Dear Ann:

I am in total agreement with the Catholic bishop who hates weddings. I am a Protestant pastor in Illinois, and I also hate weddings. Too many couples have never been inside a place of worship, and do not know how to conduct themselves in a church. Their weddings have no spiritual content. They are theatrical productions, directed by the bride's mother. I will be retiring soon, and what I will miss the least are the weddings.

Anonymous, of course, in Illinois

I am still reeling from the bags of mail that resulted from the letter written by the Catholic bishop who hates weddings. It is the heaviest response since the heated debate on how to hang toilet paper. Keep reading for additional comments:

* From Miami: I will let you decide how I feel about doing weddings after 42 years: My most vivid memories are of the best man, intoxicated, of course, who dropped his pants and followed the bridal couple down the aisle after the ceremony. At the reception, he appeared in bike shorts and formed a conga line. The most memorable comment was from a groom, who announced loudly, "Here comes the preacher, who shows up any time there is free food." But my all-time favorite is the question from the mother of the bride, who asked, "Will you be staying for dinner after the service?" I replied, "Yes, and my wife will be with me." She responded, "Are you aware that this Palm Beach hotel charges $65 a plate?"

* Houston: I'm a clergyman who is interested in the letter from the Catholic bishop. I hope he reads this. At one time, the clergy was respected. This is no longer true. I have been asked to bless a pet rabbit at Easter, a racehorse in Kentucky, and a new Buick. It might help him to know that he is not alone.

* Coeur d'Alene, Idaho: I am a clergyman but also a "man of the world," and my hormones work very well, thank you. I am embarrassed when newlywed couples engage in a passionate kiss after being joined in holy matrimony. It looks like a bedroom scene from a B movie.

* Goshen, N.Y.: I recently attended a wedding where the "theme" was a square dance. The wedding party dressed in country attire, and the mother of the bride sang "People Will Say We're in Love." For a while, I thought I was on Broadway. I felt sorry for the minister, who looked extremely uncomfortable.

* Silver Spring, Md.: I am an Episcopal minister. Many Roman Catholics who are divorced and can't get married in their own church come to me. The last three weddings I performed, the couples had been living together for several years. I feel like a hypocrite when I marry such couples.

* Harrison City, Pa.: Five minutes before the wedding, there was no father of the bride. A search party went to his home, and found him passed out, drunk. They did their best to sober him up, and finally poured him into the car. The wedding began, and when it came to the part "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?," he looked at me and replied, "Your wife and I do." I had to physically turn him around and march him to his seat.

* Rev. John in Buffalo, N.Y.: The mother of the bride phoned to ask what material the church was made of. I told her it was stone. "Oh," she replied, "that won't do. We're looking for a wooden church." Another bride asked if her dog could walk her down the aisle. I asked, "Are you blind?" She replied, "Oh, no, but Buster is a member of the family, and he would be hurt if he weren't included."

Dear Readers: This is Ann talking. It's plain to see why so many members of the clergy hate weddings. There will be more on this subject tomorrow.

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