|My awesome cousin stepping up to help with the aisle runner.
If you start Googling (really, Blogger? You red squiggly “Googling?”) “ceremony scripts” or “ceremony wording,” the vast majority of your results will conform to the layout of a religious ceremony. Don’t get me wrong, every wedding I’ve been to has used one of these layouts and has resulted in a beautiful and moving ceremony. But for us, these didn’t work. And to be frank, I didn’t really care all that much what the Officiate even said.
That is, until I realized that he had to say something and that that something was going to have the attention of everybody in the room and, in a way, define our marriage for us and to our family and friends. It was our one chance to let everybody in on how we felt about what we were doing that day and how we felt about one another. All of a sudden, VERY important. And since Google was not able to produce the perfect ceremony for us, we had to start from scratch.
|My flowergirl nieces in the yellow dresses they picked out and pink Chucks.
Choosing the Wording
Our extremely awesome Officiate, Reverend Adam Robersmith from Second Unitarian Church in Chicago (where I started attending shortly after our engagement), met with us to talk about our relationship and get to know us a bit as a couple. At our consultation, he gave us some example scripts from couples that had similar feelings about marriage as we did/do and they all sounded great, but they just weren’t…. us. What we did get from these examples, however, was a solid outline of the points that are typically included in wedding ceremonies regardless of religious affiliation. A starting point = progress!
|Our ring bearer and nephew. Quite possibly the cutest kids I’ve ever seen… and, rightfully, the show stealer.
For those of you going through the ceremony writing process yourselves, here is the rough outline of key elements that we worked with:
Short, sweet, and to the point!
Once we got started with what we wanted to say, the exact words were very difficult to find. It got us thinking about what our relationship really did mean to us and what the point of us getting married was. Big picture things.
|We chose not to have my dad officially “give me away” as I am not property, but we did have him…drop me off. 🙂
The meaning behind what a wedding and marriage is varies for each couple, I’m sure. But for us, there was one glaringly obvious point that was being missed in all of these talks: if you are discussing what to put in your ceremony, you are among the group of couples allowed to have a recognized ceremony. Some couples with feelings like ours don’t have the right to fulfill these feelings through a lifelong marriage! We were going to invite guests to our wedding that weren’t able to have a wedding of their own?! That’s a bit of a slap in the face, no? It has become a touchy subject in our nation – what is marriage and who is allowed to enter into one – and, being the outspoken individuals my husband and I are, we decided to put in our two cents with our ceremony. Putting ourselves in the shoes of those that can’t get married helped us realize the “why” that is so hard to put into words.
So, here you have it; our millionth revision after searching and searching for the absolute best words to describe our feelings towards each other, about marriage, and about love in general.
I think we nailed it.
Family, friends: we have gathered here today to celebrate the union of Crystal and Rafael. For them, this marriage is the pinnacle act of their adoration of one another. It is both the ultimate expression of their love and commitment, and their public pledge of a love that will endure their lifetimes.
Love is what unites us on this day. It fills the seats in this room. A wedding is a day-long celebration of love. A marriage is the lifelong commitment to it and to each other. This commitment joins more than hearts. It unites everything that was solely his or hers before -including the families that raised them.
Mark Twain once said that “a marriage makes two fractional lives a whole. It gives to two purposeless lives a work, and doubles the strength of each to perform it. It gives to two questioning natures a reason for living.”
I invite you to simply breathe for a moment, so that, as we gather to witness and celebrate, we may all be completely present to the commitment which Crystal and Rafael make today.
Crystal and Rafael have chosen a passage as inspiration for their love on this day. This passage, read by Susan C., is taken from the Majority Opinion of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling in the historic case of Goodridge vs. The Dept of Public Health in which the court held that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was in direct conflict with the Constitution of Massachusetts’s promises of due process and equal protection to all residents. This reading displays Crystal and Rafael’s awareness and gratitude of the privilege they have to choose one another today…
“The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. Marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family…The right to marry means little if it does not include the right to marry the person of one’s choice. Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.”
On Love – by Rev. Adam
A union of love is one of the most remarkable, most courageous, most daring and hopeful human acts: the promise to share life together on all levels – physical, economic, spiritual – a promise made in the face of the certainty of death, the certainty of change, and the uncertainty of everything else.
For those of you gathered here today, family and friends, I ask that you continue to show your support to Crystal and Rafael as they begin their life together. No marriage exists in isolation. In moments of happiness and achievement and celebration, rejoice with these two as you do today. Stay a part of their lives. Call, email, visit. When you see them lose track of their best natures, remind them of this moment and of the best you know in them. Remind them of the promises you witnessed today and of their tenderness and of their declaration of love. By being here today, you are part of the community that will enable their marriage to thrive and be a source of delight and strength to them and to you.
Feast with them, celebrate with them, and thank them often for being who they are. You are part of this covenant, these promises, too, and I ask you to take up your part with joy and love.
To say what we feel most deeply to our partners, in front of the people who love us, makes our feelings tangible. By making vows, we are changed.
In this moment, you will be transformed by offering your truths, dreams, and promises to each other. What was once held in private, will be known by friends and family. You will give yourselves to each other in a way that cannot be forgotten, cannot be mistaken. In this moment, through your love and your willingness to speak it aloud, your lives change through your commitment to each other.
Let us all take a moment in stillness, as a time to cherish the love we have experienced, the love and commitment which is shared here today.
[Moment of Silence]
Now, I invite you, Rafael, and you, Crystal, to exchange your vows.
[Groom] – I, Rafael, choose you Crystal, to be my best friend, my partner, and my wife. I promise to love you from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.
[Bride] – I, Crystal, choose you Rafael, to be my best friend, my partner, and my husband. I promise to love you from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.
Affirmation of Intentions
Officiant – Do you, Rafael, take Crystal to be your lawfully wedded wife?
[Groom] – I do.
Officiant – Do you, Crystal, take Rafael to be your lawfully wedded husband?
[Bride] – I do.
The Exchange of Rings
These rings are a symbol of the unbroken circle of love. May these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken here today.
[Groom] – This ring symbolizes my commitment to you from this day forward.
[Bride] – This ring symbolizes my commitment to you from this day forward.
Declaration of Marriage
May the love and affection you have for each other on this day, sustain you both today, at the start of your new life, and throughout your journey together. Share with each other the laughter and adversity that comes your way. May your lifetimes be filled with love and joy.
Rafael and Crystal, having witnessed your vows for marriage with all who are assembled here with you, I announce with great joy that you are from this time on, husband and wife.
You may now kiss the bride!
::Cue “You’re My Best Friend” by Weezer:: We did it!
We also affirmed our commitment to the rights of the LGBTQ community by making a donation to the Human Rights Campaign on behalf of our wedding guests in lieu of wedding favors. The announcement was printed on the back of our programs.
|Mr. & Mrs.!!!
We learned a lot about our relationship and the meaning of what we were doing on our wedding day. Our ceremony ended up saying exactly what we wanted it to in exactly the right way and went from being just a formality to the most important and memorable part of the day. It is the one part that we each contributed to equally, and I wouldn’t change a thing.