Friday, September 26, 2008

having your friends and family marry you

I mentioned this a ways back, but legally we got our marriage certificate back in January so that I could hop onto P's health insurance. Doing that opened up some possibilities for our ceremony since we didn't need to have someone legally marry us. We put the word out to our friends and family that we were looking for someone who wouldn't mind officiating. And after not hearing anything back (except that people felt that it was too much responsibility to be in charge of actually marrying us), I begged/conned one of our good friends into doing it, with the agreement that we'd have a quaker ceremony and that it wouldn't require her to actually do much. Secretly I'd always thought she'd do an amazing job though and we'd been kind of pulling for her to do it all along.

While P and I aren't quaker (we aren't anything, actually), we liked the idea that instead of one person proclaiming you to be married, that your community comes together to support your union. I'm going to post the text of our ceremony (which we lifted from indiebride and then edited to fit our needs), so you can see how the whole thing worked.
(We walked in to "Every Morning" by Keb Mo, which is beautiful, but since we never practiced anything before the actual ceremony was about three minutes longer than the 30 seconds it took us all to gather in the front. That ended with me making a big "cut" sign to our friend in charge of music and everyone laughing at the endless music. Silly things like that, my dogs deciding that they needed to hang out with us during the ceremony and my little cousin having to run up and grab my puppy who was attacking my dress, and horses making horse noises in the background really made our ceremony personal for us.)

(Officiant Friend):
We are gathered here to celebrate the wedding of Paul and Katie. Our ceremony today will be conducted in the manner of a Meeting of Friends, or Quaker Meeting.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the bride and groom will stand and exchange vows. After this, anyone may stand and speak if so moved. While messages are welcome, periods of silence are expected and are a time for reflection.

If you would like to speak, please stand as the last person finishes. Messages may be literal or metaphorical, and about anything appropriate to the joy and solemnity of the occasion—love, family, marriage, life, or what you will.

After a short time we will read the marriage certificate and Katie and Paul will sign it and exchange rings. Following this, everyone is invited to sign the marriage certificate in confirmation of your support of the union.

(P said his vows here, which were lovely and basically exactly like mine even though we hadn't seen each other's before).

(Then I said my vows, after remarking that "I think we wrote the exact same vows!")

(Officiant Friend)
Now if anyone would like to speak, please feel free to stand and do so.

(Open talking time - We sat for this part, which was AMAZING. We knew there were a few people who were going to talk, but so many people surprised us and said something. And what people said was so, so powerful and awesome. People read poems, blessings, told stories about us as individuals and as a couple, his dad and stepsister sang/played a song that his dad had written. It really was one of the best 45 minutes of my life.)

(Officiant friend)
Thank people for sharing. Now we will hear the reading of the marriage certificate.

(Best man)

On this the twentieth day of September in the year
Two thousand and eight
In the town of Palo Cedro, California

Katherine XXXXX &

Took each other by the hand and joyfully declared themselves married, promising to be loving and equal partners as long as they both shall live.

As confirmation and celebration of this commitment we set our hands.

And we, as members of their loving community, set our hands in witness and pledge to celebrate and support this union.
(Katie & P Sign certificate)

(Officiant friend)
Now, take hands. And all of you who love each other, please take each others' hands as well. To reach out to someone and be acknowledged and loved is a human need. Taking the hand of one who loves you is a powerful symbol of that unspoken bond.

Your hands are also the part of you that you use the most. As you go about your daily work and play, your ring is a tangible reminder of the promises you’ve made to each other. It will always be with you, visible, worn openly and with pride.

As you exchange rings, declare your commitment to one another.

I give you this ring as a symbol of my commitment to you and our family.

I give you this ring as a symbol of my commitment to you and our family.

(Officiant friend)
And now, assuming you are moved to do so, you can go ahead and kiss!

(At that point music was suppose to start playing again but we had some technically difficulties so officiant friend said something like "This sort of occasion calls for some music!" to prompt music friend to start playing the song, not realizing that he was just having tech difficulties. So we all kind of stood around and smiled for a minute until he started the music.)


(pictures taken by my cousin during and immediately after the ceremony)


Anonymous said...

that sounds wonderful! thanks for the example!

Liana said...

It sounds so cool!

Elizabeth said...

Your ceremony sounds so wonderful and personal! It also looks exactly like something my fiance and I are envisioning for our ceremony, including the whole "officially married" before hand bit. Thank you so much for sharing on Indie Bride!

Liz M. said...

I'd be interested in hearing your take on the "getting legally married before weddinged" situation. My husband and I did the quick legal bit earlier this month, but will be doing the wedding thing in April. A few people found out about the Oct ceremony (it was supposed to be secret) and now we're getting a lot of criticism. People are telling us that we can't call the April event a wedding ("call it a celebration of your marriage"), and they're questioning why we need to have a ceremony when "it'll just be for show."

I'm curious to know if you encountered similar opinions, and if so how you handled them.

Love your blog!

backyardwedding said...

Liz- Did you see this post:
I talk about what the difference was for us there.

We've also really downplayed the first ceremony to people who have found out and asked. I basically make it sound like we went in and got the license, but that there was no real ceremony there (for emotional purposes that is true enough). I think it really depends on how you view marriage. If marriage is a legal state that's one thing. But if marriage/a wedding is a public declaration of your lifelong commitment to someone else, then signing a few papers in front of strangers isn't really a wedding.

alex said...

I found your ceremony thru IB, and I love it. I especially enjoy the time to allow guests to speak to you, bless the marriage, share thoughts, etc. I've had several negative thoughts on this from various people who think it will put people on the spot, think that they have to come up with the "perfect thing" to say, or that someone will say something stupid.

What was your experience with this? Did you tell a lot of people about it so they could kind of prepare first, or were they surprised with it during the ceremony? Thanks so much.

Megan K. said...

Hi! I'm in love with your wedding and your site! Congratuations! I'm also wondering if you gave people a head's up in the invites regarding sharing at the ceremony.


backyardwedding said...

We didn't warn people in the invites, but we did post something on our wedding website and spread the word verbally (had our parents tell their relatives, etc). We ended up having about 20 people speak, which was amazing!

Emilia Jane said...

We are planning on having a quaker ceremony as well. We love the idea of having our friends and family be a part of the ceremony. We told our parents our idea of the weekend and they were not so thrilled. My mother refuses to speak in public so she's out and she doesn't think anyone else will talk either. She's afraid of too many "uncomfortable silences." And his father is afraid we won't legally be married if we do this (our officiant is an ordained minister and we will be signing all the papers etc so I don't think there should be a problem.) Did you have any doubts from family members?

Alexandra said...

Sounds very cool; awesome idea! Once I shall consider. :D

Britt said...

I want to do a quaker marriage certificate too. I love the idea of our friends and family supporting our union on a framable certificate. I'm a little concerned about the logistics of making people sign though. How did you go about this?