Last week, I had the privilege of performing the wedding ceremony for two very dear friends. Though short and simple, I relied heavily on this wedding service planner. The ceremony itself took all of 15 minutes.
I am not ordained, but was deputized by the county for one day. (At the courthouse, the bride-to-be made the clerk laugh by asking if I could be given a deputy star.) My official title was “deputy commissioner.” By popular request, here is the text of the message I gave at the beginning of the service:
Bride One, are you ready to do this?
Groom One, are you ready to do this?
Then it’s Zero Hour.
Now as Deputy Commissioner One, I get to have the first say. And you, C & N, get to hear from someone who’s not drunk. Yet.
The person you are marrying today is not the person you will be married to in 10 years.
Kay & I have been married now for over 22 years, coming up on 23. On our wedding day, my brother-in-law said something that we thought was ludicrous. He said, “It takes 10 years before you really become comfortable with each other.” (repeat) And we thought, “What a stupid thing to say! We are totally comfortable with each other now!” But you know what? When we reached the 10-year mark, something really did change. It wasn’t that, as newlyweds, we loved each other less. You might say that our love didn’t grow higher — but it grew deeper.
As you share not days, not years, but decades in commitment to each other, you will discover that your capacity to love is deeper than you imagined. And as a result, you will both change. Kay says, “The person you are marrying today is not the person you will be married to in 10 years.” And then she looks at me and says, “Thank God!”
“The person you are marrying today is not the person you will be married to in 10 years.” This is not a pronouncement of doom (!) but of hope. You will both be changed: Your capacity to love will grow deeper.
Now, as the resident Jesus Freak, I believe that this change that marriage does to us is a gift from God, and part of God’s design for the universe. Furthermore, I believe that God made you for each other. God made you for each other to fulfill this purpose. And so today, through this commitment you are making to each other, in some mystical way, the joining of your two lives into one makes this world a better place.
I succeeded in my goal of making the bride cry! I had a few other tidbits I threw in to begin the sections of the ceremony:
Declaration of Intent
Marriage is not a contract, but a covenant. A contract is an agreement by two parties who distrust each other, made to protect their own self-interests. A covenant is a promise to look after the interests of the other.
I was perfectly serious, so I’m not sure why that statement elicited chuckles…
Exchange of Vows
You could have made these promises in private, but by doing so in public, you include all of us. Every marriage needs support in order to succeed.
C & N, know this: You are not alone.
And witnesses: You are not simply observers, but we are all participants in this promise. We have a duty to help C & N fulfill their promises.
Exchange of Rings
If you don’t want to forget something, you — what? — you tie it around your finger. Our children used to ask Kay, “Mommy, why do you wear two rings?” And Kay would say, “This ring (the engagement ring) means, ‘Daddy loves me.’ And this ring (the wedding ring) means, ‘Daddy will never leave me.'”
What a good time. Now they’re off honeymooning, while I take care of the cats and house.
You know what’s goofy? When Kay & I got married, we had both fathers perform the ceremony. Kay’s dad gave the message, and… we have no record of it. You get kind of preoccupied when you’re doing the real deal.