We had a great marriage officer in Barry Gray, but I felt I wanted to try to write our vows and ceremony. I have never written anything like this, nor have I been to that many weddings, so it really was a case of being guided by what I felt “we” were about.
Initially I thought I would just do the vows, but then I realised I wanted it to flow from the ceremony so decided that I would write the ceremony as well.
We had a wonderfully understanding marriage officer, who was content enough to just let me do what I wanted, which was great.
We walked in and stood facing the congregation – we really wanted to face our friends and family and not have them staring at our backs. It was great to be able to watch their faces and see them smile, laugh and cry.
Here is a copy of our ceremony if you are interested in reading it ….
The Greeting of the Group
Friends and family welcome to this special occasion, the day when Celeste and Kennith take each other’s hand and begin their life together as husband and wife. They have asked me to especially thank you all for coming to share this day with them – the support, friendship and love offered by you all is truly appreciated.
The most wonderful of all things in life is the discovery of another human being with whom one’s relationship has a growing depth, beauty and joy as the years increase.
This inner progressiveness of love between two human beings is a most marvellous thing; it cannot be found by looking for it or by passionately wishing for it. It is a sort of divine accident, and the most wonderful of all things in life.
We have been invited here today to stand witness to the entwined lives of Celeste and Kennith. Braided together by a growing love, some hardships and enduring friendship that has lasted sixteen years.
They have decided to join together in marriage before their friends and family on this auspicious day – sixteen years to the day that they met in 1994.
They did not only want to get married with you acting as their witnesses, sitting shoulder to shoulder, they wanted to remind you that in addition to being connected to Kennith and Celeste and their children Connor, Georgia and Isabelle, you also exist as a group interconnected to each other in hundreds, perhaps thousands of ways.
This group is bound together by bonds of friendship and family.
Many of you have shared challenges together – leaning on each other for support, screaming with each other in happiness and crying with each other when the rugby score has not gone to plan.
When Celeste and Kennith thought of gathering people together, they wanted to see not only the faces of the individuals that have been so important to them over the course of their relationship but they wanted to put you together, shoulder to shoulder to form a whole – a single solid entity — a group that will witness the declaration of their union.
We have all been called to be witnesses to this wedding because of our friendship and our special relationship to the bride and groom. If anyone here knows any lawful reason why Celeste and Kennith may not be married you must now say so.
I ask then if you affirm this marriage and give it your blessing,
The friends and family respond with: We do (in this case they all screamed YES that was loud enough to lift the roof, it was really sweet.)
Kennith and Celeste, if either of you knows any reason why you may not be united in marriage lawfully and in good conscience, you must now declare it.
Celeste and Kennith have selected readings that they feel echo their thoughts and personalities.
First Reading – Excerpts from the Velveteen Rabbit ~ By Margery Williams ~
(read by Alice D’Aguiar)
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.
Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
(I cry when ever I read the Velveteen Rabbit – it is so beautifully true and genuine.)
Second Reading – Kahlil Gibran “The Prophet”
(read by Steven Brockensha)
You were born together, and together you shall be for evermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death shall scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness.
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from the same cup.
Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
(What I love about this passage is that it is all about love, but about love that allows some space between the lovers. They are encouraged to be themselves in their space and love each other, but leave a bit to allow them to grow individually. It is the opposite of the smothering, wet, suffocating love that one hears.)
Barry: Please can I ask everyone to have their candle with them and available.
Kennith, will you take Celeste to be your wife? Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her and be faithful to her?
Kennith: I will
Celeste, will you take Kennith to be your husband? Will you love him, comfort him, honour and protect him, and be faithful to him?
Celeste: I will
Barry: Will you now give and receive a ring?
Bride and Groom: We will.
Connor brings rings to Kennith, who offers his in open hand to Celeste.
Barry: Kennith, as you place the ring on his finger will you repeat after me: I promise to give you the best of myself and to ask of you no more than you can give (I thought that was the key phrase right there). I promise to love you in good times and in bad, with all I have to give. Completely and forever. With this ring, I thee wed.
Barry: Celeste, as you place the ring on her finger will you repeat after me: I promise to give you the best of myself and to ask of you no more than you can give. I promise to love you in good times and in bad, with all I have to give. Completely and forever. With this ring, I thee wed.
Kennith and Celeste light one single candle from the two they hold. They blow out the two single candles.
They use this single candle to then light the candle that Connor and Georgia hold. Connor and Georgia go and light the first guests candle in the front row and each guest then lights the candle of the person next to them until everyone has candles lit.
Barry places the single candle to the side.
Now that Kennith and Celeste have given their consent and made their vows in the presence of this group of family and friends, with the joining of hands and the giving and receiving of rings, I declare that they are husband and wife.
Kennith and Celeste kiss each other, and the children – and the marriage blessing is read.
May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
May you want one another, but not out of lack.
May you entice one another, but not compel one another.
May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another.
May you succeed in all important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces.
May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults.
If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back.
May you enter into the mystery which is the awareness of one another’s presence – no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities.
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.
The Bride and Groom and the two witnesses sign the marriage certificate.
We then had a Family Blessing Ceremony.
After it all, we bounced outside to where our friends were waiting to throw rose petals at us … a great day.
The ceremony and the vows were about us and what we thought and felt, so it was great to have the opportunity to have Barry say what we were thinking and how we felt … it was such an incredible ceremony and so many truly cry-laugh out loud moments.
Photos by Megan Hughes.