Monday, July 28, 2014

Our Ceremony

We set out to create a personalized ceremony that would recognize the participation of our community and be filled with music. Whenever I read it over, I'm happy with how we captured the essence of our relationship and our intentions in life with each other. Others seemed to agree, since we received several compliments on how moving it was. At the bottom of this post is a list of all the resources I used to write the ceremony, as well as our whole ceremony script for others to steal in kind, which you can also download here

We were originally inspired by the idea of a Quaker wedding ceremony (as seen on A Backyard Wedding) where anyone is free to get up and speak, much like Quaker religious ceremonies. However, I came to realize that a) I was worried the ceremony would run on too long and cut into other wedding time and b) my controlling nature would not allow for that. Instead, we asked specific people to participate in the ceremony. We ended up with a friend officiating; a friend playing jazz keyboard for the processional and recessional; two musical performances; and words from grandparents on each side.

We knew that we wanted a friend or family member to officiate, rather than a stranger. We lucked out with Evan's friend Ian, who has great stage presence and composure. I dislike speaking my own emotions aloud, so I didn't want to read my own vows, and I was happy that Evan didn't want to either because he thought he would tear up too much. I am very grateful to Ian for being willing to read the words we wrote.

As a writer, it was important to me to carefully craft the exact words that would be spoken during the ceremony. It was a process that I really took my time to enjoy. True to my thorough nature, I pored over as many wedding vows and readings as possible–on several blogs, as well as the book The Wedding Ceremony Planner–when Evan was away for a weekend. I compiled all of the lines that spoke to me and then edited them down. It's fascinating how a line that sounds like generic love language to one person can be meaningful to another. I also felt the need to edit, edit, edit because so much suggested wedding language repeats the sentiment of the vows in other parts of the ceremony. The next weekend, Evan and I spent an afternoon going over it together and chose what to include. During the ceremony itself, I realized that the act of deciding on the vows with Evan was actually just as meaningful to me as when they were spoken aloud.

We chose to say "I will" and "We will" rather than "I do," because I read somewhere that this acknowledges continuing to act on your vows in the future, not just making a promise in the present. A couple other unique touches: We added a line to commit not only to how we will treat each other, but also to how we will treat the world, which was inspired by Sara's ceremony from 2000 Dollar Wedding. At the end, it was Ian's idea to have our wedding guests pronounce us married, since he wasn't actually ordained and didn't have any special authority, and since we were already legally married the week before. It was a nice way for our community to acknowledge their role in our wedding ceremony.

Our immediate family and best men/ladies all chose to give toasts rather than speak in the ceremony. Evan's grandfather agreed to give some marriage advice during the ceremony, and is it turns out, he wanted Evan's grandmother up there too. Then, when they were done, my grandfather was moved to get up and speak, which was not planned, but did turn out to be a sweet moment.

Evan was part of a choir that sang "Set Me as a Seal" during his cousin's wedding at the farm three years ago. Sadly, I wasn't at that wedding, but I have sung and appreciate that piece, so we were inspired to have family and friends sing it at our wedding too.

Afterward, a few people wanted to hug us immediately, but then we made our escape before it turned into a receiving line. We headed off into the fields to sneak a moment alone together, with our photographer trailing us.

A Practical Wedding: Sample Vow Roundup
A Practical Wedding: Tookkit for Writing Wedding Ceremonies
Wedding Bee: Hand-Writing Our Wedding Ceremony
2000 Dollar Wedding: Write Your Own Ceremony Script
Another Damn Wedding: Our Ceremony
Kiss My Tulle: Our Wedding Ceremony and Vows
A Backyard Wedding: A Quaker Ceremony

Our Ceremony Script
download here

[Tim plays "Kiss on my list" by Hall & Oates for bridesmaids
Followed by "Julia" by the Beatles for the bridal procession]

Welcome! Please take a seat.
[Ian introduces himself]

On behalf of Evan and Julia, thank you for coming to their wedding at
this beautiful place, Deer Hollow Farm, which is familiar to many of you 
as the site of annual parties and a favorite retreat for
Evan and his family for almost 20 years.

Today, we recognize their decision to join their lives in marriage.
We celebrate the love they have found in each other and
the beginning of their journey together as life partners.

The photographers’ photos will be available online after the wedding,
so we ask that you put away your cellphones and cameras
to be present in this moment.

Community Statement
You were invited here because you are the
people who mean the most to Evan and Julia.
Today represents not only the joining of Julia and Evan,
but also the joining of their families and friends.
A marriage needs the help of a community who will be there
to stand by the couple during hard times and to share in happy times.
May we always do everything in our power to support the
union that will be made here today.

Choir Performance
[Choir performs “Set Me as a Seal”]

Marriage Advice
[Evan's grandparents speak]

Second Musical Performance
[Aaron and Carrie perform “All the Right Reasons” by the Jayhawks

Reflection on Our Relationship
Marriage is a bond to be entered into only after
considerable thought and reflection.
We are all always growing, and when you marry, you commit to
witnessing and caring for the ongoing growth of your partner.
In marriage, you promise to love not only as you feel now,
but also as you intend to feel.
In marriage, you must keep your love alive through the choices you make 
moment by moment, day after day, and year after year.

Julia and Evan have asked me to express why they are choosing each other.
From the beginning, they fit naturally into each other’s lives.
As most of you know, they share many common interests—
a love of music, good food and cooking.
They work together at the food coop, bike together around the city,
and have fun with each other’s friends.

They have found the rhythms of living together to be
healthy, relaxing and creatively engaging.
They trust and respect each other and appreciate each other’s intelligence.
Their affection makes them both feel loved every day, and
they will feel proud and lucky to call each other husband and wife.

Julia appreciates Evan’s focus on enjoying life’s simple pleasures,
his easygoing, genuine and open nature, and that he understands 
the value of this one life, and the value of health, family and friends.

Evan appreciates Julia’s view of the world as a place that we must work to improve, 
and the fact that she does more than just talk about it. 
He is blown away by the way she loves him and is inspired by her love 
to be a strong, supportive partner and a force for good in the world.
Ian: Julia and Evan have written their own vows, but I’m going to read them.
Please join hands to make your vows [to Evan and Julia].

Ian: Will you, Evan, take Julia, as your wife and faithful partner for life?
Evan: I will.

Ian: Will you, Julia, take Evan as your husband and faithful partner for life?
Julia: I will

Ian: Will you choose each other every day and love each other in word and deed?
Will you create a life of mutual respect, compassion, generosity and patience?
Will you be open and honest, trusting in each other and inspiring trust?
Will you cherish each other as individuals, partners, and equals,
knowing that you do not complete, but complement each other?
Will you accept each other for who you are now and who you may become?
Julia & Evan: We will

Ian: Will you support and challenge each other as you grow together
and do meaningful, productive work at home and in the world?
Will you maintain in yourself and inspire in others environmental consciousness and an active commitment to make the world more just for all?
Julia & Evan: We will

Ian: Evan, will you take care of Julia, delight with her in happiness and
comfort her in sorrow, through all your years and all that life may bring you?
Evan: I will

Ian: Julia, will you take care of Evan, delight with him in happiness and
comfort him in sorrow, through all your years and all that life may bring you?
Julia: I will

Ring Exchange
Ian: Now Evan and Julia will exchange rings.
Evan: I give you this ring as a symbol of my promise
Julia: I give you this ring as a symbol of my promise

Closing, Pronouncement and Kiss
Evan and Julia, we wish you wisdom and devotion in the ordering of your common life, 
that you may each be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, 
a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy.
May you always need one another,
not to fill your emptiness but to know your fullness.
May you provide for each other,
not out of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.
May you form a circle of love that gathers your whole community.
May you work together to construct a life rich with
health, happiness and deep satisfaction.
May you have many long years to enjoy each other’s company.

Friends and family of Evan and Julia, please rise and repeat after me:
Evan and Julia (Evan and Julia)
As your loving friends and family (as your…)
We now pronounce you married (we now pronounce you…)

You may now kiss!
[Tim plays “This Will Be Your Year” by the Zombies]

All photos by Jenna Salvagin Photography


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