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Wedding Lit: Our Personal, Nerdy, Pop Culture-Filled Ceremony Script & Readings

November 23, 2016

Hello!

I got married!

While I’m a person who actually really enjoyed the tedium of wedding planning, the two things that I found shockingly difficult were 1) the ceremony script, and 2) the ceremony readings.

This was shocking because I am an editor and writer. I read constantly, both professionally and as a hobby. I should have had a lifetime of preparation for the ceremony script and readings, right?

Wrong.

Wrong wrong wrong.

The script was an obstacle due to our venue: we opted for a secular venue, as my family is Southern Baptist and Eastern Orthodox, and Chris’s is Roman Catholic, so we had a friend officiate. Said friend is not a justice of the peace or any sort of usual marriage ceremony official, and because I’m a bit of a Type-A lady who likes to do everything, I took it upon myself to write the script.

Well. Cobble together the script and then edit the hell out of it.

Most of the scripts I could find online were – to put it bluntly – dreadful. Or, if they weren’t dreadful, they weren’t right. I wanted it to be sweet and funny and monumental, but not be cliché or overwrought or cringe-worthy. The prospect of crafting something as important as the ceremony script (I became very serious about this sucker.) was daunting. I’m not particularly sentimental, so the idea of writing something incredibly sentimental was incredibly overwhelming. So I decided I would find sections of ceremonies that I did not find dreadful (OffBeat Bride, y’all.) and create a sort of Frankenstein ceremony script. When I finally finished it, I was ridiculously pleased with it. Not smug pleased, but, just, really, really happy with it and proud of it. It felt right.

So! In case you, or someone you know, are facing similar difficulties in regards to a ceremony script (I’ll stick a few readings that we shortlisted after the script), I’m sharing ours here – feel free to use it as you see fit!

[Processional: “Dawn” from Pride and Prejudice]

OFFICIANT: Please be seated.

[People are seated]

OFFICIANT: Today is a celebration. A celebration of love, of commitment, of friendship, of family, and of two people who are together in this thing called life.

The marriage ceremony has been an important feature across nearly every culture, religion, generation, and society. There are thousands of important moments that happen throughout all of our lives, but a wedding is regarded as a moment so critical, it needs to be shared in the presence of God and with friends near and far. With us today are guests from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, both Washington, D.C. and Washington state, California, and right here in Arkansas, and one guest all the way from Germany.

But why this moment?

Because, despite all of our differences, love is what we all share. Love is a great unifier – a universal truth. No matter who we are, where we’ve come from, or what we believe, we know this one thing: love is what we’re doing right.

In this moment, we’re reminded that the ability to love is the very best part of our humanity. Everyone here has their own love stories. Some are short, while others are long. Some have yet to be written, while others are just getting to the good part.

Chris and Bethany’s story is one of technology and frequent flyer miles.

Four months after meeting online and starting a relationship, Chris was offered a job in Singapore. It was an offer he couldn’t refuse, so he accepted right away. But there were two problems: the first was that he would be moving in a matter of weeks, and the second was that he didn’t tell Bethany before he accepted.

He was so nervous driving to her apartment to tell her the news that he wasn’t watching his speedometer and ended up with a speeding ticket.

She took the news as well as could be expected. Both about the job and the ticket.

After a few days thinking things over, Bethany decided that distance wasn’t a good enough reason to end their relationship. As daunting as it seemed, she wanted to give long distance a shot. Twenty-first century technology meant that communication wouldn’t be so difficult: emails and texts and phone calls and video chats were completely doable. If they tried and it didn’t work out, then so be it. But if it did…well. Wouldn’t that be something?

Luckily, Chris agreed.

So after packing up and stepping onto Singapore Airlines flight 25, Chris traveled the 21 hours and 9,521 miles from New York City to Singapore.

He would take that flight three more times within the year. Bethany, to her credit, did it once.

Chris was only supposed to be away for one year, but the twelve months came and went, and turned into a year and a half.

Chris and Bethany found that communication was surprisingly easy. The twelve hour time difference was actually conducive to both their schedules, and though they missed each other, they were able to make it work.

It should be noted that even though the relationship weathered the distance, they were both very relieved when Chris moved back to New York.

That relief lasted for about a year, until, one day, Chris was offered a job.

It was, again, in Singapore.

This time, Chris talked to Bethany about the offer, and they agreed that he should take it. And that she should move, too.

So they did. They both stepped onto planes that would take them the 9,521 miles from New York City to Singapore, where they would start a new adventure together.

A few months later, they took a trip to Bali. (For the curious here among us, that’s 10,125 miles away from New York City). And so it was on a very sunny, very warm day, seated at an al fresco lunch by the Ayung River in Ubud that Chris proposed.

Bethany was so shocked that he had to remind her to say yes.

But yes is what she did say.

So now Chris and Bethany are in Springdale, Arkansas, which is – just so you’re informed – 1,303 miles from New York City. Distance aside, we’re all gathered here today, in this moment, to pause, look back, and smile at all the moments that brought this couple here. And to look ahead and imagine all the moments that are still to come.

We want those moments for you. We’re here to hope with you, to support you, to be proud of you, and to remind you that love isn’t happily ever after – it’s the experience of writing your story. It’s not one moment; it’s every moment.

Big moments like saying “I love you” for the first time; like moving in together; like getting engaged – and then there’s the smaller ones. Walking the dog, watching the few TV shows you can both agree on, hugging each other when you come home from work. These everyday moments fuse together into one big experience.

Even though this experience is so incredible, words fail us when we try to spell it out. That’s just the way it is with love: in the wise words of Winnie the Pooh, you don’t spell it, you feel it.

But trying to describe love is one of humankind’s favorite pastimes. We use the words we have to write stories, and poems, and songs about love. Though we each describe and experience love in different ways, we all know it when we see it. And we see it here.

So today, we have some words about what love is, coming from some of the people who love you the most.

The first will be read by Chris’s uncle.

Romans 12:9-16

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in 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, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’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.”

The next will be read by Bethany’s friend and sorority sister.

“To Love Is Not To Possess” by James Kavanaugh

To love is not to possess,

To own or imprison,

Nor to lose one’s self in another.

Love is to join and separate,

To walk alone and together,

To find a laughing freedom

That lonely isolation does not permit.

It is finally to be able

To be who we really are

No longer clinging in childish dependency

Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,

It is to be perfectly one’s self

And perfectly joined in permanent commitment

To another–and to one’s inner self.

Love only endures when it moves like waves,

Receding and returning gently or passionately,

Or moving lovingly like the tide

In the moon’s own predictable harmony,

Because finally, despite a child’s scars

Or an adult’s deepest wounds,

They are openly free to be

Who they really are–and always secretly were,

In the very core of their being

Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

OFFICIANT: You fell in love by chance, but you’re here today by choice. You’re choosing each other. You’ve chosen to be with someone who enhances you, who makes you think, makes you smile, and makes every day brighter.

You’re about to make promises to each other that you intend to keep. You’re going to vow to take care of each other, to stand up for one another, and to find happiness together.

Please repeat after me:

[Chris’s Vows]
I vow to love you, encourage you,
trust you, respect you,
and go on adventures with you;   
and to create a home with you that is filled with learning, laughter, and compassion.
I promise to work with you to foster and cherish a marriage of equality,
knowing that together we will build a life far better than either of us could imagine alone;

Today, I choose you to be my wife.
I accept you as you are, love what I know of you, and trust what I’ve yet to discover.
I will care for you, stand beside you, and share with you all of life’s adversities
and all of its joys from this day forward,
and all the days of my life.

[Bethany’s Vows]
I vow to love you, encourage you,
trust you, respect you, go on adventures with you,
and to create a home with you that is filled with learning, laughter, and compassion.
I promise to work with you to foster and cherish a marriage of equality,
knowing that together we will build a life far better than either of us could imagine alone;

Today, I choose you to be my husband.
I accept you as you are, love what I know of you, and trust what I’ve yet to discover.
I will care for you, stand beside you, and share with you all of life’s adversities
and all of its joys from this day forward,
and all the days of my life.

OFFICIANT: You’ve both chosen to wear rings as a reminder of these vows. People often say wedding bands are a perfect circle, with no beginning and no end. But these rings did have a beginning. The metal was formed long ago, deep within the earth, and a series of lucky events caused it to rise to the surface. The metal was then liquefied, molded, cooled, and painstakingly polished. Something beautiful was made from raw elements.

Love, like these rings you are exchanging today, comes from humble beginnings: through a combination of serendipity, effort, and God’s grace, imperfect beings shape it into something extraordinary. I hope you always remember that today you’ve created something invaluable, and I’m confident you’ll protect the vows you’ve made to one another today.

[Exchange of rings]

Chris, as you place the ring on Bethany’s finger, please repeat after me:

With this ring, I marry you and bind my life to yours.

It is a symbol of my eternal love,

My everlasting friendship,

And the promise of all my tomorrows.

Bethany, as you place the ring on Chris’s finger, please repeat after me:

With this ring, I marry you and bind my life to yours.

It is a symbol of my eternal love,

My everlasting friendship,

And the promise of all my tomorrows.

So, by the power vested in me by Universal Life Church, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss your bride.

[Smooches]

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to present to you, for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Bloch.

Mischief managed.

[The crowd goes wild]

[Recessional, “The Bear Necessities” from The Jungle Book.]

Please proceed to the stables for drinking, dining, and lots of dancing.

 

Photo by Jessica Robinson.

Photo by Jessica Robinson.

 

luv_0460

Photo by Helen Hush.

 

Photo by Helen Hush.

Photo by Helen Hush.

Readings! It took me a lot of time to find readings I liked and that I felt were appropriate for our relationship and goals for our marriage. But find them I did (as evidenced above). I highly recommend those, but if you’re not over-the-moon about them, here are a few others that we shortlisted.

The Art of Marriage by Wilferd Peterson

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created.

In the art of marriage the little things are the big things…

It is never being too old to hold hands.

It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day.

It is never going to sleep angry.

It is at no time taking the other for granted.

It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.

It is standing together, facing the world.

It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.

It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy.

It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.

It is not looking for perfection in each other.

It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humour.

It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.

It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow.

It is finding room for the things of the spirit.

It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.

It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.

It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.

It is discovering what marriage can be, at its best.

Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

“A Marriage” by Mark Twain

A marriage makes of two fractional lives a whole;
It gives two purposeless live a work,
And doubles the strength of each to perform it.
It gives two questioning natures a reason for living
And something to live for.
It will give new gladness to the sunshine,
A new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth
And a new mystery to life.

By Jeanette Winterson

“You don’t fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signalled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump. Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home. And you can bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your odd socks. (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found.)

And you can bring your friends to visit. And read your favourite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without. That’s it.

PS You have to be brave.”

 “Foundations of Marriage” by Regina Hill

“Love, trust, and forgiveness are the foundations of marriage. In marriage, many days will bring happiness, while other days may be sad. But together, two hearts can overcome everything. In marriage, all of the moments won’t be exciting or romantic, and sometimes worries and anxiety will be overwhelming. But together, two hearts that accept will find comfort together. Recollections of past joys, pains, and shared feelings will be the glue that holds everything together during even the worst and most insecure moments. Reaching out to each other as a friend, and becoming the confidant and companion that the other one needs, is the true magic and beauty of any two people together. It’s inspiring in each other a dream or a feeling, and having faith in each other and not giving up… even when all the odds say to quit. It’s allowing each other to be vulnerable, to be himself or herself, even when the opinions or thoughts aren’t in total agreement or exactly what you’d like them to be. It’s getting involved and showing interest in each other, really listening and being available, the way any best friend should be.

Exactly three things need to be remembered in a marriage if it is to be a mutual bond of sharing, caring, and loving throughout life: love, trust, and forgiveness.”

“Blessing For A Marriage” by James Dillet Freeman
May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding. May you always need one another — not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete. The valley does not make the mountain less, but more. And the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another. May you succeed in all-important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces. May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back. May you enter into the mystery that is the awareness of one another’s presence — no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities. May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.

“Wedding Poem” by Neil Gaiman

This for you, for both of you,

a small poem of happiness

filled with small glories and little triumphs

a fragile, short cheerful song

filled with hope and all sorts of futures

Because at weddings we imagine the future

Because it’s all about “what happens next?”

all the work and negotiation and building and talk

that makes even the tiniest happily ever after

something to be proud of for a wee forever

This is a small thought for both of you

like a feather or a prayer,

a wish of trust and love and hope

and fine brave hearts and true.

Like a tower, or a house made all of bones and dreams

and tomorrows and tomorrows and tomorrows.

“Us Two” by A.A. Milne

Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
“Where are you going today?” says Pooh:
“Well, that’s very odd ‘cos I was too.
Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he.
“Let’s go together,” says Pooh.

“What’s twice eleven?” I said to Pooh.
(“Twice what?” said Pooh to Me.)
“I think it ought to be twenty-two.”
“Just what I think myself,” said Pooh.
“It wasn’t an easy sum to do,
But that’s what it is,” said Pooh, said he.
“That’s what it is,” said Pooh.

“Let’s look for dragons,” I said to Pooh.
“Yes, let’s,” said Pooh to Me.
We crossed the river and found a few-
“Yes, those are dragons all right,” said Pooh.
“As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.
That’s what they are,” said Pooh, said he.
“That’s what they are,” said Pooh.

“Let’s frighten the dragons,” I said to Pooh.
“That’s right,” said Pooh to Me.
“I’m not afraid,” I said to Pooh,
And I held his paw and I shouted “Shoo!
Silly old dragons!”- and off they flew.

“I wasn’t afraid,” said Pooh, said he,
“I’m never afraid with you.”

So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
“What would I do?” I said to Pooh,
“If it wasn’t for you,” and Pooh said: “True,
It isn’t much fun for One, but Two,
Can stick together, says Pooh, says he. “That’s how it is,” says Pooh.

The Invitation by Oriah

It doesn’t interest me

what you do for a living.

I want to know

what you ache for

and if you dare to dream

of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me

how old you are.

I want to know

if you will risk

looking like a fool

for love

for your dream

for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me

what planets are

squaring your moon…

I want to know

if you have touched

the centre of your own sorrow

if you have been opened

by life’s betrayals

or have become shrivelled and closed

from fear of further pain.

I want to know

if you can sit with pain

mine or your own

without moving to hide it

or fade it

or fix it.

I want to know

if you can be with joy

mine or your own

if you can dance with wildness

and let the ecstasy fill you

to the tips of your fingers and toes

without cautioning us

to be careful

to be realistic

to remember the limitations

of being human.

It doesn’t interest me

if the story you are telling me

is true.

I want to know if you can

disappoint another

to be true to yourself.

If you can bear

the accusation of betrayal

and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can see Beauty

even when it is not pretty

every day.

And if you can source your own life

from its presence.

I want to know

if you can live with failure

yours and mine

and still stand at the edge of the lake

and shout to the silver of the full moon,

“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me

to know where you live

or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up

after the night of grief and despair

weary and bruised to the bone

and do what needs to be done

to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me

who you know

or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand

in the centre of the fire

with me

and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me

where or what or with whom

you have studied.

I want to know

what sustains you

from the inside

when all else falls away.

I want to know

if you can be alone

with yourself

and if you truly like

the company you keep

in the empty moments.

So there you have it! Hopefully these are hugely useful and helpful, but if not, I do wish you the very best of luck in finding (or writing) a script and readings that are pitch-perfect!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Ann Larson permalink
    November 26, 2016 6:42 PM

    This script was one I have great love. Of the one who wrote it thought it up with her brilliant brain. I hope that Bethany and Chris stay in love as long as her maternal grandparents ( 50 years ) and her paternal grandparents ( 45 years ). Love to the two of you, may you have a long and happy marriage.

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