Thursday, August 27, 2009

Our Ceremony.

Since I'm still waiting on more pictures to surface, today, I'll provide the text from our wedding ceremony. I LOVE this ceremony. True story, I'd just sit and read and re-read it before the wedding. I just thought it was so fitting.

Throughout the process, we had said we wanted to be married in a ceremony that spoke to us -- not just a traditional ceremony because "we're supposed to." That's not us, and that wasn't how we wanted to start our marriage.

One of the best compliments I could have received that day was "I just loved the ceremony," or off-shoots of that. We received so many of those, I was shocked. I didn't expect people to embrace it, as 80+% of the guests are Catholic, and have only most attended Catholic weddings.

The bottom line is we did what we felt suited us best, and because people saw the honesty and thoughtfulness in it, they liked it. Or at least they claimed they did!

Oh well. So, without further adieu, here's the text: (**last names have been removed for privacy, as this blog is searchable**)



Good morning!
Everyone, please be seated.

Before we get started, let me introduce myself and explain a little about the ceremony.
My name is Nick. As many of you already know, I am a good friend of Tom and Beth, and this is the first wedding I have officiated.

Beth, Tom and I have worked together to create a ceremony that is meaningful for them and celebrates the love and affection they share with you: their family and friends.

You all are as much a part of this as Tom, Beth and even myself. You are not here to simply hear words uttered in ceremony, or just to witness the first kiss between husband and wife.

So, we ask for your active participation in this ceremony, just as you are active in their lives. You should feel free to clap and cheer and laugh as the mood strikes you.
And towards the end, I will ask you to join me, in pronouncing them a married couple.
Beth, Tom,
You're getting married!
(*hopefully audience will clap*)

Before we start, take a breath and look around you. All the planning and preparation, has come to fruition.

Your family, your friends, have all gathered to share in this morning with you. We have friends from childhood, high school, college, and your workplaces. We have brothers, and sisters, nieces and cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and dearest of all, moms and dads.
Today, we bring together not just two wonderful people, but two wonderful families.
Thank you all for coming.

Box, Wine & Love Letter Ceremony
Before we proceed with the rings and vows, Beth and Tom have chosen as a couple to perform a box, wine, and love letter ceremony.

*(reach down and pick up the box from behind the altar*)

In my hands, I have a box, a bottle of wine, and two glasses, and Beth and Tom have love letters from each to the other. The letters describe the good qualities they find in one another, the reasons they fell in love, and their reasons for choosing to marry.
They have given much thought to these letters, and they have been sealed in individual envelopes. Neither Tom, nor Beth has seen what the other has written.

Beth and Tom, should you ever find your marriage enduring serious hardships, as some marriages do, you are to, as a couple, open this box, sit and drink the wine together, then separate and read the letters you wrote to one another on the day you were united as a couple.
By reading these love letters, you will reflect upon the reasons you fell in love and chose to marry each other here today and share a new resolve to strengthen your relationship.

The hope is, however, that you will never have a reason to open this box. And if this is the case, you are to open it to share and enjoy its contents on your 20th anniversary!

Tom and Beth, please seal the box.
(*Beth and Tom put letters into the box with a lid, where they tie the bow on top of it together*)
At this point, I’d like to read a piece titled “Union” by Robert Fulghum. Beth and Tom feel strongly that this reading represents their relationship, and their reason for being here today.
Union by Robert Fulghum

“You have known each other for years, through the first glance of acquaintance to this moment of commitment. At some moment, 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. Just two people working out what they want, what they believe, what they hope for each other. 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. You have learned that good company and friendship count for more than good looks. And you’ve learned that marriage is a maze into which we wander – a maze that is best got through with a great companion. 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.”

And with that, Beth and Tom will begin their vows.
Beth and Tom, please join hands and look at each other.
These are the hands of your best friend, of today and every day. These are the hands that will work along side yours as you build your future together. These are the hands that will lovingly hold your children. These are the hands that will help you as you struggle through difficult times. And lastly, these are the hands that, even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours.

My wish for you today is that you will be able to clear your heads and try to remember every word and cherish this memory. For most people, this is the most memorable few minutes of their life. So my wish for you today is that you enter into your vows with conviction, with your hearts open.

Tom, please go first:
Tom: I, Thomas Chester, choose you, Elizabeth Anne, to be my wife (PERSONAL VOWS – 30 seconds)
Beth: I, Elizabeth Anne, choose you, Thomas Chester, to be my husband (PERSONAL VOWS – 30 seconds)

May I please have the rings?
(*Best Man gives rings to Nick*)

Rings have endured as a symbol of love and commitment because of their strength, durability and shape. These rings represent your home in each other. Every time you look at your ring, remember this night. Remember the feeling of excitement, the look in each other's eyes, and the love in your heart.

As you exchange rings, declare your commitment to one another.
(*Nick gives Beth’s ring to Tom*)
Tom, please repeat after me:
Beth, take this ring as a token of my love

which is true and ever-lasting.

With this ring, I thee wed.

Do you, Tom, take Beth as your wife, to love and support her, to treat her lovingly and with respect, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, and to be a faithful, committed partner, for all the days before you?
Tom: I do

(*Nick gives Beth’s ring to Tom*)
Beth, please repeat after me.
Tom, take this ring as a token of my love

which is true and ever-lasting.

With this ring, I thee wed.

Do you, Beth, take Tom as your husband, to love and support him, to treat him lovingly and with respect, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, and to be a faithful, committed partner, for all the days before you?
Beth: I do

The engagement ring is a symbol of promise and intention. Now the intention is realized
and the promise fulfilled. Please place your engagement ring on Beth’s finger over
her wedding band to symbolize that the love that brought you together will always protect and sustain your marriage.

Traditional Celtic Handfasting Ceremony
What is about to take place is a Traditional Celtic Handfasting ceremony. While at one point in Celtic regions, and still today in Scotland, this was recognized as a legal form of marriage, Beth and Tom have opted to participate in this ceremony as a lasting reminder about the honesty, sincerity, and commitment required of a marriage.

Nick: Please join hands. Tom, will you cause Beth pain?
Tom: I May
Nick: Is that your intent?
Tom: No
Nick: Beth, will you cause him pain?
Beth: I may
Nick: Is that your intent?
Beth: No
Nick: Will you share each other's pain and seek to ease it?
COUPLE: We will
Nick: First cord is draped across the bride and groom's hands
Beth, will you share his laughter?
Beth: Yes
Nick: Tom, Will you share her laughter?
Tom: Yes
Nick: Will both of you look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other?
COUPLE: We will
Nick: Second cord is draped across the couples hands
Beth, will you burden him?
Beth: I may
Nick: Is that your intent?
Beth: No
Nick: Tom, will you burden her?
Tom: I may
Nick: Is that your intent?
Tom: No
Nick: Will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union?
Nick: Drape third cord across the couples hands
Beth, will you share his dreams?
Beth: Yes
Nick: Tom, will you share her dreams?
Tom: Yes
Nick: Will you dream together to create new realities and hopes?
COUPLE: We will.
Nick: Drape fourth cord across the couples hands
Nick: Tom, will you cause her anger?
Tom: I may
Nick: Is that your intent?
Tom: No
Nick: Beth, will you cause him anger?
Beth: I may
Nick: Is that your intent?
Beth: No
Nick: Will you take the heat of anger and use it to temper the strength of this union?
Nick: Drape fifth cord across the couples hands
Nick: Beth, Will you honor him?
Beth: I will
Nick: Tom, Will you honor her?
Tom: I will
Nick: Will you seek to never give cause to break that honor?
COUPLE: We will
Nick: Drape sixth cord across the couples hands. Tie cords together while saying:

The knots of this binding are not formed by these cords but instead by your vows. Either of you may drop the cords, for as always, you hold in your own hands the making and the breaking of this union.

Group Blessing

Each of you are here today because you bring something special to the lives of Beth and Tom. Some of you have known one or both of them for years - and some of you are
meeting one of them for the very first time today. But whether you’re an old friend or a newly acquired relation, you have a special place in their hearts. Likewise, you have a special purpose. As beloved family and friends, it is you to whom they’ll turn in the coming years, whether in joy or in sorrow. It is you with whom they’ll share their happiness, and you to whom they’ll bring their pain. You will watch their marriage mature; you will watch their children grow.And when hard times come, and the loving support of friends and family is needed, Beth and Tom hope to be able to turn to you, just as they will turn to each other.

And so they ask that you commit to them, as they are committing to one another. That just as they pledge to support and protect the other, you pledge to support and protect their relationship, today and always."

When prompted, please answer “We do”.

They ask: Do you offer this man and woman your blessing as husband and wife?
Please say, we do. (We do.)
And do you offer their marriage your support, as loving friends and family?
Please say, we do. (We do.)

Tom and Beth, you have signed the legal paperwork. You have received the blessing of your family and friends, made vows, and exchanged rings.

Now, I ask everyone to join me in this pronouncement, saying together, in full voice:

And please repeat after me:
We, your family and friends,
now pronounce you husband and wife!

Tom, you may kiss the bride

(*Beth and Tom kiss! Hopefully everyone else cheers.*)

I am very happy to introduce, for the first time as a married couple,
Tom and Beth!

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