"Dearly beloved, we are assembled here in the presence of God and these witnesses to celebrate the joining of this man and this woman in the unity of marriage. There are no obligations on earth sweeter or tender than those you are about to assume. There are no vows more solemn than those you are about to make. There is no human institution more sacred than that of the home you are about to form. True marriage is the holiest of all earthly relationships. The state of matrimony is based this deep, invisible union of two souls who seek to find completion in one another. Do you understand this?"
After our short and sweet welcome and declaration of intent, Mr. Octo's sister Kristine stepped up to deliver our first reading.
(All photos courtesy of Corey Ann Photography.)
Union, by Robert Fulghum
You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks--all those conversations that began with "when we're married," and continued with "I will," and "you will," and "we will,"--all those late night talks that included "someday" and "somehow" and "maybe"--and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real processes of a wedding.
The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”
Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment, you have been many things to one another--acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.
For after today, you shall say to the world: this is my husband. This is my wife.
And with that, it was time for our vows. We chose to use a spin on the traditional marriage vows. I loved the symbolism of speaking the same words that thousands of married couples have spoken before us, and Mr. Octo was really nervous about the concept of writing his own vows from scratch, so we were in agreement. We personalized them a little, but we didn't get too crazy.
Oh, and you know what they say about being lost in the moment? Totally true for me. There was NO ONE in the room but him and me during this part.
"I, Kenneth, affirm my love to you, Carrie, as I invite you to be my lifelong partner. I promise to love you faithfully, to respect and cherish you, and to be your closest and most constant friend. I will treat you with kindness, selflessness, and trust, and I will strive to build the warm, rich life we look forward to sharing.
To this end, I call upon all present to witness that I take you, Carrie, to be my lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live."
Why is my husband laughing in this next picture? Well, because here's a thing I haven't shared with you: Mr. Octo is a crier. A HUGE crier. He cries about EVERYTHING. Pixar movies, childhood memories, whatever. Everyone knows this about him, and teased him relentlessly in the days leading up to the wedding. I mean, they had good reason to. He cried sitting in the audience of Bridesmaid Erica's wedding last April ("she just looked so beautiful and happy!"). He cried every time he read a draft of our wedding ceremony. He cried at the wedding rehearsal. There was good reason to suspect that he would devolve into a full-on ugly cry during our ceremony.
Well, who made it through his vows with a charmingly throaty voice, but dry eyes? That would be Mr. Gleeful Smirk down there. And who needed a minute to wipe her eyes and regain her composure? Well, that'd be me. The person who is semi-affectionately nicknamed "The Robot" by her husband for her ability to stay cool at all times. The person who would say "even-tempered" is one of her most significant personality traits. Me! Overcome with emotion! Will wonders never cease!
"I, Carrie, affirm my love to you, Kenneth, as I invite you to be my lifelong partner. I promise to love you faithfully, to respect and cherish you, and to be your closest and most constant friend. I will treat you with kindness, selflessness, and trust, and I will strive to build the warm, rich life we look forward to sharing.
To this end, I call upon all present to witness that I take you, Kenneth, to be my lawful husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live."
After our vows, it was time for our rings.
"Traditionally, the passage into marriage is marked by the exchange of rings. The unbroken circle represents the love freely given and received in marriage. May these rings always remind you of the vows you have taken."
"Carrie, with this ring, I choose you as my wife, and I join my life with yours."
"Kenneth, with this ring, I choose you as my husband, and I join my life with yours."
"Carrie and Ken, the two separate candles symbolize your separate lives, separate families, and separate sets of friends. I ask that each of you take one of the lit candles and that together, you light the center candle.
The individual candle represents your lives before you married. Lighting the center candle represents that your two lives are now joined to one light, and represents the joining of your two families and sets of friends to one."
Then, my aunt Cindy stepped up to perform a reading. We used an excerpt from Sandol Stoddard Warburg's children's book, "I Like You." I think this reading has been making the rounds of the wedding blogosphere a lot lately, and I worried a little bit beforehand that it was too "done," too played out. (Like many, many, many other things that have become trendy in wedding media, absolutely no one in attendance knew this but me.) At the end of the day, though, we love this reading a lot, way too much to scrap it for something else. It represents so much of how we feel about each other; it really captures the lightheartedness, the fun, and the friendship that characterizes our relationship.
I Like You, by Sandol Stoddard Warburg
I like you, and I know why. I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it's special, and you remember it a long, long time. When I think something is important, you think it's important too. When I say something funny, you laugh. You know how to be silly. That's why I like you. Boy, are you ever silly. I never met anybody sillier than me till I met you. You really like me, and I really like you back, and you like me back, and I like you back, and that's the way we keep on going, every day.
And I like you because if we go away together, and if we are in Grand Central Station, and if I get lost, then you are the one that is yelling for me.
If you find two four-leaf clovers, you give me one. If I find four, I give you two. If we only find three, we keep on looking. Sometimes we have good luck, and sometimes we don't.
I like you because everything that happens is nicer with you. I can't remember when I didn't like you. It must have been lonesome then.
Even if it was some day in August, even if it was way down at the bottom of November, even if it was no place particular in January, I would go on choosing you, and you would go on choosing me, over and over again. That's how it would happen every time. I guess I just like you. I guess I just like you because I like you."
"Ken and Carrie, you have declared before all of us that you will live together in marriage. You have made special promises to each other, which have been symbolized by the joining of hands, taking of vows, and the giving and receiving of two rings. By the authority vested in me as a Minister in the state of Pennsylvania, I now pronounce you to be husband and wife. Now that the ceremony is over and the experience of living day by day is about to begin, go and meet it gladly. You may seal your vows with a kiss."
"Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present to you for the first time as husband and wife: Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth and Carrie Octopus!" (Haha. Not really on that last part. Wouldn't it be amazing if our last name really was Octopus, though?)
Hive, our ceremony was an intense experience. I don't know that I can really do justice to trying to pin down precisely how it felt, and I'd be willing to bet that the married ladies reading this would agree. All I can say is that I've never felt like that before. It wasn't even necessarily joy that I felt, although that was certainly present; it was more like a feeling of seriousness, of enormity. Promising to love and stay with a person throughout everything, forever, is no small thing. It's beautiful, but serious, and deep. I felt the bigness of that commitment very thoroughly as I said my vows and listened to him say his. And I'm not kidding about the fact that everyone else in that huge chapel disappeared. I was in a bubble with Mr. Octo. It was the two of us, and the person marrying us, and that was it. I was standing in a huge, grand space, with over a hundred people watching our every move, and the only thing in the world I saw were his bright green eyes.
Previously, in the Octopus wedding....