We Are Gathered Here Today to Witness the Marriage of Andy and Jenny

I was honored last weekend to officiate the marriage of my Aunt Andy and my new Aunt, Jenny. Both women were beautiful and deserved their own ceremony – one which had never been shared with any other couple. I wrote the following ceremony up to the Affirmation of Intention. I’ve posted the entire ceremony here as a testament to that special day.

Thank you, Aunt Andy and Aunt Jenny, for allowing me to stand with you on such a magical day!

Welcome

Welcome friends and family. We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of Andy and Jenny.

Let’s not rush past the significance of that statement.

We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of Andy and Jenny.

It is a year ago this week that the state of Wisconsin recognized same-sex marriage. And only since June of this year that the Supreme Court has made same-sex marriage possible across all of the remaining states in our great nation. This process – this legal, political, and social change – has been long and difficult. Legal maneuvering, political rhetoric, sincerely held beliefs on both sides – this has not been a smooth and gentle transition. This has been a raw conflict and its wounds will be slow in healing.

I don’t think anyone – on either side of the issue – could state with sincerity that this is a trivial matter. Legal recognition of the union of two people and all of the ramifications of that legal status are, literally, matters of life and death. Rights and responsibilities between spouses. Acknowledgement of a family identity for health care decisions. Joint filing of federal and state tax returns. (Aunt Andy – are tax preparers ready for the federal change? Aunt Jenny – my condolences on becoming a “tax season” widow this spring.) Social security benefits. Estate planning. These are truly matters of great significance. These, among many other things, are the ramifications of same-sex marriage.

And today, none of those factors matter. They are important. After the ceremony we will execute the steps necessary to the legal process. We will sign the marriage license as state law requires. That is important to Andy and Jenny’s future.

But all of those legal issues can overshadow the true meaning of today’s event. Because this ceremony today, right here with you and I as witnesses, is not about taxes, or health care decisions, or family status. We are gathered here today to witness Andy and Jenny’s expression of that most essential of human motivations.

Today is about LOVE.

Andy and Jenny love each other. They love each other enough to stand in front of all of us, the world, and any power or god you may believe in, and commit their futures to each other. The commitment of marriage is among humanity’s most life-changing traditions and the desire of Andy and Jenny to enter into this promise is telling of their love for each other.

Like all things in life, a marriage is worth exactly what it costs you. I don’t mean cost in terms of simple dollars. The things we cherish most in life cannot be bought with dollars and cents. The most important things in life – like love and marriage – are those things for which we would give up everything. These are the things for which we will change the entire direction of our lives.

Marriage is the public affirmation of one’s willingness to change the course of an entire life. In Greek mythology, Heracles diverted two rivers to clean out the Augean Stables – a task considered impossible and one at which he was certain to fail. Marriage requires the same dedication to do whatever is necessary to cultivate one’s relationship. Entering into a marriage with reservations? Or anything less than a total commitment to this promise – is a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, today’s story is not one of disaster. This ceremony today is one of hope. A promise for the future. How lucky are we to witness such a life-changing moment?

It does not take much time with either Andy or Jenny to understand why they are here today. This afternoon, I was talking to Ginny, a dear friend of Jenny from college. As Ginny talked about how Jenny’s life has changed since she met Andy I found myself smiling and nodding. Every moment that she described – Jenny in a complete and total partnership with Andy – was one that I could exactly mirror in my own experiences with my dear Auntie.

My friends, these are the moments that give us hope as a people. In this chaotic, challenging world, is there any greater proof of the beautiful promise of our lives than when we find those perfect partners with whom we can stand against the future? If you have seen Jenny or Andy talk about their intended, you have seen that promise for their future.

Andy and Jenny, I ask you now to show everyone assembled here today your commitment to this marriage, this love, this promise of your futures. I ask you to commit, with each one of us here standing testament to its truth, to your desire to love, cherish, and sustain your spouse in days ahead.

Affirmation of Intention

Do you, Andy, promise to:
Love, honor, cherish, and be faithful?
To care for Jenny in sickness and in health, through hardships and happiness?
To share your joys and sorrows, your failures and successes?
To help each other grow as individuals and as a couple?
And to honor Jenny’s goals and dreams and help her to fulfill them?

Answer: I do.

Do you, Jenny promise to:
Love, honor, cherish, and be faithful?
To care for Andy in sickness and in health, through hardships and happiness?
To share your joys and sorrows, your failures and successes?
To help each other grow as individuals and as a couple?
And to honor Andy’s goals and dreams and help her to fulfill them?

Answer: I do.

Exchange of Vows

Vows are a verbal expression of your commitment to each other as life partners. I invite you now to face one another and join hands as you exchange your vows.

Andy vows
Jenny vows

Exchange of Rings

Let your rings be forever a symbol of the never-ending circle of love.
A symbol of the commitment that wherever you go, you will return to each other.
Whatever you have you will share with each other.
And may they remind you always of the vows you have taken here today.

Andy, will you place this ring on Jenny’s finger and say to her,
“Jenny, I give you this ring as a symbol of my commitment and love for you.”

Jenny, will you place this ring on Andy’s finger and say to her,
“Andy, I give you this ring as a symbol of my commitment and love for you.”

Pronouncement

Andy and Jenny, we celebrate the love that has brought you here today.
You have committed yourselves to one another in the presence of family and friends.
May all that life brings you strengthen the bond you have declared today.
May your home be a place of happiness for all who enter it, a place for growing, and a place for laughter.
May all of your loved ones, those present and those who are with us in spirit, continue to rejoice in the warmth of the love that has united you.
By the power vested in me by the state of Wisconsin and the internet, it is my joy and privilege to pronounce you married partners in life.  

You may – each of you – kiss the bride.

What a magical day!

What a magical day!

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