When getting married, your officiant plays a large role in the event. Here at the Holladay House Bed and Breakfast, we are proud to have Don Hughes perform ceremonies.
Don has lived in this area all his life, taking some time to move away, and then return. He was born in the neighboring town of Gordonsville, was married at the local Methodist church, and at one time had the keys to the county court house, sheriff station, and local service station. His roots are deep within the community and he has a sense of humor that will make anyone smile.
Don turned 74 this past year and has been married over 50 years to his wife, Lillian. Don loves to tease about the first time he met Lillian: “I met my wife in my bedroom” he says with a silly grin across his face. The truth behind the “scandalous” story: Somehow Lillian ended up at his parents’ house before a local dance in 1962. Don was in his bedroom studying and his mother was giving Lillian a tour of the house. He remembers he was sitting at his desk in his room when his mother introduced them to each other. He finally got around to asking her to marry him in 1965. How’s it going? “We are both Scorpio and haven’t killed each other yet.”
Working many jobs over the years, Don has been a paint store owner, a florist, a caterer, an EMT (where he helped birth a few local babies), and a funeral director. As Don puts it, he “takes care of people from the womb to the tomb.” Don loves to celebrate life and people at all stages of their journey on Earth and appreciates all the people he has met over the years.
What is it about Don?
A big grandpa to everyone, Don is one of the most welcoming people we know, which is why we cherish him being a part of the weddings at the Holladay House.
Don performs about 100 ceremonies each year and no two are alike. Every time he makes the ceremony special. “I try not to sound like recording.”
And he always means what he says. His humor and charm enhances any ceremony or defuses any situation. He remembers one couple who were so nervous he told them “Don’t worry about it! It’s just one thing, we will get to it.” Don wants the couple and their guests to feel relaxed and enjoy every moment of their special day. And being the couples’ special day, Don is adamant the couple is in the spotlight, not “Don the officiant”.
* Being on time and reliable is important to Don in his line of work; you can set the clock to Don. But, there was one time he was running a little late from the funeral home to the Holladay House (which really means he was right on time). Don started the ceremony with his funeral director name tag on his suit jacket. Half way through the ceremony the nervous couple noticed and started giggling during the ceremony. That little detail really lightened up the mood as Don said: “Now you can say you were married by the undertaker. You can say the undertaker took care of you before you died.”
* One day he had pronounced a couple “husband and wife” and after they kissed, the groom’s mother stood up and walked her son (the groom!) down the aisle and left the bride standing at the altar. Being the quick thinker he is, Don took the bride’s arm and escorted her down the aisle like it was a planned part of the ceremony.
* Having performed wedding ceremonies for over 30 years, Don has had the pleasure of performing some unique wedding services. One day, a young lady he knew called and wanted to have Don perform her wedding in a local cemetery. She told him that her grandmother was buried there and was promised to be at her wedding. So he arranged permission from the cemetery while the bride bought two grave spaces next to her grandmother. Don performed the ceremony under a trellis over the bride’s grandmother’s grave. Don remembers the event being incredibly meaningful and tasteful.
* Don has even performed a surprise wedding ceremony! Who was the surprised guest you ask??? Well, it was the bride! Too nervous to ask her to marry him beforehand, the groom arranged for Don and some honored guests to be at his house for a surprise wedding. When his girlfriend arrived at their home, Don walked up to the bride and said “I am here to marry you today.” The groom-to-be revealed the gathering was for them to be married. After getting over the shock of the situation the bride gleefully agreed and Don performed a beautiful ceremony.
* December 12th, 2012 (12-12-12) is a day that sticks out in Don’s mind. He performed six ceremonies on that day and was asked to do a 7th. He knew six would be a lot and had to turn down the 7th request.