Sunday, August 2, 2009

sample ceremony 4

skip to main | skip to sidebar

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Our wedding: the ceremony

Dave and I had a lot of fun putting together our wedding ceremony.We had talked and both wanted to say traditional vows, but wanted the rest of the ceremony to be joyous, funny, and reflect us as a couple. I started the process using examples our officiant, Judge Curtis L. Collier (Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee and my first boss and continuing mentor out of law school) sent us. We wanted it to be meaningful but not too long, and I wanted lots of music by our talented friends! I incorporated some neat things I had read about in magazines and blogs, and then spent a lot of time searching for readings.

I presented a bunch of potential readings to Dave, who didn't really like any of them, finding them too mushy (note: Dave is a wonderfully loving, affectionate guy but he wasn't a fan of being mushy in public). I thought it was our wedding day, what better time to be mushy!, but in an early lesson in compromise, we worked together and found a solution. Dave suggested something funny, but a lot of the "funny wedding readings" I found either were kind of mean to one gender or the other, or negative about relationships, or not actually that funny. I kept looking.

We were originally going to have two readings but ended up going with just one, an excerpt from the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage for that state. Dave's not nearly as liberal as I am so I wasn't sure he would go for it, but he liked the simplicity and non-mushiness of it (you can find the excerpt we chose below), and we didn't specifically mention as part of our ceremony what the decision was about. I considered it a nod to my hopes for marital equality, without banging our guests (many of whom do not agree with me) over the head with it.

Once I had a good working draft, Dave went over it with me, nixed a few things, added a few others, and we continued working on it together to make it our own. We met with Judge Collier, who reviewed the draft and offered a few more suggestions. It meant a lot to us to have someone who is a big part of our lives, who we respect and admire, officiate our wedding. I actually told Dave a long time before I knew he would be the one I married that I hoped Judge Collier would officiate, and Dave was as excited about it as I was once we got engaged!

Lots of people commented to us that they loved the ceremony, which was a great compliment, since that was really what the wedding celebration was all about! I'm posting the ceremony script below, there aren't enough things like this out there for individual-minded brides or grooms to find, so I'm paying it forward.

Wedding Ceremony of Autumn Witt and David Boyd

I. Intro
We are gathered here today on this beautiful spring day to join together Autumn Witt and David Boyd in the holy estate of matrimony. This is a festive occasion and Autumn and David hope you will laugh out loud, clap, and joyfully participate in their ceremony.

I am especially pleased to be here today because Autumn was one of my law clerks, and I have enjoyed getting to know David and watching them grow as a couple. This is a particularly special day for David, as it is his 33rd birthday. He should never have trouble remembering his anniversary!

Autumn and David would like to welcome and thank all of their family and friends who have traveled to witness their marriage. Today we have family members from Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Colorado, and South Carolina. Autumn’s friends from college at Indiana University and law school at Vanderbilt University are here, as well as David’s friends from Clemson University and from time he spent in Atlanta and Denver. We also have current and former colleagues and new and old friends from as far as California, and as near as Chattanooga.

On this day that starts a new chapter in their lives, Autumn and David would especially like to thank their families who have always supported them and nurtured their independence. They would also like to thank each other’s families for welcoming them so kindly.

Autumn and David, take a moment now to hold hands, look into each other’s eyes, and see the love and hope that is reflected in the face of your life-long partner, as you prepare to embark on one of life’s most sacred journeys. May you always feel true love; may you always see promise of the future in each other’s eyes.

II. Blessing
Each of you is here today because you bring something special to the lives of Autumn and David. 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, Autumn and David 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 Autumn and David 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.)

III. Reading
I would now like to invite David’s sister Sarah Hancock to come forward to share with us a reading selected by Autumn and David.

From “Goodridge vs. Department of Health” by Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall:

“Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations.... Without question, civil marriage enhances the ‘welfare of the community.’ It is a ‘social institution of the highest importance.’ ... Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil 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.... Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition.”

IV. Vows
Autumn and David, you are about to make mutual vows, pledging your complete love and absolute fidelity, one to the other, and if these vows are faithfully and diligently kept, your life together should be one of beauty, joy and great happiness.

Will you both join hands, and first, David, will you repeat after me?

I David, take you Autumn, to be my wedded wife. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, in health, to love and to cherish, forsaking all others, 'till death do us part.

Now Autumn, will you repeat after me?

I Autumn, take you David, to be my wedded husband. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, in health, to love and to cherish, forsaking all others, 'till death do us part.

V. Ring Ceremony
(Take rings from best man and lady of honor)
Since a ring is round and without end, the wedding ring becomes a meaningful part of the marriage ceremony, because it is an outward and visible sign to all the world that two loyal hearts have been united by love and that this marriage is a marriage without end. The wedding ring is traditionally worn on the third finger of the left hand because of an ancient Greek belief that a vein from that finger goes directly to the heart.

Before Autumn and David exchange the rings, they will be warmed and blessed by their attendants. I ask that each of you hold the rings for a moment, warm them with your love and make a silent wish for this couple, and their future together. When these rings come back they will contain, in their precious metal, that which is more precious, that which is priceless – your love, hope and pledge of support for their union. I would like to invite Autumn’s oldest friend Leslie Forell to begin the warming of the rings, and then share a song chosen by Autumn and David.

(Leslie sings Come Rain or Come Shine)

These rings, now warmed by those you love the most will forever show the world you are one and they will carry with them the eternal love and blessing of your friends and families.

(Return the bride’s ring to the groom and instruct him to put it on the 3rd finger of bride’s left hand)

Now David, repeat after me.

In token and in pledge of our constant faith and abiding love, with this ring, I thee wed.

(Instruct bride to put ring on the 3rd finger of groom’s left hand)

Now Autumn, repeat after me.

In token and in pledge of our constant faith and abiding love, with this ring, I thee wed.

VI. Blessing/ Prayer
Now, I would like to invite David’s family pastor, Reverend Dean Taylor, who has also guided the couple in their premarital journey, to say a blessing. [as it turned out, our minister couldn't make it due to a death in his parish, so we skipped this part]

VII. Pronouncement
Before we conclude, Autumn and David would like to take a photo of all of their guests, so after the ceremony, please remain seated.

Autumn and David, as you have pledged yourselves each to the other, I do now, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the United States of America and the state of Tennessee, pronounce you husband and wife. May God the father, God the son, and God the holy spirit bless, preserve and keep you now and forever more.

Autumn and David, you may now embrace and kiss to celebrate your union.

I now present to you, Autumn and David Boyd, husband and wife.


Janna said...

I love your story, and I love love love this line:

"This is a festive occasion and Autumn and David hope you will laugh out loud, clap, and joyfully participate in their ceremony."

That's really what it's all about, isn't it? :)

July 9, 2009 12:15 PM