|All of the tears. Captured by Lisa Mathewson Photography|
As much as I loved some of the other details of our wedding reception, it is the ceremony that continues to stick with me. It was the best part of the wedding. Because it is what made it a wedding, and not just a fun family party.
Throughout the evening, family and friends commented that the day was very "us." They could see Chris and I in all of the smaller parts. For me, this was most true for our ceremony.
As we grappled with what we wanted our ceremony to be, we decided on a few key things:
1. It would be heartfelt and thoughtful, while not being super traditional.
2. We would walk in and out together, without a processional.
3. We wanted something more than just the readings and vows. (As to the what, that took some additional pondering).
Our friend Beau graciously agreed to officiate our wedding. And I think it was really special that it was him, because he was there when we first met at a professional development event, and later reconnected at a conference. Beau has officiated a number of other weddings, including some of our other friends. Plus, I think he both looked the part, but also did an amazing job of leading us through the whole thing.
Our Ring Warming Ceremony
This. I am so glad we did this.
If you haven't heard of a ring warming ceremony before, know that I had never seen one in person before we found it online. As we planned our ceremony, we didn't want to do a unity candle or a sand ceremony. Something about pouring sand in the same venue where our guests would be eating just sounded like an accident waiting to happen. I'm clumsy. As we explored other options, I read quite a bit about Celtic handfasting, before deciding that while we both have Irish roots, it wasn't something we felt confident about pulling off, and we didn't want to screw up something that holds a sacred place within a culture.
After reading a few things about a ring warming ceremony (here and here), it just felt like the right fit for us. It was a way to involve all of our family and friends in our ceremony, rather than feeling like they were just "spectators," which I really liked. And I truly believe that things carry energy in them, and having our loved ones inject our wedding bands with their love and positive energy seemed pretty awesome.
Many of the different sites that we read talked about the challenges of timing for this, so we put it at the beginning of the ceremony, in case the rings took awhile to get through all of our guests. We were a bit nervous about it, as specially as we talked it through with the wedding party in our Skype wedding rehearsal (side note: best idea ever) and worried that there might be awkward standing in silence. Also, sweaty, gross rings. But then we just decided to let it happen. Two of our friends, Aileen and Lucy, served as "ring bears," making sure that the ring was passed through all of our guests and returned safely to the front.
As we watched our rings pass through our family and friends hands, it just felt really intimate and special. And I had to hold back tears, as my grandmother was the last one to hold the rings and bring them back to the groomsmen.
We looked at a couple of different readings, and ultimately decided on "i carry your heart with me (i carry it in/my heart)" by e.e. cummings, which was beautifully read by Katie, one of my best friends from college. I first heard the poem during the wedding scene in "In Her Shoes," and way back then thought it was the perfect wedding reading.
Our second reading was "He'll Make Me Happy" by Jeff Moss. Also known as Miss Piggy and Kermit's wedding song. We're Muppets people. Call us cheesy, if you will. But the lyrics are actually pretty special, and our friend Ann did an awesome job reading it without it sounding corny at all. She did refrain from doing Kermit and Piggy voices, which was probably a good choice.
We had discussed writing our own vows. Not for us. We are much more likely to share our feelings and thoughts with each other privately, than to do so in front of folks, even if they are our loved ones. I don't think either of us would have gotten through them and actually been able to say the words - I had a hard enough time repeating back what Beau said first.
After much searching and finding things that we didn't want to say...("honor and obey" was out for sure), we found these online (slightly modified), and thought they fit us:
(Chris), I choose you to be my partner
Loving what I know of you
And trusting what I do not yet know
I look forward to the opportunity to grow alongside you
Getting to know the person you will become
And falling in love with you a little more every day
I promise to love and cherish you
To laugh with you and grieve with you
To be truthful and honest with you
And to bravely face together whatever life may bring us
It felt a bit ironic that a few months before the wedding, we watched one of the last How I Met Your Mother episodes where Barney was struggling to write his vows. He points out that Marshall and Lily had already broken all of their vows. They make the decision to update them, and continue updating them later on. Because life changes. And there are no perfect vows.
While our vows may not be perfect for our entire lives together, I don't know if that is a reasonable goal to be striving for. I think, instead, as we made the commitment to entering into this formal partnership together, albeit a legally binding one, we both agreed to do the best that we can. To try. And to understand that there will be many points along our journey together where stuff will get real and we will deal with it. And more than one time where we will have to face an obstacle that we never saw coming. In that regard, they are the best vows that they could be, for us.
What I Remember Most
- So initially my event-planning brain was on, and I couldn't get past the fact that we were standing really far off center from the ribbon backdrop. I was totally preoccupied. Did it really matter? No. Did it bug me? Absolutely. Once the ring ceremony started, I made everyone move. I own that this is sort of crazy, but that's just who I am.
- Chris couldn't look at me because he was too worried he'd lose it. He spent most of the ceremony looking down at the ceremony script in Beau's hands. I watched him watching what Beau was reading. Such a handsome husband.
- Vaguely knowing that other folks were there and that some were a bit teary, but having no idea that there were LOTS of tears. When I was told that a friend was genuinely sobbing, it was a total surprise.
- Concentrating really hard on saying the right words.
- Being SO happy and so excited when it was all official!