It was important to us that the wedding ceremony be a participatory, inclusive event. We briefly considered (more than once, actually) just going to City Hall (especially when the planning got overwhelming, as it inevitably does). Ultimately, though, we decided that getting married was about making a public commitment, recognizing our embeddedness in our community of family and friends.
And if our peeps were going to be there, I wanted them to be involved. Not in the designing invitations and baking cakes and arranging flowers sort of way -- our people are more cerebral than crafty, for the most part -- but through participation in the ceremony.
We had seen our friends Data Monkey and Mountain Man pass their rings through their assembled guests to be blessed by each pair of hands. On a sandy beach, though, that didn't seem like such a good idea.
Next we considered asking our guests to bring some small thing that they could add to a larger collective, as a representation of our community, during the ceremony. Some weddings have incorporated water or sand from different parts of the country to represent the families joining together.
Ultimately, we linked this idea to the guest book, a coffee table book of photos of some of our favorite places.
We asked everyone to bring a rock or some other non-decomposing natural object, which we collected together in a glass vase that now lives on our mantle. We requested:
Rock CeremonyTo involve many voices in the ceremony, I was campaigning for a Quaker-style ceremony, in which people could simply speak when and if they felt moved to do so. Unsure that people would really speak up, Eric wanted a bit more structure.
Please bring a rock or other dry and relatively inert bit of nature, such as a shell or small piece of driftwood, to add to the glass vase symbolizing our community. We would like to collect a bit of nature contributed by each person or family that attends the ceremony as a tangible reminder of all those who joined with us for our special day.
We will collect the rocks in a glass vase next to the Guest Book, and invite you to tell us something about your rock in your Guest Book message.
We compromised by asking eight friends and family members to read relevant passages of their choice, AND informing our guests that the ceremony would include open time in which anyone who wished to speak could do so.
So that guests could prepare, we wrote on our wedding website:
Quaker Moments during the CeremonyThis worked out amazingly well. A number of friends and family members offered comments, reflections, and tributes that were both funny, touching and heartfelt.
During the Ceremony, the Officiant will open the floor (sand!) for anyone who is moved to speak to do so, in the manner of a Quaker meeting. We welcome your thoughts and wishes during this part of the Ceremony.
Sadly, I remember almost nothing of what was said! I was so caught up in the emotion and sensations - the warm sun, soft sand, rhythmic waves - that few of the words of the day stuck with me.
I do remember Mountain Man saying that he had recently married an only child - as Eric is - so he and I should talk about how to handle being married to an Only.
At the end of the ceremony, my mom offered a blessing on our marriage.
Photos from Rob.