After getting married, the wedding ceremony, to me, is now the most special and important part of any wedding day... even if they can be long, hot/cold, and painful (standing in heels on marble ring a bell for anyone else?).
And though I was raised Catholic (wha'd up, Catholic guilt!) and Bry Episcopalian, we knew that we wanted to be married by our most spiritual friend... and it just so happened that we met in his front yard on Capitol Hill.
Our awesome friend went above and beyond in putting meaning into the ceremony. He researched different religions' traditions and vows, and we ended up feeling a meaningful connection to the Buddhist ceremony.... it's surprisingly similar to what you'd expect with a traditional Christian wedding. Here's one of our promises...
Man... that says it all, does it not?
For the reading, I asked one of my closest friends to select something that reminded her of us. She picked "Union" by Robert Fulghum. I get teary-eyed every time I read it... and while there was a lot of laughter during the ceremony, this led to a watershed of happy tears. One line I really connected to is the following...
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.”
Another element of the ceremony that I really wanted to personalize was the music. Because when you think wedding, you think David Bowie, right?
Well, as a massive David Bowie fan, I wanted to have my wedding party strut on down the aisle to "Modern Love." And for my bridal processional, "Absolute Beginners" was the perfect song for me... and for us. If you're not familiar with this Bowie song... check it out. It's a really touching love song.
Once we were proclaimed Husband and Wife, Mumford & Sons started blaring with "Sigh No More."
We absolutely love the song and it reminds us both of our amazing trip to Ireland the week following our engagement. It was the only CD we had in the rental car, and we totally sang our hearts out to every song as we traveled through the country.
I'll be honest... I worried a little bit about our ceremony being too non-traditional (we handed out cocktails as people entered the ceremony space... it was a celebration, after all!). But then I thought about what the ceremony was supposed to be about - US - and our ceremony was a complete reflection of who we are as a couple.
I know that everyone isn't able to/doesn't want to be free of traditions to build their own. Family histories or religious requirements are extremely important, but even in a traditional ceremony don't be afraid to make it your own.
Add a special element that is sacred to you and your husband. Surprise your guests with an unexpected reading or song. Be who you are and take the time to know the person marrying you. Read your vows and believe in them... really think about what you are promising to each other.
In remembering our wedding day, our ceremony stands out as my favorite moment... and I'll be the first to admit that prior to experiencing it for myself, I thought other brides were full of it when they said the exact same thing.
I will never forget those feelings of happiness/love/excitement/anxiety/joy/elation that we shared with our guests. It was very special. Something that merited an amazing party to celebrate.
All photos by Tec Petaja.