The carriage came to a stop at Whitfield Square and my younger brother hopped out.
He came around to my side to help his big sister make as much of a graceful exit from the buggy as possible in a very tight dress…
He even fluffed out my dress to make sure it was perfect for the walk down the aisle. And then we were off!
As soon as I locked eyes with Mr. Lab, it was over. There was nothing else but him. I never even noticed that one of our videographers was perched up on the gazebo!
Once we made it to the gazebo, our pastor began the service.
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
Although Phillip did a good job of fixing my train before the walk down the aisle, he missed an undone clasp (I told you my horse carriage exit was “graceful”). But no worries! MOH Amanda noticed the undone clasp and she quickly fixed it.
“Family and friends, I welcome you with joy to this wedding! We are gathered together in the sight of God to witness and bless the joining together of Chris and LeiLani in Christian marriage. The covenant of marriage was established by God. With His presence and power, Jesus graced a wedding at Cana of Galilee, and in his sacrificial love gave us the example for the love of husband and wife. Chris and LeiLani come to give themselves to one another in the Holy Covenant.”
“May we pray. Eternal God, our creator and redeemer, as you gladdened the wedding at Cana in Galilee by the presence of your Son, so by his presence now bring your joy to this wedding.”
“Look in favor upon Chris and LeiLani and grant that they, rejoicing in all your gifts, may at length celebrate with Christ the marriage feast which has no end. Amen.”
“Chris and LeiLani, I ask you now in the presence of God and these people, to declare your intention to enter into union with one another through the grace of Jesus Christ who calls you into union with Himself as acknowledged in your baptism.”
“Chris, will you have LeiLani to be your wife, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
“LeiLani, will you have Chris to be your husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?”
Then my pastor asked, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”
“Her mother and I do,” my little brother replied.
I hugged my brother and then he placed my hands into Mr. Lab’s.
Now it was time to get down to business. That look on my face? That’s the “You’re about to be mine FOREVER.” look.
My pastor continued by reciting the “Hand Ceremony.”
“These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy. These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children. These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.”
“And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.”
Then he read an excerpt from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “The Gift from the Sea” for our love letter box ceremony.
“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that two dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern. The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.”
“LeiLani and Chris will now seal their love letter box. The purpose of this box is to include hand-written love letters explaining why they first fell in love with each other and what brought them to this very point in their relationship. They wrote these letters in private earlier this week and neither has read the other’s letter. As mentioned in the reading, there will undoubtedly be hard times in any marriage. If at ever a time comes when LeiLani and Chris’s marriage is in jeopardy, they have promised to open the box and read the letters to each other over a couple glasses of wine which is to be sealed along with the letters.”
At some point during the ceremony, my youngest niece Morgan got a little bored. And everyone with a camera noticed. 🙂
I was told that she was spinning her flower around but I never once picked up on it. Like I said, I was focused on some other stuff. 🙂
My pastor then read a passage from the Bible that has been recited at many weddings past and I’m sure many more to come.
1st Corinthians: 13 “Love”
But eagerly desire the greater gifts.
And now I will show you the most excellent way.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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 fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
After the Bible reading, it was time for a couple other very special readings.
We arranged for our mothers to “pop up” from their seats with readings from James Dillet Freeman’s “Blessing for a Marriage.” At the rehearsal, they decided to switch cards, so Mr. Lab’s mom went first.
“May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life also grant you patience, tolerance, and understanding.
May you always need one another – not so much out of weakness or to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness.
May you want one another, but not out of lack.
May you entice one another, but not compel one another.
May you embrace one another, but not overwhelm one another.
May you succeed in all-important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces.”
My mother then finished the reading. She was so nervous about messing up, but she didn’t miss a beat!
“May you look for things to praise, often say, “I love you!” and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back.
May you enter into the mystery, which is the awareness of one another’s presence – no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side-by-side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities.
May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy.
May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.”
This is me on the verge of losing it.
Next up was Robert Fulghum’s “Union” read by my pastor.
“You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.“
“The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.” Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.”
“For after today you shall say to the world – this is my husband. This is my wife.”
And that segued right into our traditional vows.
“I, Christopher Golden, / I, LeiLani Welch
Take you, LeiLani Welch, / Christopher Golden
To be my wedded wife, /To be my wedded husband
To have and to hold from this day forward,
For better, for worse, For richer, for poorer,
In sickness and in health, To love and to cherish,
Till death us do part, According to God’s holy will;
And I pledge to you my faithfulness.”
My nephew Harrison handed us our rings for the exchanging. (I noticed that he didn’t have the ring dish though. The dish went missing after the photos!)
“I give you this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
But I had a little trouble with Mr. Lab’s ring. My pastor warned us that putting on rings isn’t always as easy as one might think. The weather and nervousness are just a couple reasons why fingers may swell…
…which may require a little more “elbow grease” while sliding on the ring.
I didn’t want to just secretly slide on my engagement ring during the reception, so we included a quick engagement ring ceremony to highlight its significance.
“The engagement ring is a symbol of promise and intention. Now the intention is realized and the promise fulfilled. Please place your engagement ring on LeiLani’s finger over her wedding band to symbolize that the love that brought you together will always protect and sustain your marriage.”
“Chris and LeiLani, by their promises before God and in your presence, have bound themselves to one another as husband and wife. Those whom God joined together let no one put asunder. Amen.“
“Chris, you may kiss your bride.”
Our DJ began playing the instrumental version of Coldplay’s “Clocks” and we were introduced for the first time as husband and wife.
“I introduce to you, Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Allen Golden. Go in peace, Serve the Lord.”
The guests were supposed to blow bubbles as we walked back down the aisle, but they were never handed out. But I was on too much of a high to care. We were married!
Previously on Southern Sweethearts:
- Southern Belles Do Tea
- A Rude Vendor Interrupts Our Rehearsal
- We Have Dinner on the Savannah River
- A Spooky Ghost Tour and My Last Fling
- Our Wedding Trailer
- Becoming a Blushing Bride
- I Slip Into My eBay Wedding Dress
- The Fellas Get “Sessay”
- He Got Boudoir, I Got Bling
- An Unplanned First Look
- Our Wedding Party”¦and Paparazzi
- Details Tell the Story
- Years of Waiting for This Moment (Ceremony Part: 1)
Next Up: We Snap a Few Family Portraits.
*All professional photos by Lindsi Jones Photography. The rest are by my sisters. Some images may have been slightly altered by moi.