Our officiant stepped forward and everyone quieted down. He welcomed our guests, thanked them for coming, and introduced himself. We call him President Christensen because he is a member of the area priesthood in my hometown. He was also a close friend of my dad’s in high school (and sources report he even dated my mom a little bit!). It was important to have someone that knew one of us well officiating, as well as someone with authority in the Church.
President Christensen called my grandpa forward and we began with a word of prayer.
When we asked President Christensen to officiate we also asked him to prepare a few words about temple marriage and why we chose to be married in the temple. We felt this was an important opportunity to share a fundamental part of our belief system with those close to us who may not understand it well.
The message he shared was beautiful and tailored to us personally. He based his words on The Family: A Proclamation to the World, a document released by the LDS church which explains why we believe in marriage.
President Christensen has a very warm and gentle tone and he knows when to be funny and what kind of humor is appropriate for the occasion. I love how many photos there are of Mr. Avocado, myself, our parents, or our guests smiling at something he said.
I was glad I had decided to write my words down instead of trying to memorize them, otherwise I would have been so busy trying to remember everything that I wouldn’t have been able to really listen and soak all of it in.
I think Kelli may have captured my dad taking a quick little cat nap. It was a long day for all of us!
In the middle of his words on marriage, President Christensen called us forward. I remember clearly his advice: “People are going to begin asking you when you are going to have children, when you are going to start your family. It’s important that you realize that the two of you became a family today.”
He encouraged us to “be quick to forgive and forget. Learn that love, like faith, is a verb, not a noun. Do something every day to lift and encourage each other. Put the interests of each other ahead of your own.”
He then presented us with a copy of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, and one to both of our parents as well.
I thought it was really touching that he went out of his way to get a copy of the proclamation in Polish for my in-laws.
Our friend L was invited to come forward and read the quote we chose by C.S. Lewis:
Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling. Now no feeling can be relied on to last in its full intensity, or even to last at all. Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go.
And in fact, whatever people say, the state called “being in love” usually does not last. If the old fairy-tale ending “They lived happily ever after” is taken to mean “They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married,” then it says what probably never was nor ever could be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships?
But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense–love as distinct from “being in love”–is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by the grace which both ask, and receive, from God. They can have this love for each other even at those moments when they do not like each other. They can retain this love even when each would easily, if they allowed themselves, be “in love” with someone else.
“Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.
This quote is the reason why we decided we needed to have programs sitting at each seat. It’s not a quote that is traditionally romantic and we wanted to give our guests the chance to really read it and think about what it means.
It doesn’t speak of undying love or fate or soul mates. It’s about hard work, trust, and acknowledging the reality that a happy marriage filled with love will only come because we both strive for it. Our favorite line is the last in the first paragraph. We know that if we increase our knowledge, hold on to our principles, and improve our habits, that our love for one another can last into eternity.
My new husband and I stepped forward and read our words to each other. We called them “non-vows” because that’s what they were. They weren’t vows (in fact the church provides almost no guidelines for ring ceremonies other than no vows in any form shall be exchanged), they were the personification of our love to one another. We already made our promises earlier that day; this was a chance to publicly acknowledge our love for one another.
I posted about my temple time capsule previously, and as I was writing my vows I remembered tucking a note to my future husband inside. I broke out the can opener and opened it up on the spot to discover I was right. I ended up incorporating the note I had written 8 years previously into my non-vows.
Growing up I called myself a princess and hoped to find Prince Charming and live happily ever after. Reading C.S. Lewis taught me that marriage isn’t a fairy tale, and I’ve grown up enough to know that ours won’t be. You aren’t perfect, and I am most certainly not anywhere near it. Our relationship works because we are both able to acknowledge each others imperfections, love each other despite our differences, and work together to make improvements in our attitude and behavior. Thank you for helping me improve every day. There are so many reasons I am a better person because of you.
Our love isn’t flowery, simple, or easy. It is rooted in practicality, common goals, and a deep respect for each other. I will be working each and every day to seek forgiveness for my faults and praise you for your achievements. I know that in choosing to be sealed in the temple we created a union that will last for eternity.
I have always known the temple is the right place to be married. On October 10, 2001, as a 16 year old girl dreaming of true love I wrote you this letter:
“To my sweetheart,
We are finally getting married. I am so excited. I have been excited for this day as long as I can remember. I know that as long as I am getting married in the temple, we are right for each other.”
Thank you for taking me to the temple to be married today. When I stopped looking for my perfect happily ever after, I found my forever.
I love you
We kept our non-vows a secret from one another until that moment, and I’m so glad I pushed Mr. Avo to do it that way. He worried that they wouldn’t sound the same, that we would look like fools exchanging completely different sets of ideals in front of so many of our nearest and dearest.
When I think back on it I’m even surprised that the feelings and ideas we expressed were so in tune with one another. He blew me away that day. I’m known as the writer in the relationship, but that didn’t stop him from dictating a sonnet of love for the two of us. It’s something I will always hold close. I won’t be writing his words here, you’ll have to watch the video if you want to experience them for yourself.
We didn’t know if we should kiss or not, since we hadn’t done the ring exchange, but in the words of the officiant, “I think that deserves a kiss!”
I pulled his ring that I had been wearing off my own finger and slid it on his. We both laughed because he had never tried it on before and it was way too big. We both knew right then that he would never end up wearing it.
Notice anything strange about this picture? I’m actually having him slide my wedding band(s) onto my right ring finger. I didn’t want to overwhelm my engagement ring so I switched things around and decided to wear my wedding bands on my right hand in European fashion. It’s the fitting thing to do when marrying a European, no?
And then suddenly it was over. We still had one more event to stress over (the first dance) but for the most part we could relax and enjoy ourselves from this point forward.
And one more kiss to end on the right note.
After the closing prayer we made our way out to the sounds of Yo-Yo Ma once again, with very little fanfare.
I flashed a cheesy grin at my Aunt and ended up with one of my favorite ring ceremony pictures, the one when you walk back down the aisle look up and around at your family and friends. It’s fun to see the expressions on their faces.
We did it!
Can you believe one person captured all of those angles? Somehow Kelli Nicole did.
That Wedding: Bridesmaid Party!
That Wedding: Whole Foods (Rehearsal-ish) Luncheon
That Wedding: Harbor Sailing
That Wedding: Putting My Face On
That Wedding: The Gift Exchange
That Wedding: Dressing The Bride
That Wedding: Bridal Details
That Wedding: The First Look
That Wedding: Into The Woods
That Wedding: Woodsy Family Portraits
That Wedding: To Wed! To Wed!
That Wedding: Showered With Love, Coins, and Hugs
That Wedding: Group Shots With a Little Spice
That Wedding: Those Groomsmen
That Wedding: The Whole Party
That Wedding: Me and My Maids (+ Manmaid)
That Wedding: Ring Ceremony Prep