Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Ceremony

For our ceremony, we wanted to walk the line between having it be as personal as possible while also keeping it traditional.  It was important that it be our ceremony, but there's something so magical to me about saying the same words that couples in love have said to each other for years and years.  So the balance for us was writing our own ceremony but repeating traditional vows.  We also asked my cousin-in-law Jeff to marry us.  Jeff is married to my cousin Windy, who is like a sister to me, and I've known him since I was probably 12.  He's a deacon in his church, knows me really well, has a great sense of humor, is experienced with public speaking, and he shares so many of the values that are important to us.  He got ordained for the occasion and he did a beautiful job filled with poignancy and humor and personal touches. 

Joe's an only child, but I have three brothers and I wanted all of them to play a part.  So my oldest brother, Mark, walked my mom down the aisle.  Matthew did a reading during the ceremony and Andrew was a groomsman.  We also asked Joe's Aunt Susan to do a reading.  Choosing the readings was really hard!  In the end, we opted for one that was kind of cute and two short ones that really took our breath away.

The first was a poem by Louise Cuddon, "I'll Be There For You":

I'll be there, my darling, through thick and through thin
When your mind's in a mess and your head's in a spin
When your plane's been delayed, and you've missed the last train.
When life is just threatening to drive you insane
When your thrilling whodunit has lost its last page
When somebody tells you, you're looking your age
When your coffee's too cool, and your wine is too warm
When the forecast said, “Fine,” but you're out in a storm
When your quick break hotel, turns into a slum
And your holiday photos show only your thumb
When you park for five minutes in a resident's bay

And return to discover you've been towed away
When the jeans that you bought in hope or in haste
Just stick on your hips and don't reach round your waist
When the food you most like brings you out in red rashes
When as soon as you boot up the bloody thing crashes
So my darling, my sweetheart, my dear...
When you break a rule, when you act the fool
When you've got the flu, when you're in a stew
When you're last in the queue, don't feel blue
'cause I'm telling you, I'll be there.

And the next two my brother read.  Both by the 14th century poet Hafiz:

from "The Gift":
Even after all this time
the sun never says
to the earth,
"You owe me."

Look what happens
with a love like that -
it lights up the whole sky.


"Our Union":
Our union is like this: You feel cold, so I reach for a blanket to cover our shivering feet.
A hunger comes into your body, so I run to my garden and start digging potatoes.
You asked for a few words of comfort and guidance, and I quickly kneel by your side offering you a whole book as a gift.
You ache with loneliness one night so much you weep, and I say here is a rope, tie it around me, I will be your companion for life.

My dad walked me down the aisle.  I'm his only daughter so it meant a lot to both of us.  It snowed the day before our wedding and his flight got cancelled and we weren't even sure he would make it in time.  Thank goodness he did, because losing that moment with him would not have been at all okay. 

Walking down the aisle was kind a blur.  In fact, I couldn't wait to see the pictures because I couldn't even have told you what the room looked like all set up for our ceremony.  It's so surreal.  You dream of that moment for so long, or at least I did, and then when it happens it's lovely, but you just feel like you, not the strange idealized dream version of yourself that was in all the visions.  It's not a dream or an idealized vision, it's just you as you are and your choice of a partner and your families and your friends all dressed up and sharing this one love-filled, teary, fantastic moment in time together.  Turns out, that's enough.
I loved the idea of getting married on a cold winter day in front of a crackling fireplace and home-y bookshelves.  It just felt so cozy to me and perfectly fit the intimate vibe we wanted.  If you look on the shelf on the left, you'll see little sitting wooden figurines of a grandma and grandpa.  Those figurines had a permanent home in my grandma's kitchen for as long as I can remember.  After they both passed, those figurines were the only thing I really wanted from their house.  Rather than lighting candles or mentioning out loud during the ceremony that their physical presence was missing, I decided to pay tribute by putting grandma and grandpa on the shelf behind us, watching over everything.  I knew everyone in my family would immediately recognize them and understand the significance and we would all know that they were there.  My cousin Windy also gave me pieces of fabric from items that had belonged to each of them and I tied them around my bouquet.  They were with me all day. 
I don't remember a lot of details, as crazy as that sounds, for all my efforts and the reminders to be in the moment.  I just remember the joy, the feeling.  Thank goodness for pictures. 

We're married!  Rose petal toss!

Photographs by the wonderful Karen Hill.

Tomorrow: the reception


LWhits said...

Grandparents on the shelf! Rose petal toss! That fire place! amazingness.

laura said...

i am at work and i'm crying. I AM CRYING. dear god you looked beautiful. I AM CRYING RIGHT NOW