I’ve already gone on record as to why I didn’t think that I would preach with an iPad anytime soon. So perhaps it might seem hypocritical of me to announce that I recently conducted a wedding ceremony using only an iPad. I’d like to say that my motive was to better inform you, my readers, by pushing the limits of the iPad’s use in pastoral ministry and reporting back my results. But my choice really came down to what was most practical. And isn’t that what you’re looking for anyway: Is the iPad practical for a pastor?
I knew in advance there would be no altar or table set up for the ceremony. That meant no place to set down any books or papers. I’d have to juggle everything (hymnal, Bible, sermon notes, marriage vows) in my hands during the wedding. It occurred to me that I could put everything I needed into a single document that I could scroll through during the service. So I typed in the words of the ceremony, the responsive readings, the Scripture lessons, prayers, etc. One bonus was that I could put the names of the couple where the blanks normally are in the agenda, guaranteeing I wouldn’t draw a blank or call the groom by the wrong name (wouldn’t be the first time). I cut and pasted my sermonette right in the middle as well.
My next question was what file format to use and what app to display it. I thought about converting the file to PDF and displaying it in GoodReader. But I liked the way the document looked fullscreen in Pages, and it scrolled well too — only up and down rather than side-to-side. Locking the screen meant that its orientation wouldn’t be flipping on me either. It was a breeze to sync the file on my laptop to the iPad though iTunes.
The ceremony was held 150 miles from my parish at a scenic ranch/resort not too far from the Sequoia National Park. It was an outdoor wedding — normally not a big deal, but this is central California in August. I was concerned not just about the heat, but also the glare from the sun. Fortunately, when I cranked up the brightness level on the iPad, I had no difficulties reading from it. As long as great drops of sweat didn’t fall on the screen, I’d be all right. I was glad I hadn’t used PDF, because as the afternoon grew hotter, I trimmed a few sentences here and there from the ceremony and from my sermon.
The wedding ceremony went without a hitch (well, except for the one that was planned). No one passed out from the heat. I decided to keep the iPad in the Apple case since it was less likely to slip through my sweaty fingers. Also I didn’t want the Apple logo on the back to look like a product placement. Scrolling through the service went smoothly.
But yes, I did have hard copies of everything nearby just in case. This isn’t my first rodeo.
Now I have a template for the next time I want to perform a wedding using just my iPad. For a church ceremony with the altar and lectern nearby, it’s less inconvenient to switch between hymnal, Bible and pastoral agenda. But this worked so well, I might not go back to the “old-fashioned way.” Have you used a tablet computer to conduct a wedding or other religious ceremony? Share your experience in the comments below.
Update: I assumed this was true, but here’s proof that I am nowhere near the “cutting edge” use of technology. This couple had an “iPad wedding” a year ago.