MY "SUPER BOWL OF LOVE: Wedding Officiant Rev. Louis Conselatore officiating the wedding of 2-time Pro Bowler and New York Giants great Zak DeOssie and his lovely wife Kate
As a New York Giants football fan, the greatest sports moments in the last decades were watching the Giants win Super Bowls with all my fanatic friends. As a wedding minister, wedding officiant and justice of the peace, I have experienced the joy of officiating over 1000 wedding ceremonies with high profile stars, as well as ordinary people like you and I. On Saturday, 4-28-12, these two roles of Giants fan and wedding minister came together for me like a soul kiss from God: I officiated the wedding of New York Giants star Zak DeOssie and his lovely bride Kate Hammond while Zak's Dad, former New York Giant linebacker Steve DeOssie, stood next to us. (Incidentally, they are the only father and son in NFL history to each win a Super Bowl with the same team)
As a child, I dreamed of playing in the NFL. After all, what could be better than glory, fame and riches, all while you play a fun game with millions of adoring fans cheering you on? But simply put, I just was not good enough and so after many twists and turns, I became a minister who specialized in wedding ceremonies. Little did I know that two of the great loves of my life would come together so spectacularly.
I was once asked to do a wedding where Elton John would be appearing as the entertainment during the reception. As much as one tells oneself that this is just another ordinary wedding, there is a certain sense of heightened awareness and sometimes anxiety when one knows that there is a lot of attention being paid to the particular event. I tried to tell myself that Zak DeOssie's wedding was just another regular wedding but everything was different.
When I arrived at the wedding location, I saw Kate and Zak in the distance and many people pointing at them and screaming out "Go Giants!" As I walked around before the wedding I saw many famous athletes, models and celebrities. Possibly one of the most unusual aspects of the wedding was that one half hour prior to the wedding, all of the guests were in their seats and ready to go. We actually started the wedding early which is quite rare, as almost all weddings start late. But everyone in attendance knew that something big was about to happen and they wanted to be part of it and they made sure they were early and they were ready.
I remember my first wedding ceremony many years ago and I was so nervous I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest. I didn't know if I would be well-received or if people would appreciate what I would do. But it went very well, and it felt like coming home, so I knew I would be doing a lot more wedding ceremonies. And nowadays I rarely, if ever, get nervous before a wedding.
Since I did feel a little anxiety, I prayed that I would put my ego aside, for that was where the nervousness was coming from. I didn't want to embarrass myself, or these famous NFL players that I admired, or the other people came to see something special. But I was nervous because my ego was fearful that I could possibly not live up to expectations for myself, this beautiful wedding couple, or all the people in the audience who wanted to witness something special. I prayed silently that I would just be an instrument of God's love and I wanted the focus to be on the love between Kate and Zak.
It felt so incredibly surreal when I walked out to lead the processional to begin the wedding ceremony. And then moments later I was standing up at the altar with Zak and his father Steve as we awaited Kate's entrance. It was so magical and honoring to be entrusted with bringing some magic and love into this ceremony which was so important to two of my heroes.
As we began, I could see the emotions stirring up between Zak and Steve and Kate. I am really good at sensing where people are coming from, and the connection between Kate and Zak could never be described as superficial. They were deeply entwined, clearly soulmates, and it was obvious that they knew what was truly important in life. There were many moments where Zak was crying, and his father Steve had tears in his eyes as well. The moment was extraordinary for me. I had watched them in Super Bowls. I had talked about them and read about them for many years with my friends and family. And now they were standing next to me, on one of the biggest days of their lives, feeling the the joy and magnificence of love.
The DeOssie's, father Steve and son Zak, have given me many moments over the years that had me smiling wide and crying tears of joy. It was my supreme honor to return the favor. Thank you for one of the best days of my life.