In Which I Married Someone Other Than My Wife.

You may or may not know that I am totally legal to perform weddings in the State of Washington. (It really doesn’t take much. But I slaved over it. Took at least five clicks.) In the last month I’ve done two weddings and I really enjoyed the opportunity.

I don’t usually like to toot my own horn, but at the wedding last weekend I had a lot of people tell me how much they appreciated my words. The photographer told me she’s been married for 11 years and has been to a LOT of weddings and that this one was the best she’d been to because of the lack of cheesy sentimentality. She said that she kept wanting to shout, “Yes!” but was able to restrain herself.

I was very deliberate in the words I chose for a couple of reasons. The couple I was marrying have been together for years, live together and have a two-year-old son. I wanted to emphasize that rather than just “making it legal,” they were making a significant change; that before this moment, they shared a life together but now they were making a commitment ’til death, to each other and to their son and any future children.

I also wanted to acknowledge that it was a commitment they were entering into with full knowledge of the realities of life together, as they have been together long enough that the lovey-dovey stage has passed and the reality of raising a toddler is fully upon them.

I had a great time doing the wedding; their son was the ring-bearer and added MUCH entertainment and suspense to the festivities (especially when the bride picked him up in her beautiful white dress as he clutched a chocolate-milk drink box).

I really enjoyed the wedding I did earlier this month as well, and as that one was a family member, it made it all the more enjoyable to be a part of their day. I used much of the same language for both weddings, with several differences to make each ceremony more personal.

Keep reading if you want to read the most recent ceremony. I’ll post the ceremony from earlier this month tomorrow.

To respect their privacy, I’ve renamed the family.

On behalf of the bride and groom, I’d like to welcome you and thank you for coming this afternoon to witness the marriage of Barney Rubble and Betty McBricker.

Barney and Betty, on behalf of your loved ones gathered here today, I welcome you to this moment in your lives and to what this moment represents of the place you hold in each other’s hearts.

There is nothing like that knowledge that the one you love has chosen you, and may that knowledge be an anchor to which all the other aspects of your life hold strong.

May this day be a marker so that in the future, as you look back on your life, there will be those times that were before this day and those moments that came after and that nothing in your lives will be as significant as this day when you pledged yourselves freely to one another until death do you part.

We join with you on this day, as you commit before God and humanity that from this point forward you shall live as one.

I remind all of our guests that in our gathering here today this is made a sacred place, and this is a sacred moment in a sacred place, and that you have been invited here for a sacred purpose, not just to witness, but to participate fully with your thoughts and prayers, asking God to bless this couple and their married life.

You are here because this couple feels close to you and has asked that you join with them in this dedication of sacred purpose.

You represent symbolically all the people in the world who will be touched in any way by the life of this couple. You represent their friends and family, now and forever.

They have chosen this act of marriage and this public, holy ceremony in which to proclaim it. Together we all thank God for bringing them together and ask Him always to guide their way.

Let us pray.

Our Father in Heaven,

We thank you for this beautiful summer day. We thank you for your love and for your guidance in our lives, and we acknowledge your presence in this place today. We ask that you would bless this union, and that Duke and Duchess would each day know more of your love because of the love they share in their marriage together, that their love would be a model to those around them, and that together they would build a loving home in which their family and friends would know love and devotion and faithfulness.

We ask these things in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Who gives this woman to be married to this man?

Wedding Message

Barney and Betty, you made it.

Congratulations on this day.

There are parts of this day that will stand out in your memory; you will remember the details as if these moments happened in slow motion. There are other parts of this day that are being preserved on video and audio recordings because you will have no recollection of those moments and if you didn’t have them on tape, you’d say it didn’t happen.

Right now, this day feels like a culmination of months of planning, talking, dreaming, hoping, and in a sense it is, but it is also just the first day of the rest of your lives. That may sound cliché, but today is the day that you say, publicly and proudly:

I am hers. I am his.

We are Mr. and Mrs.

A successful marriage will take hard work, patience, determination, honesty, a lot of grace, laughter, and intentionality about your commitment to each other.

That’s why you are here today, to make these vows to one another, to say that from this day forward, your love and commitment to each other is non-negotiable, and everything else you do – everything – will fall within the context of this commitment.

You are making a home together, and the consistency of your relationship is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your son and any future children.

Everything they know about love and commitment and faithfulness as adults will be either learned or reinforced by what they witness in you, partly in the intentional moments when you talk to them about love and commitment and the meaning of promises,

but mostly in the moments when you don’t think they are watching,

in the way that you talk to each other,

in the ways that you touch each other and hold hands in public and gross them out when you kiss.

In our society today very little is held sacred. And for that reason, the vows you make today must be held as sacred.

Your commitment to each other must stand against everything else that our culture models, and must be a refuge of peace and love and strength, for you and for your children.

In a world where such commitments are seen increasingly as temporary, you must be willing to be seen as the rare oddballs who years from now are still in love and still mean then all the things you say today.
That is the greatest gift you can give to each other, to your children, to your family, to your friends.

1 Corinthians 13 tells us,

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophecy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

This passage is recognized as one of the greatest descriptions of love in all the writings of human history, and in our culture most people recognize it as being part of scripture even if they are not familiar with the bible. As beautiful as it is, there’s something in this that gets lost in translation when we paraphrase the apostle Paul’s writings into language familiar to those of us who speak English.

In the bible, there are three different words that are translated in English as “love,” and they are three different concepts that bear distinction:

The first is eros, which describes a romantic love or passion. It’s the butterflies you get in your stomach when you see each other or when you kiss for the first time. It’s a feeling that over time transforms into something deeper, but in a marriage it is still present and sometimes comes and goes, like a tide.

You know from your life together already that there are times when you just look at each other and feel that love, and there are other times when work and commuting and the joys of being a parent have exhausted you, and just because you don’t feel that energy doesn’t mean you don’t love each other, because that’s not all there is to love.

The second love, phileo, is described as a “brotherly love,” though it manifests itself in many ways. It is the love that says, “I am here for you, and I expect you to be here for me, because we are in this together.” It is the love of siblings, the love of good friends, and it is an important part of any marriage.

The third love, and the love that is spoken of in this passage, is agape. It is a spiritual love, a selfless love, a love that says “I love you not because of what you do or who you are or because of anything in you that makes you worthy of love. I love you simply because you are.” It is a spiritual love because at its core, it is God’s love in us and God loving others through us, and it is a love by choice – “I choose to love you” – not because of any obligation or temporary emotion. This is even the kind of love Paul speaks of when he writes of the love that Christ showed us by dying on the cross. It is a love completely free of self.

A successful marriage will endure because it embodies all three of these kinds of love. This passage of scripture was written to a group of Christians thousands of years ago to instruct them on how they ought to love each other, as people who proclaim to be followers of Christ.

The love written of in this passage is the love to be shared between believers and is certainly the kind of love we should all strive for in our relationships but especially it is the kind of love you should ask God to teach you to embody in your marriage, so that your goal is that it might be said of you,

Barney is patient.

Betty is kind. She does not envy, she does not boast, she is not proud.

Barney is not rude, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs.
Betty does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Barney always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Betty never fails.

That’s a powerful goal. But it’s an intimidating one as well. And it requires us asking God to teach us this love, which is hard because sometimes there are lessons that we just don’t want to learn. But the love you have now will only be strengthened by anchoring your commitment to each other in this love. This is the love that endures for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.

[I ended up dropping this part because it was getting a little long and BamBam was getting restless. I wish I hadn’t left it out, but I don’t think it took anything out of the ceremony.]

Think about BamBam.

You loved him even before he was born, when he was just a blurry black-and-white picture that you showed to all your friends and family, when he was just an alien turning somersaults in Betty’s stomach. You loved him. He was not even aware that you existed, and you loved him. When he was born, he slowly came to realize who mom and dad were, and you loved him.

Then he started interacting – smiling, laughing, talking, teasing, hugging, kissing, and you loved him. Now he’s growing smarter every day, but he still knows just a little bit of the things he will learn over the course of his life, oblivious to so many of the things going on around him, including most of what is happening today, he knows that you go to work but doesn’t know what that means or what you do or what car loans are, or property taxes or budgeting or anything else like that.

Someday you will teach him those things, but right now you’ve got to work on the ABC’s and numbers and how to put his shirt on.

That’s the way this agape love is in us. It is in you now, and has been part of your relationship together, but it is just a shadow, just a dim reflection in a mirror, of what it can become.

It doesn’t arrive in its fullest form, but as a spark. It grows at times slowly and at times by leaps and bounds, and no matter how long you live it will never cease to grow in you. It will never reach that point where love has grown all it’s going to grow.

There will be days in your marriage where you just love each other so much! And there will be days when it is all you can do to just get out of bed. It is said that marriage is a 50-50 partnership, but that is just not true. Marriage is an 80-20 partnership, and a 50-50, and a 75-25, and a 40-60. The love that Paul writes of is the love that will carry you through all that you plan for and all the things you will endure together – both good and bad – that you can’t even imagine right now.

You will always have something to learn of love. Love never fails.


And so we come to your vows.

I recently came across something written by Robert Fulghum, and because I cannot put it any better than he does, I will read his words:

Barney and Betty,

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way.

All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks – all those sentences that began with  “When we’re married” and continued with “I will and you will and we will” – those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to each other, “You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed? Well, I meant it all. Every word.” Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another: acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years.

Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never be quite the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world: This is my husband. This is my wife.


Barney, do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to live together in the sacred estate of holy matrimony? Do you promise your deepest love, your fullest devotion, and your most tender care, and forsaking all others, do you promise to keep yourself only for her so long as you both shall live?

Betty, do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to live together in the sacred estate of holy matrimony? Do you promise your deepest love, your fullest devotion, and your most tender care, and forsaking all others, do you promise to keep yourself only for her so long as you both shall live?


Barney, repeat after me.

I Barney take you Betty to be my wife
To have and to hold,
From this day forward
For better or for worse, for richer or poorer
In sickness and health
And I promise before God and these witnesses
To be a faithful and true husband
To love you and comfort you
Honor and sustain you
To never take our love for granted
As long as we both shall live.

Betty, repeat after me.

I Betty take you Barney to be my husband
To have and to hold,
From this day forward
For better or for worse, for richer or poorer
In sickness and health
And I promise before God and these witnesses
To be a faithful and true wife
To love you and comfort you
Honor and sustain you
To never take our love for granted
As long as we both shall live.


The rings you give each other today serve as a visual symbol of your faithfulness and your commitment to each other. The wedding ring is a tradition hundreds of years old, and it is a gift you give to each other, but also a powerful reminder of the vows you have made today. It is the circle without end, symbolizing your unending love. It is perfectly symmetrical, symbolizing the perfection of true love. It is made of precious metals, symbolizing the purity of marriage.

These are the rings you will wear for the rest of your life, to express your commitment and your love. Wear them proudly, and as often as you see them, be reminded of this day and the promises you have made.

Barney, as you place the ring on Betty’s hand, repeat these words:

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
take and wear this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness.

Betty, as you place the ring on Barney’s hand, repeat these words:

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
take and wear this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness.


Along with the sanctity of marriage, this is a legal commitment you make today as well, and according to the laws of the State of Washington there are rights and privileges you gain as a part of your commitment to each other. We will take a moment to sign the license making this legal.

Barney and Betty, you will also take a moment to light the unity candle together. Jesus said, “At the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.”

The unity candle is a symbol that your two lives have become one in the commitment that you make today, and that as you go forward from this day though you remain two separate individuals, it is God’s will that in your love you will each find a greater sense of who you are meant to be and that you are made stronger in your unity, one in your commitment, one in purpose, one in heart, mind and strength.


Barney and Betty, you have pledged to each other your love. May God bless you in your life together, as you go forward from this moment.

You have pledged your love and commitment to each other, and I now pronounce you man and wife.

BLESSING FOR A MARRIAGE — 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.

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 which 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.


Barney, you may kiss your bride.


May I be the first to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Barney Rubble.



Filed under faith, weddings, writings

2 responses to “In Which I Married Someone Other Than My Wife.

  1. Pingback: In Which I Married Someone Else Other Than My Wife. « little.brain’s outpost

  2. Charity

    You are sooo hired Paul, you are exactly what I want in a Officiant, sincere, funny, personable. Let’s talk soon about my wedding!!!!

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