Looking at these pictures and re-reading our wedding ceremony script makes my heart so happy. We walked into Sara Bareilles' "I Choose You" (my fave) and, being the DIYers we are, chose to adapt our wedding ceremony script from The OffBeat Bride's post called: "A non-traditional, non-religious, non-boring wedding ceremony script (that involves alcohol!)" - fitting, right?
Is it cheesy to post the whole thing below? Maybe. But as I sit here while Blake is making funny winking faces at me in order to convince me that we should buy a sous vide on Amazon Prime Deal Day, and I bargain with him that he needs to cook something for me four times in the next month, I'm reminded that marriage really is all of these little moments as well as the big ones. I came home from work earlier today after having been in a minor car accident; he came home sick from teaching summer school because of a stomach ache, and we both spent time fighting over space on our slightly-too-small couch after falling asleep to Wild Wild Country on Netflix, in the living room of our first home that we have now recently renovated. And we are happy :)
Here's the unabridged version of ours (which is sorta fun if you don't know the back story of how we met!):
Today is a celebration. A celebration of love, of commitment, of friendship, of family, and of two people who are in it for forever.
You don't have to have a ceremony to have a marriage. And when you think about it, the whole thing is kind of weird, right? You're here at a Christmas tree farm, looking fancy, holding flowers, and being stared at by pretty much everyone who has meant anything to you in the past thirty years. So why do we do it? The marriage ceremony has been an important feature across nearly every culture, religion, generation, and society. We have thousands of important moments that happen throughout our lives, but this one is regarded as one so critical, we acknowledge its special status by sharing it with others. Why this moment?
Because despite all of our differences, love is what we all share. It's the great unifier — our one universal truth. That no matter who we are, where we've come from, what we believe, we know this one thing: love is what we're doing right. That's why you both are standing here. That's why you all are here to watch them stand up here. We have all loved in our lifetimes, and in this moment, we're reminded that the ability to love is the very best part of our humanity.
All of us here today have our own love stories. Some are short, others long. Some are yet unwritten, while others are just getting to the good part. There are chapters in all of our stories that are sad or disappointing — and others that are exciting and full of promise.
As most of you know, Blake and Brittany met while on their own adventure--living on the other side of the world, in Thailand. Initially, they each went there for different reasons and lived in different parts of the country. But in 2011, the universe brought them together in the small Thai town of Surat Thani, where Blake and Britt worked as English teachers for the same language school.
Now, traditionally, a couple will meet, date for a year or so, get married, and move in together. But Blake and Brittany were roommates from the beginning. Along with four other teachers, Blake and Britt lived in the free housing that was provided by the company. Oddly enough, for the first several months, they didn’t see too much of each other. They worked different schedules and taught different age groups during the day. The one time they were sure to cross paths was at 4 am on the weekends. 4 am? What an odd time. Well, you see, 4 am usually happened to be when Brittany woke up to do her morning yoga and meditation. Coincidentally, it was the same time that Blake would usually get home from a late night out with his friends.
Eventually, a Jersey Shore themed work party got them out to a social setting at the same time. They talked, they danced, and they fell for each other. As they spent more and more time with each other, they found balance in their schedules and in their relationship. Blake started waking up early to visit Brittany at the rice soup shop she volunteered at on Saturday mornings. Brittany started staying up past 9pm. Their differences and similarities made them a perfect fit. Over the next year, their love for adventure and for each other took them from Thailand to the Burmese border to base camp of Mt. Everest, and eventually back to America. Blake proposed to Brittany last October, in the middle of an apple orchard outside of Baltimore.
And that brings them here. A time to pause, look back, and smile at all the moments that brought them here. And a time to look ahead at all the moments that are still to come.
I'm here — we're all here — because we want those moments for you. We're here to hope with you, to support you, to be proud of you, and to remind you that love isn't happily ever after, love is the experience of writing your story. It's not one moment — not even this moment. It's every moment. Big ones like saying "I love you," moving to the other side of the world, or getting engaged — but mostly a million little ones that come in between the big moments.
Falling asleep next to one another, making dinner for each other, spending holidays with your families, binge-watching Netflix shows and Game of Thrones, traveling to places most people people have never heard of, getting a big hug when you get home from work… These everyday moments fuse together into one big experience.
And even though this experience is so incredible, words fail us when we try and explain it. That's just the way it is with love — it's meant to be felt, not described.
Blake and Brittany, For the past five years, you have built a strong foundation for your relationship based on honesty and respect. You have found joy in one another’s company, and you have become better, more fulfilled people because of your connection. You have been able to stay together through the varied challenges of moving, graduate school, and your careers, because of your shared values, humor, history, and unconditional love for one another. As long as you maintain these qualities, you will have a long and successful marriage.
However, when a relationship matures, it is natural to become complacent. It is important to remember not to take your partner for granted or to neglect your relationship because your relationship so far has been easy. Instead, give priority to the tenderness, gentleness, and kindness that you each deserve. Share your passions, and discover life’s deeper questions. Pursue new experiences, grow together, and most importantly, laugh often. There will be difficulties ahead, but if you face them as a couple, with a strong sense of love, perspective, and mutual support, you will not only survive, but thrive.
A brief moment in time and the stroke of a pen are all that is required to create the legal bond of marriage, but it takes a lifetime of love, commitment, and laughter to make a marriage durable and eternal. The process of marriage does not begin or end today; it is a lifelong pursuit. Your relationship already has all of the necessary components for success, but to maintain that from here forward you must remember what is important in your relationship and why you are making this commitment to one another today.
Love is not a closed system, but tenderness and grace spill over from one relationship to another within our relationships. These last 5 years, Blake and Brittany have been encouraged in their love for each other by many of you here today. Blake and Brittany, may you continue to both lavish your friends with the love you cultivate, and be strengthened love they have for you.
Now we have some words about what love is, coming from some of the people who love you the most.
"If the old fairy-tale ending ‘They lived happily ever after’ is taken to mean ‘They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,’ then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships? But, of course, ceasing to be ‘in love’ need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense -- love as distinct from ‘being in love’ -- is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other; as you love yourself even when you do not like yourself. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be ‘in love’ with someone else. ‘Being in love’ first moved them to promise fidelity: This quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it."
-- C. S. Lewis
"The Buddha spoke about four elements that constitute true love: the capacity to be kind and offer happiness, maitri in Sanskrit, compassion, the capacity to relieve suffering, karuna; the capacity to bring joy every day, mudita; and finally, the capacity of nondiscrimination, upeksha. When there is true love, there is nondiscrimination. The pain of the other is our own pain; the happiness of the other is our own happiness...To make our love meaningful, we need to nourish our bodhicitta, our mind of boundless love and compassion...First, we learn to love one person with all our understanding and insight; then we expand that love to embrace another person, and another, until our love is truly boundless."
-- Thich Nhat Hanh
Our wedding vows
You fell in love by chance, but you're here today because you're making a choice. You both are choosing each other. You've chosen to be with someone who enhances you, who makes you think, makes you smile, and makes every day brighter.
You're about to make promises to each other that you intend to keep. You're going to vow to take care of each other, to stand up for one another, and find happiness in the other. There's a simple premise to each of these promises: you're vowing to be there. You're teaming up and saying to the other, "Every experience I am going to have, I want you to be a part of."
Will you, Blake, keep Brittany as your favorite person — to laugh with her, go on adventures with her, support her through life's tough moments, be proud of her, grow old with her, and find new reasons to love her every day?
BLAKE: I will.
Will you, Brittany, keep Blake as your favorite person — to laugh with him, go on adventures with him, support him through life's tough moments, be proud of him, grow old with him and find new reasons to love him every day?
BRITTANY: I will.
OFFICIANT: Will you, Blake and Brittany, be each other's partners from this day forward? Will you bring out the best in one another, share your happiest moments together, and love each other absolutely — for the rest of this lifetime and for whatever may come next?
BLAKE AND BRITTANY: We will.
OFFICIANT: You’ve both chosen to wear rings as a reminder of these promises. Wedding rings are a tangible symbol of the vows that you have just made to each other. Wear them every day to remind yourselves of the promises that you have made. In addition, realize that when you place the wedding rings on each other’s fingers, you are releasing the past, bringing only those memories, desires, and hopes which will belong to each other into your future life together.
You’ve created something invaluable, and just as I know you’ll protect these rings, I’m confident you’ll protect the commitments you’ve made to one another today.
OFFICIANT: Blake, do you take Brittany to be your wife for now and all adventures that are to come?"
BLAKE: "I do." [puts ring on Brittany’s finger…]
OFFICIANT: Brittany, do you take Blake to be your husband for now and all adventures that are to come?"
BRITTANY: "I do." [puts ring on Blake’s finger…]
I hope I haven't talked so long that people finished their drinks, because this is a celebration, and every celebration needs a toast.
So to wrap this up before we all head into the tent for a delicious BBQ dinner and lots of dancing, I'll ask you all to raise your glasses to Brittany and Blake as we celebrate their love.
[toast adapted from Blessing for a Marriage by James Dillet Freeman]
May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring.
May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
May you want one another, but not out of lack.
May you look for things to praise, often say, "I love you!" and take no notice of small faults.
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.
Final post in the series is here: Pre-Ceremony + Cocktail Hour + Reception.