Many of the couples whom I meet ask me to add some humour into their ceremony wherever I see fit. Most couples are less formal and more easy going and would like that reflected in the ceremony. However, I am not Robin Williams who has been working improv for years. He knows his material and can deliver it to his audience. His audience is also expecting to have a laugh and come with that mindset. I have never met this couple’s audience – so it is unpredictable how they will react. I have learned from on-stage theatre performances I’ve been in, that each night has a different audience. The audience reveals its mood once the curtain opens and the play begins. Similarly, I don’t know a couple’s audience until I stand at the front and gauge their reactions to what I am saying. The audience may feel serene or rowdy. So adding pre-determined humour can backfire on the couple if they misjudged beforehand how the audience will react.
One good use of humour that I do use is to relieve stress. It requires good timing and judgement to say the right thing at the right time. The expectations that build up to the ceremony sometimes results in a lot of stress. When an unanticipated situation comes up it may become a big deal. The right application of humour can diffuse the incident.
It was one fine fall evening at a country club on the outskirts of Ottawa. The wedding was outdoors with a setting sun. It was a beautiful scene for a lovely wedding. The guests had arrived and we were getting ready to start the procession. We then started hearing gun shot blasts every few seconds. They would stop and then restart. Someone in the neighbourhood was skeet shooting. The crowd was tensing up. I could see the groom pacing. As the bride entered with her father, I could see she was about to lose it. They walked to the front, the father handed off to the groom and the couple positioned themselves in front of me. You could really feel the tension. I then said to the bride, “If you wanted a shotgun wedding, we could have done this differently!” Everyone burst into laughter and the tension broke. We proceeded to have the beautiful wedding in the setting sun.