(This was a wedding ceremony of sorts I wrote for two friends, describing the significance of marriage in non-religious terms and without the government.)
The Two Declarations and Thoughts on the Wedding and Getting Married.
I want to thank all of our speakers, what wonderful friends to have! We are going to begin our vow and ring exchange shortly.
I’m personally overjoyed that Chris and Isabelle are having a wedding and are married, because it is one of the happiest and most important thing in someone’s life. It has been for me. And I say this with a seriousness and gravity –and joy- that words can’t quite capture.
Chris and Isabelle were granted the official rights of a domestic partnership four months ago, where they secured many of the important rights and privileges given to married people. Useful stuff to be sure, but probably something you’d never want to throw a party for, much less have cake.
That’s because neither the wedding nor the marriage happened there. Today – now – this is the wedding. And the marriage itself is today, and tomorrow, and enduring. It happens at Chris and Isabelle’s house, not at the city hall, nor this hotel.
So, with the paperwork done and no sacrament to fulfill, a curious mind wonders what the purpose of marriage is. The marriage is not necessary for Chris and Isabelle to love each other. It’s not a prerequisite to live together, or to buy a home, or to be a family with Linus.
So why do it?
Right now, today, I believe marriage’s sole utility, and by extension, the wedding’s, is simply a loud and visible and shared statement of their commitment and intent to love and cherish each other.
There’s no permanence gained from the wedding itself that controls the marriage. We can say “till death do us part” today, but the real declaration is “I intend and commit to loving you every day.” You’re signing up for a daily reaffirmation and commitment.
The wedding is not a pass to say that you’ve come to the end of a journey, but a statement that you are beginning one. Your wedding is not the day you stop trying, but the day you promise to never give up. That’s the marriage. Its permanence isn’t decided today, but in every day Chris and Isabelle live.
The importance of this ceremony can be cleanly thought of as two vital declarations. One where Chris and Isabelle declare their marriage to each other, via vows they have written, and another declaration to us, their dearest family members and friends. Both are huge.
Everybody makes commitments daily, and these declarations escalate greatly by how formal and public they are. It’s one thing to promise yourself something privately, another to tell another person, and there’s something wholly at at a different level about throwing a weekend-long party and making your declaration to everybody that is important to you in a public format.
That’s how important this event is. Everybody has to know. Everybody has to hear it first-hand. And it is going to be catered.
Before we get to our two declarations, I want to mention an awesome feature of this commitment, and that’s Linus. He doesn’t get to sign-off officially on this deal, but he gets to sign-off on it every day through his participation, enjoyment and love going forward. We’re not just witnessing the creation of a couple, but the extension of a family. This is wonderful.
To document the two commitments in a formal and public way, we’ve brought this handsome scroll for them to sign and for us to sign. You can think of it as a traditional wedding guestbook, but we assert that it is the official record between the two and a record of our witness.
Linus, please come up and present the rings. Chris and Isabelle will now recite their vows and present each other with their wedding rings.
(Couple exchange personal vows. This is followed by a vow given by the audience.)
Chris, Isabelle: Look at your guests and repeat after me: “Did you hear our vows? Will you be our witness?”
Now, I’d like all of you all to repeat with me:
“Chris and Isabelle: We’ve heard your vows and accept them. We joyfully accept and support your commitment to each other. We love you.”
You are now husband and wife.