Sunday, August 2, 2009

sample ceremony 5

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bananapants's Green wedding

The Most Important Part...
Writing our Ceremony So We Fully Mean Every Word
As I said before, My FH, N and I really want our wedding to ring true to who we are, and we figured the best way to do that was to customize our wedding ceremony and write it ourselves.

It's been a lot of work putting it all together, and we started by discussing the wedding traditions that were and were not important to us, and then talked about what concepts/themes we really wanted discussed during the ceremony and what types of emotions we wanted to evoke through our words. (Thank God for the internetz - we have found so many great ideas through other couple's ceremonies! Anytime I found something that gave me the warm fuzzies, I showed it to him, and if it registered at least an 8 on his 1-10 scale, we put it in the ceremony, rewording things as we see fit.)

Now anytime I'm feeling the stress of wedding planning, I come back to this and it puts it all back into perspective. The little details are great, and can add so much, but our wedding is a celebration of the commitment we are making, and that should be our primary focus. As I read it, I can picture the ceremony and just get chills about our day, even after going over it for the 30th time!

Prepare yourselves: this is loooooong, but if you're looking for something that goes beyond tradition, this may spark some of your own ideas and it will be worth reading!

Before we begin, N and J, take a few deep breaths, leave any stress and negativity behind and fill yourselves up with love, happiness, and joy. Settle into our surroundings and be present to the beauty of this moment, this occasion, and this place. Whenever you are worried or stressed in every day matters, may you recall this beautiful evening, this joyous ceremony and the commitment of love that you shared here today. May these thoughts always bring you to a peaceful place and give you the strength and wisdom you need to handle any challenge that comes your way.

(Please be seated.)

Now that we’re officially ready, welcome everyone! J and N, you have arranged this gathering of family and friends to affirm your love and commitment to one another. Together, you have written this ceremony, and customized it so that it represents what’s most important to both of you: your values, the experiences you’ve shared, and your uniqueness as a couple, including your love, friendship, dreams, and intentions.

My being up here, performing the ceremony is a part of that… N and I grew up together... [Tiny can make this his own while keeping it short for now… tell stories later while guests are warming and blessing our rings.]

The ceremony that the two of you have created is personally meaningful, and rings true to the spirit of each of you. Most importantly, because you have chosen your words so carefully, you fully mean every word that is said here today and they resonate deep within both of you. For many years to come you will remember this day; yet, beyond the fragrant flowers, beyond the carefully selected music, beyond the expressions of joy and encouragement from family and friends, and beyond the albums filled with picturesque memories, you will remember the words said here today. You are joining together because of your love for each other, and because you are committed to sharing equally in both the highs and lows of the days to come.

Life is a story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And, like a story, it is best experienced with the people you love. You are all here today because you are a part of N and J’s story. Each of you bring something special to their lives. 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. J and N also want to acknowledge and remember the souls of their beloved family and friends who cannot be here with us today, especially N's grandpa R, J's grandma E, and Mr. Sami Pants, but we know they are here with us in spirit celebrating. We love you, and we miss you. [Brief moment of silence.]

Some of you are participating in this wedding by standing up with N and J, a few of you will be adding your voices to the ceremony, and some more will be participating by laughing and crying along with us. This is a festive occasion and Janna and Nate hope you will laugh out loud, clap, and joyfully participate in their ceremony. Also, I'm told there is a kiss at the end by these two.

Warming of the Rings by our Guests
Nevertheless, everyone’s active participation in this wedding begins now. N and J will be wearing rings as a sign of their commitment to one another, and as the ceremony proceeds, they invite family and friends to take part in the warming of these rings. Each guest is asked to hold them 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 and hope and pledge of support for their marriage.

[The rings will make their way around to each of our guests as the ceremony proceeds.]

So, now that we all understand our roles here today, we will begin the ceremony.

Definition of Marriage
N’s and J’s story begins (we’ll give Tiny the basics, and he can tell the story his way – how we met, bliss that we felt, naturalness and ease of our relationship, knew this was big from the beginning,Tiny’s stories of N as a kid, etc…)

It is heart-warming to witness a couple so wonderfully suited for one another come together in marriage. You both bring such happiness to each other, and it is moving to see how effortlessly you complement one another. N, you bring out the best in J, and J, you bring out the best in N. You each possess individual gifts and talents, and your unique personalities play off one another with ease. Watching two people who obviously adore one another, who play together, laugh together, spend endless time together, and STILL want to be together for all the days of their lives is inspiring, and I think it’s safe to say that the presence of your love lifts the spirits of those around you.

Your wedding today is an exquisite and beautifully choreographed first step of your new journey together. Your marriage will lead to many places, including ones you cannot possibly ever imagine. Wherever it takes you, there will be surprises, and it will take you where you had not expected to go. As you begin this new chapter in your lives, remember, all of your yesterdays have led you to today, and your love will lead you into tomorrow. Love will prevail.

It is a wonderful thing to look ahead and envision what your life will be like together. However, marriage is a bond to be entered into only after considerable thought and reflection. As with any aspect of life, it has its cycles, its ups and its downs, its trials and its triumphs. Life holds indescribable happiness in store for you both - and unavoidable pain, as well. By and large, the most important part about marriage, the most important part of what you’re doing today, is the lifetime commitment you are making. You have chosen each other freely, joining your life with your partner through all of life’s seasons. Because this is not a sometimes-thing, don’t base your marriage on the feelings you have for one another now. As you stand here today, your feelings for each other are filled with joy and gladness. That’s great, but since feelings change, make your commitments as a matter of will: You choose each other to share the many years of life, period. You choose not just for today, but for all your tomorrows, not just for joy and good times, but for all times, even those that are troubled and sad.

With full understanding of this, you have come here today to be joined as one in marriage.

And when you do find yourselves in challenging times, I ask you to reflect on this marriage advice:
Let your love be stronger than your anger.
Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend than to break.
Look for the best in your beloved rather than the worst.
Confide in your partner and ask for help when you need it.
Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship.
Give your spouse the same courtesies and kindnesses you bestow on your friends.
When you say “I love you”, mean it.

Marriage requires that both people in the relationship work to help each other learn, grow and prosper. Marriage teaches us to be more responsible for what we think and feel, say and do, and the level of awareness and the willingness each person brings goes a long way toward making the relationship work. And mostly, it’s about looking at the big picture — realizing that arguments and conflicts pale in comparison to the deep and true love we discover as we move through life and confront its challenges together as husband and wife.

Not only does marriage take patience and understanding, it takes time and work. Each person must be completely honest and willing to open up their private worlds to each other. It requires continuous communication, otherwise, inevitably, a disconnect or distancing will begin, and that can be very difficult to undo. Marriage takes the willingness to be wrong a lot of the time even though your ego would insist that you are right, but reason tells you differently.

We need to recognize, as often as we can, how precious and unique our chosen partner is. Within each of us, there is an inherent quality that can be discovered by seeing it in the other person, despite what the other is saying or doing.

“Stay with You” by John Legend
Performed by Amy & Grant

Readings by Parents, Selected by our Siblings
N and J have taken a lot of time to ensure their wedding reflects who they are as a couple. But their marriage is not only joining their lives together; it is bringing their families together too. Just as their families shaped the two of them, their families will help shape their marriage. In that spirit, J and N wanted to include their voices to this day, and asked their brothers and sister to choose or write a piece that was personally meaningful to them for their parents to read aloud here today. J and N do not know what their parents will be reading...

The Pledge
To R and G; C and B, congratulations on the part you have played in raising a son and a daughter that we have all come to appreciate and respect. They accept a very mature and meaningful task in taking on this marriage. On their behalf, and on behalf of all those gathered here, thank you. As I said before, it is more than their lives that are joined here today; it is your lives as well. Although J and N have embarked on this marriage through personal choice, their marriage will be enriched by the families from which they come.

With this in mind, I ask you, C and B, to take this man, N, into your hearts, that he might live from this day as your son, for he is dear and beloved to J and shall be so to you and your family. Do you?

J's parents: "We do."

And of you, R and G, I ask the same. I ask that you take this woman, J, into your hearts, that she might live from this day as your daughter, for she is dear and beloved to N, and shall be so to you and your family. Do you?

N's parents: "We do."

J and N, do you promise to... Trust, respect and celebrate each other? Grow together by unselfishly encouraging, appreciating, nurturing and supporting each other? Laugh, play and enjoy the simple pleasures together? Help each other stay focused on the important things in life and not sweat the small stuff? Greet each other with a hug and a kiss? Be there and comfort each other always? Be faithful to each other?

N and J: "We do."

N and J, may you pledge to each other to be loving friends and partners in marriage. To talk and to listen, to trust and appreciate one another; to respect and cherish each other's uniqueness, and to support, comfort, and strengthen each other through life's joys and sorrows. May you promise to share hopes, thoughts, and dreams as you build your lives together. May you make a home that is the place where you both want to be, the place you can’t wait to get to at the end of the day, forever filled with peace, happiness, and love, kindness and consideration.

To the family and friends of J and N, 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, J and N hope to be able to turn to you, just as they will turn to each other. 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. Help them to keep their hearts open, full of forgiveness and compassion, of happiness and light.

Do you offer N and J your blessing as husband and wife? Please say, we do.

Family & Friends: "We do."

And do you offer their marriage your support, as loving friends and family? Please say, we do.

Family & Friends: "We do."

We are each writing our own vows and will surprise each other with them at the ceremony. (I have tons of inspiration if anyone is looking for ideas. I have a lot of things that can be used for readings or toasts too. Just post a comment or contact me, and I'll pass on what I've got via e-mail.)

Exchanging of the Rings
Tiny: This is the point in the ceremony when the officiant usually talks about the wedding bands being a perfect circle, having no beginning and no end. But we all know that these rings do have a beginning. Rock is dug up from the earth. Metal is liquefied in a furnace at a thousand degrees. Hot metal is poured into a mold, cooled, and then painstakingly polished. Something beautiful is made from raw elements.? ?Love is like that. It’s hot, dirty work. It comes from humble beginnings, made by imperfect beings. It’s the process of making something beautiful where there was once nothing at all.

Each of you have enhanced the beauty of N and J's rings with your love and hopes for their future. J and N, when you look down at your rings, remember that you are literally surrounded by all of the love and well-wishes that were given to you today. In addition, love is not only given; it has to be received and accepted to be truly beautiful.

[I absolutely love the way a friend and her husband performed their ring exchange: They each placed the rings halfway down one another’s finger with words of offering. Then they each pulled their rings on the rest of the way themselves, saying words of acceptance. I never would have thought of doing it that way, but for me, personally, it was very meaningful, and I know it was meaningful for them. Making verbal and physical gestures of receipt forces you to really think about what you’re doing: you’re ready to give love, of course. But are you also truly ready to accept it?]

With that in mind, may I have the rings?
Tiny (to N): N, please repeat after me: In token and pledge of my faithful, abiding love, I offer you this ring.
N: In token and pledge of my faithful, abiding love, I offer you this ring.
Tiny (to J): I accept your gift with joy and gratitude.
J: I accept your gift with joy and gratitude.
Tiny (to J): In return, I offer you this ring as token and pledge of my faithful, abiding love.
J: In return, I offer you this ring as token and pledge of my faithful, abiding love.
Tiny (to N): I accept your gift with joy and gratitude.
N: I accept your gift with joy and gratitude.

"Blessing of the Hands"
J, please hold N’s hands palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as he promises to passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future, as you laugh and cry, as you share your innermost secrets and dreams.?These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow and tears of joy. These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief engulfs your heart. These are the hands that when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.?These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes; eyes that filled completely with his overwhelming love and desire for you.

Now N, I would like for you to look at your hands right now, really look and them and remember this moment, because I truly hope that you realize that this will be the very last time you will ever have the upper hand! (Laughter…)

N, please hold J’s hands palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands of your best friend, smooth, young and carefree, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as she promises to passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness. These are the hands that will massage tension from your neck and back in the evenings when you complain that your body is falling apart. These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times. These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick, or console you when you are grieving.?These are the hands that when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch. These are the hands that will give you support as she encourages you to chase down your dreams.

Together as a team, everything you wish for can be realized. God, bless these hands that you see before you this day. May they always be held by one another. Give them the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. Keep them tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their wondrous love. Help these hands to continue building a relationship founded in your grace, rich in caring, and devoted in reaching for your perfection. May N and J see their four hands as healers, protectors, shelter and guides. We ask this in your name. Amen.

Harmony Symbolism Idea (in lieu of Unity Candle)
Note: The groom will need to have a fresh rose or another flower. If a particular kind of flower is being used for decoration, he may want to use that kind. The best man can hold it until this part of the ceremony or it can be placed in an inconspicuous place where it’s easily reached.

The bride will need a bud vase with water in it. This should be placed before the ceremony in an easily accessible spot – behind the lectern, for example. Either the maid of honor or the officiate can get it for her just prior to this part of the ceremony.

This is a day steeped in tradition. We are surrounded by symbols of all kinds; something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. We are comforted and encouraged by the familiarity of such symbols and yet we know that a marriage cannot survive if it looks only to the past. Therefore, J and N have elected today to begin a new tradition, a custom which now becomes uniquely their own.

J, I give to you this flower. Because this beautiful flower grew from a tiny seed, it symbolizes the way my love for you has grown. From the first faint tingling of its inception, it has become stronger and larger until today it blossoms for all to see. (He gives her the flower). Each year on our wedding anniversary, I will give you another flower. In so doing, I will remember this day and renew the vows we’ve made. I am confident that each year my flower will be symbolic of ever deeper and more beautiful feelings of love.

N, I give to you this vase of water. (He takes it and holds it.) Because water is the one element without which we would surely perish, it symbolizes the importance of your love in my life. Water, like love, can take many forms. Sometimes it is steam, sometimes ice. But no matter what happens to it, even if, for a time it seems to disappear, it always returns. Each year on our anniversary, I will refill this vase, offering it to you as a symbol of my ever renewing feelings of love. (She puts the flower in the vase and they both hold the vase together.)

Without water, the flower would die.

Without the flower, the vase of water would not be beautiful.

My gift is enhanced by yours, just as my life is enhanced by yours.

My gift is lovely because of yours, just as my life is better because of you. (We hand the rose and vase to the officiate).

On each anniversary, as you re-enact the giving and receiving of the rose and the water, may you remember with joy this day when you pledge your love and lives to each other. May this be only the first of many cherished traditions in a home filled with happiness.

Closing Thoughts
J and N, remember that a relationship is a progression; your love will have seasons like Nature itself. There is an old Chinese proverb that says: “The Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…” and now your journey has begun, and a new chapter has started in your story.

Native American (Apache) Blessing
I would now like to end this celebration with this very special blessing used in Apache wedding ceremonies:

May the sun bring you new happiness by day;
May the moon softly restore you by night;
May the rain wash away your worries
And the breeze blow new strength into your being,
And all the days of your life
May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty.

"Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years. May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth."

"Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at one time or another, remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives -- remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight."

Declaration of Marriage
J and N, in the presence of your family and friends who have joined you to share this moment of joy in your lives, you have declared your deep love and affection for each other. You have stated your wish to always be open to a deeper, richer friendship and partnership. Your have formed your own union, based on respect and honor. Therefore, it is my joyful responsibility to officially acknowledge your union as "Husband and Wife". You may now seal your marriage with a kiss.

Add Some Fun
Best Man will hold an “APPLAUSE” sign during the kiss.

Introduction of Newlyweds
“Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my privilege to present to you for the first time Mr. and Mrs. N and J A.”

Cue music “Shining Star” by Earth, Wind, and Fire and we walk (or skip?) back up the aisle. ;)

Hope you enjoyed it! Feel free to incorporate anything into your own ceremony and make it your own.
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| Brampton, ON, Canada | 01/26/2009
Wow I love the thought you put into everything! The unity candle replacement idea is very cool!
and I love the "warming of the rings" what cool, unique ideas. I love that you're incorporating as many friends and family into the wedding as you can, it makes it so personal.
Great ideas!
| Westerville, OH, United states | 02/01/2009
WOW. I'm amazed at the vows you two wrote. They're so personal and I bet that it made everyone there felt the love that you put into each detail...making your day your own!!! Awesome job...
| Lexington, SC, United states | 02/03/2009
These are wonderful! Very beautiful. I would love for you to send your vows to me. I really need some inspiration for my own!!!!! ha ha My email is :)
| Cleveland, TN, United states | 02/18/2009
Wow that is really beautiful! If only I could be that creative. I am trying to write my vows also and really need some help or inspiration. My email address is Thanks
| Toronto, ON, Canada | 02/28/2009
Wow. I made the mistake of reading this at work & started tearing up.

I've been to a lot of weddings and have never felt comfortable with the "traditional" ceremony. I want something personal that incorporates our friends and families. Your ceremony was every bit that. I am keeping it in my archives for when we start writing our's. Beautiful.
| Pleasant grove, UT, United states | 06/13/2009
This is amazing!!!!
| Winnipeg, MB, Canada | 06/22/2009