When Mr. Panther and I were planning our wedding, we mostly focused on the reception. I guess a lot of people probably do that, right? So, I’ll admit that I was a little surprised, at the end of the day, when the ceremony ended up being my favorite part. It makes sense, though—getting married is kind of the whole point, no?
My grandfather officiated our ceremony, as he has for several members and friends of my family. He has a standard ceremony that he uses, but Mr. Panther and I wanted to personalize things a bit, so we put together our own. We gathered pieces from all over the place, including Weddingbee and other wedding blogs, but a lot of the big chunks were from a book called Wedding Ceremony Planner: The Essential Guide to the Most Important Part of Your Wedding Day. I highly recommend it! But in case any of you would like to borrow pieces from our ceremony, I’m including the whole thing in this post. Get ready: it’s going to be long.
Once my uncle and I reached the arbor, my grandpa began:
Welcome, family, friends and loved ones. We have gathered here today to celebrate the love that Miss Panther and Mr. Panther have for each other, as well as the love that each of you has given them throughout their lives. As family and friends, you are the ones who have taught Miss Panther and Mr. Panther how to love. Having shared this lesson with them, we are now gathered to support them as they start their married life together, surrounded by the people dearest and most important to them.
Who presents Miss Panther to be married to Mr. Panther?
My uncle responded, “I do.“
At this point, I gave my bouquet to MOH Alisa and stepped forward to take Mr. Panther’s hands. My grandpa continued:
Miss Panther and Mr. Panther would like to recognize their parents on this occasion. They offer their profound gratitude for all the love and care their parents showed in raising them. Grace, Bill and Cheryl, the unconditional gift of support that you have continually offered has inspired Mr. Panther and Miss Panther to become who they are today, and they thank you from the bottom of their hearts. Without you, this day would not be possible.
Miss and Mr. Panther would also like to take a moment to honor those who could not be with us today. [At this point, he talked a bit about my dad, who died in 2009. I didn’t write this part, so I don’t have it written down. All I know is that I somehow managed to get through without crying, which I thought was pretty impressive.] We also remember Mr. Panther’s grandparents, Gene and Mary, and Miss Panther’s grandmother, Ann. Although they are no longer with us physically, they are carried in our hearts.
Let us come together now, as families and friends, to witness, to support and to celebrate this union of Miss and Mr. Panther. Please join me in wishing them a healthy, loving and joyful marriage.
Mr. Panther’s family priest stepped up first for a reading/prayer. We got it from Wedding Blessings: Prayers and Poems Celebrating Love, Marriage and Anniversaries.
Gracious God, bless Miss Panther and Mr. Panther as they stand before us today, ready to take a step that will change their lives forever.
May the individual strengths of each one join so that they may grow together in a strong marriage.
Endow them with courage to meet the challenges that will inevitably be theirs in the coming years.
Bless them with wisdom that sees beyond individual desires to the good of their relationship.
Provide for their material needs that they may always have something to share with others.
Grant them patience, compassion and understanding to deal with the disagreements that come along the way.
May they find contentment at any given time in their marriage by accepting themselves and each other just as they are.
Give them health and strength to fulfill their hopes and dreams for the future.
May the joy and love they feel today ripen and mature as they walk together down this new road they have chosen.
Mr. Panther’s parents came up next, for a reading by Maude Meehan.
Your parents, we who love you, have looked on in joy, recognizing that in your desire to create a future together, you have discovered and fostered one another’s most endearing and enduring qualities.
The love we have for you is all embracing, joyful, to see you turn toward one another’s light.
Certain that you will tenderly support each other, aware that patience as much as passion will nourish and maintain the bond between you.
Certain also, that with care and courage, you will create a haven where each may grow and flourish, as do all things in nature, given light and warmth.
We who watched over your childhood innocence with the most profound longing to keep you from all hurt or harm, no longer yearn toward that gift, which is not ours to give, for we have learned that adversity brings its own gifts of strength and of compassion.
As you set out upon the path which we have traveled, we stand beside you with every confidence in your resilience and strength.
As we once cradled you in strong young arms, we hold you now, as strongly, sweetly, in our hearts.
How very proud of you we are. Know that you have our blessing, as you know you have our love.
My mom came up for the last reading, from The Velveteen Rabbit. My grandfather prefaced it by saying, “Mr. and Miss Panther have chosen this next selection from ”˜The Velveteen Rabbit,’ a book Miss Panther loved as a child. It gives the simplest view of how love changes a person who is lucky enough to receive it. “
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
After the readings, my grandpa got down to the real meat and potatoes.
Mr. and Miss Panther, demonstrate your love for yourselves and each other through caring and dedication. Stretch your love large enough to embrace whatever life brings you. Let it fill you, surround you, comfort and protect you.
Let your hearts be truly safe and at home with each other. Be generous in expressing your love. Be open to receiving love from each other. Be flexible and forgiving with each other.
Remember that your relationship is alive and ever-changing, and above all else, keep your love alive. Treat it as the precious blessing that it is.
Do not just be married or in love, but let your marriage be an active process of loving each other.
The vows came next. Mr. Panther and I wrote our own, a decision that we struggled with a bit. It was nerve-wracking, but I’m so glad we went for it. Later, most people told us that they were their favorite part of the ceremony.
I went first:
Mr. Panther, a friend of ours once said, when describing our relationship, that we were “so real.” It seemed like a strange compliment at the time, but when I really think about it, it’s so true.
Just like what my mom read from “The Velveteen Rabbit,” the way you have loved me has made me the most real, true version of myself. I’m more myself with you than I have ever been. I couldn’t hide any part of myself from you any more than I could hide my nose from the rest of my face.
And while I’ve been myself with you, you’ve taken note. You know me better than I know myself sometimes. I love the way you literally answer my questions before I even ask them, even if it is a little bit creepy. I love the way you save me half your queso, even when I say I don’t want my own because I’m on a diet. You know I just can’t resist. I love the way you laugh with me when I do something stupid, and remind me that it’s OK to be the doofus that I am, because you love me anyway.
You are the funniest, silliest, most creative and giving person I’ve ever known. You put other people’s happiness before your own every chance you get. You go out and get my girlfriends and me greasy food when we’re too lazy to get off the couch. Instead of making fun of me when I talk to our pets in ridiculous high-pitched voices, you join in. You work so hard every day to create something beautiful for our future.
I love you. I appreciate you. I will always love you and appreciate you. I will never take you for granted. You’re my soulmate and my best friend in the whole world, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you.
I guess Mr. Panther liked them, because when I was done, he leaned forward to give me a kiss, and I shrieked, “Not yet!” Gotta love a good laugh during a serious occasion.
When we’d all composed ourselves, Mr. Panther read his vows.
Miss Panther, you are my dream girl, my best friend, and my soulmate. While I won’t pretend to understand destiny or fate, it is obvious that we are designed to be to together.
I may have been young and immature when we first met, but I have never been more sure of any decision in my entire life. You are my end-all, my one and only. I will always remain faithful to you, and to our commitment; never needing any other love than yours, and never wanting to hold any other hand than the one I’m holding right now. Your caring eyes and beautiful smile will stay with me every minute we are apart, for the rest of our lives.
Even though at times you might be bringing home more “bacon” than me, I promise to always do my absolute best to help provide a comfortable life for us and for our future children and protect you from harm, never putting anyone or anything before you. I will happily share everything that is my own, and I look forward to growing old with you, to all of our new challenges and experiencing life with you by my side.
And though at times we may differ in views, tradition, outlook or opinion, I promise to respect you and always strive to keep a level head, be mindful of your perspective, and to work together to compromise.
You deserve the absolute best in life. I will not only be the man of your dreams, but your best friend, someone to confide in, and someone to lean on when you need strength. No matter what, I will stay with you and hold your hand with a smile on my face, never forgetting these words.
I love you, Miss Panther; today, and forever.
After our vows, my grandpa read these:
Mr. Panther, do you choose Miss Panther as your wedded wife and lifelong partner, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, for as long as you both shall live?
Mr. Panther: I do.
Miss Panther, do you take Mr. Panther as your wedded husband and lifelong partner, to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, for as long as you both shall live?
Me: I do.
My grandpa then asked us to present the rings, and said, “These rings are symbols of the love that joins you, spirit to spirit. They represent the oneness, eternity, and renewal inherent in the marriage union.
May these rings serve you and those who see them upon your fingers as reminders of the vows you have made here today.“
As we placed the rings on each other fingers, we repeated the following words:
I give you this ring
As a sign that I choose you
To be my lover
And my best friend
Today, tomorrow and always.
And then, the best part:
Miss Panther and Mr. Panther, you have chosen one another and pledged to love each other for all the days of your lives. And so, by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride.
And that was that! Bam! Married!
We walked back down the aisle to a string arrangement of “Got to Get You Into My Life” by The Beatles.
It seems long in this post, but I think our ceremony was somewhere around half an hour total. And then it was time for the cocktail hour!
Did you put together your own ceremony, or let your officiant drive the ship?
Miss any of the Panther recaps? Get caught up!
- Pre-Wedding Chaos
- Ready, Set, Rehearse!
- The Rehearsal Dinner
- Get Up and Get Pretty
- All Dressed Up
- The Males Get Prepped
- The First Look
- The Panthers Get Posin’
- More Posin’, This Time With Friends
- Down the Aisle We GoAll photos by Raw Photo Design