February is Heart Month which is a national campaign that mobilizes Canadians to rally together in raising awareness and funds that have an enormous impact on the lives of all Canadians.
Through the generosity and compassion of volunteers, the Heart and Stroke Foundation is able to help Canadians prevent heart disease and stroke, save lives by enabling faster and better emergency medical response and treatment, and enhance support for survivors, families and caregivers.” (http://www.heartandstroke.ab.ca/site/c.lqIRL1PJJtH/b.5812127/k.694C/February_is_Heart_Month.htm
Health Canada advises that more than 1.4 million Canadians are living with heart disease. With more than 33,600 deaths annually, it has become one of Canada’s leading causes of death.
We’ve all heard the risk factors: smoking, sedentary lifestyles and lack of exercise, unhealthy diets – especially too much trans fats and sodium, obesity, diabetes, stress, family history and age. Heart Month challenges us to examine our lifestyles and change what needs to be changed to ensure we do not become one of the ‘mortal’ statistics. It also invites us to donate our money and time as volunteers with our local Heart and Stroke Foundation. For contact information visit the 211 South-West Ontario Community Services Database @ https://windsoressex.cioc.ca/record/WIN0659.
But February is also Heart Month on a different level. It is the month when the centuries’ old Valentine’s Day is celebrated, where lovers of all ages and differing relationships share their heart-filled love with others. This expression of love takes the form of candy, flowers, greeting cards, jewelry, romantic dinners, clothing, gift cards and an assortment of other gifts.
In the United States $13,290,000,000 is spent annually on Valentine’s Day and 180 million cards are exchanged and 198,000,000 roses are produced. Women purchase 85% of the cards, while men make up 73% of all flower purchases. With the average American consumer spending $116 on Valentine’s Day, it is no wonder that US retailers have their own love affair with this day.
Valentine’s Day is also one of the most popular days of the calendar year for couples wishing to “tie the knot” in marriage. Among the many hats that I wear in my retirement is that of registered Ontario marriage officiant. (www.civilmarriages.ca) I have been privileged to have married nearly 1000 couples in my lifetime. And, on February 14, I will be joining two Windsor area couples in marriage to start my 2016 wedding schedule. There is something very special about performing a wedding ceremony on Valentine’s Day.
Many of the couples I marry opt for traditional type wedding ceremonies performed at venues of their choosing, places like Hiram Walker’s, Willisted Manor, The Water’s Edge, McKenzie Hall, the Art Gallery of Windsor, the St. Clair Center for the Arts, various ethnic halls in Windsor Essex, public parks, the many golf courses and wineries in Essex County, as well as in private homes. I’ve married couples on the ‘Point’ of Point Pelee, Pelee Island, on boats in Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, and numerous other unique and amazing venues..
My message to couples that I marry is that they should choose a place and a wedding ceremony that reflects their unique love for one another. Occasionally, I am asked to perform theme weddings.
This past summer I was the ‘wizard’ who joined the King and Queen together in marriage at the Fogolar Furlan in a Lord of the Rings wedding. I have married couples on Halloween with attendees dressed in costumes. I married a couple five years ago at Devonwood Conservation Area where they, together with their officiant and guests, were dressed as zombies.
I also performed a wedding at the WFCU Centre where the required attire of all participating was hockey sweaters. As their officiant, I wore my # 19 Steve Yzerman Red Wings’ jersey. The bride wore a traditional white bridal dress with a cape over it with the Detroit Red Wing logo on the back, while the groom had the Toronto ‘Maple Leaf’ emblazoned on the back of his tuxedo jacket. Now that was an interesting couple!
I often get asked what it is like to be a wedding officiant. I usually reply, “officiating weddings is a lot more fun than funerals.” In all seriousness, being the officiant at a couple’s wedding is one of the greatest privileges and honors I experience in my life. A couple’s wedding day is without doubt one of the most important days a couple will experience as a couple. Recognizing this, I do my utmost to ensure that their wedding ceremony is an experience they will cherish for a lifetime.
The second most asked question I get is what have been the funniest things that have happened in weddings I’ve performed. Believe me, there have been many over the years. But if I had to choose the funniest it would be a wedding that I performed seven to eight years ago out in Wheatley at their conservation park.
The beautiful bride was extremely ‘gifted’ in the bosom department and wore a very low cut wedding dress that definitely showcased her ‘gifted-ness’. As the groom faced her and held her hands speaking his personal vows to her, he committed a most unfortunate slip of words. In attempting to describe his bride as his ’best’ friend, he referred to her as his ‘breast’ friend.
Recognizing his mistake, he stuttered and stammered and made matters only worse by saying, “I mean you are my best friend, not my breast friend”, This only served to exacerbate an already unfortunate situation for him. The poor bride turned red and developed red splotches on her neck and chest area, while everyone in attendance was doubled over in laughter. It took me a good two to three minutes before I could restore calm and proceed with the ceremony.
Another humorous incident occurred in a wedding last summer when towards the end of the ceremony I approached the couple with my right hand outstretched in front of me to convey a final blessing upon them. The bride, not paying attention to what I was doing, suddenly looked up and seeing my outstretched hand proceeded to give me a ‘high five’ slap on the hand. Not exactly what the moment was calling for, but funny nonetheless.
A final funny wedding incident I’ll share with you happened a few summers ago at the wedding of an older couple who married in a city park. It was a second marriage for both bride and groom, and mom was escorted down the aisle by her son.
He was a fairly heavy set chap in his mid to late thirties who seemed uncomfortable in the brown suit he was wearing for the occasion. Given his size, I would have thought he’d be wearing suspenders or a belt to secure his suit trousers, but he obviously wasn’t … Yep, about three quarters of the way down the aisle with mom on his arm, the trousers gave way to gravity and ended up around his ankles. Fortunately for him and for all present, he was wearing boxers that day!
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed your “Cup of Joe’ and have had a few chuckles. And, I wish all of you good ‘heart health’ and much love this February, the month of the “heart”.