Own Wedding Ceremony
I compiled the wedding ceremony myself, most of the words and ceremonies are recycled from sources such as the Ultimate Wedding Website (www.ultimatewedding.com), library books (wish I'd kept track of which ones!), and ceremonies posted to the LiveJournal community "weddingplans". The exception is the ring ceremony which I wrote entirely myself. The rose petal circle is also my own creation, though the words accompaning it are taken from elsewhere. Ellen also wrote her own introduction to the reading I picked out for her. However, while little of the ceremony is truly original, we carefully chose things we agreed with and that would have meaning to us. We aren't religious and didn't want a religious ceremony, but neither of us had ever been to a non-religious wedding before... so this was a challenging project.

Processional and Candle Ceremony

[Sarah begins playing "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" by Bach, her long-time boyfriend turns pages.]

Officiant walks up the center ailse carrying the unlit unity candle and places it on the table. The unity candle started on the table, the Officiant carried her book of notes.

Wedding party walked in pairs up the center aisle:
Mary.s attendants: Becca, Ariel, Kim (Matron of Honor)
Josh.s attendants: Micah, Alex, Nick (Best Man)

Each member of the wedding party carries a lit candle that is placed on the table around the unlit unity candle, then they line up in front of the stage.

Bride and Groom with parents walk in at the same time:
Joshua escorted by Peggy and Paul up the right aisle.
Mary escorted by Susan and Joe up the left aisle.

Joshua and Mary each carry an unlit candle. Each parent carries a lit candle.

Peggy and Paul light Joshua.s candle and Susan and Joe light Mary.s candle near the stage. The parents place their candles on the table. Mary and Josh hand off their candles to attendants.

Mary and Josh hug their own parents, then light the unity candle together and add their lit tapers to the table. Finally they walk together up onto the stage.

The unity candle is so common these days that I would prefer no explanation and let this ceremony speak for itself.

Introduction and Welcome

Officiant: We are gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of Mary Elizabeth Peter and Joshua George Middendorf. We come together not to mark the start of a relationship, but to recognize a bond that already exists. This ceremony is a public affirmation before family and friends of their love and commitment for one another.

[I invited the officiant to extend this introduction as appropriate. She told us during our initial meeting that she really only had one thing to add--she told us to always kiss each other goodnight, no matter what. Even if we were going to get divorced in the morning, she instructed us to always kiss each other goodnight anyway. I thought she was going to work that into the ceremony somewhere, but she didn't.]

Making the Ritual Space

Officiant: You have come here from two separate walks of life, each a whole and complete human being. The coming together of two individuals is part of the cycle of growth and the creating and re-creating of boundaries. In addition to the old boundaries, which have defined your individuality, today we recognize the new joint boundary within the circle of your love for each other, and also within the larger circle of the love of your family and friends.

[Kim and Nick create a circle of rose petals around Joshua and Mary.]

Officiant: It is from within this space that you can be joined in marriage. When you leave today, you will bring that space with you as you walk your path together, hand in hand, and side by side, chins up and faces forward as you take on the world together.


Ellen: The sweetest gift life brings us is the grace of being connected to others by love. Love comes to us with many faces - there is love for our parents, our siblings, our children; love for our many friends; and there is that mysterious love of all creation that now and then wells up in our hearts and fills our lives with deepest meaning. Of all the faces of love, perhaps the most fulfilling is the bond of marriage. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, in Gift from the Sea, describes it so:

"For marriage, which is often spoken of as a bond, becomes actually many bonds, many strands, of different textures and strengths, making up a web that is taut and firm.

The web is fashioned by many kinds of love; romantic love at first, then a slow-growing devotion and, playing through these, a constant rippling companionship.

It is made of loyalties, and inter-dependencies and shared experiences. It is woven of memories of meeting and conflicts; of triumphs and disappointments.

It is a web of communication, a common language, and the acceptance of lack of language, too; a knowledge of likes and dislikes, of habits and reactions, both physical and mental.

It is a web of instincts, and intuitions, and known and unknown exchanges. The web of marriage is made of nearness, in the day-to-day living side by side, looking in the same direction."

Exchange of Vows

Officiant: Do you now commit to each other to love, honor, respect each other, to communicate openly with each other, to look to your own emotional health so that you can relate in a healthy way, and provide a healthy home for children  if  when you choose to have them; to be a support and comfort for your partner in times of hardship and of ease?

Together: We do.

Officiant: Joshua, please repeat after me.

Joshua [repeating]: I join my life to yours, Mary, not merely as your husband,
but as your friend, your lover, and your confidant.
Let me be the shoulder you lean on,
the rock on which you rest,
the companion of your life.
I choose you for richer or for poorer,
in sickness or in health,
in joy and in sorrow,
and when we are together or apart,
to love and to cherish
today and for all of our tomorrows.

Officiant: Mary, please repeat after me.

Mary [repeating]: I join my life to yours, Joshua, not merely as your wife,
but as your friend, your lover, and your confidant.
Let me be the shoulder you lean on,
the rock on which you rest,
the companion of your life.
I choose you for richer or for poorer,
in sickness or in health,
in joy and in sorrow,
and when we are together or apart,
to love and to cherish
today and for all of our tomorrows.

Morning has Broken

[Sarah plays the piano and everybody sings along.]

[Josh, Mary, Nick, Kim, and Kathy sign the marriage scroll.]

As sung at Joe and Susan's wedding on May 14, 1977
and Kim and Damon's wedding on June 17, 1995.

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning
Born of the one light, Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise every morning
God's re-creation of the new day

Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

Ring Ceremony

Josh [Reading to Guests]:

The traditional wedding ring is a circle. It is round like the sun, and the arms that embrace. It is without beginning, middle, or end to symbolize never ending love and unity. This describes only a part of what our rings are.

We started making these rings over two years ago when we first promised each other we'd marry. It took us almost two years to finally complete them. They required many attempts and much patience to complete, as well as compromises over the design. Along the way, we were discouraged many times and needed much support and encouragement to continue. Eventually, we also needed to seek the help of a trained jeweler to close the circle.

The rings were woven together out of seven strands of gold, as our lives have been woven together and will continue to be woven together. They contain slight imperfections and asymmetries, just as our lives and our love sometimes contain slight imperfections and asymmetries. They do contain both beginnings and ends, joined together to symbolize the cycle of continual renewal and rebirth in love and in life.

Josh [to Mary]: Let us wear them always as a reminder that love sometimes requires much patience and perseverance, but the results are beautiful and well worth the effort.

Mary [to Josh]: Let us always remember that the only way to achieve a truly unending love will be through the constant renewal of our love for each other.

Together [to each other]: Let us work on our love for each other so it may grow ever stronger for as long as we both shall live.

[A pause for Mary and Josh to put on their rings and squeeze each other.s hands.]

Officiant: I now pronounce you man and wife.

Rose Ceremony

[Mary and Josh each retrieve a single red rose from Kim and Nick.]


You have just shared your rings with each other, but those were a gift you shared even before your marriage. For your first gift as husband and wife, that gift will be a single rose. In the past, the rose was considered a symbol of love and a single red rose always meant only one thing--it meant the words "I love you." So it is appropriate that for your first gift--as husband and wife--that gift would be a single rose.

Please exchange your first gift as husband and wife.

[Mary and Josh exchange roses.]

In some ways it seems like you have not done anything at all. Just a moment ago you were holding one small rose--and now you are holding one small rose. In some ways, a marriage ceremony is like this. In some ways, tomorrow is going to seem no different than yesterday. But in fact today, just now, you both have given and received one of the most valuable and precious gifts of life--one I hope you always remember--the gift of love within the devotion of marriage.

Joshua and Mary, I would ask that where ever you make your home in the future that you pick together one very special location for roses; so that on each anniversary of this truly wonderful occasion you both may take a rose to that spot both as a recommitment to your marriage.and a recommitment that this will be a marriage based upon love.

In every marriage there are times where it is difficult to find the right words. It is easiest to hurt who we most love. It is easiest to be most hurt by who we most love. It might be difficult some time to words to say "I am sorry" or "I forgive you"; "I need you" or "I am hurting". If this should happen, if you simply can not find these words, leave a rose at that spot which both of you have selected.for that rose than says what matters most of all and should overpower all other things and all other words.

That rose says the words: "I still love you." The other should accept this rose for the words which can not be found, and remember the love and hope that you both share today.

Joshua and Mary, if there is anything you remember of this marriage ceremony, it is that it was love that brought you here today, it is only love which can make it a glorious union, and it is by love which your marriage shall endure."

Rainbow Connection

[Sarah plays the piano and everybody sings. This one is "our song."]

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it,
And look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

All of us under its spell,
We know that it's probably magic

Have you been half asleep? And have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same
I've heard it too many times to ignore it
It's something that I'm s'posed to be...
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me.

Laa, da daa dee da daa daa,
La laa la la laa dee daa doo...

Closing, Pronouncement and Kiss

Officiant: Family and friends, this is a moment of celebration. Let it also be a moment of dedication. The world does a good job of reminding us of how fragile we are. Individuals are fragile; relationships are fragile too. Every marriage needs the love and support of friends and family. This day I ask you not only to be friends of Mary or Joshua, but friends of Mary AND Joshua together.

Officiant: It is now my great pleasure to introduce to you for the first time Mary and Joshua Peter Middendorf. [I know it's weird to list me first, but we're both changing our names--his will be our last name and mine will be a second middle name--this seems to be the only clear way to phrase it.]

Officiant: You may kiss each other.

[Mary and Josh look expectantly at Kathy as the recessional music starts.]

Officiant: Kiss! Kiss!


[Sarah plays "The Throne Room" by John Williams. This is the song from the end of the original Star Wars where Han and Luke get their metals for defeating the first Death Star.]

During the minor section of "The Throne Room", Mary and Josh circulated around to their parents and the wedding party, giving everyone a hug. As the chords leading up to the major part of the piece begin, Mary and Josh walk back up the center aisle followed by parents and attendants.