I scoured the interwebs to find pieces to make up our personalized wedding ceremony that was non-traditional, non-religious, and non-boring.
We twisted some traditions and added our own flair (champagne toast! unity box full of letters! serenade!) to create a beautiful ceremony that I am happy to share with others.
Here we go…
OFFICIANT: Today is a celebration. A celebration of love, of commitment, of friendship, of family, and of two people who are in it for forever.
You don’t have to have a ceremony to have a marriage. And when you think about it, the whole thing is kind of weird, right? You’re standing on a stage, looking fancy, holding flowers, and being stared at by pretty much everyone who has meant anything to you in the past twenty-something years. So why do we do it? The marriage ceremony has been an important feature across nearly every culture, religion, generation, and society. We have thousands of important moments that happen throughout our lives, but this one is regarded as one so critical, we acknowledge its special status by sharing it with others. Why this moment?
Because despite all of our differences, love is what we all share. It’s the great unifier — our one universal truth. That no matter who we are, where we’ve come from, what we believe, we know this one thing: love is what we’re doing right. That’s why you both are standing here. That’s why you all are here to watch them stand up here. We have all loved in our lifetimes, and in this moment, we’re reminded that the ability to love is the very best part of our humanity
All of us here today have our own love stories. Some are short, others long. Some are yet unwritten, while others are just getting to the good part. There are chapters in all of our stories that are sad or disappointing — and others that are exciting and full of adventure.
[Insert your own love story here]
And that brings them here. A time to pause, look back, and smile at all the moments that brought them here. And a time to look ahead at all the moments that are still to come.
I’m here — we’re all here — because 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, love is the experience of writing your story. It’s not one moment — not even this moment. It’s every moment. Big ones like saying “I love you,” moving in together, getting engaged — but mostly a million little ones that come in between the big moments. Falling asleep next to one another, making dinner together, spending holidays with your families, binge-watching Netflix shows, getting a big hug when you get home from work… These everyday moments fuse together into one big experience.
And even though this experience is so incredible, words fail us when we try and explain it. That’s just the way it is with love — it’s meant to be felt, not described.
But trying to describe love is one of our favorite pastimes. We use the words we have to write stories, and poems, and songs about love. And even though we describe love in different ways — and even though love can look different from one person to the next — 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.
[Insert your own wedding readings if you have them]
OFFICIANT: You fell in love by chance, but you’re here today because you’re making a choice. You both are 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 find happiness in the other. There’s a simple premise to each of these promises: you’re vowing to be there. You’re teaming up and saying to the other, “Every experience I am going to have, I want you to be a part of.”
Will you, [Partner 1], keep [Partner 2] as your favorite person — to laugh with her, go on adventures with her, support her through life’s tough moments, be proud of her, grow old with her, and find new reasons to love her every day?
PARTNER 1: I will.
[Same question is then asked of Partner 2]
OFFICIANT: Will you, [Partner 1 and 2], be each other’s partners from this day forward? Will you bring out the best in one another, share your happiest moments together, and love each other absolutely — for the rest of this lifetime and for whatever may come next?
PARTNERS 1 and 2: We will.
OFFICIANT: You’ve both chosen to wear rings as a reminder of these promises. People often say wedding bands are a perfect circle, with no beginning and no end. But these rings did have a beginning. The stones were formed a long time ago deep with the earth. Eventually, a series of lucky events caused them to rise to the surface, where someone dug them up. Metal was then liquefied in a furnace at a thousand degrees — molded, cooled, and painstakingly polished. Something beautiful was made from raw elements.
Love is like that. It comes from humble beginnings, and through a combination of serendipity and effort, imperfect beings shape it into something extraordinary. It’s the process of making something beautiful where there was once nothing at all. As you look at these rings over the years, I hope you remember that. You’ve created something invaluable, and just as I know you’ll protect these rings, I’m confident you’ll protect the commitments you’ve made to one other today.
OFFICIANT: I hope I haven’t talked so long that people finished their drinks, because this is a celebration, and every celebration needs a toast.
So to wrap this up before we all head into the reception hall for a delicious dinner and lots of dancing, I’ll ask you all to raise your glasses to Katie and Mallory as we celebrate their love.
[toast adapted from Blessing for a Marriage by James Dillet Freeman]
May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring.
May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
May you want one another, but not out of lack.
May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults.
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.