Oh ceremony. You're so bittersweet to write about. Bitter because I don't have professional photos. Sweet because you were by far my favorite part of our wedding. Since I don't really have photos, I'm going to post our ceremony here (as best as I can remember it) along with the few pictures from friends and family.
Note: I wrote our ceremony but stole pieces from all over the interwebs. I cannot recall where I found pieces, what I've changed or how I changed it. This was lovingly crafted for Chet and I over the entire engagement period, with pieces of it finished the Thursday before the wedding, in our typical style. If you're really super interested, send me an email and I'll send you the word document. It's spaced and formatted better than this will be.
Processional to “Every Morning” by Keb’ Mo’
We just used one song for everyone to walk in with.
Welcome and Gathering Words
Jeff: Throughout the memory of humanity the founding of a new family has been noted as an act of high and holy order. It has been celebrated with a service of marriage in sacred groves, in humble meeting houses, under vaulted arches, in temples with ancient rites, and in makeshift spaces with hurried words. We gather here today in this place because of what we share; a desire to affirm and support the relationship of Chet and Nicole. Marriage requires a commitment to care for another person, to show concern for the life and growth of those whom we love. Marriage requires a commitment to respond to another person, to help meet their needs. Marriage requires a commitment to respect the unique individuality of that person, to help them grow and unfold for their own sake. Marriage requires a commitment to transcend our own egos, to use reason and humility to understand another person; and by doing this, we discover ourselves. All these commitments require that we give ourselves to another person; by this giving we experience our strength and our vitality. We experience ourselves and overflowing and alive. Today we affirm and celebrate the wedding of Nicole and Chet.
Jeff: Before Chet and Nicole exchange rings later in the ceremony, they have asked that the people before them participate in a “warming of the rings.” If you are unfamiliar with this practice, take the opportunity to wish them health, happiness, and all that is noble and good in life when the rings pass to your care. Hold them for but a moment and warm them with your love, making a silent wish for the future this couple will share. When returned, these rings will contain that which is all the more precious--your love and pledge of support for their union.
We really wanted a ring warming. We ordered a little bowl from a lovely etsy vendor with our names and wedding date printed on it. Then, we tied ribbon through the said bowl and our rings and had that passed around. It made it through the everyone and was just perfect. Many commented that this was their favorite part of our ceremony.
Jeff: In the Jewish tradition, marriages take place under a huppah, which can be constructed from the fabric of friends and family. In some Hispanic cultures, marriages are bound together by a lasso, symbolizing the beginning of a new life together. In other traditions, a unity candle or sand may be used to represent the blending of two families. Chet and Nicole have decided to do a quilt wrapping. In this symbolic gesture they will be wrapped in a quilt which has been signed with love, from all of you.
Here, Carol and Sissi will wrap the quilt around Chet and Nicole. The 6 of them will continue to stand together until they’ve said “We do”.
Jeff: This quilt signifies the warmth and support of family and friends that are needed to sustain a healthy relationship. It signifies the bond between them and the closeness that will continue to develop day after day. And, it signifies the comfort and beauty they bring to each other and will continue to bring to each other. Chet, Nicole . . . take a moment to just breathe, and simply enjoy your friends and family who gathered here to spend this day with you. This group of loved ones may never be together in the same place again. Take some time to think about how they have touched your lives, and why they’re here with you today. 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 Chet and Nicole all their lives. Today you look with love and affirmation on the faces of your children, whose independence you’ve nurtured with your love, guidance, and support. Notwithstanding all the challenges of their upbringings, they now represent the fullness of your lives. 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 were to the one: accepting, supportive, caring, and with a generosity of spirit that always includes them both.
So I ask you now, Nicole’s family, do you welcome Chet as a member of your family, and grant your blessings, love and acceptance?
Chet’s family do you welcome Nicole as a member of your family, and grant your blessings, love and acceptance?
Chet and Nicole’s families go back to their seats at this point.
The intimate, yet public, nature of this ceremony reminds us all that none of us exists in isolation. We are social beings. Our identities, even our very existence, is nurtured and defined by our family and friends. It’s through community that we call into being the power of love to build bridges, to make us feel whole, to allow us to feel at home in the universe. (To the guests) Your presence here tonight is a visible expression of your love and respect for Chet and Nicole’s decision to marry, and reminds them that they don’t belong to one another alone, but to a larger community of friends and relatives who wish them well. As a part of that community, I invite all of you to play your part - by lending an ear, a hand of kindness, a voice of experience, an encouraging smile, and the gift of your company. Stand beside them, and never between them. Offer them your love and your support, but not your judgment. In sum, support their union with your friendship. Will you, as Chet and Nicole’s friends and family lend your support, love, and experience? Please answer “we will”
Oh. Our quilt wrapping. This was another incredible part. My aunt made our quilt and then we asked everyone to sign it as our guest book. We also used this to replace "unity candles" or sand. Those felt trite to us (and that's just us!!) and we wanted something else. We also wanted a way to incorporate our families being up there with us, and this worked beautifully for that.
Jeff: Now, before Chet and Nicole share their vows with you, I would like to read from Romans 12: 9-18 "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
We originally had something in here but Jeff, who stepped in last minute, opted to do a little mini sermon, most of which I cannot recall (oh how I wish I had been more present!). However, I do recall him discussing that marriage is meant to be 90/10, the amount of work versus easiness.
Now, if anyone in their community knows of a reason for these two not to be wed, keep it in your hearts. Pray that God may show them kindness and joy with one another, and grant peace in your heart and their relationship. Remember that worrying brings no good, only prayer may satisfy our troubled hearts.
This was unique and questioned by Jeff, though he said he really liked it. I had hear it at a friend's wedding many years ago and fell in love with it. I find it so much simpler, and happier than the "Speak now or forever hold your piece!". Jeff told us that he no longer does that at weddings because one time someone spoke....
Jeff: Do you, Chet and Nicole, pledge to create a life of mutual respect, compassion, generosity, and patience towards each other as you grow together in years?
Jeff: Do you pledge to recognize each other’s individuality and celebrate each other’s uniqueness as a strength in marriage. While at the same time, will you guard one another’s weaknesses with understanding, support, and inspiration?
Jeff: And do you pledge to share the love you have for each other with all living beings? To be a couple that lets their marriage radiate into others , making their lives more beautiful because of it?
Jeff: Chet/ Nicole, If you will face each other and repeat after me:
Chet, I give you my life. With all that I am and all that I have, I honor you.
Nicole, I give you my life. With all that I am and all that I have, I honor you.
So here, we did something a bit different. We shared "secret vows" which were like the ones we would have said out loud, but we wanted to share them together, privately, with eachother. Odd, I know, since we had a public wedding, but the idea was still there.
Jeff: The hands have a physical connection to the heart, and a hand blessing symbolically brings two hearts together. As Shakespeare said, "now join your hands, and with your hand's your hearts." Doug, will you please begin the hand blessing.
Doug: Nicole, please turn to face Chet and hold his hands, palms up, so that you may see what a gift they are to you. These are the hands, young, strong and vibrant with love, that are holding yours on your wedding day. These are the hands that will work beside you throughout life. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through a lifetime of joy and sorrow. These are the hands that will wipe tears from your eyes: tears of pure happiness, laughter, pain and sadness. These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or sorrow may rack your mind. These are the hands that will cook for you. These are the hands that will give you support as you chase down your dreams. 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 are filled completely with his love and his desire for you.
Ashton: Chet, please hold Nicole’s hands, palms up in yours, where you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands that are smooth, young, and carefree that are holding yours on your wedding day, as she pledges her love and commitment to you all the days of her life. These are the hands that will play games with you. These are the hands that will massage tension from your neck in the evenings after a long day. These are the hands that will hold you as you struggle through difficult times. They are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick and console you when you are grieving. These are the hands that will passionately love and cherish you through the years. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, which will give you support and encouragement, as together you build your future and share your innermost hopes and dreams.
Jeff: God, bless the hands that you see before you this day. May they always be held by one another. Give them strength to hold on during the storms of stress and dark of disillusionment. Keep them gentle and tender as they nurture each other in their love. Help use these hands to continue building a relationship founded in faith, hope, caring and joy. Let Chet and Nicole see their four hands as healer, protector, shelter and guide.
I found this in March 2009 and fell deeply and madly in love with it. Chet's hands are my favorite part about his body, and so the thought of looking at each other's hands this way was beautiful. We changed some of the words for us (cooking, games etc.) but some was kept the same.
Exchange of rings:
Jeff: The rings you will give and receive this day are the symbols of the endless love which you enter into as husband and wife. You are each the beginning and the ending, each the giver and the receiver. To marry the person you have set your heart upon is a joy unparalleled in human life and these rings mark the beginning of a journey together. Wear them proudly, for they are symbols which speak of the love that you hold for each other.
Today, Chet and Nicole offer each other a ring, which most of you have held and warmed with your wishes—these circles represent the timeless nature of your love and commitment for them; their empty spaces represent the limitless possibilities of your hopes and dreams for their future. With your wishes, you have guaranteed to be a community of support for them as they enter into a lifetime commitment of love and friendship, joy and sorrow, trials and successes. You have said that you will be there when they need counseling or a friendly voice to speak too.
Heavenly Father, we call for your blessing for these rings, both as symbols of love and union between Chet and Nicole, and as tokens of their hopes and dreams fulfilled in their commitment to each other this day and every day of the rest of their lives together. We ask that these rings hold and carry these dreams, remind them of the endless circle of their union to each other, and to be a beautiful reflection of their sacred vows to each other, now and always. We seek this blessing of love not only for Chet and Nicole, but also for all those who are now married, or have in the past made vows of love to someone they cherished. All this we ask, as is our divine right as children of God, through Christ in us, Amen.
Nicole, please take Chet's hand in yours and repeat after me: As I place this ring, I choose you to be my husband -- this day, and every day. May this ring forever be to you the symbol of my growing love and a symbol of my commitment to you
Chet, please take Nicole's hand in yours and repeat after me: As I place this ring, I choose you to be my wife -- this day, and every day. May this ring forever be to you the symbol of my growing love, and a symbol of my commitment to you.
I'd like it to be known that we haven't removed our wedding bands since this day.
Jeff: You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks - all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will and you will and we will”- those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe”- and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you have made are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed- well, I meant it all, every word.” Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another- acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you have said a few words that have taken you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after this day, you shall say to the world, this- is my husband, this- is my wife.
Chet, you may now kiss your wife.
We choose this reading by Robert Fulgham for our pronunciation. It was just perfect.
One of our friends recorded the pronunciation, and as soon as I find it, I'll stick it up here. It's on Facebook, if you're my friend...
Recessional to "When I'm 64"
Because who doesn't want to walk out to a Beatles song?!