I met my husband 20 years ago, and we finally got married two weeks ago. As I write, it's almost 2 weeks to the minute. I was going to start this blog several months ago, but it got away from me. I wanted to comment on living as a couple, and as a family. I wanted to get all political, but it became so personal. I've realized these past few months just how much marriage mattered to me, and to my (now) husband. So I'll start with the ceremony. Maybe later I can go back in time & give you a little history.
50 or so guests are gathered in Foster City, alongside a lagoon...
Welcome Steven, welcome Jim and welcome everyone. Thank you for being here today to share in the joy and celebration of this special occasion. I join with Jim and Steven in acknowledging all of you for traveling from various destinations to be with them as they commit to their marriage vows. You’ve come from Pennsylvania, Chicago, Seattle, LA, San Diego and various parts of the bay area. Your presence today adds meaning and respect to our wedding ceremony.
Ecclesiastes tells us: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven."
Now is a time for a wedding.
Friends, we have been invited here today to share in the celebration of the marriage of Steven and Jim. We come together, not to mark the start of a relationship but to recognize a bond that already exists. Steven and Jim chose one another twenty years ago, and stand before you to affirm their commitment to each other in a way they had never dreamed possible. This marriage is one expression of the many varieties of love.
There is the love of a parent for a child, and of that child for his brothers and sisters. It is a love that flows forward and back between generations, flowing out and back again as a son grows and chooses a partner for life. We are here today to witness the small and profound miracle of two people greeting each other, for the first time, as a married couple. They have asked you to join them not only in their public declaration of love, but to share their joy as they legalize their commitment to each other.
People come together in a variety of unexpected ways involving synchronicity, timing, good luck and in today’s case, noticing each other while socializing with friends in San Mateo So at this time, I’d like to share a little of the coming together of Steven and Jim and the qualities of their love story as I’ve learned about it during our preparations.
They met over 20 years ago and had their first date at an El Salvadoran restaurant on May 23rd, 1988. Jim was attracted to Steven’s good looks-his blond hair and sparkling eyes. He was excited to learn that Steven was also a smart, caring and empathic man.
In getting to know Steven, Jim has found him to be loving, honest, supportive, direct and forgiving. With Steven in his life, he’s found balance and stability, comfort and security. He is proud of the way Steven thinks things through in a methodical way. He is persistent and thorough.
Steven makes him feel loved with tender looks and a subtle smile that conveys his deeper feelings and trust. He knew they would be life partners when they first met. Just being next to Steven convinced him there was such a thing as love at first sight.
Steven was also attracted to Jim’s good looks and his enthusiasm for life. He’s found him to be honorable, loving, emotional, loyal and silly. He gives family issues a priority and has always been a support for Steven with health as well as personal concerns.
Jim has encouraged him to relax, have fun, let his hair down a bit and to be more accepting of things the way they are. He realized they would be life partners after Jim mistakenly confused the time he was to pick him up at the airport. Jim’s regret and apology touched him and in Steven’s words, “I haven’t been able to shake him ever since.”
Jim makes him feel special by expressing his love openly and often. He was proud of Jim, not your committed gardener, for creating a circular planting area in their front yard and filling it with lovely flowers because of the joy he knew it would bring to Steven.
They have much in common. They are both intelligent, enjoy books and travel. They love and value their families and are dedicated to spending time together.
And they have a few differences. One of them tends to see things in black and white; the others finds the gray area. One of them loves plants, the other cars. One of them is reactive to people and situations; the other sits back, observes and then thinks things through. One of them is more dramatic, the other more reserved. One of them can be a procrastinator, the other focuses on details. One of them is a self-described neat freak; the other can be oblivious to his surroundings while reading or working on the computer.
May all of your differences present opportunities for personal growth and acceptance. Continue to incorporate into your marriage the gifts and values received from your individual families including self-respect, honesty, integrity, hard work, respect for friendships and treating people well.
Jim and Steven, after 20 years together you know each other very well. You also know that marriage will not always be smooth sailing and all of the moments won't be exciting or romantic. Sometimes worries and anxieties will be overwhelming. But together, two hearts that accept each other, commit to being good listeners, are patient in communicating with each other, will continue to find comfort in one other.
I know we all share the joy and enthusiasm of your special union. It’s both personal and historical. You’ve committed to this public statement of your love and the State Supreme Court has ruled it legal. May you go forward with pride, conviction and courage and may other committed partnerships follow in your footsteps. Continue trusting in each other and in your relationship for you are at the threshold of an important moment in time. I’ll paraphrase some thoughts on threshold by the Irish poet, John O’Donohue.
A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms and atmospheres.. Indeed, it is a lovely testimony to the fullness and integrity of an experience or a stage of life, a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up.
To acknowledge and cross a new threshold is always a challenge, but it is also an invitation and a promise. Whatever comes, life will remain faithful to us, blessing us always with visible signs of invisible grace. We merely need to trust.
Statement of Intent
At this time I ask the parents of Steven and Jim to stand. Out of the love your sons have for you, they have asked that you participate in today’s ceremony. Therefore I ask: Do you at this most significant juncture in the lives of your children recommit to their good? Do you pledge to stand beside them as they begin this new phase of their life together? Do you promise to support them and offer help to them in decisions that both accord with and oppose your judgments. To engage them not only as your children but as your friends? To do everything in your power to encourage and exhort them to remain faithful to each other? If so, please respond “I do.”
I would at this time ask for the assembly to stand and join in the declaration of intent. Friends and loved ones of Steven and James, you are also asked to participate in today’s ceremony. Do you at this time commit yourselves to the loving support, nurture and encouragement of this couple? Do you promise to hold them accountable to the vows they will make before you? To remind them of their commitment to each other and assist them as far as it is possible in maintaining a pure and growing relationship? To model before them and thereby encourage them in a healthy and wholesome marriage relationship? To stand beside them as they fulfill these vows throughout their lifetime together? If so, please respond by saying “I do.”
We now invite Jim’s niece Caitlin to come forward to sing “The Wedding Song (There is Love)” Caitlin will be accompanied by Jim’s brother Ray.
Blessing of the Hands
Steven & James, please take each other’s hands and know that these are the hands of your best friend, strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.
These are the hands that worked alongside yours, as together you built your future.
These are the hands that passionately love you and have cherished you through the years, and with the slightest touch, comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.
These are the hands that have countless times wiped the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will tenderly hold yours.
These are the hands that help hold your family as one.
These are the hands that have given you strength when you needed it.
And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
Officiant: Who gives these men to be married to each other?
Parents respond: “We do.”
Steven and James have shared their lives for 20 years now. In this season of change, they have chosen to exchange traditional vows, in recognition that their joining together arises from not just from their shared history, but from their families and friends, and the generations that have come before them.
I, Steven Clair, take thee, James Michael, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto do I give thee my pledge.
I, James Michael, take thee, Steven Clair, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto do I give thee my pledge.
Exchange of Rings
Wedding rings serve as a fitting symbol of the vows you have just spoken. They are the outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible reality—the love that binds your hearts together. Of all the parallels that could be drawn, perhaps these are the most compelling:
1) As these rings are of the finest of earth’s materials, so your love is rich in its godly composition and spiritual value
2) These rings have no beginning or no end, so they symbolize the perfection of the love for which you will strive in your marriage relationship, that also knows no end. Purity and eternity must characterize the love you have for one another and the union into which you are now entering.
Steven, please place the ring on James’ finger and repeat after me:
James, I give you this ring in token of our marriage vows. From this moment forward, may it ever be a symbol of the unbroken bond of my love for you, given to you eternally. With this ring, I thee wed.
James, please place the ring on Steven’s finger and repeat after me:
Steven, I give you this ring in token of our marriage vows. From this moment forward, may it ever be a symbol of the unbroken bond of my love for you, given to you eternally. With this ring, I thee wed.
For our closing reading, Jim and Steven have chosen:
To Love is Not to Possess
by James Kavanaugh
To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one's self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one's self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another--and to one's inner self.
Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon's own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child's scars
Or an adult's deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are--and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.
By the authority vested in me by the State of California and a minister of the universal life, but most of all because of the vows made in the presence of these witnesses, I now pronounce you husband and husband. Please welcome one another into the estate of marriage with a kiss.
Friends and family, I present to you: Steven & James