Now, I always try to tell couples that the more bells and whistles they add, the more things can go wrong, but they mostly don't listen. In this case, they desired to have the actual rings brought in by the Ringbearer (Matthew, not Frodo, in this case); usually, I have them on my pinkie and there are fake rings on the pillow. But Matthew was a sturdy eleven years old, and capable of discretion, so they wanted the rings entrusted to him. Instead of a pillow, they were tied to a top hat with decorative black and white ribbon.
I made sure I got a peek at the knots before the ceremony. They looked like standard shoelace bows, and I was assured they would give way with a mere tug. When I called for the rings, however, we had an Awkward Moment: the bow came loose easily, but someone had tied each ring into some kind of double overhand knot that I couldn't easily loosen. My one hand was full of service book, Bible, and glasses. There was no place to put things. The groom started to move out of position to help me untie the rings. I decided the time had come to act. I pulled my knife out of my pocket and had the ribbons slit in half a shake. The Bride, wide-eyed, said under her breath, "You GO, Pastor." And the Show Went On.
The whole secret of performing liturgy is to never show that you are flustered. Whatever odd, unplanned thing you find yourself having to do, you always do it with grace and dignity, as if you did it in full vestments in front of two hundred people every day. After thirty-five years of ministry, I think I could peel and eat a banana and make it look like we'd rehearsed it.
Anyway, it all worked out. Everyone was beautiful and handsome and smiling. The music was wonderful. The sun broke out to make a beautiful day. And the photographer got all the pictures ahead of the ceremony, so everybody got to go straight to the reception without waiting for the bridal party to show up (now, that's being a good host and hostess!). Yay! for everybody. It was a great wedding.