Torsten and I wrote our wedding ceremony over the weekend. Well, we didn't really write it. It is not comprised of original content. It's comprised of a hodgepodge of elements from the packet our officiant gave us, as well as a few things found online. It's a secular ceremony, and I think it's beautiful. I feel very, very happy and comfortable with the finished product.
The packet also included a suggested outline of ceremony elements, including many that we are not going to include. Most of those were obvious exclusions for us (elements designed to include the couple's children, for example, as well as prayers), but there was one in particular that we were both torn about, and wound up deciding not to include: the affirmation of the bride and groom. This is the part where the officiant says something along the lines of, "Who presents this woman to be married to this man?" and the father of the bride says something like, "Her mother and I do."
I definitely did not feel comfortable with that, but at first we thought maybe we could find a version of the statement that was designed to make the family and friends feel included in the ceremony, rather than implying that the bride was a material good being handed from one owner to another. Torsten and I went through all the options in the book, including several that were much more about equality and inclusion, like the one that asks the families of the bride AND the groom to pledge their ongoing love and support to the couple. But nothing felt right. The whole thing felt strange. So we decided to scrap it, especially given that we have other stuff in the ceremony about the importance of family and friends in our relationship.
We had also thought about writing our own vows, which is something that Torsten was more a proponent of than I was. For me, the thing about the vows is that the traditional, timeless ones really say it all. I want to be up there, saying the words that millions and millions of loving couples have said before us, the ones that encompass everything that we want to promise to each other in a few short phrases. I want to promise that I will love Torsten in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. And after discussion, he felt the same way. So we went with those.
But we also added a part before the vows where we speak to each other with words that we've written, words that the other one won't hear or read until the ceremony. We haven't written those words yet, but when we do, we will each send our piece to our officiant to compare to make sure they fit with each other and with the ceremony. That way the ceremony is personalized and emotional and about us, but it still allows for the traditional vows.
And we did make one tweak to the opening part of the vows, not the "to have and to hold" part, but the part before that where we answer "I do." The text called for something about "to honor and to keep him/her," and both of us prickled a bit at the word "keep." But then we realized that this was the perfect place to include the one thing that we felt is lacking from the traditional vows--the idea of growing together. So we replaced "keep" with "grow with."
Because that's a major thing in a marriage--the recognition that we are young, and that while our core personalities are set, we as people will continue to change and evolve over the course of our lives and our marriage. And that's okay. That's something we understand, and embrace, and look forward to. Because that's something we'll do together. We will grow as people, individually, and we will cherish and nurture that growth in the other. That's a big part of what marriage is about. So I'm glad it will be reflected in our vows.
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