CIVIL CEREMONY #33
ALL WE SHARE
“(Bride) and (Groom), if you know of any reason why you may not be lawfully married I ask you to declare it now.”
Today is a celebration — a celebration of love, of commitment, of friendship, and of family.
You don’t have to have a ceremony to have a marriage. And when you think about it, the whole thing is kind of strange, right? You’re standing up front, holding flowers, and being stared at by pretty much everyone who has meant anything to you in the past thirty years. So why do we do it? The marriage ceremony has been an important feature across nearly every culture, religion, generation, and society. We have thousands of important moments that happen throughout our lives, but this one is regarded as one so critical, we acknowledge its special status by sharing it with others. Why this moment?
Because despite all of our differences, love is what we all share. It’s the great unifier — our one universal truth. That no matter who we are, where we’ve come from, what we believe, we know this one thing: love is what we’re doing right. That’s why you are both standing here. That’s why you all are here to watch them stand up here. We have all loved in our lifetimes, and in this moment, we’re reminded that the ability to love is the very best part of our humanity.
All of us here today have our own love stories. Some are short, others long. Some are yet unwritten, while others are just getting to the good part. There are chapters in all of our stories that are sad or disappointing — and others that are exciting and full of adventure.
And that brings _____ and _____ here. A time to pause, look back, and smile at all the moments that brought them here. And a time to look ahead at all the moments that are still to come.
I’m here — we’re all here — because we want those moments for you. We’re here to hope with you, to support you, to be proud of you, and to remind you that love isn’t happily ever after, love is the experience of writing your story. It’s not one moment — it’s every moment. Big ones like saying “I love you”, getting engaged — but mostly countless little moments that come in between the big moments — sharing a laugh over dinner, spending time with friends and families, committing ourselves to love and care forever more, walking the dog together, getting a big hug when you get home from work. These everyday moments fuse together into one big experience.
And even though this experience is so incredible, words fail us when we try and explain it. That’s just the way it is with love — it’s meant to be felt, and lived, not merely described.
But trying to describe love is one of our favorite pastimes. We use the words we have to write stories, and poems, and songs about love. And even though we describe love in different ways — and even though love can look different from one person to the next — we all know it when we see it. And we see it here.
You fell in love by chance, but you’re here today because you’re making a choice. You both are choosing each other. You’ve chosen to be with someone who enhances you, who makes you smile, who encourages you, who makes you laugh, and who makes every day brighter.
You’re about to make promises to each other that you intend to keep. You’re going to vow to love and take care of each other, to stand up for one another, and find happiness in the other. There’s a simple premise to each of these promises: you’re vowing to be there. You’re saying to one another, “Every experience I am going to have, I want you to be a part of.”
Do you, (Groom), keep (Bride) as your wife — to laugh with her, to encourage her, to support her through life’s tough moments, to be proud of her, to raise a family with her, to grow old with her, to embark on new adventures with her, and to find new reasons to love her every day? / I do
Do you, (Bride), keep (Groom) as your husband — to laugh with him, to encourage him, to support him through life’s tough moments, to be proud of him, to raise a family with him, to grow old with him, to embark on new adventures with him, and to find new reasons to love him every day? / I do
May I have the rings please?
You’ve both chosen to wear rings as a reminder of these promises. People often say wedding bands are a perfect circle, with no beginning and no end. But these rings did have a beginning. The precious metals contained in these rings laid in the ground unseen for a long time before they were eventually found and extracted from the earth, liquefied in a furnace at a thousand degrees, molded, cooled, and meticulously polished. Something beautiful was made from raw elements. Love is like that. It’s the process of making something beautiful where there was once nothing at all. You’ve created something invaluable, and just as I know you’ll protect these rings, I’m confident you’ll protect the commitments you’ve made to one other today.
(Groom), would you please repeat after me as you place your ring on (Bride)’s finger?
(Bride). I give you this ring
as a symbol of my love
and commitment to you.
(Bride), would you please repeat after me as you place your ring on (Groom)’s finger?
(Groom), I give you this ring
as a symbol of my love
and commitment to you.
CLOSING / (Groom) and (Bride) may the demands of your life together be met with courage and hopefulness. May you learn from your challenges and grow in your success. May life bless you with friends and family who are supportive and whom you enjoy being with. May your love and care for one another last through all of your moments together, so that in the triumphs and the trials that lie ahead, you will feel just as happy as you do now – happy to be in love and married to one another. Go then in peace, and live more and more in the present, which is beautiful and bountiful and stretches beyond the past toward the future.
(Groom) and (Bride) you have openly declared your wishes to be united in marriage and in the presence of these witnesses have pledged your love to one another. You have confirmed the same by each giving and receiving a ring and by joining hands. By virtue of the powers vested in me by the Province of Ontario it is my honor and delight to pronounce that you are husband and wife.
It gives me great delight to introduce to me the newly married couple, Mr. and Mrs. ________