New York (CNN)For the first time since R. Kelly and Aaliyah’s 1994 wedding, the minister who officiated spoke publicly about it as he testified Wednesday under subpoena at Kelly’s criminal trial.
On the day after the 27th anniversary of their wedding, Nathan Edmond, 73, a Chicago-area ordained minister, testified that he officiated for Kelly and Aaliyah, whose full name was Aaliyah Dana Haughton. She died in 2001.
Kelly’s marriage to the late singer Aaliyah is a central part of the Brooklyn federal case against Kelly after prosecutors allege a member of Kelly’s enterprise bribed a local official to create a fake ID so the marriage could take place. Prosecutors say Aaliyah was 15 when she wed then-27-year-old Kelly. The marriage was annulled after her parents found out about it.
Prosecutors allege Kelly was the leader of a criminal enterprise, and he is facing racketeering and sex trafficking charges. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Edmond testified he had never met Kelly or Aaliyah until the day of their wedding, and that he’d been asked by a friend he shared with Kelly to officiate the wedding as a favor.
“I didn’t think it was anybody special. I didn’t understand it at all,” Edmond testified.
He testified that he married the couple at a hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, in the Chicago area.
“The door opened to the bedroom and out stepped Aaliyah and Mr. Kelly,” Edmond testified.
Edmond said the couple wore matching jogging suits for the ceremony, which lasted less than 10 minutes.
“They both had one leg on the jogging suit up to the knee,” Edmond testified. “You couldn’t see her whole face because her hair was over half of her face.”
Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys asked Edmond whether Aaliyah appeared young at the time of the wedding. Prosecutors previously admitted as evidence a marriage license bearing Edmond’s signature that shows Aaliyah’s age to be 18 and Kelly’s to be 27 on August 31, 1994 — the day they married.
CNN has reached out to Aaliyah’s family for comment.
During the first week of Kelly’s trial, his former tour manager reluctantly testified against the singer about how he had bribed a worker at a local welfare office to make Aaliyah a welfare ID card, but that it did not show her age. Carolyn Harris, a supervisor at the Cook County, Illinois, clerk’s office, also testified about the process of obtaining a marriage certificate, and said the types of ID accepted by a clerk to apply for a marriage license are at the discretion of the clerk.
Edmond’s testimony took place via video conference on a TV screen placed across the courtroom from jurors, and he said he did not want to be there. Kelly, dressed in a suit and white mask, did not show emotion during the testimony.
Part of the reason Edmond has never spoken publicly before, despite frequent attempts by the media to contact him, he testified, was that he was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement before officiating the wedding.
“I kind of chuckled. (Kelly) asked me why did I do that (chuckle). I said it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. … It should have been … more airtight.”
Ultimately, Edmond did not sign the non-disclosure agreement but testified he gave Kelly his word and never spoke publicly about the marriage until Wednesday, when he was forced to do so because of the subpoena.