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:
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.
*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.