Carolina Bride

License to Wed

Rev. Patrick Maloy has pronounced more than 2,700 Charlotte couples man and wife. And he's not stopping there. A non-denominational minister, Maloy specializes in heartfelt and stress-free ceremonies, placing a major emphasis on vow writing. Carolina Bride sat down with him to see just what makes him the master of ceremonies.

What did it take for you to realize that weddings were your true calling? My wife Dottie started a career as a wedding director when she was 18. When I realized being a pastoral minister was not what I wanted to do, she suggested I try weddings. I said no, and it wasn't until the daughter of a dear friend of mine who passed away asked me to officiate her wedding that I reconsidered. I was still hesitant, but she looked me in the eye and said I had to do it. That wedding had such a beautiful spirit. Twenty-seven hundred weddings later, I'm doing what I was brought here to do, and Dottie's still saying 'I told you so.'

What types of ceremony options do you typically offer your couples? I get a feel for their spiritual background, provide examples of ceremonies and ask them about books or traditions that are important to them. I emphasize the vows, because those are promises that couples need to internalize and build a relationship with. Writing wedding vows is truly an art form, and generally I provide variations that couples pull apart and enhance to create what's most meaningful to them.

Do you have a record for the most weddings in a day? Between Dottie and I, we've had nine weekends off in 16 years. I've had seven weddings in one day, all an hour apart. At that point, you just pray that you don't hit a stoplight in between. But for me it's not about the quantity. Couples come to me for a number of reasons, be it that they need an interfaith ceremony, they're not a member of a congregation or don't have a denomination. There are a small number of pastors in Charlotte who can meet all those needs.

Do you have any specific advice for couples on their wedding day? I try to keep my brides as calm as possible - hence my Web site, calmbluewater.com - and keep my grooms from becoming a quivering mass of Jell-O. But seriously, I tell them there's absolutely nothing you can do that can ruin a wedding. We don't remember perfect things anyway. It's the quirky moments that happen that we remember most. And after all the money spent and all the planning that goes into the day, couples need someone who's responsible for their sanity. That's where I come in.

What's the best part of your job? When the bride appears, the world disappears. That's why I know I'm supposed to do this. The day that I don't feel that anymore is the day I don't schedule another wedding. Some of my weddings are even like family reunions.... They've relied on me for their vow renewals, their baptisms, even deaths in the family. The contact after the wedding is really important to me. I may not have a church and we may not meet every Sunday, but I'm fortunate to have a huge congregation of my very own.

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