Monday, March 16, 2009

Wedding Day - The Ceremony

It's amazing how as a bride, you stress for months and possibly years over minute details. Do the flowers match the style of the dress, do the invitations and the programs coodinate. Do the save the dates hint at the style of the wedding without giving it all away. Not to mention, thousands of others. You pour over wedding magazines and websites, looking for just the right inspiration for your event. But in the end, those are not the things you remember. Am I sorry I put so much time and energy into having personalized water bottle labels and pocketfold do-it-yourself invitations? Absolutely not! I enjoyed every minute of it.

But once everything is said and done, and the facility is cleaned up, the dancing is over, the pictures have all been developed (or more likely sent to you digitally), the things that you most remember are about people, and usually surrounding the ceremony.

I know that lots of people get married in churches by pastors who have set ceremonies that they perform. I know some people really enjoy the tradition of saying the vows that have been said by generations of other believers in their faith, and I totally respect that. But I can tell you that crafting our ceremony ourselves, and then participating in it was definitely the highlight of the entire day!

Since neither one of us are very religious, and we were having a friend ordained online to officiate, we had complete freedom to craft a ceremony that spoke to who we were as a couple and who we were as individuals.

Some of it I wrote myself, like the introduction, the declaration of intent, and the transitions. If you are looking to do this, the best thing to do is simply google "wedding ceremony guideline" or something to the effect so that you can get a sense of what elements are usually included. From there you can decide which ones you want to keep and which ones you don't.

We decided to stick to a pretty traditional flow of ceremony, but to shake things up each step of the way. Since you've been so patient listening to my ramblings, I'll reward you with some pictures, or what we like to call it in the industry, wedding porn.

Our officiant, Tim, Jay and our best man, Dan all came in first. Since I picked the song I wanted to walk into I figured it only fair that Jay got to pick the song that he got to walk into. After much thought, he settled on Falling in Love in a Coffee Shop by Landon Pigg. It is a beautiful song and is perfect since Jay use to hang out at the coffee shop I worked in many moons ago. We decided that since we had such a small wedding party that we would use the same song for everyone and then change only for my entrance. After the three of them walked in, they were followed by Jay's groomsman Brian.

Tip: if you are going to be coordinating your own wedding, at least have someone who is willing to coordinate the procession. It can be very scary for people to walk in wondering when they should start and who are they supposed to walk with. Even if they get to the rehearsal it's still scary and having someone who is comfortable with, basically, stage management and can give people cues, it'll make everyone much calmer! My was extremely lucky to have my good friend Jessica as my day of coordinator who served as this rule. It was nice, as the bride, to not have to worry about telling people when they should go. It was nice to only have to listen for my cue and she was even there for that.

Then it was time for the girls

As the girls were walking down the isle, I turned to Luke and thanked him for being there for me on such a special occasion. I was so glad to have his arm to lean on. Even though I had seriously considered walking down on my own, anyway Jay walked in on his own, and I'm not property to be traded, but wearing those high heal shoes, being in a floor length dress with a train, and carrying flowers, I was glad to have his arm to hang on to. Because Luke wasn't the father of the bride (why my dad didn't walk me down the isle is a story too long and intimate for this blog), and because he wasn't "giving me away" (more on that to come) I decided that calling him the Bridal Escort was the best way to go. I gave him the honor of the position while still solving my feminist issues with that part of the wedding ceremony.

Coming around the cornor and seeing Jay for the first time was amazing! I simply cannot describe the feelings that were corsing through my body. The best way to describe it is that it felt so "right". It felt like the way it should have always been. When I approached the isle I tried my best to take a deep breath and take it all in, but there is only so much that can be done. It's a moment that is fantasized about for years and goes by in a matter of seconds. Thank goodness for the wonders of videography.

When I got to the end of the isle, I hugged Luke tight and then took Jay's outstretched hand. It felt like "coming home", and was one of the most thrilling moments of my life

Tim then asked everyone to be seated and started into the introduction. He read the Aristotle quote that had been used on most if not all of our printed material, "Love is One Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies" and then talked about how if there were ever such a thing as soul mates, it was the two of us.

This is a beautiful blessing that can be found on the internet, or if you would like to see if, feel free to comment and I'll get a copy to you

Then Tim introduced the Handfasting Ceremony which was also featured in the program. This is an ancient Celtic tradition which involves the exchanging of a set of promises. After which a cord (or in our case a ribbon since we had thousands of yard laying around) is draped over the hands. After all the promises have been made, the cords are tied together which is where we get the saying "tying the knot". The thing I love most about the handfasting ceremony is the acknowledgment of most the positive and negative. For instance, you are asked both "will you share his/her joy?" and "will you cause him/her anger?" the answer to which is "I may." The officient then asks, "will you use the heat of anger to temper the strength of this relationship?" answered with, "I will." The other thing I love is that both parties are asked to make the same promises right back to back. It gives a very fair and equal sense to the vows which I loved because that is how our relationship is.

We decided to ask our best man to come and tie the cords together. And then to have my mom/maid of honor read a traditional Irish blessing while the cords were tied.

We decided that this would be the best place to transition into the ring exchange. Once the cords are tied, the officiant can hold the knot, pull it slightly upwards, and the couple can slip out their hands while leaving the knot secured. But in order to continue with the visual, we decided to have our officiant talk about the rings as a symbol of the cords that tie us together eternally.

Dan of course had to do the old endlessly funny (not really) I-forgot-the-ring fake out and everyone chuckled. Then we exchanged the rings with a simple, "With this ring, I thee wed." Don't ask me why I love that tradition and don't others. I have no idea.

Our officiant then summarized the things we had done... declared our intent to be married, made promises to each other, and exchanged symbols of their love that binds them together... and so pronounced us husband and wife! It was one of the most thrilling moments of my life!

Then comes the part everyone waits for... the smooching!

Then it was time to turn and face our friends and family and be pronounced as The Staffords.

Then our amazing Celtic drum and bagpipe song came on and it was tie to take our first steps as husband and wife.

Even if you don't plan on having a receiving line, like we did, expect to have everyone there get up and want to give you a hug right then and there! I'm not a big fan of formal receiving lines, because I do think that it creates frustrating traffic jams, especially for that date of an invited guests who doesn't know you. However, when you exit, think about where you are going. Make sure your wedding party knows where they are going. And if possible pick an area large enough for people to crowd around you and congratulate you.

I like those last few pictures. They seem to say... "Now what do we do?" ... how about more hugging!

Next up: Formal Pictures

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