Monday, April 14, 2008

The Big Day, Part 2: In which we make it legal

Part 1 here

I close my eyes and take a deep breath. The guys have just walked in and the girls are walking in ahead of me. There's a last minute decision to forego the Italian scarves (though I got them so they would be less cold!) and I end up being the only one wearing a scarf during the ceremony. I can barely hear the music, but I know everyone else can hear it. QIR, Lissa, Laurel, and OF each walk in and stop, and I am the last one in.

The music stops and Erin starts to speak. She welcomes everyone, and introduces each of our readers. I take a deep breath.

Katherine reads an exerpt from Goodridge v. Dept of Public Health, the Massachusetts decision on gay marriage. Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive
commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life's momentous acts of self-definition. It is undoubtedly for these concrete reasons, as well as for its intimately personal significance, that civil marriage has long been termed a "civil right." Without the right to choose to marry one is excluded from the full range of human experience.

It is windy; she has to move her hair from her face several times.

Julie reads an exerpt from A Gift of the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindberg.
Here the bonds of marriage are formed. For marriage, which is always spoken of as a bond, becomes actually, in this stage, many bonds, many strands, of different texture and strength, making up a web that is taut and firm. The web is fashioned of love. Yes, but many kinds of love: romantic love first, then a slow-growing devotion and, playing through these, a constantly rippling companionship. It is made of loyalties, and interdependencies, and shared experiences. It is woven of memories of meetings and conflicts; of triumphs and disappointments. It is a web of communication, a common language, and the acceptance of lack of language, too; a knowledge of likes and dislikes, of habits and reactions, both physical and mental. It is a web of instincts and intuitions, and known and unknown exchanges. The web of marriage is made by nearness, in the day to day living side by side, looking outward and working in the same direction. It is woven in space and in time of the substance of life itself.

I am reading the readings from the nice copies we've printed and mounted on fancy paper, over the shoulder of whoever is reading. I take a few breaths. I look at Dan. I let Julie's voice wash over me.

Scarlett reads an exerpt from "I like you," a children's book by Sandol Stoddard Warburg. Dan and I were introduced to this book by a friend long before we got engaged, and it was one of the first decisions we made when we started to plan the wedding, that this would be one of the readings during the ceremony.
I like you and I know why.
I like you because you are a good person to like.
I like you because when I tell you something special, you
know it's special
And you remember it a long, long time.
You say, Remember when you told me something special
And both of us remember
When I think something is important
you think it's important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny, you laugh
I think I'm funny and you think I'm funny too
You know how to be silly
That's why I like you
Boy are you ever silly
I never met anybody sillier than me till I met you
I like you because you know when it's time to stop being
Maybe day after tomorrow
Maybe never
That's because you really like me
You really like me, don't you
And I really like you back
And you like me back and I like you back
And that's the way we keep on going every day
If you go away, then I go away too
or if I stay home, you send me a postcard
You don't just say Well see you around sometime, bye
I like you a lot because of that
If I go away, I send you a postcard too
And I like you because if we go away together
And if we are in Grand Central Station
And if I get lost
Then you are the one that is yelling for me
And I like you because when I am feeling sad
You don't always cheer me up right away
Sometimes it is better to be sad
If you find two four-leaf clovers, you give me one
If I find four, I give you two
If we only find three, we keep on looking
Sometimes we have good luck, and sometimes we don't
I like you because I don't know why but
Everything that happens is nicer with you
I can't remember when I didn't like you
It must have been lonesome then
I like you because because because
I forget why I like you but I do
So many reasons
On the 4th of July I like you because it's the 4th of July
On the fifth of July, I like you too
Even if it was the 999th of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
Even if it was no place particular in January
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again
That's how it would happen every time
I don't know why
I guess I don't know why I really like you
Why do I like you
I guess I just like you
I guess I just like you because I like you.

The geese chime in during Scarlett's reading, the ones that live in and around the lake. They're hiding out on the island. The reading gets many laughs, as do the sounds of honking. I laugh at the funny parts and am so glad we asked Scarlett to read this one, because she understands exactly how it needs to be read.

Erin leads us through our declaration of intent. We look into each other's eyes when we say this part and mean every word.
Impressive Clergywoman: Bride & Groom, will you always be open,
honest, and patient, trust one another, and be worthy
of that trust?
Bride & Groom together: We will.
IC: Marriage is an ongoing dialogue, a series
of discussions that will help you find your way
together. Will you communicate with each other fully,
and fearlessly?
B&G: We will.
IC: Every marriage requires a leap of faith.
Will you work, even when the work is hard, to honor
your vows?
B&G: We will.
IC: As your life unfolds before you, you will
remain true to the promises you make this day?
B&G: We will.

Erin introduces our vows using a small part of a piece by Robert Fulghum entitled Union, along with some stuff she has written herself. I hand my bouquet to OF, because Dan and I have decided we will ro-sham-bo to see who says vows first. Dan wins!

Dan has memorized his vows. I am truly, truly impressed. He holds my hand while he makes his promises to me, which revolve around the symbolism of our claddagh rings: friendship, love, loyalty. I almost start crying but I know I can't start now because I still have my vows to say to him.

I pull my vows out of the bodice of my dress (where else was I supposed to put them?) People laugh again. I am so happy that people are both paying attention to our ceremony and getting enjoyment out of it. I read my vows off the lined paper I've written them on and try to look into Dan's eyes as much as possible.

Erin introduces the ring exchange. The wedding ring represents the strength
and completeness of marriage. It is a circle, a symbol of wholeness, cooperation and peace. The circle of these rings is a symbol of your love and commitment to one another. A ring looks both inwards to your relationship and outwards to the community of which you are a part.
Holla hands over the rings we will exchange. Dan puts my ring on my finger and says, "I give you this ring as a symbol that I love you, every single day of your life." I surreptitiously slide my ring the rest of the way up my finger before it's my turn. I put Dan's ring on his finger and Erin prompts my line, because there's no way I could have remembered it. I was too busy looking into the eyes of the person who was now married to me.

Erin pronounces us married. We kiss, a good, solid, though not grandmother-cringe-inducing kiss, and the recessional music starts: Vince Guaraldi's Linus and Lucy. Dan and I dance up the aisle and stop partway up the grass to hug and kiss each other again, and dance a little more. Yay! We're married! Let's party!

Thanks to Curtis, Katherine, and Leah for the photos. More ceremony photos here and here.


Yank In Texas said...

Sniff. You so look like you were trying not to cry. I love the poem. Your chosen readings sound so perfect. I may borrow one or two because they are so freakin' awesome. I love the dance up the aisle and the Ro-sham-bo for the vows. Too funny!

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Oh, so beautiful. BEAUTIFUL. *sniffle*