In Which I Married Someone Else Other Than My Wife.

I just found this in my Drafts section here on the ol’ blog. I thought I had posted this a long time ago, but apparently I didn’t. So I’m posting it now. I’m still totally legal to do weddings in Washington State, for life. The whole internet has ordained me. (When I did a wedding in Indiana about 10 years ago, I almost had to give blood, my first-born child, and get letters from 42 different people saying that I am who I claim to be. It’s easier, I think, to get into Cuba.)

This was the first of two weddings I did this summer, and while I used much of the same language for both, it was different in a few ways. First, I used a different scripture passage, so the message was unique to them. Second, there are older children from the groom’s previous marriage, and I wanted to include them in the ceremony — to communicate that the bride wasn’t just marrying their dad, but making a commitment to them as well. Third, they wrote their own vows (which the bride ended up having to ad lib, because her written copy had been left in the dressing room. Note to self: If future couples want to write their vows, get a copy to keep in my pocket, too.)

On behalf of the bride and groom, I’d like to welcome you and thank you for coming tonight to witness the marriage of Chandler Bing and Monica Geller.

Chandler and Monica, 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 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 tonight. We ask that you would bless this union, and that Chandler and Monica 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

Chandler and Monica, 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.

We are Chandler and Monica and ChandlerAndMonica.

You have chosen this date, August 8, 8-8-08. In doing so you have given each other a fantastic gift of the easiest anniversary to remember, ever.

Some associate this date with luck, but luck will have nothing to do with the success of your marriage. It 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 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, your marriage vows 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, where a pamphlet on both marriage and divorce laws is included in the minister’s packet with your wedding license [true], you must be willing to be seen as the rare oddballs who are still in love and still mean years from now 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.

Proverbs 3:3-4 says:

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
In the sight of God and man.

To bind them around your neck means to wear it like a necklace, to put it on intentionally and to display it as you would a piece of jewelry; much like the rings you share today will be a visual symbol of your faithfulness.

To write them on your heart means that rather than written in some book somewhere or on a certificate hanging on your wall, your vows are also written on your heart where they will guide your lives both individually and together.

And I can think of nothing better for a man and his wife than the idea of winning a good name because of your love and faithfulness – to have your name be the one that people think of when they think of love and faithfulness; to know that people say, “I want to have a marriage like the Bings have.”

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
In the sight of God and man.

Introduction of Vows

And so we come to your vows.

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

Chandler and Monica,

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.

Vows: I Do

Chandler, 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?

Monica, 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?

And do you also take Bobby and Cindy as your children, and do you promise to treat them always with love and respect, to be there for them in any way you can; to support them in their relationship with their father and with their mother, and to be a model of God’s unconditional love for them?

Children

Now Bobby and Cindy, I have a question for you.

Do you, Bobby and Cindy, take Monica to be a member of your family, to respect her as an equal to your father? Do you promise to love her and honor her as a parent? Do your promise to value and respect Monica and your father as a couple, and to honor his love for her, now and always?

Vows: I Take You

Chandler, repeat after me.

I Chandler take you Monica 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.

Monica, repeat after me.

I Monica take you Chandler 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.

Rings

As we discussed, the rings you give each other today serve as a visual symbol of your faithfulness and your commitment to each other. You have chosen to write your own words for this part of the ceremony, and so I will turn things over to you. But before we do that, let us say a blessing over the rings.

License / Unity Candle

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 priveleges you gain as a part of your commitment to each other. We will take a moment to sign the license making this legal.

Chandler and Monica, you will also take a moment to light the unity candle together. 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, you are made stronger in your unity, that it is God’s will that in your love you will each find a greater sense of who you are meant to be.

Pronouncement

Chandler and Monica, 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.

Kiss

Chandler, you may kiss your bride.

Presentation

May I be the first to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Chandler Bing.

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2 Comments

Filed under faith, weddings, writings

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

  1. Hi Paul! Thanks for posting this. I must confess. I do not remember that many words in the wedding! Being Mother of the Bride might have had something to do with that. The ceremony was beautiful and I loved reading through it again. You have a true gift with words and I am so glad that it was you who married Monica and Chandler. Tell the wise one “hello!” and I miss you guys.

    Love, June C.

    PS – Sounds like someone made it into treatment! That is great news. I will have seven years this December and I wouldn’t trade my sobriety for anything in the world. It has brought me true joy.

  2. Pingback: In Which I’m Doing A Dream Wedding. « little.brain’s outpost

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