From The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

When he looked into her eyes, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke – the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. Because when you know the language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.

 

 

 

 

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Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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 have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love and of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in the terror of the ebb. We are afraid it will never return. 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 the 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 of life.

 

 

 

 

 

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To Love is Not to Possess by James Kavanaugh

To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one’s self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.
It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one’s self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another–and to one’s inner self.
Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon’s own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child’s scars
Or an adult’s deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are–and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

 

 

 

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Reading – from Once Upon A Time – A Happy Beginning

Tomorrow is uncertain. Who knows what it will bring.
But one thing is for sure love, with you I have everything.
And happily ever after is the way these stories go.
I used to think that’s what I wanted, but now I finally know.
There’s no storm we can’t out run.
We will always find the sun.
Leave the past and all its scars.
A happy beginning now is ours.

We celebrate all together a long time wish come true.
What makes it even better, today our story starts anew.
When villains cast their curses, we can overcome them all.
If we all stand strong together there’s no way we can fall.
We will face the endless night.
Take my hand and join the fight.
Past the clouds we’ll find the stars.
A happy beginning now is ours.

 

 

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Quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson once said:

“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.”

 

 

 

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Ceremony – God’s Knot – adapted by Arwen Freer

As we are told in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
SPOUSE2 and SPOUSE2, symbolizing this scripture, you will now be braiding a God’s Knot to represent your relationship. The Cord of Three Strands symbolizes the joining of the two of you by God into a marriage. Marriage takes three; the husband, the wife, and God. It was God who taught us to love. By keeping Him at the center of your relationship, His love will continue to bind you together as one throughout your marriage.  In braiding these strands together, you are committing to a unity not just between the two of you, but also with God, weaving Him into every aspect of your lives together. (Pause for braiding to complete)

And so the knot is tied.

 

OPTIONAL: This additional text can be added, if the traditional cord colors are used:

Gold Strand – Represents God

The divinity of God is represented in Gold. This covenant relationship is initiated by Him, will be built under His authority, and is intended to glorify Him.

Purple Strand – Represents the Groom

As a new creation in Christ, the majesty of the Groom is represented in purple. As the husband loves his wife and submits himself to the Lord, the Lord in turn will demonstrate His great love in the marriage.

White Strand – Represents the Bride

Having been cleansed by salvation in Christ, the purity of the Bride is represented in white. As the wife loves her husband and submits herself to the Lord, the Lord in turn will nurture and strengthen the marriage.

 

Ceremony – Wine Box – adapted by Arwen Freer

SPOUSE2 and SPOUSE1 have decided to dedicate a wine box today. They will be placing into the box a bottle of wine and love letters written to each other.  In the letters, which they have kept secret, they have described what made them fall in love with the other person and what makes them so special, why they chose to get married today, and what they hope for their future together.  They will be sealing this box and it will not be opened until their first anniversary.  When they open the box, they will share the bottle of wine and read the letters for the first time.  Then, and every following anniversary, they will renew the box with a new bottle of wine, and replace their original letters, so that every year they can be reminded of how they feel today.

Reading – Soft Mists Embrace Two Golden Flames by Harold Douglas

“Soft mists embrace two golden flames,
Alone they search the night.
Two souls adrift in dreams of love,
They seek to claim the light.
The path is long from which they came,
But sure they are it’s right.
Two flames embrace in dreams of love,
Two Souls – Two Hearts Unite.”

 

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Ceremony – Unity Candle – adapted by Arwen Freer

SPOUSE1 and SPOUSE2, you have chosen to symbolize your love by the lighting of a unity candle. Each of your separate candles represent the light of your being: your special talents, needs, visions and gifts, all that makes you who you are as an individual and what you bring to this union. As you join your flames to light the third candle, you celebrate the power of your separate lights to ignite a common flame of passion and commitment, and to come together as one, brighter and stronger than you were apart. From this day forward, may you bask in the beauty of the light of your love. May its light shine bright and steady upon your path together and may its heat keep you warm through all the days of your lives.

 

 

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Reading – Quote from The Gift by Daniel Ladinsky:

Note: This quote is often misattributed to Hafiz.  However, the author did not translate this poem from any Farsi writings of Hafiz.  Rather, Ladinsky says that Hafiz gave him these poems in a dream, in English, so he named his book of poetry “The Gift: Poems from Hafiz the great Sufi Master”.  Many have thought this meant Ladinsky was translating from Hafiz’s poetry, but this is not the case. Regardless, it is a beautiful quote. 

 

“Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth “you owe me”. Look at what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky.”

 

 

 

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Reading – LOVE by Roy Croft

I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.

I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can’t help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple;
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.

I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good,
And more than any fate
To make me happy.

You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.

 

 

 

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Ceremony – Plant Unity Ceremony with Children – adapted by Arwen Freer

Today is not just about a couple’s commitment to their marriage, but also the commitment of a whole family to support each other. Will the children please join us?

The family will be symbolizing their union by potting a plant together. A healthy family, like a healthy plant, depends on nurturing gardeners.

You must start with a foundation that allows for space and growth, so you begin with a layer of stones. While making a strong foundation, there is space between them to let extra water flow through and ensure your delicate plant does not drown. In your family, also remember that you will need to respect each other and give each other space to be yourselves.

Next you must nurture growth; so you will add a layer of soil. In your family, you have the foundation of love, respect, admiration and teamwork to nurture your bond.  This is the foundation where you will grow the roots of your family strong and deep.

Now that you have prepared your foundation, you can put your plant in this fertile ground, as you plant your family in this foundation of support and love.

Finally, we must remember that relationships require constant replenishment. As you water your plant for the first time, remember also to water your relationships with understanding, patience, support, and attention to each other’s needs.

As you look forward in your relationship, remember to be the constant gardener. Continue to water your plant, and remember to replenish your relationship with ongoing support.  Fertilize your plant, and give your relationship an occasional boots by trying and learning new things together.  Be sure your plant is getting enough light; keep honesty and open communication in your relationship every day.  Prune your plant; continue to better yourselves and your relationships, putting behind you anything that does not support their growth and strength.  With constant care, your family, like this plant, will grow and prosper.

 

 

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Ceremony – Plant Unity Ceremony – adapted by Arwen Freer

A healthy relationship, like a healthy plant depends on nurturing gardeners. The couple will be symbolizing their union by potting a plant together.

You must start with a foundation that allows for space and growth, so you begin with a layer of stones. While making a strong foundation, there is space between them to let extra water flow through and ensure your delicate plant does not drown. In your relationship, also remember that you will need to respect your partner and give them space to be themselves.

Next you must nurture growth; so you add a layer of soil. In your relationship, you have the foundation of love, respect, admiration and teamwork to nurture your bond.  This is the foundation where you will grow the roots of your relationship strong and deep.

Now that you have prepared your foundation, you can put your plant in this fertile ground, as you plant your relationship in this foundation of support and love.

Finally, we must remember that relationships require constant replenishment. As you water your plant for the first time, remember also to water your relationship with understanding, patience, support, and attention to each other’s needs.

As you look forward in your relationship, remember to be the constant gardener. Continue to water your plant, and remember to replenish your relationship with ongoing support.  Fertilize your plant, and give your relationship an occasional boots by trying and learning new things together.  Be sure your plant is getting enough light; keep honesty and open communication in your relationship every day.  Prune your plant; continue to better yourselves and your relationship, putting behind you anything that does not support its growth and strength.  With constant care, your marriage, like this plant will grow and prosper.

 

 

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Ceremony – Basic Ceremony Outline

Ceremonies can come in various formats, depending on the couple’s faith or preferences, but here is one example of a ceremony outline with the parts described, to give you an idea of what you might see.

OPENING

This includes a welcome of the guests (Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…)

It includes a few sentences to get the couple focused on each other (Name1 and Name2, today you proclaim your love to the world…).

If a family member will be asked for their blessing, this is also a part of the opening (Who gives their blessing to the marriage of this couple?).

DEVOTIONAL / READING / SONG

For a religious ceremony, this is where scriptures and prayers may be placed.

For non-religious ceremonies this area can contain readings and poems.

Readings can be delivered either by the officiant or other people designated by the couple.

This is also the place to put special songs or similar presentations.

DECLARATION OF INTENT

Typically, this is the “I do” part of the ceremony. The purpose is for the officiant to verify that both people consent and intend to be married to each other. While it can be worded a number of ways, this is the only part of the ceremony that is mandatory, besides the proclamation at the end.  You can follow this link to see an example of a Declaration of Intent that I use frequently.

EXCHANGE OF VOWS AND RINGS

This is where the couple exchanges vows, and it often includes an exchange of wedding rings that symbolize the vows.  Typically, the couple will repeat after the officiant for the lines of their vows, but couples may opt to read or say their own vows as well.  You can follow this link to see an example of Ring Exchange Vows that I use frequently.

UNITY CEREMONY / ADDITIONAL READING OR SONGS

If the couple wishes to include a unity ceremony to further symbolize their bond, it will be placed here.   There are hundreds of types of unity ceremonies, but some of the most common are: candle lighting, sand blending, handfasting, broom jumping, wine blending, oathing stone, planting, painting, coin and lasso, bread and honey or salt, etc.

Additional readings, scriptures or songs can also be added here.

CLOSING AND PROCLAIMATION

These are final words from the officiant to bring the ceremony to a close, and it typically ends with the couple kissing (By the powers vested in my, I now pronounce you…).

INTRODUCTION

In formal weddings, after the couple kisses, they will turn to face the audience, and the officiant will introduce them as a couple for the first time (Dearly Beloved, I am honored to present  M. and M. Name).  The audience stands and cheers and the couple starts the recession.

ANNOUNCEMENTS AND DISMISSALS

In formal weddings, after the wedding party members have all recessed from the front of the room, the officiant can be asked to deliver announcements (The couple would like to invite you to join them at [location] for appetizers; the reception hall will open for seating at 0:00pm).

The officiant may also be asked to dismiss the audience, starting with the family and honored guests up front, and then releasing rows one at a time to manage the exit of the crowd.

 

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Reading – From Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

“The future belongs to hearts even more than it does to minds. Love, that is the only thing that can occupy and fill eternity. In the infinite, the inexhaustible is requisite.
Love participates of the soul itself. It is of the same nature. Like it, it is the divine spark; like it, it is incorruptible, indivisible, imperishable. It is a point of fire that exists within us, which is immortal and infinite, which nothing can confine, and which nothing can extinguish. We feel it burning even to the very marrow of our bones, and we see it beaming in the very depths of heaven…
What a grand thing it is to be loved! What a far grander thing it is to love! The heart becomes heroic, by dint of passion. It is no longer composed of anything but what is pure; it no longer rests on anything that is not elevated and great. An unworthy thought can no more germinate in it, than a nettle on a glacier. The serene and lofty soul, inaccessible to vulgar passions and emotions, dominating the clouds and the shades of this world, its follies, its lies, its hatreds, its vanities, its miseries, inhabits the blue of heaven, and no longer feels anything but profound and subterranean shocks of destiny, as the crests of mountains feel the shocks of earthquake.
If there did not exist some one who loved, the sun would become extinct.”
 

 

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Reading – From Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

“Oh, what a love it was, utterly free, unique, like nothing else on earth! Their thoughts were like other people’s songs.
They loved each other, not driven by necessity, by the ‘blaze of passion’ often falsely ascribed to love. They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet. Perhaps their surrounding world, the strangers they met in the street, the wide expanses they saw on their walks, the rooms in which they lived or met, took more delight in their love than they themselves did.”
 

 

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Reading – Sonnet 116, by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

 

 

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Reading – Blessing For A Marriage, by James Dillet Freeman

May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding. May you always need one another — not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete. The valley does not make the mountain less, but more. And the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. 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 out encircle one another. May you succeed in all-important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces. 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 that 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.
 

 

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Reading – The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

“You were the one who taught me… I never looked at you without seeing the sweetness of the way the world goes together, or without sorrow for its spoiling. I became a hero to serve you, and all that is like you. Also to find some way of starting a conversation…
I would enter your sleep if I could, and guard you there, and slay the thing that hounds you, as I would if it had the courage to face me in fair daylight. But I cannot come in unless you dream of me… I love whom I love.”

 

 

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Reading – Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

“People are like cities: We all have alleys and gardens and secret rooftops and places where daisies sprout between the sidewalk cracks, but most of the time all we let each other see is a postcard glimpse of a skyline or a polished square. Love lets you find those hidden places in another person, even the ones they didn’t know were there, even the ones they wouldn’t have thought to call beautiful themselves.”

 

 

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Reading – I Will Be Here, by Steven Curtis Chapman

If in the morning when you wake,
If the sun does not appear,
I will be here.
If in the dark we lose sight of love,
Hold my hand and have no fear,
I will be here.
I will be here,
When you feel like being quiet,
When you need to speak your mind I will listen.
Through the winning, losing, and trying we’ll be together,
And I will be here.
If in the morning when you wake,
If the future is unclear,
I will be here.
As sure as seasons were made for change,
Our lifetimes were made for years,
I will be here.
I will be here,
And you can cry on my shoulder,
When the mirror tells us we’re older.
I will hold you, to watch you grow in beauty,
And tell you all the things you are to me.
We’ll be together and I will be here.
I will be true to the promises I’ve made,
To you and to the one who gave you to me.
I will be here.

 

 

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Reading – From The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry Fames

“It has made me better loving you… it has made me wiser, and easier, and – I won’t pretend to deny – brighter and nicer and even stronger. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I didn’t have them. Theoretically I was satisfied, as I once told you. I flattered myself I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid, sterile, hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better.”
 

 

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Reading – Why Marriage, by Dena Acolatse

Because to the depths of me, I long to love one person,
With all my heart, my soul, my mind, my body…
Because I need a forever friend to trust with the intimacies of me,
Who won’t hold them against me,
Who loves me when I’m unlikable,
Who sees the small child in me, and
Who looks for the divine potential of me…
Because I need to cuddle in the warmth of the night
With someone who thanks God for me,
With someone I feel blessed to hold…
Because marriage means opportunity
To grow in love, in friendship…
Because marriage is a discipline
To be added to a list of achievements…
Because marriages do not fail, people fail
When they enter into marriage
Expecting another to make them whole…
Because, knowing this,
I promise myself to take full responsibility
For my spiritual, mental and physical wholeness
I create me,
I take half of the responsibility for my marriage
Together we create our marriage…
Because with this understanding
The possibilities are limitless.

 

 

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Reading – From Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis De Bernieres

“Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being in love which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. …we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.”

 

 

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