A Sample Wedding Ceremony

Here is a wedding I conducted on the Monterrey Bay for two friends.

Wedding of Ryan and Kristel
Mission Ranch, Carmel-by-the-Sea
August 23, 2008

Violin plays during seating, procession, unity, recession

Family formally seated
Minister and Groom enter
Bridesmaids process, escorted by groomsmen
Bride escorted by parents, met by Groom in aisle

Welcome everyone to the wedding of Kristel and Ryan.  Please be seated.
You’ve come from Southern California, the Bay Area and Northern California, Colorado, Seattle, Scotland and Germany; we give thanks for your long miles that have brought you here on this gorgeous gray day.  We honor those who could not be here and we especially remember Grandpa D, and Grandpa M who have passed on, but who are present with us still.
You all have come to this place to share in the official joining of two spirits who have cultivated a deep love and who will continue to do so through marriage.

In the presence of Great Nature, on this green earth, under this great sky, by these blue waters, we gather to honor the vows Ryan and Kristel will give, according to the bounds and freedom of marriage, in a ceremony that holds sanctity and great joy.

We now have a reading by Mark D (poem by Roy Croft)
And now a reading by Chris M (Rilke On Love and Marriage)

Kristel and Ryan, you’ve put forward a strong demand; you’ve sounded the deepened question, and even before this day of sweet heralding, you begun an answering.
So in a certain way, the question has passed – you are here, you have done your choosing, you have been chosen.  And yet, there will continue be a choosing, again and again, choosing to come to this marriage, this friend and partner, to offer everything you are and are becoming, and to cherish the same in return.
Go with it!  The choice has been made, you are free to be you, known and becoming, predictable and spontaneous.
So we’ve come to celebrate with you, to honor you, to share in the going forward that holds both life as you’ve known it, and life forever changed.
Now, you friends and family probably know this. . .Ryan and Kristel met while in college at UCSD, not in the classroom but in the climbing gym.  Early on they headed out to climb Mount Whitney with some of their friends who are here today.  They had a 6 hour car ride together each way, along with 8 days on the trail, even sharing a tent.  Well, you certainly get to know a person sharing a tent for 8 days, and that knowing would only deepen in the months ahead.
Though in retrospect we might see this day as inevitable, it wasn’t always so sure.  These two powerful minds and powerful hearts came together and began to discuss, to question, to argue, and at a certain point, it became too much.
For you see, Ryan’s a rational, Kristel’s an idealist.  If you want to know more talk to Ryan’s grandfather David or dad Steve, but basically these represent two markedly different ways of understanding the world, which in the beginning created a break.
There was hurt in this separation, but there was also reflection.  And with the space they took there developed a new understanding, a healing into trust, and with the support and insight of their families, there was a return.  This return was not automatic, it wasn’t desperate or submissive or blind.  It represented a clear and powerful commitment to a way of being together, not a chain but a woven thread, a shared learning from which they’ve learned a new language to communicate their love.
I’ve gotten to know Ryan through Aikido, and Kristel at the climbing gym or community events, but especially in meeting with them over the past few months to build this ceremony I’ve gotten to see them in calm, in duress, in question of their very foundations, and I’ve seen them come through all of it in love.  They have both made profound sacrifices, surrendered attachment both to perceptions and to plans in order to care for and understand and love each other.  So it’s an honor to stand here today, and I think now we can move onto the next. . .

Now we gather in everything we’ve heard as we move toward the sharing of vows.  I’d like to offer this piece taken from Wendell Berry’s Poetry and Marriage:
“The meaning of marriage begins in the giving of words.  We cannot join ourselves to one another without giving our word.  And this must be an unconditional giving, for in joining ourselves to one another we join ourselves to the unknown.
Because the condition of marriage is wordly and its meaning is communal, no one party to it can be sole in charge.  What you alone think it ought to be, it is not going to be.  Where you alone think you want it to go, it is not going to go.  It is going to go where the two of you – and marriage, time, life, history, and the world – will take it.  You do not know the road; you are committing your life to a way.”

Having arrived here today in your own beloved company, as well as in the presence of beloved community, holding both the known and mysterious within you, I ask of you:
Do you, Ryan and Kristel, enter into this marriage with open eyes, open hearts, and the willingness to give to each other all that you can?

All of you gathered, please stand, and take the hands of the people next to you.  Ryan and Kristel told me how deliberately they made their invitations – you’re here because you are intricately linked to this bonding as it extends backward and forward through time and space.  So I ask, through your connection to these two, knowing what’s being asked of them, do you pledge your loving support to what they undertake, if so, answer we do.

I now invite you to share with one another your expressions of appreciation.
Kristel will read hers.
Ryan will read his.

And now, the exchanging of vows.
I Kristel/Ryan, choose you, Ryan/Kristel as my friend and love as we build our life together.
To love and honor you through whatever life may bring us, and to grow with you and walk beside you along this life’s journey:
Asking that you be no other than yourself, accepting you for all that you are, and all that you will become.

May I please have the rings (Beck and Maureen will bring forward the rings and place them in my hand).
These rings were probably a little easier to find than the engagement ring – if you don’t know the story of how Ryan proposed, please ask him about it – nonetheless, they each had a vast journey to get here, and a vast journey remains ahead.  But now they are joined and will serve you, remind you, hold to you the love you nurture between you.  Notice what they hold unbreakable, what they allow to pass through; their weight and how they catch the light.  Bless these rings.  Let them be a bright reminder of the promises of this incredible day, those past, and those yet to come.

Ryan, please take Kristel’s hand.  Place the ring upon her finger, and say after me:
Kristel, I give you this ring in celebration of our life together, and as a reminder of my love for you.
Kristel, please take Ryan’s hand.  Place the ring upon his finger and say after me:
Ryan,  I give you this ring in celebration of our life together, and as a reminder of my love for you.

Kristel and Ryan wanted to craft a way to represent their union in a way unique to them.  So, they called upon Kristel’s mom, Nancy, a stained glass artisan, who devoted weeks to crafting a piece that will be finished here today, a striking work called The Tree of Life.
I now invite you, Nancy, and Ryan’s mom, Jan, to bring the Tree forward.
(The moms will come forward, hand the glass to Kristel and Ryan, who will then walk to the table, put it together, and place it on the stand.)

Please take one another’s hands (placing the stole over the joined hands).
In this great company, on this bright day, knowing the love that surrounds and holds you; having heard the voice of your commitment and care, with the authority given to me by universal life and your friendship, I now pronounce you, husband and wife.

Go forth into this glorious afternoon with joy and celebration for all the wonder you hold in your hearts, the passionate care, the incredible gifts you bring to one another and to all of us.
May the peace, the joy, the love of this moment be with you, and all of you, now and always.

(Ryan and Kristel exit first, then the wedding party.)
Thank you all again for being here.  While the family takes pictures I invite you to follow the path across the bridge and up the hill to the reception.

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