June 28, 2020
Five years ago today I officiated my first wedding. My philosophy is the wedding is 10%; and the marriage is 90+%. I understand that marriage is an act of faith and requires much tending.
I was honored my friend and her partner gave me the honor of officiating their wedding. I’d known her from afar and watched her journey. She had dated and did not find the right partner. Knowing she wanted to have a family, she chose to build her family through adoption on her own. I remember watching the beginning of her and her son’s journey. Along the way, the right partner appeared. He had a daughter from his previous relationship. And along the way, she referred me to work at the same hospice agency she worked at, and I got the job. Thus getting to know her better and joyously being asked to officiate the wedding.
We met to do our initial meeting so I might learn more about what they hoped for on their wedding day. I asked them to bring the kids. We met at my winery for dinner and adult beverages for the adults. And Dad’s root-beer by the bottle for the kids. The bottle caps were fascinating for the young boy and he asked if he could take them home. I invited the couple to share their hopes and dreams for the wedding day; and then I invited the kids to share their thoughts.
What I love about being a Celebrant is putting the pieces together for the unique, authentic celebration. For this puzzle, my task was how to incorporate the kids, while still making the wedding about the marriage between the couple.
I truly believe couples have to focus on their relationship if they are going to be a team to lead a family. As couples have children, often the advice given is “make sure you make time for date night.”. From experience, I can vouch for the importance of “date night”, however your family is formed… whether family built together, or blended family; or even being a family as a couple choosing not to have children. It is important to keep tending to the relationship!
After our meeting, I started ruminating on our conversations and drafting a service. I proposed a few ideas on how to symbolize the merger of the families; while still holding the wedding vows between just the couple. After sending a few ideas and drafts, the couple approved of the pieces they liked. I had offered a suggestion of having a container to hold special treasures from nature that the couple and each of their children had gathered as they made their way toward the commitment of marriage. And to have a container large enough to have space for the ongoing journey.
The weekend of the wedding, close family on both sides gathered in Pismo Beach. They were all together in rented condos. There were walks on the beach and lots of shared meals and love.
I asked the couple and their kids to bring items they had already collected from camping and hiking and times together in their container for the wedding. The son wanted to put the Dad’s root-beer bottle caps in the jar. There were other items, like rocks and shells. During the beach time before the wedding, the couple and their children took walks and collected shells that would go in their container. The day of the wedding, we had a special part of the service with the kids, where they added the shells, and had family vows with each of the adults making a commitment to love the other child, and be family.
We then had the main vows between the couple. It had been a long journey to get to the point of getting married. The joy of that day by the sparkling Pacific Ocean stays with me; and the joy of each of the couple ending their vows with an exuberant, “Finally AND Forever”!
Today I called them with Happy Anniversary wishes. They had planned to renew their vows this year and had asked me to return with them and their loved ones to do so. Due to COVID-19, that was not possible. So instead I caught the lovebirds watching a movie, after he had put new shocks on her vehicle in the morning. Both kids were in their bedrooms doing their thing. Eventually the son came out. He, his mom and I talked on Messenger so we could see each other. I learned all about effects and eventually we were laughing as we tried different effects on our faces; like unicorns or blobs or pizza face. They then walked me into the daughter’s room to say hello. The kids have grown so much in the last five years. The couple has grown a lot in the last five years. I love watching this marriage and this family grow and thrive. It is in the ordinary that we find extraordinary. The 90+% seems to be working really well. That’s on them… I just got the honor of sealing the deal; and watching it flourish.
To marriage and anniversaries and this lovey couple, and the whole family… blessed be the ties that bind!
May it be so…