Wedding Vows and Readings
Laura and I were married April 8, 2006, at Discovery Park in Seattle. Photographs of the ceremony are online here. Many friends and family members asked for our readings and our vows, and so I've put them below.
We have gathered to celebrate the marriage of Jon and Laura. Marriage is the promise of hope between two people who love each other, who trust that love, and who wish to share the future together.
It enables two separate people to share their desires, longings, dreams and memories, and to help each other through their uncertainties. It provides the encouragement to risk more and thus to gain more. In marriage, husband and wife belong together, providing mutual support and a stability in which their children may grow.
We are here as Laura and Jon's friends and family to recognize and affirm their relationship as they begin their married life.
From "The Irrational Season" by Madeleine L'Engle
Read by Fard
But ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take... It is indeed a fearful gamble...Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.
To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take... If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation... It takes a lifetime to learn another person... When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.
Touched by an Angel, by Maya Angelou
Read by Rob
We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.
We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Read by Billie
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.
Jon, all this time I thought it would be very special just to find a traveling companion to travel the world with me. Lucky for me, I found someone who offered me so much more. I found a fabulous cook and engaging conversationalist and a worthy opponent. I found a love, a friend, and someone to laugh with.
I often think of one of my favorite poems from Yeats that I first heard in the play "The Loves of Cass Mcquire" by Brian Friel when traveling in Ireland at age eighteen.
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the clothes under your feet;
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Jon, may we travel far together, be at each other's side even when we're at each other's throats and share all life has in store for us.
This ring is my promise to be with you for whatever life brings — to love you with all of my heart as long as we both shall live.
Shakespeare's Sonnet 130
Read by Jesse
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red, than her lips red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare,
As any she belied with false compare
Today I realize what a smart fellow my brother Josh is. At his own wedding several years ago, he mentioned one virtue of a traditional wedding service: he didn't have to think of very much to say. Not saying much, actually, is smart: so much about who a person is—and why we love them—can't be put into language without losing something, maybe too much. People elude our attempts to describe them, like butterflies who refuse to be caught in our nets. Today I've been asked to pin her down and explain: why this butterfly? It's hardly enough to say that this one caught my eye.
In Plato's Symposium, Diotima tells Socrates that we begin by loving a particular person, and move from that specific love to a love of beauty itself, that ultimately "the lover is turned to the great sea of beauty, and, gazing upon this, he gives birth to many gloriously beautiful ideas and theories." Love opens the world to us, gives us mountains and oceans.
But the opposite is true as well: love moves us from pretty abstractions to telling details. When we begin to love a person, we start with things that we share not only with each other, but with many other people. We start by loving the things we think are beautiful: being a fan of Tom Waits, or of the Velvet Underground. A desire to travel. Staying at home, baking bread and making pot roast. We love the patterns on butterflies' wings.
Over time, however, we see where the pattern breaks: we see what distinguishes this butterfly from that one in a way possible only after extended observation. And then I can't love the things that this butterfly shares with all of the others of its kind. Inasmuch as I do so, I love butterflies, not this butterfly. Instead, I love the things that set this one apart from all others.
There are words for these traits, generally unkind: faults, eccentricities, shortcomings. But to a lover, to a true partner, these are the watchwords by which we identify our beloved. I won't tell you what they are. If I did they might sound strange, even wrong.
Instead, I'll just say: Laura, you are beautiful and unique in ways that my words cannot tell; that is why I love you.
This ring is my promise to be with you for whatever life brings, to love you with all of my heart as long as we both shall live.
Jon and Laura, you have declared the love you have for each other and your hopes for the future. You have made promises to each other, and have symbolized them by joining hands and giving rings. You are now legally and spiritually married to each other.
Apache Marriage Blessing
Read by Jennifer
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be the shelter for each other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be the warmth for the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before. Go now to your dwelling place to enter into the days of your life together. And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulty and fear assail your relationship — as they threaten all relationships at one time or another — remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives — remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.
The Seven Blessings, from "The New Jewish Wedding" by Anita Diamant
Read by Joe and Jo
We acknowledge the Unity of all within the sovereignty of God, expressing our appreciation for this wine, symbol and aid of our rejoicing.
We acknowledge the Unity of all within the sovereignty of God, realizing that each separate moment and every distinct object points to and shares in this oneness.
We acknowledge the Unity of all within the sovereignty of God, recognizing and appreciating the blessing of being human.
We acknowledge the Unity of all within the sovereignty of God, realizing the special gift of awareness that permits us to perceive this unity and the wonder we experience as a man and a woman joined to live together.
May rejoicing resound throughout the world as the homeless are given homes, persecution and oppression cease, and all people learn to live in peace with each other and in harmony with their environment.
From the Divine, source of all energy, we call forth an abundance of love to envelop this couple. May they be for each other lovers and friends, and may their love partake of the same innocence, purity, and sense of discovery that we imagine the first couple to have experienced.
We acknowledge the Unity of all within the sovereignty of God, and we highlight today joy and gladness, bridegroom and bride, delight and cheer, love and harmony, peace and companionship. May we all witness the day when the dominant sounds through the world will be these sounds of happiness, the voices of lovers, the sounds of feasting and singing.
Praised is love; blessed be this marriage. May the bride and bridegroom rejoice together.