropping the rings with skidded under the adjancent pews and took a few minutes afterwards to find). Finally, their respective parents came, gathered them up, and carried them both out of the church screaming.
Well, finally, we got the wedding going again, and soon the bride and groom had sealed the deal with a kiss, and arm in arm walked down the aisle as man and wife. A happy state of affairs that alas only lasted few months. But that would be another tale.