Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Wedding: The Ceremony

As I mentioned yesterday, I finally have photos from our official photographer and had time over winter break to write the rest of my wedding recaps. I'm posting them all this week because 1. I'm excited to share the rest of the details, and 2. the wedding was almost two months ago and it's pretty much now or never.

Let's kick things off with the most important part of the day - the  ceremony where we became husband and wife. 

Guests seating on the covered deck, ready and waiting.

Our Officiant

Our wedding ceremony was officiated by our good friend Bryan. Prior to the wedding, he asked us to send him our thoughts on marriage and love, what we wanted our wedding to be like, and what kind of ceremony we envisioned. We knew we wanted it to be quirky but meaningful, that we wanted to mention how important our community has been in our development as a couple, and that we wanted to present ourselves as equal partners, ready to commit for the rest of our earthly lives. A tall order, but Bryan managed to go above and beyond in filling it. We laughed, we cried, and everyone said that it was the best ceremony they'd ever witnessed. I had to agree even though I was, to be fair, a bit biased.

Walking Down the Aisle

I decided to have both my parents walk me down the aisle. I didn't want to deal with the whole "giving your daughter away" thing, for obvious reasons, but I also didn't want to hurt my father's feelings. Walking with both my parents seemed like a good compromise - I thought of it as the two people who raised me, helping me along to the next phase of my life. My parents were happy, I was comfortable, and it ended up being a really sweet and meaningful moment.

Our Readings

First up: our friend Eralda, who also happens to be married to Bryan. We asked her to read the following passage from Captain Corelli's Mandolin. We loved this reading, and felt it reflected the length and depth of our relationship.
Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.

Next up: my dear grandmother. She's done readings at almost every family wedding I've been to, and I wanted to continue that tradition. We asked her to read a passage from The Alchemist, a book Nathan and I loved and shared in the early days of our relationship. A note: my grandmother has the world's thickest Long Island accent, and she got choked up half way through the reading, which sent everyone over the edge. There's wasn't a dry eye in the house when she was done.
When he looked into her eyes, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke – the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. Because when you know the language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.

And finally, Nathan's parents shared a reading. It's gorgeous and lovely and, again, spoke to us and our experiences as a couple. I already posted it once, so in the interest of saving space, you can read it here.

Our Vows

We knew we wanted to write our own vows, but I was worried about reading them during the ceremony - I cry when I'm emotional, and I didn't want to sob through such a beautiful and important moment. Instead, we decided to write our vows as a series of questions which Bryan would ask us. We also decided to go back and forth, so that we could make our vows together, and that we would answer each question with the words, "I do." I like that we ended up saying "I do" over and over - each time, it took on more weight and meaning. Again, we wanted to keep things light, but serious. Quirky, with a traditional touch. This was my favorite part of the ceremony - I still get chills just thinking about it.

Chrissy, do you promise to encourage Nathan’s ever-changing interests, to stand by him in the face of the apocalypse, and to go camping pretty regularly? 

Nathan, do you promise to support Chrissy’s many ambitions, to encourage her when she fails, and to celebrate with her when she succeeds? 

Chrissy, do you promise to inspire Nathan with your compassion and kindness, and to help him see the best in others?

Nathan, do you promise to maintain your sense of adventure, and to share an exciting, authentic, and absurd life with Chrissy? 

Chrissy, do you promise to argue with Nathan more when it matters, and less when it doesn’t, to read widely and think deeply, and to share those thoughts with Nathan at the end of each day?

Nathan, do you promise to question everything (except your relationship), to seek out new ideas and explore different ways of thinking and living, and to share your findings with Chrissy at the end of each day?

Chrissy, do you promise to appreciate the small moments you share with Nathan, such as reading in bed on Sunday mornings and walking the dogs after dinner? 

Nathan, do you promise to be grateful for each day with Chrissy, whether you’re drinking wine on the porch while it rains, or talking non-stop through a long run?

Chrissy, do you promise to support Nathan as he evolves, to let him become the person he wants and needs to be, without fear or resentment? 

Nathan, do you promise to help Chrissy grow, to let her change and progress, trusting that her love for you will never fade or falter?

Chrissy, do you promise to make your marriage a priority, to view compromise as a gift, and to always honor the vows that you are making today? 

Nathan, do you promise to put your marriage first, to give and take in equal measure, and to always honor the vows that you are making today?

Chrissy, do you promise, simply and truly, to take Nathan as your best friend, equal partner, and husband? 

Nathan, do you promise, freely and completely, to take Chrissy as your best friend, equal partner, and wife?

Exchanging our rings.

I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss!

And just like that, we were married.

Days later, after the guests had gone home and the gifts had been put away, Nathan and I kept coming back to the ceremony. We agreed that it had been transformative in a way neither of us expected. Don't get me wrong - we're in love and we were excited to be married, but we'd also been together for ten years, had lived together for eight, and already saw each other as lifelong partners. A wedding was mostly an excuse to dress fancy, have a big party, and spend time with our loved ones. But when we were standing in front of those loved ones, listening to those readings, saying those vows, looking into each others' eyes, something shifted. I don't know how to explain it, except that it really did feel like we were crossing a threshold, leaving behind one phase of our lives and entering into another, together. Marriage, it turns out, is full of surprises.


All of the photos in this post were taken by Johnny Wells Photography, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I highly recommend his services! 

You can find the rest of my wedding recaps and planning posts on the Wedding page