On a beautiful summer day some years ago, I officiated a vow renewal for a couple who had mentioned to me that they wanted this vow renewal as they had just gone through one of those “very rough patches” that almost ended their marriage. As part of their renewed vows and renewed deep contemplation on the meaning of their unique marriage, they asked me to read this. I do not know the author. It sure touched me and brought about further contemplation. It may also touch you!
“You can connect from all kinds of places – energetic harmony, sexual alchemy, intellectual alignment – but they won’t sustain love over a lifetime. You need a thread that goes deeper, that moves below and beyond the shifting sands of compatibility. That thread is fascination – a genuine fascination with someone’s inner world, the way they organize reality, the way they articulate their feelings, the unfathomable and bottomless depths of their being. To hear their beingness cry out to you again and again, and to never lose interest in what it is trying to convey. If there is that, then there will still be love when the body sickens, when the sexuality fades, when the perfection projection is long shattered. If there is that, you will swim in love’s waters until the very last breath.
Your wedding is just that….yours! Let it reflect who you are as a couple, honoring your beliefs, vision of marriage and cultural traditions.
I, as the wedding officiant, can’t help but smile and feel deeply honored to be a part of a couple’s special day when they express how precious each is to the other, just the two of them, or in the presence of all their wonderful loving family and friends.
In creating with each couple their ceremony, I find it important to express how individual and unique their wedding ceremony can be while still holding to much of the traditional ceremony style, or doing one’s “own thing” completely.
One of the first inquiries I offer is to reflect upon all the weddings they have witnessed. What have they liked, not liked. What have they inwardly or outwardly expressed, “Never at my wedding!”, or “Oh, I would want that too!”
Santa Fe is called the “city different”; so feel free when you get married here to have the “wedding different” in any degree that suits you. A nice blend of traditional and “different” is how we add the “personal” aspects in. I always offer ideas of what I have seen that to me works so well and is received well by the guests. Then we expand on this to honor your heartfelt wishes.
Another inquiry that I offer the couple is to think about and consider what, if anything, they also want to celebrate as part of their ceremony that we can include. Is family very important to honor, their parents, their children? Perhaps honoring and celebrating the joining of two families? If either or both have younger children, do they want to express, either themselves or through me, the ideal of the newly formed family and their “intentions” as the other being a new parent, guide, or the truly caring adult friend?
Most times at a larger wedding many guests do not truly know one of the “about to be married” partners. I offer suggestions of how to add into the ceremony personal sentiments of who each is – some wonderful images to get to know each individually and as a couple.
And, when just the two of you, a loving gesture is to include ways to express “well wishes” from family and friends not there, and yet, now here in spirit!
Many of us have imaged so much being brought into the presence of one who we can truly love, cherish and honor, and they us, and with whom we are willing to do the sincere creating of a loving and harmonious life together. And many have imagined so much the celebration of what we call “marriage”, expressing our joy of having the “other” in our life, and expressing in heartfelt sincere words our commitment and what this means to us. So, in my way of thinking and my witnessing over so many years now, it is lovingly beautiful and well worth all the contemplation and creative effort to personalize your wedding ceremony to be perfect for you both in meaning and belief. And a pure joy it is to serve in this way!
Well it can happen! You are at the rehearsal dinner with your bridesmaids, groomsmen, family and close friends, and now you realize that one or two of your dear friends or family members are really “hurt” they were not included as a part of your wedding ceremony. You had no idea they felt this way until now. Here is a consideration. In New Mexico and many other states, two witnesses are required to sign the marriage license. Generally, but not always, the witnesses are your maid of honor and best man, however, you might “save” requesting the witnesses until the day of your ceremony, or even after your ceremony, and ask the one or two of your friends or family, who you now realize feel a bit “left out”, to sign your marriage license. Now they feel included and you feel you were able to honor them in a special way.
When consulting with couples about personalizing their wedding ceremony, I always add the option and suggestion of writing your own vows. Many times the immediate feeling or thought is that this would be too difficult, too intimate, or that reading wedding vows to their partner from a piece of paper, would not “look” good for the ceremony. And…”I or my partner would just cry and not be able to read.”
It is my observation and experience that writing your vows to your “be-loved” can be a fun, deep and meaningful experience in that it allows one the time and contemplation to muse over why this person is so important to them in their life. It can also be a wonderful point of “sweet humor” coming into your ceremony. I have noticed many times that when one is expressing their appreciation for their partner, the partner is hearing, sometimes for the first time, an aspect of why they are loved so much. This is a joy to behold!
Some couples write their vows on lovely little book-like stationary, in little scroll form with a ribbon tied around, or just take the folded up notebook paper out of their pocket. I or the maid of honor usually have the bride’s as she does not have a pocket. It is just my romantic opinion, but reading your vows off of your iPhone is not what I would suggest! I always make sure that the couple keep their original paper written vows with their marriage license so that they have them for keepsakes. And if you “love-cry” while reading; well, we all are very, very happy to wait with full hearts. I will hand you a kleenex. If the bride, your maid of honor will fix your eye-makeup right after the ceremony. And, we all will know there sure is “true love” present!