In honor of our anniversary, I'm migrating from my old blog to this one the text of our wedding ceremony. As I said then, very little of it is "original," as we shamelessly cribbed from various internet sources. However, the way it came together is ours, and it said what we wanted to say. It's wholly secular and it was admirably brief. We got a lot of compliments on it at the time, mostly, I suspect, because of the latter quality. Our friend Kapoo officiated the wedding for us and largely wrote his portions (he was excellent in the role of officiant and solemnizer!). Without further ado, I take you back three years to a wedding ceremony in central Ohio...
Call to Order
Kapoo: Welcome to all friends and family on this beautiful and joyful day, Lauren and John have asked me to extend a very warm welcome to you on this their wedding day, and to call upon all of you gathered here to be fellow witnesses with me in their marriage. You were each invited to join us today so that you may share in the joy that Lauren and John are feeling as they pledge their love and commitment to each other.
John and Lauren believe marriage is founded on that sort of sincerity and understanding, which leads to tolerance, confidence and trust. They feel it involves respect for each other's individuality and that most difficult of tasks, the acceptance of each other's weaknesses, prejudices and faults. They believe too that those qualities, which have attracted each to the other and brought them here today, can obviously be best developed during a life spent together. A happy marriage, they both know, will enable them to establish a home where there will be love and stability, where you, their family and also their friends will find welcome, peace, harmony and support, and which will be a base from which the influence of their shared, and we hope strengthened life today by this wedding ceremony, can extend.
Declaration of Consent:
Kapoo: John, will you tell your family and friends why you are here today?”
John: I am here today to tell you that Lauren is the person with whom I desire to share my life and my love; a person with whom I want to build a home and start a family.”
Kapoo: Lauren, will you tell your family and friends why you are here today?”
Lauren: I am here today to tell you that John is the person with whom I desire to share my life and my love; a person with whom I want to build a home and start a family.”
Charge to the Couple
Kapoo: Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and the presence of these your family, friends and witnesses, I am to remind you of the serious and binding nature of the relationship you are now about to enter.
Marriage is a commitment to life, to the best that two people can find and bring out in each other. It offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other human relationship can equal, a joining that is promised for a lifetime.
You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks - all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will and you will and we will”- those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe”- and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “ You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed- well, I meant it all, every word.” Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another- acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this- is my husband, this- is my wife.
from Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
It is good to love: because love is difficult. For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person...it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distances.”
from Owlsight by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon
This bond, this joining, is not meant to be a fetter. A joining is a partnership, not two people becoming one. Two minds cannot fuse, two souls cannot merge, two hearts cannot keep to the same time. If two are foolish enough to try this, one must overwhelm the other, and that is not love, nor is it compassion, nor responsibility. You are two who choose to walk the same path, to bridge the differences between you with love. You must remember and respect those differences and learn to understand them, for they are part of what made you come to love in the first place. Love is patient, love is willing to compromise—love is willing to admit it is wrong. There will be hard times; you must face them as bound warriors do, side by side, not using the weapon of your knowledge to tear at each other. There will be sadness as well as joy, and must support one another through the grief and sorrow. There will be pain—but pain shared is pain halved, as joy shared is joy doubled, and you each must sacrifice your own comfort to share the pain of the other. And yet, you must do all this and manage to keep each other from wrong actions, for a joining means that you also pledge to help one another at all times. You must lead each other by example. Guide and be willing to be guided. Being joined does not mean that you accept what is truly wrong, being joined means that you must strive that you both remain in the light and the right. You must not pledge yourselves thinking that there will be no strife between you. That is fantasy, for you are two and not one, and there will inevitably come conflict that it will be up to you to resolve. You must not pledge yourselves thinking that all will be well from this moment on. That is a dream, and dreamers must eventually wake. You must come to this joining fully ready, fully committed, and fully respectful of each other. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side by side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
Kapoo: Marriage is not a legal document. No pastor or priest or justice of the peace [or drama teacher] can create a marriage because a marriage, truly, is nothing except the promises made and kept by two individuals. Today John and Lauren stand before us to publicly declare their love and to share with us their marriage promises.
Lauren, what promises do you make?
Lauren: I, Lauren, ask you, John, to be my husband, my companion, my partner in life. I will love you, honor you, and see you for the extraordinary person that you are.
I acknowledge that I am whole and complete as I am, and that all the love, the wisdom, the nurturing, and the strength that I need reside within me.
I am marrying you not in the hope of getting these things, but with the promise of sharing these gifts with you so that you may have them in even greater abundance.
I want us to make a home together, grow old together, and during this life make a difference in our world, living consciously and deliberately, surrounded by those we love.
John, you are my friend, my lover, my teacher, and my reminder of the beauty in life. In all that life brings us, my love and friendship are yours.
Kapoo: John, what promises do you make?
John: I choose you to be no other than yourself, loving what I know of you and trusting what I do not yet know. I will respect you as an individual, a partner, and an equal. I promise to learn from you, to communicate openly, to honor our differences, and never to become a stranger to you. I want us to make a home together, grow old together, and together make better the lives of our families, friends, communities, and world, living consciously and deliberately, surrounded by those we love.
I promise to always work with you and never against you, to nurture your best self as you grow, trusting that you will do the same for me. I promise to love you like family, like a friend, and like a lover.
I will love you when love is simple and I will love you when love is complex. I promise to listen and share, to be truthful, respectful, faithful, and always to be kind.
We stand united, joining our lives that we may be strong as individuals, and stronger yet together.
Kapoo: Lauren and John have brought rings to present to one another as a symbol of their marriage vows today. Although there is no precise evidence to explain the origin of the tradition of exchanging wedding rings, the more ancient and widely accepted explanation, refers to the early Egyptian’s belief that a circle was the symbol of eternity--a sign that life, happiness, and love have no beginning and no end. A wedding ring, or circle, was placed on the third finger of the left hand, the ring finger, because it was traditionally believed that this finger was a direct connection to the heart -- the perfect spot to place a symbol, representing eternal love and commitment. The vena amoris, that is, the vein of love, runs directly from the “ring finger” to the heart.
John and Lauren: (repeating after Officiant) This ring I give you in token of my devotion and love, and with my heart I pledge to you all that I am. With this ring I marry you and join my life to yours.
Kapoo: No one but you can declare yourselves married. You have begun it here today in speaking your vows before this company, and you will do it again and again in the days to come, standing by each other, sharing all the sweet and the bitter of life. Each tender act, each loving word will be the declaration of what was marked here today.
Begin it now then, with a kiss.
Begin it now then, with a kiss.