TJ is a writer living in Portland, OR.

Writing a secular wedding ceremony

Writing a secular wedding ceremony

My only instructions for writing my brother's ceremony were “Short and secular,” which seemed easy until I realized that a wedding ceremony without all the religion means writing the entire thing from scratch. So what do you say about marriage when the religious significance is gone?

I decided that the word marriage is powerful on it’s own, the weight it carries is not just from the idea of pleasing God, it signifies a deep relationship between two people. When someone tells you they are married that word gives you a lot of understanding about the relationship they have with the partner. As much as I love thinking about signs and signifiers it’s not very romantic, I had to expand. Since marriage is also a ceremony, in which family and friends are invited to watch, I thought about the significance of announcing these promises in front of other people.

I ended up with this:

Marriage is a symbol and it’s power comes from the promise that you two make today. The promise that the person in front of you is the only person you want to be with. And it is sharing this promise with your friends and family that give this weight. Look at the people here today, everyone is here to watch you make this promise, to celebrate your happiness. After today they will always be a part of your lives. But to be part of a family, a community, is also a responsibility. You two have a responsibility to each other but we have a responsibility as well. We also have hold you two responsible to the promises you make today, we have a responsibility to support you through hard times, to give advice, and yes, celebrate with you. Every person is here for you, never forget that.

That is what it means to be here today. This is why marriage is so powerful.*

There was an introduction, I talked about my brother and his fiancée, read a Neruda poem, wrote a bit for exchanging rings, and then wrapped it all up. The whole thing was over in ten minutes.

People cried. It seemed to go over well.

When I was up there all my nervousness from that morning was gone, I saw all the people in the audience but I didn't think about them. As my brother and his wife walked back down the aisle I thought, Oh it’s over?

But really something was just beginning.

 

 

 My brother

My brother

 *If you have to officiate a ceremony feel free to pilfer that sentiment, which is what I did. I formed this idea based on someone describing another wedding ceremony to me.

 

The Ocean All Around Us

The Ocean All Around Us

Weekend plans

Weekend plans

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