(WARNING: This is kind of a lengthy post with our ceremony readings, vows, and etc. If you’re not into these kinds of posts, feel free to skip this one. In a nutshell, we went totally old school with our ceremony but used a couple of slightly less popular scripture readings.)
After we made it to the front of the church, Pastor Mark wasted no time in jumping right into the ceremony. We stood there patiently, our fingers nervously intertwined as we gave each other sideways glances. It almost felt like I was back in junior high trying to catch the attention of the cute boy across the classroom—except the cute boy had already asked me to marry him, and we were moments away from being husband and wife!
Pastor Mark began with a brief statement on the gift of marriage:
“We gather in the presence of God to give thanks for the gift of marriage, to witness the joining together of Justin and Rachel, to surround them with our prayers, and to ask God’s blessing upon them so that they may be strengthened for their life together and nurtured in their love for God…in marriage, husband and wife are called to a new way of life; created, ordered, and blessed by God. This way of life must not be entered into carelessly or from selfish motives, but responsibly, and prayerfully. We rejoice that marriage is given by God, blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ, and sustained by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, let marriage be held in honor by all.
Let us pray: Gracious God, you are always faithful in your love for us. Look mercifully upon Justin and Rachel, who have come seeking your blessing. Let your Holy Spirit rest upon them so that with steadfast love they may honor the promises they make this day, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.”
After his opening statements and prayer, Pastor Mark addressed each of us so that we could give our declarations of intent.
“Justin, understanding that God has created, ordered, and blessed the covenant of marriage, do you affirm your desire and intention to enter this covenant?”
“Rachel, understanding that God has created, ordered, and blessed the covenant of marriage, do you affirm your desire and intention to enter this covenant?”
The pastor then addressed our families.
“To the families of Justin and Rachel: Do you give your blessing to Justin and Rachel and promise to do everything in your power to uphold them in their marriage?”
There were murmurs and exclamations of affirmation as our families responded. At this point, my dad was directed to take a seat. Before he did, however, he grabbed both mine and Mr. A’s hands, kissed them both, and whispered through tears, “I love both of you guys so much.” It was almost enough to put me over the edge.
After Papa Dillo took a seat, Pastor Mark went into a brief narrative about a funny moment in his and his wife’s relationship. He recalled a time when a sink in their home started leaking water, and his wife kept saying how “somebody” should fix it. He looked over at Mr. A and pretty much told him that whenever the term “somebody” was brought up when it came to fixing things around the house, that “somebody” was him. It was really cute and made the congregation chuckle, and definitely diffused some of the nerves we were undoubtedly both feeling.
When he finished, my two very good friends from my master’s program at college stood up to read scripture. Pastor Mark cued them with a quick glance.
Rachael went first; (she’s jokingly referred to in our circle of friends as “Rachel #2″ because I’m Rachel #1, duh!) I thought long and hard about the scripture I wanted read at our ceremony because I didn’t want to use anything too overly done like the typical Corinthians reading. In the end, both Mr. A and I settled on two of the most perfect scriptures for us. The first was Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.
“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
LaMonica went next, reading Romans 12:9-15 and 21.
“9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn…21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
When both ladies were finished, Pastor Mark led us up the steps along with MOH Henna and Mr. A’s Best Man. It was time to say our vows!
Pastor Mark began: “Justin and Rachel, since it is your intention to marry, join your right hands, and with your promises bind yourselves to each other as husband and wife.”
Mr. A went first with his vows.
“I, Justin, take you, Rachel, to be my wife; and I promise, 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.”
Then, it was my turn.
“I, Rachel, take you, Justin, to be my husband; and I promise, before God and these witnesses, to be your loving and faithful wife; in plenty and in want; in joy and in sorrow; in sickness and in health; as long as we both shall live.”
The exchange of rings immediately followed. Pastor Mark asked, “What do you bring as the sign of your promise?” to which MOH Henna and Mr. A’s Best Man brought forth the rings and placed them on the Bible. Pastor Mark said a brief prayer.
“By your blessing, O God, may these rings be to Justin and Rachel symbols of unending love and faithfulness, reminding them of the covenant they have made this day, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
The ring exchange went much more smoothly than I thought it would. I fully expected one or both of our rings to not fit due to stress and anxiety and swelled fingers and yada yada, but guess what? They both slid on PERFECTLY with literally zero struggle! I was totally relieved.
“Rachel, I give you this ring as a sign of our covenant, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
“Justin, I give you this ring as a sign of our covenant, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
Our ceremony was nearly over now; all that was left was to light our unity candle with special music provided by MOH Henna and Bromadillo. You’ll have to stay tuned to hear their amazing voices!
Did your ceremony surprisingly go off without a hitch? Did you choose to go total old school with your vows and ring exchange like we did, or did you do something a bit more unique? What scriptures or other special readings did you include in the ceremony?