Monday, September 13, 2010

Our Wedding Ceremony

As we had a very small wedding guest list, I have received many requests to hear all about our wedding.  The next few blog entries are dedicated to our wedding. 

First, I thought I'd share our ceremony.

We decided to write our own because we wanted to reflect our values and interests in our day.  As anyone who knows us realizes, we are far from traditional so we wanted our ceremony to reflect that as well.  We both have a love of reading and books and our ceremony truly embraces literature.  Our siblings and parents recited the readings (or in Nathan's Dad's case, officiated), and Nathan and I introduced our vows with poems.  Mine was "i carry your heart" by ee cummings (Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by ee cummings), while Nathan's was Sonnet LXIX by Pablo Neruda (100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda).

Here it is, though minus a few tears.  Barry (my father-in-law) read all the parts in italics.

Gathering by William H Matchett  (Dad read)
Here, in our best bib and tucker we flock,
Drawn from all the hell over, iron filings to a magnet,
An intricate pattern, a one-time convergence
Of friends and relations, a living mandala;
Young and old, nephews and nieces,
Sisters and brothers, parents, grandmother,
And all those others you got to choose for yourselves
Agglomerating to hold you in the centre.
Slow in coming, swift in passing, this day
Slow but long-lasting the major choice confirmed,
Hardly inevitable, yet falling into place
As though it were just what we always expected.
So we join, as you join,
In celebrating love – yours for each other of course
Ours, as you must know, for you – circling,
Cherishing, blessing, releasing
Love, the core of all.

Nathan and Hanna have invited all of you here today to celebrate their marriage.  They know that a marriage needs the help of a community, of friends and family who will be there to support the new family they will create.  May you always do all within your power to support the union that will be made here today and to nurture the bond between these two people whom you love.

This ceremony celebrates all the commitments Nathan and Hanna have made to each other, both large and small, in the days since they first met and recognized their connection to one another.  Their wedding is a symbol of how far they have come together and a symbol of the promise that they will make to each other to continue to live their lives together and to love each other solely and above all others. 

from Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins (Susanne read)
Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words “make” and “stay” become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.

excerpt "Union" by Robert Fulghum  (Emily read) 
Hanna and Nathan,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 commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all 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 one another, “You know all those things that 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, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.
For after today you shall say to the world – This is my husband. This is my wife.”

Do you, Hanna, take this man as your husband for as long as you both shall live?  Will you love, honour, comfort, and cherish him from this day forward, forsaking all others as long as you both shall live?
-I do.
Do you, Nathan, take this woman as your wife for as long as you both shall live?  Will you love, honour, comfort, and cherish her from this day forward, forsaking all others as long as you both shall live?
-I do.

i carry your heart by ee cummings  (Hanna to Nathan)

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                    i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant 
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Sonnet LXIX by Pablo Neruda  (Nathan to Hanna)
Maybe nothingness is to be without your presence,
without you moving, slicing the noon
like a blue flower, without you walking
later through the fog and the cobbles,
without the light you carry in your hand,
golden, which maybe others will not see,
which maybe no one knew was growing
like the red beginnings of a rose.
In short, without your presence: without your coming
suddenly, incitingly, to know my life,
gust of a rosebush, wheat of wind:
since then I am because you are,
since then you are, I am, we are,
and through love I will be, you will be, we’ll be.

Repeat after me:
I, Nathan, take you Hanna, to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honour, and cherish, 'til death do us part.

I, Hanna, take you, Nathan, to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, honour, and cherish, 'til death do us part.

No one but you can declare yourselves married. You have begun it here today in speaking your vows before family and friends and you will do it again in the days and years to come, standing by each other, sharing all the sweet and the bitter of life. Each tender act, each loving word will be the declaration of what was made here today.
These rings are a reminder and a celebration of the promises you have made today and in exchanging these bands you knit your two lives together as one.
Please repeat after me, these words: 

Accept this ring as a symbol of all the things I find difficult to say: how much I love you and how happy I am to have you in my life, my best friend, my wife.

Accept this ring as a symbol of all the things that fill my heart: how much I love you and how happy I am to have you in my life, my best friend, my husband.

I give it a month before he loses it.

Epithelium by Aonghas MacNeacail (Shirley read)

This is your new garden, a whole wide
World of it, so green and songbird fresh
All yours to map and fill with luminous
Constellations of fruit and berry blossoms

This is your new garden, tend it as if
All the young shoots that promise
A succulent harvest of root and ear
Will be young and tender for all time

This is your garden, there will always be
Much hoeing and raking, the clearing
of weeds and sowing of seeds will ask
patience, attention, forgiving laughter

this is the garden you will want to live in, it’s not
all sunshine – there’s moonshine too, all earth
needs storms, but when the dark clouds peel back,
see your garden bloom into a universe of stars.
We have all gathered here and witnessed the celebration of love that Nathan and Hanna have shown and the commitment that they have made to each other. This marriage is not an end, nor is it a beginning, but rather it is an important step along a path which continues into the future, and it is a step which Nathan and Hanna  are taking with a clear understanding of the commitment and resolution that the path requires and with confidence, trust and love.

from "Song of the Open Road" by Walt Whitman (Jessica read)
Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me, leading wherever I choose…
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love, more precious than money,
I give you myself, before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

May your intention and your commitment to each other remain strong and may the foundation of your relationship be love and the best interests of each other.

Gaelic Wedding Blessing (Mom read)
May God be with you and bless you.
May you see your children’s children.
May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.
Walk gently through the world together and know its wonders for all the days of your lives. Go forward in your life together with the good wishes of those who love you. Remember this day, those who came to wish you well, the words you have spoken, the emotions you feel and the love you have declared. And above all, be happy.

By authority granted by the State of New York I now pronounce you, husband and wife.

You may kiss your bride.


  1. How lovely! I'm so happy that your ceremony was unique and involved so much literature. It just makes me smile! :) Congrats again!

  2. I love the Gaelic blessing and Still Life with Woodpecker (which I had never read before). I am so happy for you and Nate!

  3. Congratulations!! I am so happy and can't believe you two are finally married. The ceremony looked beautiful!

  4. Congratulations Hanna and Nate!! :) The readings were beautiful - what a wonderful idea! Can't wait for the next post!

  5. So Dean ducked out of the readings I see.

  6. Hanna & Nate- Thank you for sharing your ceremony. How beautiful is the text! It seems the text of weddings is so frequently overlooked while it's the key. I'm also thankful you had a bit of Cummings in your ceremony. Congratulations!