By Shane Denu*
“Friends and Family- We are gathered to witness and celebrate the union of —and — in marriage. Today they join us as two individuals committed to joining each other, blending their lives, expanding their family ties and leaving on the greatest of adventures. The story is theirs to write. All present friends and family, you are here as a commitment to witness, celebrate and support — and — as they take the first steps of their life together.
“As noted by the French novelist George Sand: There is only one happiness in life; to love and be loved.
“Marriage is in many ways a simplification of life, and it naturally combines the strengths and wills of two people so that, together, they seem to reach farther into the future than they did before. Above all, marriage is a new task and a new seriousness, – a new demand on the strength and generosity of each partner, and a great new path for both.
“The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of their solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust.
“To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take…If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation…It takes a lifetime to learn another person…When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.
“True marriage begins well before the wedding day, and the efforts of marriage continue well beyond the ceremony’s end. No other human ties are more tender and no other vows more important than those you are about to take.”
“I ______ promise you _______ that I will be your _______ from this day forward, to be faithful and honest in every way, to honor the faith that you place in me, to love and respect you in success and failure, to make you laugh and be there when you cry, to care for you in sickness and in health, to be your companion and your friend for all the days of our journey.”
“You have for each other symbolic rings of a love that is the most precious element in your life together. The ring has no beginning and no end symbolizing the unending love between you. You place these rings upon each others fingers as a visible sign of your vows today.
With this ring, I thee wed.”
“And now by the power vested in me, I hereby pronounce you husband and wife. —, you may now kiss the bride.
“Family and friends, it is with great pleasure that I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. — and — —“
* Originally written for the marriage of Todd Clevenger and Michelle Railey, 2016.