You married your sister?
Last weekend I flew back to Madison, Wisconsin again for the extreme honor of marrying my sister – to her fiancé, George. They’ve been together for 4 years and though both in their 40’s, they’re so cute and in love you would think that they were in high school.
Liz (my sister) asked me last year if I would perform the ceremony, and of course I said yes. Who would pass up an opportunity like this? Well, probably many people would, because that public speaking neurosis that plagues our society is fairly pervasive. Anyway, there is no way I was going to pass it up. I love my sister very much and after spending 5 months working out in Madison last year, I got to know George fairly well too. I even worked with people that knew him, and the respect with which they spoke of him was not faked. He’s that cool, he’s that genuine, and he’s that nice a guy.
Anyway, The Girl and I flew into Milwaukee, only hours after I had flown from Spokane to Denver, went home, packed, and headed straight back to the airport. We flew to Milwaukee because it’s much cheaper than flying into Madison, and the only direct flight from Denver to Madison is on United. Fuck United.
So we rented a nice Dodge Charger and the girl at Dollar remembered me from last year, which is why I got the Charger. It should have cost more, but one day last March or April when there was bad weather and a lot of really cranky air travel people, the computers at Dollar decided to crash too. Kayla was having a really bad day and I was the one person that didn’t blame her, treated her with kindness and understanding, and didn’t make her feel like shit for something that wasn’t her fault. She gave me a few sporty cars last year too.
The drive was nice and the weather was perfect. We rolled into Madison just after 8:00, went to the Great Dane for dinner, and got a good night’s sleep. The next day while Liz was freaking out, we hung out with my niece Kristina and my youngest nephew, Kyle. We did some shopping, had lunch, then I had to go back and finish writing the wedding ceremony, which I present to you here.
I wrote it structured on a traditional ceremony, but I was trying to fill some time and make it memorable, so I wrote this whole introductory part from scratch. I’m leaving the vows out of this post, because those are not for the Internet. Sorry. Why didn’t you just come to the wedding?
Anyway, just pretend. Here goes:
“We are gathered here today in the presence of these witnesses (find smallest child and say “that’s you”) to join together this woman, Elizabeth L, and this man, George M in the bonds of marriage.”
I require of and charge you both, as you stand before these witnesses to remember that love alone will be the foundation for your happy and enduring home. No other human ties are more tender, no other vow more sacred than the one you are about to assume.
When it comes to marriage, there are many schools of thought and it means many things to many different people. Historically it has been used as a political arrangement to unite warring factions or countries, to make new allies where none have existed before. Marriage to others is a deeply religious institution that is an ingrained part of his or her upbringing and the newly-formed relationship becomes a part of that person’s church. To some it is a simple financial arrangement to defer tax dollars and keep them away from the ‘greedy government’. Still others have gotten married so that one person could gain citizenship into the country that he or she was marrying into.
Marriages have been arranged for farmland, oil, water rights, and a host of other reasons. Marriage has often been witnessed and performed by a holy or religious figure, the higher profile the nuptials the more eminent the religious official. Whatever one believes or does not believe, is of lesser import when it comes to this union, however, for we are each of us different. Even people raised in the same faith might have different ideas of what God means to them.
So that being said, what is marriage? What does it mean to be wed? What does it mean for Liz to refer to George as her “husband” or for George to refer to Liz as his “Wife”? To some nothing really changes, right? They’re living together, they love each other, they’ve been together 4 years, the children know each other and get along, right? Well that’s true, but what is different is the promise. The ceremony itself, what we are doing right now is the culmination of that promise.
Please look around, everyone. Soak it up because it won’t last long. We are all a part of it, because Liz and George have invited us to be a part of it, to share it with them. What is different than before is that Liz and George, who were already committed to each other, are today committing to each other, and they wanted all of us to share in that promise.
This promise…this commitment, is to each other, and it is a very personal and special thing. How much Liz and George love each other even someone that doesn’t know them can see. It’s so obvious that even yesterday Kristina, Liz’s daughter and the Maid of Honor commented on how much in love they were. How refreshing that is to see.
With this promise today Liz and George bind themselves and their lives together. Although the change may not be completely obvious on the outside, and though this ring is really just a piece of jewelry – on the outside, it opens up a whole new dimension as the love of Liz and George will thrive anew now as husband and wife.
(speaking to the bride and groom)
You both know that it’s not all Unicorns and Rainbows, in marriage, but with love that’s strong and true, as we all know yours is, you can overcome just about anything, and still be able to look each other in the eyes and say those 3 little words that means the world to all of us, what are they? Let me hear you say it. (I Love You). I love you, yes, very powerful words indeed, and don’t ever forget how much they mean.
Those words have the power to heal and to help when no others can. Even though they may just be a series of sounds, the emotion that we put behind them, the feeling, it is…well, it’s everything. Those words, when heartfelt and sincere, really can make it all better. Can’t they?
Alright, let’s make sure we’re all in this together.
PLEDGE OF INTENT
“George, will you have this woman, my sister, to be your wedded wife in the estate of holy matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her? Will you cherish her and make her feel special and loved in sickness and in health? Will you stay true to her forsaking all others so long as you both shall live?”
(George says “I will”)
“Elizabeth, my sister, will you have this man to be your wedded husband in the estate of holy matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him? Will you cherish him and make him feel special and loved in sickness and in health? Will you stay true to him forsaking all others so long as you both shall live?”
(Liz says “I will”)
“Who gives this woman to be married to this man? Stand and be heard!”
(Joe stands and says I do)
Thank you, Joe
Liz and George wrote their own vows for this service, for who better to commit to one another than themselves? They know their own hearts and choose to pledge in their own words rather than use a traditional script.
George and Liz, please face one another and join hands
George, you will go first again. Don’t get used to it. Please repeat your vows to Liz after me:
(George says his vows to Liz)
Liz, please repeat your vows to George after me:
(Liz says vows to George)
Could I please have the rings?
The ring has been described as eternal, since the circle has no beginning and no end. A very romantic notion, and a symbol of the endless nature of love. Personally, I like it when the circle is broken, because arms can also make a circle, you see, but only when they’re in an embrace, and you have to break the circle for a moment to make that embrace. Then it’s reformed and it sure feels good.
George, place this ring on Liz’s ring finger and repeat after me:
“Liz, I give you this ring as a token of my love and of my devotion to you. I pledge to you all that I am and all that I will ever be as your husband. With this ring, I gladly marry you and join my life to yours forevermore from this day forward.”
Liz, place this ring on George’s ring finger and repeat after me:
“George, I give you this ring as a token of my love and of my devotion to you. I pledge to you all that I am and all that I will ever be as your wife. With this ring, I gladly marry you and join my life to yours forevermore from this day forward.”
George and Elizabeth, you have promised your love to each other today in the presence of these witnesses, both friends and family. You have exchanged vows spoken from you own hearts and you now wear rings to show your commitment to each other. I now pronounce that you are husband and wife, Congratulations.
Because I know how unselfish and sharing each of you are, I will state this last bit a little differently.
You may now kiss each other.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my humble pleasure - and my honor - to present to you Mr. and Mrs. George and Elizabeth M.
There, now it’s just like you were there, isn’t it? The reception was fun and I ended up doing the toast as well. It was unscripted and unrehearsed, but it went well. I had a lot to drink that night. We closed the reception then Kristina, her friend Josh and I went to the Cigar bar next door and had a few more. I came home drunk. Ain’t that just like a preacher man.