Here’s where I left off:
With everyone in place under the tree (sigh…I still swoon at that majestic thing) it was time for the ceremony to begin. Mr. W and I took hands and faced our officiant, Pastor J. Actually, before we took hands, Mr. W wiped off some of the snot that had accumulated on my face as I walked down the aisle. Now see, that’s love!
I looked left and right—our closest friends and siblings were all lined up beside us. Our parents were seated right before us, and behind them, dozens of friends and relatives. There is nothing in the world like being surrounded by all of your favorite people.
J began with a prayer.
“On behalf of both families gathered here, we welcome you to this time of worship where we gather here in a very beautiful place on a very beautiful day…”
Then came the declaration of intent.
“Dara and Liz, we all know why you are here, but we want to hear from your own words your intent. Will you, Dara, have Liz to be your wife, and will you pledge yourself to her in all love and honor, in all duty and service, in all faith and tenderness, to live with her and cherish her according to the ordinance of God and the holy bond of marriage? If so, say I will.”
Mr. W responded, “I will.” J asked me the same, and I too responded, “I will.” (This confused me to no end while we were rehearsing with J…I kept saying “I do,” because that’s what you see in all of the movie and TV wedding scenes. Did anyone else make this mistake?)
My family is pretty old-school, and my parents were in favor of a classic Protestant presentation of the bride. Only, my mom wanted in on the action too. So J asked, “And who presents this woman to this man?” And both of my parents replied, “We do.”
After that, we jumped right into the readings. Cousin K read one of my favorite Biblical verses, I Corinthians 13. (Yes, so cheesy…but every word rings true.)
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…Love never ends.”
My Uncle B (my favorite uncle, and the one with the best narrator voice, to boot) rose and read the second passage to us, Romans 12:9-17:
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Funny story… I promised both of our readers that I would print out their readings. But with how cray everything got the week of the wedding, I completely forgot. At the rehearsal, they had to recite the readings from their smart phones. I promised that night to print out the readings in time for the wedding. Yet again…I forgot. So my Uncle B got crafty and wrote them on the last page of the program, so it kiiiind of looked like he was reading out of a book. Sneaky, eh?
And then Officiant J began the wedding sermon. This part of the ceremony was a surprise to us—when we had planned out the ceremony, and even when we rehearsed, J told us what to expect, but he was writing a sermon just for us, based on our relationship with him and our conversations during our pre-marital counseling sessions. The sermon turned out to be incredibly touching and sincere. I was blown away by the sweet things J said about Mr. W and I and our relationship.
One of my favorite parts:
“So if we think about what our culture thinks of love, we think first romance. And romance is an important piece of love. Wooing one another, not just as you were dating or engaged, but also as a married couple. That is an important form of love, certainly. Love is also having common things—like shared interests, things you like to do together, of course. Love is also a physical attraction—I think you would agree. But if we were to stop there—if that’s all that we have with regard to love—I wonder if couples would be disappointed. Because our physical bodies will change over time. Our interests will morph into other things. Maybe there will be seasons where romance will not be very good. So what is the kind of love that will sustain you and help you grow? And this is the kind of love we talked about—sacrificial love. Putting the needs of the other person ahead of even your own. If we only define love as an inner emotion, we will never get the heartbeat of what God has for couples with regard to love—sacrificial love. Waking up and saying internally, I will do whatever it takes to serve another. Here is a great definition of love that I will share with you: ’Love is the genuine inner readiness to seek the well-being of another without demand for anything in return.’ And here’s the beautiful part about you and your relationship—you already have this type of love within you. You already long to serve one another and care for one another, and that will certainly help you grow.”
He made us laugh.
And he definitely made us cry. Even Bubba Wallaby, Mr. W’s dad, teared up.
Before I knew it (J kept things short and sweet!) it was time for our vows. Mr. W and I turned to face each other, hand in hand.
“If you will turn and hold hands…You think about all that goes into a wedding—your friends and family have come from miles around, everyone is dressed up, you have a beautiful quartet, wonderful food—the only thing that is necessary for a wedding are the vows. We’ve talked about this. I want you to feel the weight of what you are promising this day. So these vows are your public, your personal, your permanent commitment to each other.”
We started with traditional Presbyterian vows. Mr. W’s came first:
“I, Dara, take you, Liz, to be my wife. And I do promise and covenant, before God and these witnesses, to be your loving and faithful husband. In plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.”
And I repeated the same, with J’s prompting. (I am so glad we didn’t have to memorize those vows, or mine would’ve been a mess. Like I said earlier, I am the world’s worst actress. I can’t memorize anything longer than my phone number.)
After the traditional vows, we read our own sentiments to each other. (Remember what I was busy doing earlier that morning? ) While planning the ceremony, we decided that the traditional vows were very important to us, as our covenant to each other—but we wanted to also have an opportunity to share some words about how we feel in front of each other, with all of our witnesses there.
In a quick turn of events (at least, for me)…Mr. W pulled out his cell phone. He had written his vows in the “Notes” app on his iPhone. He loves technology, so I shouldn’t have expected anything less. I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Liz, you are my best friend, and I love you—you’re the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. Your smile makes me smile, and I hope to keep you smiling forever. We’ve already had such amazing times together, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together. Someone famous once said, if you like it you better put a ring on it. Well, I liked it. And I can’t wait to grow old together and live our happily ever after.”
And then I read Mr. W my vows.
Best Man A handed our rings to Pastor J.
First Mr. W put on my bling:
And then I slid his ring on his finger, and promised him forever.
“Dara, this ring I give you, in token and in pledge, as a symbol of our constant faith and abiding love.”
In lieu of a unity candle, we mixed things up and performed an ancient Persian wedding tradition—dipping our pinkies in honey and feeding it to each another. Pastor J filled in our non-Persian guests on what was going on:
“There is a very old Persian wedding tradition where the bride and groom dip their pinky in honey and feed it to one another, and it’s simply a symbol of happiness and a sweet life.”
Following tradition, Mother-in-law Wallaby stood up to serve us the honey from the sofreh.
Fiiiiinally, it was time for our first smooch as married man and wife.
“Now the moment that you’ve all been waiting for. By the authority committed to me by the ordinance of God and the law of the state, I now pronounce you husband and wife. I declare that you are now married, and you may celebrate your marriage with a kiss.”
Um, yes please.
Up next: a very dramatic exit!
*All photos by the whiz-bang, top-notch Mustard Seed Photography.
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