[Tyler, followed by his parents, followed by Jennís parents, followed by Jenn herself.]
Welcome and Opening Remarks
Weíve come together this morning to celebrate the love between Tyler and Jennifer and witness their vows as they become husband and wife. Here, near the oceanís edge is a place of endings and beginnings. Itís the end of the dry land and the beginning of the vast Pacific, and for the two of you itís the end of one way of life and the official beginning of another as you make sacred vows.
However large or small, a wedding ceremony is a rite of passage. Itís an opportunity to gather family and friends together to mark an important transition in the lives of two of their own. I know many of you have come a long way for this. By being here youíre telling these two that you love them, that youíre glad they found each other, and that you honor the commitment theyíre making. I know theyíre grateful that youíre here to share these moments.
But some whom they love are missing from this circle. They include family and friends who for a variety of reasons are unable to be physically present. Among them is Jennís grandmother, Mariane Mishina, and Tylerís grandfather, John McHenry. Though absent in body I know that all who love you are with you in spirit with their love and blessing. Now letís pause for a moment in silence as we welcome them among us.
As we begin, Rachel McHenry has a reading for us.
ďLove is friendship caught fire; it is quiet, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection, and makes allowances for human weaknesses. Love is content with the present, hopes for the future, and does not brood over the past. It is the day-in and day-out chronicles of irritations, problems, compromises, small disappointments, big victories, and working toward common goals. If you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things you lack. If you do not have it, no matter what else there is, it is not enough.Ē
Some Thoughts on Marriage
Before you say your vows, Iíd like to share a few thoughts with you and your guests. Today is the day you formalize the commitment youíve already made in your hearts to share whatever life may bring. But marriage is more than the formalizing of a feeling. Itís the physical, spiritual, and emotional union of two people who promise to learn and practice what it means to love each other unconditionally.
However, itís important to understand that the ceremony and the marriage are two different things. The ceremony only creates the possibility for a marriage; it doesnít guarantee that one will happen. The marriage relationship is really a creative endeavor that two people share. Itís an ongoing process of growth and development, of understanding and acceptance, of negotiation and compromise. Itís not something that happens in a brief ceremony. And it takes all of our good intentions, all of our wisdom and patience, all of the qualities we find in our best self to make it work. And especially it takes love.
Love is a popular topic at most wedding ceremonies, and rightly so, because love is the reason weíre here. But even though people write poems and sing songs about love, everyone is hard pressed to agree about what love is and what it should be. It is thrown together with words like madness and passion, humility and happiness, suffering and joy. Carl Jung calls love the antithesis of the will to power, while others describe love in the context of power relations between individuals. The Dalai Lama claims love is a basic human necessity; the biblical book of John equates love with an omniscient, omnipotent God. And each of you, whether you are single, married, or divorced, has your own idea about what love is. No matter how we try, love refuses to be pigeonholed into one definition. We canít understand love. But we do feel it. We know when it touches us, because we feel it in our hearts and see the power of its work in our lives. Take love out of your life and life loses richness and meaning. Thatís why finding that special person with whom you can share yourself fully is such a cause for celebration.
You two met more than four years ago in a physics class at USC. You had many mutual friends and when you werenít filling the whiteboards with equations you hung out together playing pool and eating dinner together. And you found that as your friendship grew, so did your love for each other.
I think a strong friendship is an important part of the foundation of a healthy marriage. When weíre friends with someone we accept them as they are, without trying to change them or improve them. We appreciate the ways they are different from us and we donít feel threatened if they challenge or disagree with us. When weíre friends with someone we believe in them even when they may be doubting themselves and we encourage them to follow their dreams. True friendship is liberating and affirming, and itís one of loveís best gifts.
Tyler and Jenn, you know each other well and love each other deeply. In each other youíve found your best friend, your most intimate companion, the one who helps you feel whole and fulfilled. Today we celebrate that love has found you and brought you together. May your marriage be a blessing to you both and bring you much happiness and joy.
Question of Intent
Tyler, now that love has brought you to this moment, do you choose Jennifer to be your wife, companion and friend, and do you promise to cherish and support her, love and respect her, and honor her as your partner through all the changing times of your life? If so, say, ďI do!
And Jennifer do you, choose Tyler to be your husband companion and friend, and do you promise to cherish and support him, love and respect him, and honor him as your partner through all the changing times of your life? If so, say, ďI do.Ē
Wedding rings are an ancient symbol of wholeness and unity. Simple and strong, round like the embrace of loving arms, may they remind you that love that is given comes back around again and again. Made of precious metal, may they remind you of the precious gift you are to each other. And as you wear these rings and see them on each otherís hand may they remind you of the one who holds your heart and of the promises youíre about to make.
Tyler please repeat after me:
I, Tyler, take you, Jennifer, as my wife, my friend and my love, beside me and apart from me, in laughter and in tears, in conflict and in peace, asking that you be no other than yourself, loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not know yet, in all the ways that life may find us. [Rev. Lyke passes the Brideís ring to Tyler.]
Tyler, as you place the ring on her hand repeat after me: Jennifer, I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you.
Jennifer please repeat after me:
I, Jennifer, take you, Tyler, as my husband, my friend and my love, beside me and apart from me, in laughter and in tears, in conflict and in peace, asking that you be no other than yourself, loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not know yet, in all the ways that life may find us. [Rev. Lyke passes the Groomís ring to Jenn.]
Jennifer as you place the ring on his hand, repeat after me: Tyler , I give you this ring as a symbol of my vow, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you.
The Sand Ceremony
To commemorate your journey toward this moment and the vows youíve just made you each have a glass of sand. Individually these sands are distinct from each other with a different texture and color, just as each of you is unique with your flaws as well as your strengths. When the contents of these separate containers are poured together they become inseparable; even as the sands remain unique, enhancing each others qualities. So may it be for your marriage. May you actively build your lives together every day just as you have poured these sands, and may this new vessel be a reminder of what you aspire to achieve in all the days to come.
Vows of the Community
Tyler and Jennifer, throughout the ceremony everyone has been looking at you, and for a few moments Iíd like you to turn and look at everyone here. These people are here because they love you, because they want to share in the joy of this day, and clearly, what makes life so rich and wonderful are the people with whom we share it.
As weíve said, this ceremony unites two families and creates a new one and as witnesses of this union each of you is invited to play a special role. Youíve heard their promises and some of you have made similar ones yourselves, so you know that saying these words is one thing, and living them, day to day, is something else. I donít think any of us really makes it alone in life. We all need the love and support of our family and friends, so having witnessed these vows, Iíd like to invite each of you to also make a vow.
Will you, their family and friends, do all in your power to support their marriage in the years ahead and will you promise to encourage them that they may fulfill the vows they have made today? If so, say, ďWe will!Ē
Signing The License
And now will the witnesses come forward to sign the marriage certificate?
Tyler and Jennifer, may your lives together be blessed. May you each, through this partnership, become whole and fulfilled, and may your love reach out beyond the bounds of your relationship to touch and nourish others and be a sign of hope and sanity in a world that knows so much strife. May you each grow stronger in the arms of the other, and may love touch and bless you and grace your lives always.
Declaration of Marriage
Stephen Tyler McHenry and Jennifer Lynne Mishina, by the promises youíve made and with the blessing of those who love you, Iím happy to pronounce you husband and wife. You may now share a kiss!
Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to present Tyler and Jennifer in their new relationship as husband and wife!