Legendary wedding commissioner retires after thousands of weddings
Nomi Whalen has presided over the weddings of thousands of couples and is now calling it a career.
Whalen became a wedding commissioner after her own experience nearly 40 years ago when she married famed sportscaster Ed Whalen.
“There was only one marriage commissioner in Calgary when I married Eddie, and he didn’t look at us, he talked in a monotone and it was a nightmare, I cried” she said. “We got married again because he was, if I could dig him up, I’d shoot him, but he gave me the biggest gift of my life because I’ve been making up for him ever since.”
Whalen said she has learned a lot about marriage after being commissioner more than 6,000 times, like what the secret to a happy marriage is.
“Knowing how to get out of your own way,” she said. “You get stuck in something and you need to be right, you don’t need it.”
She has married people in all kinds of places, like on board an airplane in flight, at centre ice during a Flames game, and even being the officiant at the wedding of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Laureen. While she loves what she does, she said not every experience was great.
“I had one couple where the groom didn’t show up ever, game over, I guess he just lost his nerve or changed him mind, who knows? That was a nightmare,” she said.
Now she is retiring from the business, but not before coming full circle with the very last couple she wed, one of whom is the child of another couple she wed.
“It just blew me away because I had no idea that I had married the bride’s parents 30 years ago, and it just, goose-pimple stuff, really!” she said.
The bride said it was wonderful to link her wedding back to her parents all those years ago, and she loved what Whalen told her that day.
“Be in the moment, this is your time to be with the person you love and don’t get distracted by anything because you are going to regret it later, and we took her words of wisdom to heart and I don’t remember anyone else being in the room except us and her,” said Bailey Coffey.
Whalen says she will now devote her time to her art and writing, including an auto-biography she is working on, and while she has worked as a teacher, alderman, and as part of Alberta's Human Rights Commission, it’s the weddings she will remember with the greatest fondness.
“Being with people on this special day when they are making a commitment for the rest of their lives is absolutely precious, and every couple I ever married was precious to me.”