The following basic ceremony can be used in a number of ways. Some couples use it word-for-word, exactly as it is written, while others use it as a template, sort of a jumping-off point to inspire their own original ideas and wording. Others choose to write their own ceremonies completely from scratch.
Most couples like to begin with this basic ceremony and customize it to meet their specific needs. There are no rules. Feel free to copy this one and play with it. Be creative. Use your imagination, and most of all, have fun!
Although Humanist ceremonies do not invoke any god or deity, I'm always happy to include cultural references or ceremonial symbols if they have personal significance for the couple. For example, a wedding might include an *Apache Wedding Chant, a *Celtic handfasting ritual, or a wine glass breaking from the Jewish tradition.
(Approximately 10-15 minutes in length)
Good evening, and welcome to the ceremony that will unite Erik and Lynn in marriage.
We gather here today to celebrate their union, and to honor their commitment
to not just gazing at one another, but to looking outward together in the same direction.
Today Erik and Lynn proclaim their love to the world, and we rejoice with and for them.
In marriage, we give ourselves freely and generously into the hands of the one we love, and in doing so, each of us receives the love and trust of the other as our most precious gift. But even as that gift is shared by two people who are in love, it also touches the friends and family members who in various ways support and contribute to the relationship. All of you are Erik and Lynnís community, and each of you has played some part in bringing them to this moment. This is why gathering as a community is such an important part of a wedding ceremony. Because Erik and Lynn are now taking a new form as a married couple, and in this form, they become part of their community in a new way.
(NOTE: If you want to insert something personal, such as a favorite poem or song, a statement made to one another or to your family, a rose ceremony,, a unity candle, or anything else "theatrical,"this is the spot for it).
Erik and Lynn, we are here to remember and rejoice with you
and to recount with one another that it is love that guides us on our path,
and to celebrate as you begin this journey together
It is in this spirit that you have come here to today to exchange these vows.
Erik, repeat after me:
I Erik take you Lynn to be my wife / I promise above all else to live in truth with you/
and to communicate fully and fearlessly/
I give you my hand and my heart / as a sanctuary of warmth and peace/
and pledge my love, devotion, faith and honor/as I join my life to yours.
(REPEAT SAME FOR LYNN, OR MODIFY IF YOU WISH)
For thousands of years lovers have exchanged rings as a token of their vows.
These simple gold bands are not of great value in themselves,
but are made precious by our wearing of them.
Your rings say that even in your uniqueness you have chosen to be bound together.
Let these rings also be a sign that love has substance as well as soul,
a present as well as a past, and that, despite its occasional sorrows,
love is a circle of happiness, wonder, and delight.
Erik, take Lynn's ring and put it on her finger, and repeat after me:
Just as this circle is without end, my love for you is eternal/
Just as it is made of indestructible substance/ my commitment to you will never fail/
With this ring I take you to be my trusted confidante and partner for life.
(REPEAT SAME FOR LYNN, OR MODIFY IF YOU WISH)
Erik and Lynn, although I'm officiating here today,
it is not truly in my power to sanctify, legitimize or bless your relationship in any way,
because the two of you have already done that in your hearts.
So, by joining hands right now and looking into each other's eyes,
let it be known that you are joined, body and soul in this lifetime,
and that this bond is sacred and eternal.
And now that you have stood before me and exchanged these rings and these vows,
and have agreed to be married according to the laws of the state of California,
it gives me gives me great pleasure to pronounce that you are Husband and Wife.
copyright 1998 by Terri Mandell
HANDFASTING is an ancient Celtic wedding ritual in which the couples' hands are tied together with a ceremonial ribbon or cloth (if you saw the movie BRAVEHEART you might remember the scene where they were married in the forest. The priest wrapped their hands in a strip of cloth, his family's tartan). It's often done in modern times with a beautiful ribbon the couple chooses. One couple I married actually had Celtic origins, and had a special tartan cloth woven for them that incorporated the plaids of both their clans. It's tied in a bow with an opening loose enough so that the hands can come out freely, or simply draped across the hands. The couple saves the ribbon or cloth as a keepsake.. Here are some words that can be said with handfasting:
"Erik and Lynn, as your hands are bound together now,
so your lives and spirits are joined in a union of love and trust.
Above you are the stars and below you is the earth.
Like the stars your love should be a constant source of light,
and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow."
(click here to see a more detailed version of a
*THE APACHE WEDDING CHANT is a beautiful option for closing a ceremony (and can be combined with a handfasting)
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth for the other.
Now you are two persons, but there is only one life inside you.
Go now to your dwelling to enter the days of your life together.
And may your days be good, and long upon the earth.
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