In preparing for a ceremony, I get to know the couple, and work hard to bring the sentiments, reflections, and passages that capture the romance and promises of their relationship. The right reading can add much to the couple's special moment. Here are a few that I draw from...
When we love we come closest to the truest nature of ourselves. We split the Hemlock knot. We crack the acorn so the golden oak can grow. What does marriage do? It purges us of our selfish selves. It points us down a better road than the one we travel alone. It is a crucible for meeting out the gilded spirit we all come closest to when we love. It is the anvil near the blacksmith's bellows where we shape our greatness and shod our wildness. It is the finality of our search for a companion and a beginning leading toward an eternity of thoughts that rise like the morning star. What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labour, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in silent unspoken memories.
James Dillet Freeman
May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding. May you always need one another-not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete; the valley does not make the mountain less but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not encircle one another. May you succeed in all important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces. May you look for things to praise, often say, "I love you!" and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, May both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back. May you enter into the mystery which is the awareness of one another's presence-no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities. May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another! Thank You, God, for Your presence here with us and Your blessing on this marriage. Amen.
Wedding Passage - Author unknown
The unity of marriage meets our deepest human needs for love and companionship, for someone with whom we can share in an intimate and trusting way all the hopes and joy and dreams of life. But real love is something beyond the warmth and glow, the excitement and romance of being deeply in love. It is caring as much about the welfare and happiness of your life partner as about your own. Real love is not total absorption into each other; it is looking outward in the same direction together. Love makes burdens lighter because you divide them. It makes joys more profound because you share them. It makes you stronger, so you can be involved with life in ways you dare not risk alone.
I Carry Your Heart With Me by E. E. Cummings
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. 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.
Wedding Passage - Author unknown
I love you, Not only for what you are But for what I am When I am with you. I love you Not only for what You have made of yourself But for what You are making of me. I love you For the part of me That you bring out; I love you For, putting your hand Into my heaped—up heart And passing over all the foolish, weak things That you can’t help Dimly seeing there, And for drawing out Into the light All the beautiful belongings That no one else had looked Quite far enough to find. I love you because you... Are helping me to make Of the lumber of my life Not a tavern But a temple; Out of works Of my every day Not a reproach But a song. I love you Because you have done More than any creed Could have done To make me good And more than any fate Could have done To make me happy. You have done it Without a touch, Without a word, Without a sign. You have done it By being yourself. Perhaps that is what Being a friend means, After all.
Union by Robert Fulghum - for Renewal of Vows
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 promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks - all those sentences that began with "When we’re married" and continued with "I will and you will and we will"- 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 marriage. The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, "You know all those things 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, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this is my husband, this is my wife.
Wedding Passage - Author unknown
Our wish for both of you today is that your marriage will bring much happiness and joy to each of you. Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens; a good marriage must be created. And it is created in the following ways: It is never too old to hold hands. It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day. It is at no time taking the other for granted. It is having mutual sense of values and common objectives. It is standing together facing life. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family. It is doing things for each other not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude. It is not looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding, and sense of humor. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget. It is giving each other and atmosphere in which each can grow. It is finding room for the things of the spirit. It is a common search for the good and the beautiful. It is establishing a relationship in which independence is equal, dependence is mutual, and obligation is reciprocal. It is not only marrying the right partner. It is being the right partner.
Love Is a Mighty Power by Thomas Kempis
Love is a mighty power, a great and complete good. Love alone lightens every burden, and makes rough places smooth. It bears every hardship as though it were nothing, and renders all bitterness sweet and acceptable. Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing stronger, higher, nothing more fulfilling in heaven or earth; for love is born of God. Love flies, runs and leaps for joy. It is free and unrestrained. Love knows no limits, but ardently transcends all bounds. Love feels no burden, takes no account of toil, attempts things beyond its strength. Love sees nothing as impossible, for it feels able to achieve all things. It is strange and effective, while those who lack love faint and fail. Love is not fickle and sentimental, nor is it intent on vanities. Like a living flame and a burning torch, it surges upward and surmounts everything.
Of All the Stars I Admired by Pablo Neruda
Of all the stars I admired,….drenched in various rivers and mists,…..I chose only the one I love……Since then I sleep with the night. Of all the waves, one wave and another wave… green sea, green chill, branchings of green,….I chose only the one wave,….the indivisible wave of your body. All the water drops, all the roots,…all the threads of light gathered to me here;…. they came to me sooner or later. I wanted you all for myself….From all the graces my homeland offered…. I chose only your tender heart.
Pathways by Rainer Maria Rilke
Understand, my love, that I’ll slip quietly away from the noisy crowd when I feel the earth beckoning. And, when I see the stars rising over the mountains, I’ll pursue a solitary path through the pale moonlit meadows, with only this one wish: that we take this journey together.
Tintern Abbey by William Wordsworth
Walking this earth together, we have felt a presence that inspires with the joy of elevated thoughts. Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, living air, and blue sky. In our love for one another, we are lovers of the earth. Of the meadows and woods, and the mountains; and of all that we together behold. And what we perceive in nature and in the language of our senses, the anchor of our purest thoughts, the guide, the guardian of our one heart and soul, we celebrate in our hallowed union.
Unending Love by Rabindranath Tagore
I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times, In life after life, in age after age forever. My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs that you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms In life after life, in age after age forever. Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, its age-old pain, Its ancient tale of being apart or together, As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time: You become an image of what is remembered forever. You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount at the heart of time love of one for another. We have played alongside millions of lovers, shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell old Love, but in shapes that renew and renew forever. Today this love is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you, The love of all our days both past and forever: Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life, The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours and the songs of every poet past and forever.
Speak to Us About Love - Kahlil Gibran
Love one another but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; for love is sufficient unto love. Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself. And in your love, let these be your desires: To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody into the night. To know the pain of too much tenderness. To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving. To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstacy; to return home at eventide with gratitude; and then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and song of praise upon your lips.