Wedding Week: The ceremony.

Earlier this year two friends sat me down and asked me to marry them in October. I was flattered. FLATTERED. And as I rolled the idea around my brain, I realized how much I really wanted to marry them. Not only are they wonderful people for each other, but I was really looking forward to the exercise of putting together a meaningful ceremony for two people, interviewing their families to weave in anecdotes and personal stories and beliefs, and ultimately crafting a series of holy words that they would promise to each other.

Unfortunately the wedding is happening within 2 weeks of Tiny's due date... and while I'm a multi-tasker (and while I really, really, really wanted to say yes), I had to say no.

It strikes me as funny that I am so genuinely interested in helping someone craft a wedding ceremony in 2012 when my feelings about a ceremony in 2011 were so complex. I've written before about the challenge of not having a particular religious home and wanting to participate in something that felt traditional, holy and yet not specifically Christian. After much soul searching and minister-interviewing, we found a fantastic woman to marry us (who happened to be Presbyterian). She helped us craft the perfect ceremony, taking elements of a traditional religious ceremony and inventing a few of our own pieces along the way.

Here are some of the ways we made the ceremony our own:

We faced our guests.
Pastor Thompson suggested this and we were both game. Looking out across the guests who were all there for us added a meaningful and emotional dimension to the ceremony.

We asked two friends to read poems during the wedding. Dana read "Union" by Robert Fulghum and Skersh read "i carry your heart" by e.e. cummings. It was so special to have these meaningful texts read out loud that day.

Blessings by the families and friends
Pastor Thompson started by asking our parents to stand if they supported our union and agreed to receive a new son or daughter into their family. We watched as our parents rose. The she asked our families to stand if they agreed to the same thing. More people stood. And finally she asked our friends to stand if they agreed to receive the marriage as a blessing.

The entire congregation stood before us. I still get goosebumps just thinking about it.

The silver bell
After each piece of the ceremony, Pastor Thompson invited the reader to ring a silver bell. (She also rang it a few times). Then at the end she explained that the bell was a symbol of the beauty of the day... and a useful tool. If someone rings the bell, it means that they're blessing us. We brought the bell to the reception and put it on our table... throughout the night, many, many guests stopped by to ring the bell. Just hearing it added a fantastic happiness to the evening.


Jessica said...

Oh, Jen! Just read through the wedding posts and am feeling all warm and fuzzy for you. The setting, the outfits, the smiles -- gorgeous. And guess what? I asked a friend to read "i carry your heart" at my wedding too! It's been one of my favorite poems since high school. Scott also chose a poem: "A Dangerous Adventure" by James Tate (this is the only place I can find the full text online: http://jamarattigan.livejournal.com/239105.html). I think you'd like it too.
Thanks for the peek into your wedding and the walk down memory lane for me.

Jen said...

Aw, thanks Jess! :) I'll definitely check that poem out!

Sarahmia said...

I read 'I carry your heart' for a friends wedding (from memory) and it was one of the most heartfelt things I've ever done for anyone - I was so emotional by the end of it!

I love the idea of the bell, so so much. This post really resonated with me of all the things I would like our wedding to represent to us and our friends and family. Thank you!