Our Wedding: A Ceremony Written by the Bride

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The most important detail when planning my wedding absolutely was writing our ceremony. It seems to me that the ceremony is just glanced over while the focus is on the reception, and that's just crazy to me. The ceremony should be most important part! I wanted it to be personal and relevant. As a wedding professional I have seen a LOT of weddings, so I had a lot of material to work with.

Even though our ceremony was contemporary and secular, we kept some things traditional. I'm a good Southern girl, so naturally I got married minutes from where I grew up at an antebellum house and my Daddy gave me away in a big, fluffy gown of which Miss Scarlet would most certainly have approved.

OPENING
Who gives this woman away? 
Her mother and I.
Today we gather in community to witness Bryan and Kayleigh pledge a covenant of sacred matrimony. Marriage embodies all the precious values of human companionship and love. It symbolizes the ultimate intimacy between two people. It is not to be entered into lightly, but with certainty, with mutual respect, and with a sense of reverence. This celebration is the external sign of a sacred and internal commitment. Such a union can only be created by loving purpose, maintained by abiding will, and renewed by feelings and intentions.

I love readings. I think they're a great way to personalize a ceremony. This is also a great job to give to a friend or family member. We had two readings in our ceremony. The first reader was my college roommate who I love dearly, and the second was one of Bryan's cousins who is more like a sister-in-law. I did slightly alter the first reading and you can find the original HERE.

FIRST READING - "The Invitation" by Oriah 
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.
I want to know what you ache for  and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. 
It doesn’t interest me how old you are.I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool
for lovefor your dreamfor the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon…
I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrowif you have been opened by life’s betrayalsor have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.I want to know if you can sit with painmine or your ownwithout moving to hide itor fade itor fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joymine or your ownif you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toewithout cautioning usto be carefulto be realisticto remember the limitations of being human.
I want to know if you can see Beautyeven when it is not prettyevery day.And if you can source from your own life its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failureyours and mineand still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you liveor how much money you have.I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despairweary and bruised to the boneand do what needs to be doneto feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you knowor how you came to be here.I want to know if you will stand with me in the center of the fireand not shrink back. 


Bryan and I both wanted a contemporary, secular ceremony so it took a while to come up with something in place of the traditional Christian sermon. I ended up finding the material when I was looking for readings. Luckily my brother is a fantastic public speaker and he was able to read the passages and paraphrase for the ceremony. I was a little concerned that people might not get this part since it's not super love-dovey. I find that people have one of two attitudes about marriage... "You’re going to be in love and wonderfully happy every single day for the rest of your life" OR "well, if doesn't work out you can always get a divorce." I suppose the divorce part is realistic but it's not an attitude that either of has towards our marriage. We're extremely blessed that we both come from a long line of successful marriages. We know that marriage is something you have to work at every day. Keep that in mind when you're reading this. And again, this affirmation of marriage not meant to be read verbatim.

AFFIRMATION OF MARRIAGE
"The idea that "being in love" is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all. If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made. The curious thing is that lovers themselves, while they remain really in love, know this better than those who talk about love. As Chesterton pointed out, those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. And, of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry." -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
"If the old fairy-tale ending "They lived happily ever after" is taken to mean "They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married," then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be "in love" need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense -- love as distinct from "being in love" -- is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriages) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be "in love" with someone else. "Being in love" first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it." -C.S. Lewis, A Year With C.S. Lewis: Daily Readings from his Classic Works

Our vows were basic vows that could be used in any ceremony. Again, it was really important to us that our vows be relevant to our relationship.

EXCHANGE OF VOWS 
Bryan and Kayleigh, please turn to one another and join hands as you declare your intent.
           
Bryan, do you give yourself to Kayleigh in sacred matrimony? Do you pledge your heart, body, and soul to your union, promising to support Kayleigh in her endeavors, and counseling Kayleigh when she is in need of your guidance? Do you accept Kayleigh’s counsel with an open heart and open mind? Do you intend to share your thoughts, dreams, hopes, and fears? Do you promise to hold her close when she laughs and when she cries? Do you vow to be a strong individual with a solid union so that you both may grow in love and wisdom all the days of your lives?
                        I do.

Kayleigh, do you give yourself to Bryan in sacred matrimony? Do you pledge your heart, body, and soul to your union, promising to support Bryan in his endeavors, and counseling Bryan when he is in need of your guidance? Do you accept Bryan’s counsel with an open heart and open mind? Do you intend to share your thoughts, dreams, hopes, and fears? Do you promise to hold him close when he laughs and when he cries? Do you vow to be a strong individual with a solid union so that you both may grow in love and wisdom all the days of your lives?
                        I do.
In order to keep things personal and intimate, our guest list was on the small side and consisted of just family and close friends. These are the people that truly love us and will play a role in our lives and marriage. One of my sweet brides had an "affirmation of community" as part of her ceremony. I LOVED IT and made it my own. Warning to the criers out there... this section was a tear-jerker for everyone! 

AFFIRMATION OF THE COMMUNITY

Marriage isn’t just the joining together of two lives, but the joining together of two families. Let me draw special attention to the families who have cherished and loved Bryan and Kayleigh all their lives, both those family members who are present here today, and those who we know to be with us in spirit. Today you look with love and affirmation upon the faces of Bryan and Kayleigh, whose independence you’ve nurtured with your love, guidance, and support. Each one of you is an enduring part of who they are, having made an indelible mark on their characters. May you be for both of them now, what you have always been to the one: accepting, loving, supportive, caring, and with a generosity of spirit that always includes them both.

Bryan and Kayleigh, please face your family and friends. 

I ask you now, Kayleigh’s family, will you welcome Bryan as a member of your family, and grant your blessings, love and acceptance? If so, please answer, “We will.”

“We will.”

Bryan’s family, will you welcome Kayleigh as a member of your family, and grant your blessings, love and acceptance? If so, please answer, “We will.”

“We will.”

Friends, you are present on this joyful occasion because, in some way, your lives have touched those of Kayleigh and Bryan. Some of you have known them for their entire lives, some for just a handful of years, but no matter how long or in what circumstances, you form the community within which their marriage will grow and thrive. Will you also give Bryan and Kayleigh your blessing and pledge to them your continued love and support? If so, please answer, “We will.”

“We will.”

Our second reading is a long-time favorite of mine. This poem is just so romantic. If you're familiar with the author you'll notice that it looks a little different. I typed it out the way I wanted it to be read to make it easier on my reader.

SECOND READING: "i carry your heartby e. e. cummings
       
I carry your heart with me.
I carry it in my heart.
I am never without it.
Anywhere I go, you go, my dear;
and whatever is done by only me
is your doing, my darling.
                                       
I fear no fate,
for you are my fate, my sweet.
I want no world,
for beautiful, you are my world, my true.
And it’s…
you are whatever a moon has always meant.
And whatever a sun will always sing, is you.

Here is the deepest secret nobody knows.
Here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life,
which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide.
And this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart:
I carry your heart; I carry it in my heart

Bryan was so nervous about this part. He hates speaking in front of a group. I had to keep squeezing his hands to make him look at me. (Well, I actually did that throughout the entire ceremony. He was so nervous.)

EXCHANGE OF RINGS
May we have the rings? Bryan and Kayleigh, please turn to one another as you declare your intent. 
Bryan, repeat after me. 
Before our family and friends who have given us the gift of love, I Bryan, join with you, Kayleigh, in the covenant of marriage. Loving what I know of you, and trusting what I do not yet know. I promise you the compassion, respect, and effort a good marriage demands. I dedicate myself to our marriage in mind, body, heart and soul as long as we live. May this community witness our love for the rest of our lives. I give you this ring as a symbol of my love, and my faith in our strength together. 
Kayleigh, repeat after me. 
Before our family and friends who have given us the gift of love, I Kayleigh, join with you, Bryan, in the covenant of marriage. Loving what I know of you, and trusting what I do not yet know. I promise you the compassion, respect, and effort a good marriage demands. I dedicate myself to our marriage in mind, body, heart and soul as long as we live. May this community witness our love for the rest of our lives. I give you this ring as a symbol of my love, and my faith in our strength together.

And the grand finale...

DECLARATION OF MARRIAGE

What love has brought together, let no one break. Bryan and Kayleigh, you have consented to live together in marriage and have pledged yourselves to one another. I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may seal your marriage with a kiss.

KISS!!!!

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw pictures of our first kiss. One thing I always tell my couples is to practice their kiss since it’s rare that you kiss with a crowd of people staring at you. Of course this was one of the things that I completely forgot about.

I hope you enjoyed reading this. If you use this for your own wedding ceremony (or if you are a wedding professional) please link back to me. 

(Happy third wedding anniversary my love!)

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