Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Writing the Ceremony

There are a plethora of resources out there for crafting your ceremony, especially on the Bee. I've frequented posts from Mrs. Jet Setter, Mrs. Border Collie, Mrs. Cherry Pie, Miss Hammerhead, Mrs. Buttons and Mrs. Elk.

I've briefly touched on our ceremony in the past, and how the ceremony is one of the most important parts of the day for us. As someone with words of affirmation as one of my love languages, I'm pretty certain the ceremony is going to be the one of the best moments of my entire life. All the feels.

While we both want our ceremony to be personal and intimate feeling, we also want to keep it short and sweet. To me, ceremonies are like speeches, you can say a lot in a short amount of time and the longer it drags on the less meaningful it becomes.

We also don't really want to reinvent the wheel here. Many people before us have had non-religious ceremonies that shared beautiful and meaningful words. We're picking and choosing segments that suit our life and the marriage we are creating, and are basically copy, pasting and tweaking it together into our version of the ceremony.

When it comes to picking and choosing, something that has shocked many people is the fact that we will not be doing a ring ceremony. Mr. Narwhal has made it clear for a long time that a ring did not fit his every day lifestyle.  While he has since decided he does want a ring for special occasions, we are still forgoing the ring ceremony. It just didn't feel right for us to put the symbolism of our marriage on a ring that he wouldn't wear everyday. Our plan is to privately exchange them during our first look. I know this might seem a bit odd that we are still planning on having rings, but I think of it as a symbol for society versus a symbol for our marriage. Plus, pretty rings. No shame here.

While we are still selecting and drafting a few of the details, we have our basic outline ready at this point.

Welcome and Gathering Words
Our officiant will introduce himself and welcome everyone setting the tone for the ceremony. He will acknowledge our family and friends and what their presence means to us and talk about marriage.

The Border Collie Ceremony / Image by Phil Steingard Studios

We have chosen to share one reading during the ceremony, which will be presented by my aunt.

Blessing for a Marriage 
by 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 out 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.

The Affirmation of Family and Friends
We want to address/face our family and friends, and ask for their support in our marriage. I'm really excited for this moment and the opportunity to pause and acknowledge our surroundings and everyone that came to celebrate our marriage.

The Cherry Pie Ceremony / Image by Piknik Studios

Sharing our Vows
I'm going to talk about our vows in my next post. They have been a topic of debate for both of us throughout our engagement, and we finally came to a decision together that we are both very excited about.

Hand Fasting Ceremony 
To replace the ring ceremony and affirmation of intent/consent portion of the ceremony, we will be doing a hand fasting ceremony. There are several versions on the interwebs; however we both really like this version from Vows of the Heart. Both Mr. Narwhal and I consider ourselves to be spiritual and love the connection to the land this ceremony invokes.

The Buttons Handfasting Ceremony / Image by Pilster Photography

Miss Narwhal and Mr. Narwhal, know now before you go further, that since your lives have crossed in this life, you have formed eternal and sacred bonds.

As you seek to enter this state of matrimony you should strive to make real the ideals that to you, give meaning this ceremony and to the institution of marriage.

With full awareness, know that within this circle you are not only declaring your intent to be hand fasted before your friends and family, but you speak that intent also to your creative higher powers.

The promises made today and the ties that are bound here greatly strengthen your union and will cross the years and lives of each soul’s growth.

Do you still seek to enter this ceremony? 

The Cowboy Boot Handfasting Ceremony / Photo by Tec Petaja

Invoking the Four Directions

In many cultures it is believed that the human soul shares characteristics with all things divine. It is this belief which assigned virtues to the four cardinal directions; East, South, West and North.

It is according to this belief that we align ourselves with these elements. Each of these blessings from the four cardinal directions emphasizes those things which will help you build a happy and successful union.

(Guests are invited to stand and face the four directions) 

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East and the element of Air, for openness and breath, communication of the heart, and purity of the mind and body.
From the east you receive the gift of a new beginning with the rising of each Sun, and the understanding that each day is a new opportunity for growth. 

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South and the element of fire for energy, passion, creativity and the warmth of a loving home.
From the fire within you generate light, which you will share with one another in even the darkest of times. 

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West, the element of water for your capacity to feel emotion. 
In marriage you offer absolute trust to one another, and vow to keep your hearts open in sorrow as well as joy.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North, the element of earth, which provides sustenance, fertility and security.
The earth will feed and enrich you, and help you to build a stable home to which you may always return.

(Guests are seated)

The Elk Handfasting Ceremony / Photo by 

Binding of Hands
 Mr. Narwhal and Miss Narwhal, I bid you look into each others eyes. 

Will you honour and respect one another and seek to never break that honour?
We will.
(First wrapping around hands is made) 
And so the first binding is made.

Will you share each other's pain and seek to ease it?
We will. 
(Cord is draped over the hands again)
And so the binding is made. 

Will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union?
We will.
(Cord is wrapped again over hands)
And so the binding is made.

Will you share each other's laughter, and look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other?
We will. 
(Cord is wrapped again over hands)
And so the binding is made.

Cords are tied together.

Miss Narwhal and Mr. Narwhal, as your hands are bound together now, so your lives and spirits are joined in a union of love and trust.
Above you are the stars and below you is the earth.
Like the stars you love should be a constant source of light, and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow.

The Jet Setter Ceremony / Image by James F. Reilly

Affirmation and Declaration of Marriage
Our officiant will declare us married, and we kiss!

Signing of the Register and Announcement 
After we sign our license, we will be announced and exit with our wedding party.

How did you go about writing your ceremony? 

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