Suggestions for Ceremony lines
August 7, 2013 11:51 AM   Subscribe

Wedding in 5 weeks. We still haven't figured out any of the script for our wedding. The officient sent us a handful of sample ceremonies, but none of them really feel like us. The "I ______ take thee _________ to be my wife/husband, for richer or poorer" etc vows we are totally stuck on, and frankly the ring exchange lines are also sticking us up too. Please help. The green always has such creative suggestions! Don't fail me now!

Everyone here on the green is so god damned witty and creative. I have to believe you can help us craft one hell of a wedding ceremony.

Particulars (in case this helps):
- Male (39) and female (31). Age difference is a running joke for us.
- co-workers first, then friends, now this
- athiests, not at all spiritual
- getting married outside, on a cliff by the ocean here in Atlantic Canada (fingers crossed the weather is nice...)
- his second marriage, my first marriage
- he has a son from his first marriage, I am effing pumped to have a kick ass step son because I wanted kids but didn't want to have my own bio-kids
- we first realized we had feelings for each other at a book club BBQ, and we are to this day huge readers
- We are disgustingly affectionate and snuggly, we sick out our friends a little
- He proposed with the most amazing sapphire ring ever with loads of personal meaning and symbolism. I re-proposed to him with a barbecue
- We both had some properly awful relationships and we both know how ridiculously awesome our relationship is and how lucky we are
- We play a lot of board games, we pride ourselves on being fairly cerebral
- including some humour is fine. For example, the one thing we HAVE decided on is that our officient is going to start the ceremony with "MAHWIDGE! MAHWIDGE IS WAT BWINGS US TOGETHER TODAY!" speech from the Princess Bride.


Things we don't buy in to stuff like destiny or soul mates. We just feel we are two people who are unbelievably perfectly suited for each other and we are lucky as hell to have met. We want our message/vows to be about partnership, cooperation, how our lives aren't ONE, but rather our individual lives are perfect complements to each other, that they mesh and work together. We are individuals existing not FOR each other, but WITH each other, and that our lives are better for existing with the other. We see this as a joining of our families (esp. in terms of me becoming a part of his family unit of him and his son). I once read somewhere here on the green about how being in a relationship is wonderful because you have a witness to your life. He and I both feel this way.

The ring exchange is particularly vexing. The whole "This ring doesn't have a beginning or and end, like my love for you" crap is totally not us. To us the ring is absolutely symbolic and important, we both put a lot of stock in the importance of the ring and having the outward symbol of our commitment to each other. But we don't want to say what everyone else says.

I have also been told (by my sister who has declared herself wedding planner... seriously) that we need to have a reading in the wedding. Suggestions for that also would be helpful, but we have a few in mind that may work, so that is less dire.

I have looked online and gone through a ton of sample wedding ceremony scripts, including on IndieBride and all that, but we're just not hitting the tone we want to hit.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson to Writing & Language (24 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Forgot to mention how we don't want separate vows. We want to say basically the same thing to each other.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 11:52 AM on August 7, 2013


The New York Ethical Culture society has these suggestions:

I, _____________, take you, ______________, to be my wife/husband. I give you my hand and my heart. I pledge to share my life openly with you and to speak loving truth to you. I promise to respect and honor you, care for you in tenderness, support you with patience and love, and walk with you through all the seasons of our lives.

I, _____________, take you, ______________, to be no other than yourself, loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not yet know, with respect for your integrity and faith in your love for me, through all our years and in all that life may bring us. I promise to try to be ever open to you and above all, to do everything in my power to permit you to become the person you are yet to be. I give you my love.

She's got readings and everything on that link.
posted by janey47 at 11:57 AM on August 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


The full Princess Bride quote/scene, for reference.

And for starters, here is a collection of non-traditional wedding vows, and a ton more on Amazon Askville. Nothing personalized for you, but to provide you some possible starting points, things to agree that you both like and don't like.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:58 AM on August 7, 2013


This list of non-traditional wedding vows from A Practical Wedding is pretty awesome. I was at a wedding last year where they used a version of "I, [name], choose you, [name], to be no other than yourself" (which janey47 mentions above, and which is in the list), which I hadn't heard before but loved.
posted by rebekah at 11:58 AM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm so excited for you as your day gets closer.

Husbunny and I were compelled by our families to do a traditional Jewish/Christian wedding. We wanted it to be as short as possible.

We didn't have a reading, or a unity candle or any of that shit. We did the Jewish ceremony, and Rev Gail TRIED to interject some hippy-dippy BS, but we put the Kibosh on that.

Just read Paul's letter to the Corinthians already, we want to get to the reception!

That said, you don't have to have a reading. In fact, if you skip it, others will be pleased.

I aim for 30 minutes or under. That's perfect.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:04 PM on August 7, 2013


For the reading, I've always loved this advice from Captain Corelli's Mandolin -- and it seems to exactly suit how you describe yourselves:
“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don't blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being "in love", which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.” ― Louis de Bernières
posted by mochapickle at 12:06 PM on August 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Oh, we're aiming for a SHORT ceremony! 10-15 minutes is our goal. I guess I probably should have specified that as well, eh?

Really loving the "I take you to be no other than yourself" vow. That is definitely in line with what we're looking for.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:10 PM on August 7, 2013


I think the sentiment expressed in your post here is awesome, and can easily be prettied up:

"I, ____________, take _____________ to be my partner from this day forward. I will not live for you, but with you, supporting you in your endeavors and bearing witness to your life. I believe I am better having known you and lucky to have found you. I'm so glad to join with you today, not only as a couple but also as a family. I promise to stand by your side, sharing tears and laughter, for the rest of my life.

I give you this ring not as a token of my love but as a reminder of the promise I have made to you today. Wear it and know that my love is always with you."

Or something like that.

I believe that if you write honestly, you'll come up with something better than any wedding script.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:11 PM on August 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture used to have a really long page about weddings that is no longer up. I saved this excerpt in my email because I always liked it:

Couples genuinely in love are already emotionally married to each other before they are finally wed. no ceremony creates human relationships; it can only recognize what has thus far developed. It connotes the end of a beginning and marks a new beginning. The overt social act of union, the wedding ceremony, thus represents an opportunity to declare openly and coherently one’s personal feelings upon arriving at what is perhaps life’s most critical juncture—the juncture at which one promises to transcend one’s ego so as to enter into the experience of another and care for that other in exceptional ways. marriage is not a merger but a means of enhancing the individuality of each partner.


Love by Roy Croft is also a great reading.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:13 PM on August 7, 2013 [17 favorites]


I have a substantial collection of wedding poetry and literature quotes -- memail me. For the ceremony, here's my standard script, tweakable for same sex weddings and all other purposes, which is meaningful but definitely 10-15 minutes max, and which I got from the person who married me and my husband:

WE ARE GATHERED HERE TODAY TO WITNESS THE MARRIAGE OF THESE TWO PEOPLE, GROOM AND BRIDE, WHO STAND BEFORE YOU IN LOVE, IN TRUST, AND IN HOPE.

THEY ASK US TO BE PRESENT WITH THEM TO REJOICE IN THEIR COMPANIONSHIP AND TO SHARE THEIR JOY.

BRIDE AND GROOM, MARRIAGE IS NOT TO BE ENTERED INTO LIGHTLY, BUT WITH CERTAINTY, WITH MUTUAL RESPECT, AND WITH A SENSE OF REVERENCE WHICH DOES NOT PRECLUDE BEAUTY, HUMOR, OR JOY. ON THIS DAY OF YOUR MARRIAGE, YOU STAND WITHIN THE CHARMED CIRCLE OF YOUR GREAT LOVE.

LOVE IS NOT MEANT TO BE THE POSSESSION OF TWO PEOPLE ALONE. RATHER, IT SHOULD SERVE AS A SOURCE OF COMMON ENERGY, AS A FORM IN WHICH YOU FIND THE STRENGTH TO LIVE YOUR LIVES WITH COURAGE. FROM THIS DAY ONWARD, YOU MUST COME CLOSER TOGETHER THAN EVER BEFORE; YOU MUST CARRY ON LOVING ONE ANOTHER IN SICKNESS AND HEALTH, FOR BETTER AND FOR WORSE. BUT, AT THE SAME TIME, YOUR LOVE SHOULD GIVE YOU THE STRENGTH TO STAND APART, TO SEEK OUT YOUR UNIQUE DESTINIES, TO MAKE YOUR SPECIAL CONTRIBUTION TO THE WORLD WHICH IS ALWAYS PART OF US AND MORE THAN US.

SO, GROOM, NOW I ASK YOU, DO YOU PLEDGE TO SHARE YOUR LIFE OPENLY WITH BRIDE, TO SPEAK THE TRUTH TO HER IN LOVE; TO HONOR AND TENDERLY CARE FOR HER, TO CHERISH AND ENCOURAGE HER OWN FULFILLMENT AS AN INDIVIDUAL THROUGH ALL THE CHANGES OF YOUR LIVES?
- I DO.

AND BRIDE, DO YOU ALSO PLEDGE TO SHARE YOUR LIFE OPENLY WITH GROOM, TO SPEAK THE TRUTH TO HIM IN LOVE; TO HONOR AND TENDERLY CARE FOR HIM, TO CHERISH AND ENCOURAGE HIS OWN FULFILLMENT AS AN INDIVIDUAL THROUGH ALL THE CHANGES OF YOUR LIVES?
- I DO.

OFFICIANT: MAY I HAVE THE RING PLEASE?

LET THIS RING IS GIVEN AND RECEIVED AS A TOKEN OF YOUR AFFECTION, SINCERITY, AND FIDELITY TOWARDS ONE ANOTHER..(RING IS GIVEN TO GROOM)
GROOM, REPEAT AFTER ME:
I, GROOM...
TAKE YOU, BRIDE.....
TO BE MY LAWFULLY WEDDED WIFE...
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD....
TO LOVE AND CHERISH....
FROM THIS DAY FORWARD..
(GROOM PUTS RING ON BRIDE)

BRIDE, REPEAT AFTER ME:
I, BRIDE...
TAKE YOU GROOM...
TO BE MY LAWFULLY WEDDED HUSBAND
TO HAVE AND TO HOLD....
TO LOVE AND CHERISH....
FROM THIS DAY FORWARD.
(BRIDE PUTS RING ON GROOM)

BY THE AUTHORITY VESTED IN ME AS A ______ AND ACCORDING TO THE LAWS OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON, I PRONOUNCE YOU, GROOM, AND YOU, BRIDE, HUSBAND AND WIFE.
GROOM, YOU MAY NOW KISS YOUR BEAUTIFUL WIFE...
posted by bearwife at 12:15 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


P.S. Sorry for all the shouty capitals. It is easier for an officiant to read that way.
posted by bearwife at 12:32 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


We are saying "we will" rather than "I do" which for me expresses we are a team! We've got three short statements to which we respond "We will":

Will you seek to have a loving marriage, allowing it and each other to change and develop, supporting each other in happiness and sorrow, health and illness?

Will you embrace each other's own strengths and weaknesses and always seek to treat each other with kindness and gentleness?

Will you seek always to learn from your strengths and weaknesses and to build from them a full and caring friendship based on trust and respect?

We are then saying we give each other rings as a token of our love - and the celebrant is then saying a (Scottish) ring blessing. As she explained it, this gives more weight to this bit of the ceremony than if we just exchanged the rings.

The whole ceremony is beautiful and all about working in partnership and building a life together as two people who love each other - which for me is what marriage is all about.

Good luck finding something that works for you - I love our ceremony and I cry every time I read it (lots of waterproof mascara required on the day then!!)
posted by smudge at 12:38 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


My wife and I said this for the ring exchange: "I give you this ring as a symbol of the completeness of my love and the sincerity of my vow."
posted by that's candlepin at 12:40 PM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lots of excellent suggestions above (and APW is doing some great stuff lately WRT vows and readings.) We are also atheists who got married outside and don't believe in soul mates (just our incredible luck to have found each other). I'm happy to share all the bits and pieces of our 15 minute wedding if you shoot me a memail, but here are the vows:

Vows : A&A (prompted by Glen)

I promise to be faithful to you and honest with you

to try in easy times as hard as I try in difficult times

to protect you and take care of you, and allow you to take care of me

to always point out any fifteens you’ve missed
[this is a cribbage joke, we play a lot]

to love you, respect you, and cherish you all the days of my life

Will you take this ring as a reminder of these promises?
[We responded "I will"]

Community vow : everyone

Two people in love do not live in isolation. Their love is a source of strength with which they may nourish not only each other but also the world around them. And in turn, we, their community of friends and family, have a responsibility to them. By our steadfast care, respect, and love, we can support their marriage and the new family they are creating today. (please stand)

Will you who are present here today, surround Adam and Adrienne in love, offering them the joys of your friendship? Do you promise to accept them not only individually, but as a couple - to encourage and inspire their dreams, and support them in their marriage?

If so, please respond “we do!”

And now with the blessings of all present, I’m pleased to pronounce you husband and wife.

Smooching
Recessional

Mr. Bruno is now officiating the wedding of another couple of our friends and it is so hard to get the tone just right! Best of luck!
posted by hungrybruno at 12:41 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shall you include your new step son in the ceremony? You did not mention his age, but perhaps he could be a part of the beginning of a big change in his life.
posted by Cranberry at 12:48 PM on August 7, 2013


My favorite reading from our wedding, from the Velveteen Rabbit:

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
“Someone made me real,” he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."




Our ring exchange:

I give you this ring as a token of my love and my commitment to you
Wear it as a symbol of my love and in celebration of the life we share together
posted by craven_morhead at 1:06 PM on August 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm a Quaker, and I have always loved the traditional Quaker wedding vows. Quakers don't have clergy so the couple marrying just say this to each other in the presence of witnesses during a special meeting for worship. Some people leave out the God parts they're not faithy, and some use "you" instead of the traditional "thee." And if you google you'll find variations. If my partner and I were to get married under the care of Quakers, I'd choose other language than "husband/wife." Still, I love that it is just right to the point with no frippery.

In the presence of God and these our friends, I take thee to be my husband/wife, promising with Divine Assistance to be a loving and faithful wife/husband for as long as we both live.
posted by not that girl at 1:11 PM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here's another article from APracticalWedding.com that might be useful:

How to write your wedding ceremony
posted by rakaidan at 1:41 PM on August 7, 2013


One of my favorites among friends of mine was the couple who used a slightly reworked version of Dr. Seuss' "Oh the places you'll go". It was just totally spot on for them.
posted by nat at 1:59 PM on August 7, 2013


Flash Gordon, 1980, saviour of the wedding vows.

Zogi, the High Priest: Do you, Ming the Merciless, Ruler of the Universe, take this Earthling Dale Arden, to be your Empress of the Hour?
The Emperor Ming: Of the hour, yes.
Zogi, the High Priest: Do you promise to use her as you will?
The Emperor Ming: Certainly!
Zogi, the High Priest: Not to blast her into space?
[Ming glares at Zogi]
Zogi, the High Priest: Uh, until such time as you grow weary of her.
The Emperor Ming: I do.

While Vikki wouldn't let me use it, we both agreed to have Brian May's guitar version of the Wedding March play in the traditional 'aisle walk'. In short, if YOU want to do something, do it. It's YOUR day.
posted by ewan at 2:12 PM on August 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


My beloved MIL used this wording:

The Questions:
[Name], will you have [name] to be your wife, and will you promise your steadfastness to her, in all love and honor, in all responsibility and service, in all faith and tenderness; to live with her and cherish her, according to the ordinance of God, in the holy bond of marriage? [Alter relevant words for her version.]
Call for the rings:
... [Name], please repeat after me:
[Name], this ring I give you, in token and in pledge of our constant faith, and abiding love.
And from me to you, her benediction: May this covenant of steadfast love made between you give you long years and deep friendship and the making of glad memories in peace and tenderness, now and forever and ever more. Congratulations.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:16 PM on August 7, 2013


I recently attended a wedding where the couple wrote their vows together with their officiant, and what they created was extremely personal and beautiful and reflected their shared goals for their relationship.

Which you and your partner clearly understand, because your vows are right there in your OP.

Making some minor edits to what you wrote:

"I pledge that our marriage will be one of partnership and cooperation. Our lives aren't ONE, but my life is a perfect complement to yours. They mesh and work together. We are individuals existing not FOR each other, but WITH each other, and our lives are better for existing with the other. With this ring I join my family to yours, and become a witness to your life. Because we are simply two people who are unbelievably perfectly suited for each other and we are lucky as hell to have met."
posted by capricorn at 8:13 PM on August 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I, personA, am taking you, personB, for all you're worth, just as your mother warned you. But I promise to stick this one out, no matter how shitty things get, because who wants to throw away a good thing and be divorced and alone at our age? I will never be unfaithful to you, even if I can't even keep my eyes off your cousin during this ceremony, as I know you will never be unfaithful to me. I promise to split the housework exactly evenly, including cleaning the toilet and doing the laundry, even if I'm making a lot more money than you and I feel like some kid of big shot on payday, because everybody's got a stinky bum. I promise not to inflict my family and friends on you or to inflict you on my family and friends; this is a marriage just between the two of us. But we two -- we all -- are getting older and uglier by the minute, so, before we change our minds, let us all get this over with and start drinking. I marry you forever as of now.
posted by pracowity at 9:23 AM on August 8, 2013


So so many awesome suggestions! As of this morning we have our ceremony written and finished. It is personal and reflects US and how we feel.

Thank you so much for your help, guys!
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:57 AM on August 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


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