Wednesday, October 28, 2009

wedding weekend: the most important part

Today I'm unexpectedly home, the snow is falling, my gorgeous husband (almost 5 months later I still get a little shivery thrill when I get to say "my husband") is out trying to keep the snow from breaking any more limbs off the trees in our backyard, two bundled up kids are jumping on the trampoline and throwing snowballs (!!) while the other two are cozied up watching Robots, and I, well, I've got hot chocolate, whipped cream, and a little time to tell you about our wedding ceremony!

I'm including the whole text, plus music and commentary for a couple of reasons. The first is that it really helped me with planning our ceremony to see what other people had done, and maybe someone else will find this helpful. If you're planning a wedding and have been looking at different nontraditional ceremonies, you might see some stuff here that you recognize, but we shaped everything, editing, combining, and deleting without compunction, until we had something that fit us. The second reason is that we made a huge mistake, and didn't get a microphone to use during the ceremony. We had a lot of people share our celebration, and some of them in the back couldn't hear the whole thing, so if you were one of them, now you can read what you missed!

All photos by Nicole Allen.

While people were mingling and finding seats, our prelude music was the entire album of The Vitamin String Quartet playing ACDC songs. We thought that was a very appropriate way to set the tone for the whole evening -- classy, but with a sense of humor!Will and his kids came in from behind the arbor and stood in front of the famous paper flower arch, accompanied by instrumental Metallica. Anyone who knows Will understands why we had to have Metallica at our wedding!

Our "processional" music was "I Will Love You" by Fisher. Several people told me that they started to tear up already when they heard this song and we started walking in (Will included!)When we got to the front, I couldn't help myself. I reached up and gave my sweetie the last smooch of our unmarried life. Just a little one.Then Lynn (our officiant) began:
Mawwage…Mawwage is what bwings us togevver today. Mawwage, that bwessed event, that dweam wifin a dweam. Wuv, twue wuv, will fowwow you fowever.
While people were laughing about this, my dad stepped up and played Storybook Love on his flute. This is something of a family tradition -- my dad has played flute at every single one of his kids' weddings -- and one I was happy to continue. We thought it was also a nice transition from the Princess Bride jokey beginning to the more serious part of the ceremony.Lynn again:

September and Will have invited us to share an occasion of great joy and celebration.

They know that marriage is not a relationship to be entered into lightly, but deliberately, lovingly, and reverently. Today they are declaring to each other and to all of us that they plan to be by each other’s side, no matter what life brings their way.

Then my very very very good friend Jill stepped forward, and read the lyrics of a Leonard Cohen song:

As the mist leaves no scar
On the dark green hill
So my body leaves no scar
On you and never will

Through windows in the dark
The children come, the children go
Like arrows with no targets
Like shackles made of snow
True love leaves no traces
If you and I are one
It's lost in our embraces
Like stars against the sun

As a falling leaf may rest
A moment on the air
So your head upon my breast
So my hand upon your hair

And many nights endure
Without a moon or star
So we will endure
When one is gone and far

True love leaves no traces
If you and I are one
It's lost in our embraces
Like stars against the sun

May we have the rings, please?

Will's brother Corey came up and gave the rings (in a little bag) to Lynn -- it's funny how nervous he was but he did a great job as a first-time ring bearer!

Lynn held the rings and said:

We will now bless these rings, symbols of infinite love.
The root meaning of ‘to bless’
is ‘to share life with’.
As these rings pass from one to another
we will each have the opportunity to share our energy,
our blessing, our thoughts and our love
with Will and September.

Take your time. Know that as we take this moment to ‘share life’ with this couple we will each be contributing our love to this marriage.

Corey followed the rings as they were passed from hand to hand among the people who were present, while Lynn continued to speak:
As we pass and bless these rings, let us also bless the hands that will wear them.

September, please hold Will’s hands palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands of your best friend. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as you laugh and cry.
These are the hands that will play air guitar, throw footballs and exchange high fives with your sons.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears of sorrow and of joy from your eyes.
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.

(Now Will, I would like for you to look at your hands right now, really look and them and remember this moment, because this will be the very last time you will ever have the upper hand!)
Will, please hold September’s hands palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands of your best friend.
These are the hands that will massage tension from your neck and back in the evenings after you’ve both had a long hard day.
These are the hands that will put bandaids on scrapes and help with homework and provide nourishing food for your children.
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.
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. Help these hands to build a family full of grace. May Will and September see their four hands as healers, protectors, shelter and guides. Amen.

The idea had been that we wanted to keep things moving, wanted to keep the ceremony long enough to be meaningful, and short enough to be interesting, and that the blessing of the hands would keep people from getting bored while we did the blessing of the rings. I thought that the two would end at about the same time, but people really did take their time with the rings, and by the time the hand blessing was over, the rings weren't even halfway around the crowd.

So we had a moment of silence that stretched out, then I turned to Lynn and whispered that we should just go ahead with exchanging our vows. Side note: we wrote the "I promise" part together, but the one thing we kept secret from each other was the "I love you because" part -- we wanted to have a little surprise, but we also wanted what we said to sort of match, so we agreed in advance on how many funny and how many serious things we would say.

I love you because you get so excited about things, even when they are things that don't seem exciting to me at all, like fish and chips or a great power chord, or a football game.

Will: I love you because when you want to tell me a funny story, you start giggling so much, you can't even get the story out.

Seppie: I love you because you are an amazing father -- you're fun, your patient, you're firm, you're gentle, and you are a great role model to all of our kids.

Will: I love you because you understand my need for alone time and have no problem giving it to me without hesitation.

Seppie: I love you because you always make me cry. I never used to cry, but now I cry all the time. It's because you care so much about me and because I feel completely safe with you.

Will: I love you because when you come home and I am watching SportsCenter, you don't let out a big sigh of disapproval, even though you're probably thinking it.

Seppie: I love you because no matter what wild and crazy idea I have, like a wedding that lasts an entire weekend, you just nod your head and say, "okay, that sounds fun" even when it means a ton of work for you and you wish I'd just let you rest.

Will: I love you because not only do you understand my love for the great game of Texas Hold 'Em, you enjoy playing it with me.

Seppie: I love you because we always laugh so much together.

Will: I love you because you are the first person in my life that completely understands me and loves me despite my faults. I love you!

Seppie: I love you because whenever I'm with you, I feel like I'm exactly where I should be.

Will: I love you because you treat me the way I've always wanted to be treated.Seppie: Will, I accept you just as you are today.

Will: September, I accept you just as you are today.

Seppie: I choose to intertwine my life with yours.

Will: I choose to share my life and everything I have openly with you.

Seppie: I choose to build my home, my family, my future with you.

Will: I promise to strive for the kind of family and the kind of life we can both be proud of.

Seppie: I promise to be faithful to you, and never to allow anything to build a wall between us.

Will: I promise to speak truthfully and lovingly to you, to support you and encourage your fulfillment.

Seppie: I promise to be who I am, and no less, and to accept and support you in being who you are and no less.

Will: I promise to be patient and forgive you when you get upset and act unreasonable about stupid things.

Seppie: I promise to clean up the yard even when it’s your dog who got into the trash.

Will: I promise to always clean the bathrooms even when it’s your kids who miss the toilet.

Seppie: I promise to hug and kiss you every single day.

Will: I promise to let you put your cold feet on me in bed every single night.

Seppie: I promise that I will love you.

Will: I promise that I will love you.

Seppie: I choose you to be my husband and life companion.

Will: I choose you to be my wife and life companion.

Those last two lines were supposed to be when we actually exchanged rings, but the rings still hadn't made it back to us, so we just kept moving with the rest of the ceremony.

Lynn told everyone to look on the bottom of their chairs. We had secretly taped playing cards -- the king and queen of hearts, natch -- to the bottom of two random chairs, Oprah-style. The two people who found the cards underneath their chairs were called up to witness our signing of the marriage certificate. Even though our selection of witnesses was completely random, this turned out to be another emotional thing for me, since one of those was my aunt Moira, who obviously has known me all my life, and is herself the mother of a blended family with six kids!There was yet another pretty long moment of silence while my cousin J's son spontaneously handed out rose petals and we waited for the last people to bless the rings (let me tell you, people took that ring blessing seriously! Our rings are blessed!) and for Corey to bring them back to us. We exchanged rings.
We wanted our ceremony to acknowledge that our marriage is not just about us, but about our kids as well, and we wanted them to be part of things, but every suggestion I found seemed lame and hokey, or weird and creepy, so this next part we pretty much totally made up. The bracelets we gave them were a pretty heart with rhinestones for Will's daughter, and manly bike chain bracelets for the boys.

Early in their relationship, September and Will took all four of their kids to Subway. Somehow it worked out that the kids were sitting at one table, and the grownups were sitting at another table. The kids decided that this was so romantic that Will should propose, and they spent the whole meal making rings out of their straw wrappers and running over to whisper in Will’s ear that he should just “ASK HER!”

Well, less than a year later, they got their wish, when Will really did propose. Today, Will and September know that they are not just marrying one another, they are marrying entire families. They are promising to accept one other’s children just as they are, and to help them grow into good, happy people. They are promising to make their home a place where all members of the family feel safe and loved.

I put bracelets on Will's kids, and Will put bracelets on my kids.
These bracelets represent the promises of a new family made today, just as September and Will’s rings represent their commitment to one another.

At this point, Lynn gave a piece of paper to Dante and he surprised me totally by giving a little speech of his own. I had some inkling that he was planning some secret with the help of my mom, but didn't know that what he planned was part of the ceremony! As soon as I get my hands on the last remaining copy of the text of his speech, I will post it here. At any rate, it was AWESOME!Since we started with the Princess Bride, we had to end with it, too...

September and Will, by exchanging vows today, you have let it be known that you are joined, body and soul in this lifetime, and that this bond is sacred and eternal...

Will interupted her:
MAN and WIFE! Say MAN and WIFE!!

Lynn: I now pronounce you man and wife!

Then we kissed and we were done! Our recessional music was "All I Want is You" by Barry Louis Pollisar.