Monday, November 30, 2015

'Whals in the Woods: The Ceremony

For the sake of those in their ceremony planning phase in search of ceremony inspiration I've decided to opt for a very long post to have it all in one place. Scroll through the photos or read through the words. We gathered bits from here and there and everywhere with the intention of only using words that were meaningful to us and our wedding ceremony. So, I'm going to jump write in and add some commentary in italics throughout. :) 

All photos captured by the talented Isos Photography

On behalf of Amy and Joel, welcome and thank you for joining us today. They are so grateful that you have traveled from near and far to share their joy during this wonderful moment in their lives.

Your presence here today is special. You are celebrating with them the love they have discovered in one another and supporting their decision to commit themselves in their journey through life together.  We would also like to acknowledge those joining us in spirit today.

Address friends and family
Today, their relationship changes. All of us know it will grow, and become stronger and better.  Indeed this day is a day of hope. A day in which Joel and Amy demonstrate their commitment, devotion, and mutual respect, as well as their faith and love in one another.

Address to the couple
Joel and Amy, as much as today it is a celebration of your marriage to one another, it is also a celebration of your love. Your love and understanding of each other has grown and matured, and now you have decided to live your lives together as husband and wife. This marriage is both a pledge of enduring love, and an expression of your commitment to each other.
Marriage is the most important of all earthly relationships. It should be entered into thoughtfully and with full understanding of its sacred nature. It’s fragile because it requires exactly the right mix of freedom, creating an atmosphere of care, consideration, and respect, and by a willingness to face the tensions and anxieties that are a natural part of human life. As with any aspect of life, it has its cycles, its ups and downs, its trials and triumphs. It will take faith to go forward together without knowing exactly what the future brings. It will take commitment to hold true to the journey you both promise today to share together. Remember that this marriage ceremony is only a symbol, a celebration, and a public recognition of what already exists in the silent places of your hearts. This is your marriage to define, yours to make real, yours to live.

Now, I am going to ask for Amy’s Aunt Michelle, or Ciocia (pronounced Cha-cha, Polish for Auntie) to come up and share a reading with everyone. Note: We only wanted to have one reading during our ceremony, and without hesitation we both decided to ask my aunt. We are kindred spirits in many ways, and her and my uncle's marriage offer a beautiful inspiration to us both.

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 exchange of vows
Amy and Joel are going to present their vows they have written together. They have spent time reflecting on what is important to promise to one another in their relationship and through their sacred bond of marriage.

Note: We had our vows inside our leather bound journals (I wish I had a better picture to share), and each recited half a sentence, and the beginning of the next sentence. There was no way we could say them together coherently! At the end we both said, "for life."
We share our lifelong promises out loud to each other in front of the most important people in our lives, both in person and spirit.
We promise to love one another and continue to choose each other every day.
We promise to put our friendship and our marriage first.
We promise to always respect one another and cherish our shared honesty and trust.
We promise to always appreciate and be grateful for one another and never take each other for granted.
We promise to always have each other's back and help and support each other no matter the circumstance.
We promise to always search for common ground and find balance in who we are together and as individuals.
We promise to be there for one another as best friends and partners through everything life brings our way.
In times of Growth and times of change
In times of Prosperity and times of challenge
In times of health and times of sickness
In times of celebration and times of loss.
We promise to help each other find the positivity and lessons in the best and worst of times and continue our daily practice of gratitude.
We promise to hold our marriage and these vows to one another to the highest regard for life.

and as soon as we both said "for life" together, Nelson let out a loud bark, and everyone started laughing.

Affirmation of friends and family
As Joel and Amy's friends and family you are gathered here today to celebrate the beautiful vows they have just shared with one another.
Now, I ask that you stand, and that Joel and Amy turn and acknowledge everyone, as they acknowledge you.

As family and friends, you form a community of support that surrounds Joel and Amy. Each of you, by your presence here today, is being called upon to uphold them in loving each other. Always stand beside them, never between them. Offer them your love and your support, not your judgment. Encourage them when encouragement is needed and listen to them when they ask for advice. In these ways, you can honour this marriage into which they have come to be joined today. Do you offer your love & support to strengthen their marriage & bless this family created by their union?
Please answer by saying: WE DO
Guests: WE DO

Thank-you you may be seated.

Hand Fasting Ceremony
Joel and Amy have decided to include a hand fasting ceremony in lieu of the exchanging of their rings during their marriage ceremony. Hand fasting is an ancient Celtic tradition symbolizing the joining of two people in marriage.

Joel and Amy, know now before you go further, that since your lives have crossed, 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 to 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 individual 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.

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 directions emphasizes those things which will help you build a happy and successful union.
May this union be blessed 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.
May this union be blessed 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.
May this union be blessed 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.
May this union be blessed 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.
Joel and Amy, please join hands and 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.)
Will you share each other’s pain and seek to ease it?
We will.
(Cord is draped over the hands again.)
Will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union?
We will.
(Cord is wrapped again over hands.)
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.)
Do you choose each other as husband and wife?
We do.
(Cords are tied together.)

Joel and Amy, as your hands are bound together now, so your lives and spirits are joined in a union of love and trust.

Affirmation of marriage
Now may the love which has brought you together continue to grow and enrich your lives.
May you meet with courage the problems which arise to challenge you and may your relationship always be one of love and trust.
May the happiness you share today be with you always and may every word you have pledged here be a living truth in your lives.

Declaration of Marriage
Joel and Amy, we have heard your promise to share your lives in marriage. We recognize and respect the covenant of marriage you have made here this day before each one of us as witnesses.
Therefore, in the honesty and sincerity of what you have said and done here today, it is my honour and delight to declare you henceforth to be husband and wife.
You may seal your vows with a kiss.

After our kiss, it was time to sign the register. As per recommendation of our officiant Johnny, we played a song. Our choice was Back to You by Trevor Hall. 

Introduction of the couple
Joel and Amy are going exit first and will be waiting on the path for a greeting and congratulations before you can go get yourself a drink and enjoy some of the amazing appetizers that are waiting over in the food tent. After saying hello to everyone they’re going to grab some photos for a few minutes and be back in time to jump right into this evenings festivities. Note: Having our officiant say this was really great to move along our receiving line efficiently (which I'll talk about in my next post).
And so now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
It is my personal privilege and a great joy to be the first one to
introduce Joel and Amy  as husband and wife.

And just like that, we were married! Our ceremony went by pretty quickly, I think it was just under 20 minutes start to finish. We had a ton of positive feedback from our guests (and our officiant too!). The common review was that it was nice to attend a ceremony that was so clearly a reflection of the couple. Mission accomplished!

Next up, we recess and say hello to everyone.

Miss something?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

'Whals in the Woods: We Process

Okay, before we get rolling on this post, I had to find a way to share the music we played. I'm always a big fan of listening to the music while reading ceremony posts. I had a bit of a hurdle finding the song I walked down the aisle to, and have come up with an alternative solution of embedding an 8tracks playlist. The first song my bridal party walked down the aisle to was Walk Quietly by one of our favourite artists (and my personal favourite) Trevor Hall. Spoiler alert - we played three of his songs during the ceremony! They were just the exact vibe we wanted to share. The second song on the playlist, which I walked down the aisle to was Head Over Feet covered by Vitamin String Quartet. This was a surprise to Mr. Narwhal, and every time I listen to this version, it gives me major chills. So hit play and listen as you read along. :) There are a few other random songs afterwards that I had to add in order to complete the playlist. 

The guests were all seated and the ceremony was about to begin. We were all gathered at the bottom of the hill and Walk Quietly started playing. First, the boys walked my mom down (or up) the aisle, followed by BM Megs and Nelson, and then the rest of the ladies.

MOH Cass was the last to walk up the hill, and once she reached the end of the aisle, the song switched over to Head Over Feet. Meanwhile, it was only my dad and I left at the bottom of the hill and I started to cry. All of the emotions of the day all came rushing over me. I had been waiting for this moment with my dad long before Mr. Narwhal ever came along and I couldn't have imagined a better person at the end of the aisle waiting for me. An aisle we literally created together after many months of work.  I always thought my dad would be the one to get me crying as we walked down the aisle, but in the end it was me. By the time I made it to the guests I was smiling ear to ear, and pretty much stayed that way the entire ceremony.

At the end of the aisle we exchanged hugs with my my parents, and then it was time for the ceremony to begin.

All photos captured by Isos Photography

and now, you should switch to the next song ;)

Getting the tears out of my system

I am so in love with the next picture

Miss something?
The Day Before
The Rehearsal Breakfast
The Bridal Party Gets Ready

Monday, November 23, 2015

'Whals in the Woods: The Guests Arrive

Once we wrapped up our family photos, my team went inside to hide out while the boys mingled in the wedding area as guests began arriving. When the first bus went by I started to get really excited. It was really really happening now (I think I had about 80 of those moments throughout the day).

It was kind of surreal hiding out in the house as we watched guests heading past the house up to the second driveway. A few family members and friends popped in before the ceremony to see me, and it was just mostly filled with moments of excitement and anticipation.

Before we knew it we were gathering outside ready to make our way up the hill for the ceremony to begin. Guests were seated and the boys were at the cabin waiting.

All photos captured the talented ladies of Isos Photography

A sweet moment between Mr. Narwhal and his mom

BM Megs volunteered to be Nelson's date for the wedding!

And then... the music started. 

Miss something?
The Day Before
The Rehearsal Breakfast
The Bridal Party Gets Ready