Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Ph.D.

I study people, technology, and the worlds they make

Get me to the church Los Altos History Museum on time

I’m going to a wedding tomorrow. It ought to be fun. It damn well better be. I’m officiating.

I’ve been working on my remarks, which otherwise are called the Marriage Ceremony, and doubtless will rework them until the last minute. (This is how all my talks go.) Fortunately, both the bride and groom want it short, so the challenge is to be brief and poetic, rather than long enough to give time for the caterers to set up. And since I won’t have any Powerpoints, I won’t be able to talk for long.

The process of becoming an officiant is interesting. In California, you go to the same county office where you get marriage licenses (which, blessedly, is no longer the same palce where you go to get divorces finalized– I can see the bureaucratic sense for putting them together, but come on), show some ID and pay $75, and get an appointment as a county official for a week (in case it rains) for the purpose of marrying this specific couple. There are also a few specific things you have to say at the ceremony for it to be recognized by the state.They give you a list.

My wife and I had David Hollinger officiate at our wedding. David was, without question, the person at Berkeley who I admired most both as a scholar and as a person. He’s also someone who has a great talent for public speaking, and unlike many academics, he takes religion and ceremony seriously. I knew he thought it was an honor to be asked, but at the time I didn’t realize quite how substantial a thing it is.

Funny that this would be my view now, rather than at my own wedding. But maybe I was somewhat preoccupied with being the groom.


  1. The smart (and overbearing) bride would write the remarks FOR you, as I did for my very kind and very patient judge officiant. Offer *you* another semi-public forum? I don’t think so. 🙂

  2. Weel, the bride did give me a draft of remarks, so I’ve got something to work from.

    And there’s a difference between this blog and wedding, thank you very much. The wedding will draw a bigger audience. And I don’t think anyone cries over what I write!

  3. And just for clarification (he typed hurriedly), I’d describe the bride as smart, but definitely not overbearing! Don’t want to get into trouble.

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