Mary & Jane’s Wedding, a complete service — Tod & Ana Gobledale, UK

This wedding was held in Washington State, USA, soon after same-sex marriage became legal.  The couple had been waiting for more than a decade.

(The names have been changed.)

 

 

Outline of Service

Welcome

Prayer

Scripture Reading

Purpose of Marriage

Words of Intention – lawfully free & willing to create this “intentional family”

Sharing: a poem read by a friend

Words to the family: support this couple with love

Marriage Vows

Exchange & blessing of rings

Pronouncement of Marriage

Words of Blessing and sending forth

Order of Service

Welcome

Family and friends of Mary & Jane, welcome to this exciting, auspicious and long awaited occasion.  Welcome to those who have walked from nearby in (name of town) and to those who have traveled from places far beyond.   Welcome to those who have, with Mary & Jane, waited for more than a decade to come to this wedding.

We come to celebrate, honour and respect the love of Mary & Jane as they make their vows and promises to one another, as a couple, and as a family, before one another, before God, and before us and the State of _________ (or name of local/federal legal body recognizing same-sex marriage) as witnesses!

I invoke the mystery that is LOVE to bear witness to our bold and joyful witness, and to bless Mary & Jane as we bless them this afternoon.

 

Prayer

Please join me in prayer.

Mystery and Power, Gentleness and Joy, we gather to celebrate your gift of love and its physical presence among us embodied in the love of Jane & Mary.   We delight in the ways you have touched our lives with a variety of loving relationships.

We give thanks for all the ways we have experienced love through the care and affection of the people who have loved us.

We rejoice that finally our society has made the decision to recognize such undeniable and unstoppable love between two people, as that between Jane & Mary, as something to be respected and celebrated—true and equal in the eyes of the law.

Even as we celebrate love, we remember how too often we have failed to be loving, times we have taken for granted, even hurt, the people for whom we care most.  When we have neglected and strained the bonds that unite us with others.  Help us find forgiveness and reconciliation, and renew within us an affectionate spirit.

Enrich our lives with the gracious gift of love so that we may embrace others with love.  May our participation in this celebration of love and commitment give to each of us a new joy and responsiveness to the relationships we cherish. Amen.

 

Scripture Reading

1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13

Hear these famous words about love,

from Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth,

May we find relevance in this ancient wisdom.

Paul writes:

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels,

but do not have love,

I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

And if I have prophetic powers,

 and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,

and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,

but do not have love,

I am nothing.

If I give away all my possessions,

and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,

but do not have love,

I gain nothing.

Love is patient;  Love is kind;

Love is not envious or boastful, or arrogant  or rude.

It does not insist on its own way;

It is not irritable or resentful;

It does not rejoice in wrongdoing,

but rejoices in the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things,

 hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

But as for prophecies, they will come to an end;

As for tongues, they will cease;

As for knowledge, it will come to an end.

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;

And the greatest of these is love.

 Reflection

Today we stand in a circle of love – family, friends, betrothed.

In most weddings we glibly say, “Marriage is a gift from God.”  But through harsh and cruel experience, we have been taught, we have learned, we have seen, that marriage is an entitlement, coveted and controlled by governments and voters.

But hear this, as we stand here today God’s truth is breaking through, the truth of Love that cannot be chained, the truth of community that will not stand by, the truth of goodness that will moan and groan until it breaks free.

Let no one break asunder that which God has joined together.  Today we put a seal on a love blessed by God, by whatever name you would call that God – love, mystery, eternity, the cosmos, the force, the power we can never understand, the power we can only experience through the Love we experience.

Today we assert that indeed Love is more powerful than hate.  That Love is a universal gift, showered upon all people, like a winter’s snow or summer rain.  While some would attempt to build bigger dams and control that flow, love is a power to be reckoned with, a power that will not be dammed up, that will not allow itself to be shut up in dark places.  No, love will seep out, will swirl through the air, will continue to assert itself until the world stops just long enough to recognize it in its full glory, between Jane & Mary, between (first names of another known same-sex couple), between lovers old and young.

Love is a gift.  Marriage is a gift, but not from the state.  Love is a gift from a power that knows no boundaries, that builds no walls, that leaves no one outside.

Mary & Jane, loving and allowing yourself to be loved — all of you, the best, the worst and everything in between, holding your heart out to another person, that is risky, even when it is legal.  When “two people are one in their inmost heart,” to use a phrase from Confucius, it is a deeply vulnerable place to be.

But it is also a place of grace.  To experience the fullness of life’s possibility and the depths of its joy, we must risk, we must be willing to step into the unknown, the uncertain.  And even when there are times of hurt and heartache, love can carry us through.  Exchanging vows today means that you, Mary & Jane, are going to keep trying to “make it work,” as they say on Star Trek, no matter how hard it gets.

Love takes many forms:  love of family, love of friends, love of God, and love in marriage.  As Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians, which we just read, “Love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast.  It is neither proud, nor rude, nor self-seeking, nor easily angered.  Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.”  Indeed, these words, almost 2000 years old, still ring true today.

Mary & Jane, may they, always, be true for you.  May your marriage be made strong by interwoven threads of love.   Amen.

 

Words of Intention

Jane & Mary, you are entering not only a formal covenant of marriage, but a legal contract as well, now that the State of Washington has finally caught up with the reality of your love that could not wait for any law.  So I ask of you both, are you lawfully free & willing to enter into this marriage?  One at a time…

Jane:

Jane (full name) , are you lawfully free and willing to take Mary (full name) to be your partner of life? If so, please say, I am.

    I am.

Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her, and be faithful to her?  If so please say, “I will.”

Mary:

Mary (full name), are you lawfully free and willing to take Jane (full name) to be your partner of life? If so, please say, I am.

I am.

Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her, and be faithful to her?  If so please say, “I will.”

Words to the Family

Two people do not live in isolation. This family is interwoven and linked in numerous and wonderful ways.

Louis de Bernieres writes in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,  “Love … is both an art and a fortunate accident.”  This combined family is truly both a work of art and, for all of you, a fortunate accident.

Whether you are part of Mary’s & Jane’s families by birth, by accident or by intention, or for some of you it may be more by default!, you are blessed to be part of such a family as this, a family that sticks together.  An “intentional family,” as Jane refers to it.

  • [Name all members of each family, one by one, or couple by couple, and look at them.]
  • And all of you who are part of this special fortunate accidental intentional family circle!
  • And we mustn’t forget _________ [the dog/ or any other important pets], and any other pets Jane is busy loving and pampering!

What a wonderful family!

Sharing a poem    read by a friend

____________ has a poem to share.

 

Charge & Question to the Family

The love shared by Mary and Jane is a source of strength with which they may nourish, not only each other, but their intentional family, their wider circle of friends, and the world around them.  And in turn, we, their community of friends and family, have a responsibility to them.  By our steadfast care, respect and love, we can support their union and the family they are affirming today.

Family and friends, you are here, not just as spectators, but as participants. You are here to acknowledge and affirm the love that binds you to Jane & Mary, to be part of this risky and vulnerable thing called love, called marriage.

So I charge you: do not be fair weather friends.  Strengthen and encourage Jane & Mary when winds blow and the tree shakes.  Help them weather the gales that beset any relationship.  Help them keep their love strong.  Help them maintain the integrity of their love and their marriage.

As family, you are part of this union.  Jane & Mary ask for your love and support in the days and years ahead.

Jane & Mary, take a moment to look around at those who have gathered with you today.  (Have them look.) You are surrounded by people who know and love you both.

[to all]

I invite all of you to show your intention to love and support Jane & Mary with resounding applause – or barking if that is appropriate.

Jane & Mary, this is your family, who journey with you into this joyful and risky place called marriage.  Remember that you are not alone.

 

Exchange of Marriage Vows

 [Mary & Jane come forward]

Mary & Jane, you have affirmed your willingness to enter this covenant of marriage and to share all the joys and sorrows of this relationship, whatever the future may hold.  You have stated that you both are lawfully free to marry.  Now I invite you to share your covenant promises before these witnesses, uniting yourselves in marriage.

Face one another and join hands to exchange your wedding vows.

And to all of you gathered here today, as you hear their vows exchanged, I invite you, if you are married or in partnership, or hope to be, take the hand of your beloved and recommit yourselves in love.

 

Repeat after me.

Mary, you first:

Jane, I take you / to be my life companion /

through tears and laughter, /

sickness and health,  / work and play.  /

I promise to be faithful and open to you. /

I will respect & trust you. /  I will help and care for you.

I will share my life with you./

I will lead with you/  a just and peaceful life.

I will love you / and be thankful /

for the blessing of your love. /

This is my solemn vow.

 

Jane, repeat after me:

Mary, I take you / to be my life companion /

through tears and laughter, /

sickness and health,  / work and play.

I promise to be faithful and open to you. /

I will respect & trust you. /  I will help and care for you. /

I will share my life with you./

I will lead with you/  a just and peaceful life.

I will love you / and be thankful /

for the blessing of your love. /

This is my solemn vow.

 

Exchange of rings & blessing of rings     (source of these words is unknown)

May I have the rings, please?  [Hold in open hand.]

A ring is a circle, sacred and absolute.

Reminding us of the roundness of the planets and the circle of their paths around the sun, of CD’s, LP’s and 45’s, of hula hoop and beach balls, of the full moon, the human eye, and the period that ends a sentence.  Reminding us of the path we make when we leave and come back to where we started, and this round earth from which we are born and to which we shall return.  The circle, and these rings, symbolize the unity in which your lives are now joined and to which, wherever you go, you shall always return.

Mary:

Take Jane’s ring, and repeat after me:

Jane, with this ring, / I thee wed.  / May you wear it, / as a sign, / of our love / and faithfulness.

Jane:

Mary, with this ring,/ I thee wed. / May you wear it, / as a sign/ of our love/ and faithfulness.

Announcement of Marriage

Mary and Jane, you are united and bound together, body and soul.  Above are the stars and below you the earth.  Like the stars, your love will be a constant source of light.  And like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow.

As you have consented in this ceremony in the presence of friends and family to be partners for life, I now pronounce you married in the eyes of God and in the eyes of the State.  May nothing divide what God has joined together.

Mary & Jane, we pronounce you married!  And to seal this holy and legal covenant of love, you may kiss.

It is my pleasure and honour to introduce to you Jane & Mary, legally married!

And let all the people clap with joy!

 

Words of Blessing and sending forth

May the words of this Hindu Love Poem be a blessing upon you both:   

Yes, we have become partners.

I have become you, and you have become me.

We are word and meaning, united.

You are thought and I am sound.

May the nights be honey-sweet for us.

May the plants be honey-sweet for us.

May the earth be honey-sweet for us.

And we add–

May the wine at the reception be honey-sweet for you both!

Let the people say, Amen!  (God bless you both!)

 

Signing of Register with 2 witnesses  (after the service)

Wedding Banquet Prayer

Pray with me.

Indeed our hearts are overflowing with joy!  As we sit at these tables, tables filled with the earth’s bounty for our celebration, we remember and give thanks, Eternal One, for your unnumbered blessings in our lives.

We give thanks for family and friends gathered here.   We remember loved ones not with us today in body, but in spirit, who’s hearts are surely full of joy!

As food nourishes our bodies, so love nourishes our souls.  May our conversation this afternoon remind us of the truth of this.

May we offer one another strength and support, and may this meal enrich us with wisdom, laughter and love.

Bless us all.

Bless this food we are about to share.

And bless Jane & Mary, united as one on this their wedding day.

May the memory of this fellowship of breaking bread together last for the rest of our days.   Amen.