I love these vows because of their focus on the changing nature of relationships and life and love. I love the deliberate and thoughtful approach to marriage they offer.
Dearest _____, I do now choose you and take you
to be my wife/husband/partner/mate
to witness and assist in my becoming,
to hold me, as your beloved, in your heart.
I give you my love, the steadfastness
of my purpose, my will, and my hope, and my highest
intention that always, in one another’s presence,
we may unflinchingly become who we are
and with unswerving commitment be willing
to do what we came here to do.
You are my lover, my teacher, my model,
my accomplice, and my true counterpart.
I will love you, hold you, and honor you,
respect you, encourage you, and cherish you,
in health and in sickness
through sorrow and success
for all the days of my life.
Of all the people who help you pull your wedding day together—florists, caterers, venue hosts, DJs, musicians—the ones you’ll spend the most time with on the actual day of are likely to be your photographer and your officiant.
As an officiant, I arrive early—I’ve done everything from setting up a guest table to mopping up a flooded aisle to corseting a bride! I check in on the couple, calm nerves, and help make last minutes decisions or changes.
And your officiant is the only person who for a golden twenty minutes you, your family, and all of your friends will give their full attention. In fact, the ceremony is your guests first experience of the day—and sets the tone for the rest of evening! It should be something your guest have to suffer through to get to the party; a good ceremony—with that perfect mix of laughter and tears —reminds everyone why they are there and gives them a reason to celebrate!
The point is this—your choice of officiant is really important. So what should you look for?
1) Find an officiant you like. Since you’ll be spending so much time together at a very special but potentially stressful time of your life, you want someone you feel comfortable with. It’s nice to be married by someone that you feel if you met them at a party, you’d be friends. Make sure he or she is willing to take the time to get to know you.
2) Find an officiant you can count on. This is where reviews help—you want someone with a proven track record of showing up. It seems basic but a fair number of weddings I do are last minute “I hired this person for $75 and now a week before the wedding, he says he can’t do it!’ or “My cousin said she would do it for me, but now she’s going to a conference for work.” I am not saying that you have to hire a professional—I’ve seen quite a few lovely weddings done by friends. Just find someone you know you rely on.
3) Find an officiant who is willing to personalize your wedding ceremony. You can find a JP or officiant-in-a-box who will give you a standard 5-10 minute ceremony. However, a personalized ceremony is more enjoyable, more fun, and definitely more meaningful—it will make your ceremony something people talk about through the party and through the years!
4) Find an officiant with a great presence. You need someone who can project with warmth and really connect with a group both for the rehearsal and the ceremony. You want someone who can be real and personable—not bombastic or an attention-hog.
5) Find an officiant who doesn’t have a personal agenda. Find out why they do what they do & insist on samples. Once an officiant told me that he always “throws in a little religion” even if the couples specifically says they don’t want it because it’s his job to “plant seeds.” Other couples come to me because the first person they chose wanted to use their wedding as a platform to advocate against gay-marriage. Your wedding should not be anyone’s podium for their personal religious or political agenda. Your wedding should be about you.
In short, find an officiant who wants you to have a thoughtful, meaningful, unforgettable ceremony that fits you as a couple and you’ll be smiling all the way down the aisle!
One great way to work literature into your wedding ceremony is to work small quotations into your personal story or into the marriage address.
For example, for one Austin couple I used this quotation (chosen by them) to show how they were deepening their relationship to each other:
Victor Hugo, in his love letters to Adele, whom after a secret engagement he married, wrote, “Let us always tell each other our slightest griefs, our smallest joys… These confidences, this exquisite intimacy, are both the right and the duty of love.” In this way, the couple before us began opening up to one another, trusting one another, realizing that they had found another with whom they could be completely themselves.
I try to build a thematic framework for the entire ceremony—not just throw quotes to be “pretty” so I worked this quotation back into the couples vows. This couple choose vows that were in question and answer form. Here was one of the series of questions asked:
Will you “always tell each other your slightest griefs and smallest joys,” always listen to one another with an open heart, and always lend one another the support needed to face whatever life may bring you?
Here’s another lovely quotation by Victor Hugo from Les Misérables, which would make a lovely part of what is often called the marriage address or remarks to couples: “You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love. Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again. And great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves. And even loved in spite of ourselves.”
Officiated for a truly lovely couple at Buescher State Park. The setting sun streamed in over the lake, sparkling in the background. But the real magic was standing witness to the love that poured out of this couple.
One of the perks of officiating in the HIll Country is the opportunity to see the variety of beautiful natural landscapes in this area.
If you are looking for a natural setting for a simple wedding, a Texas State Park is a great idea—and Buesher State Park has the perfect set-up. The stone patio behind the recreation hall served as the setting for the ceremony. The lake was a shining backdrop. The original CCC constructed natural stone hall gave a weathered elegance to the reception.
Even more fun—the guests were invited to pitch their tents and camp with the couple ensuring the celebration will last far into the starry night! I will definitely never forget this delightful couple!
Think weddings and Halloween don’t have much in common?
The ancients believed marriage made a couple susceptible to malignant spirits. Roman brides wore veils to hide their identity from demons and shield them from curses, while flower girls throughout the ages have worn garlic and tossed herbs to ward off evil. A groom carries his bride over the threshold to protect her from the devils lurking below. And a pinch of salt protects the marriage against bad omens.
All Hallow’s Eve originated with the ancient Celts. It was the end of the old year; the beginning of the new. Thus, they believed, the border between our world and the spirit world was at its thinnest, allowing ghosts and demons to slip across. To disguise one’s self from these spirits, the custom of wearing costumes evolved.
Today we all know love can be scary—letting someone see behind the mask takes a great deal of faith and love.
So what to do if you are getting married on Halloween? This couple embraced the magic of the season and looked to the original writer of scary love stories, Edgar Allen Poe, for inspiration. Check out this amazing cake inspired by “The Raven” and created by Blue Note Bakery.