We are gathered here, not to witness the beginning of what will be, but rather what already is! We do not create this marriage, because we cannot. We can and do, however, celebrate with Stephen and Lauryl the wondrous and joyful occurrence that has already taken place in their lives.

So let the celebration begin!

<processional>

The first portion of the ceremony today is an audience-participation read-along. If you know the words, please join in:

"Mawwiage.  Mawwiage is what bwings us togethaw today.  Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam..."

Thank you. We are gathered here to join this man and this woman in marriage, and in so doing join them and this child into a new family. Marriage is a relationship which embodies all the warm and precious values that grow out of human companionship and love. We enter it joyfully and in the knowledge that love is both our highest achievement and life's most precious gift. Love is one of the highest experiences that we human beings can have, and it can add depth of meaning to our lives. The sensual part of love is one of life's greatest joys, and when this is combined with real friendship both are infinitely enhanced. The day-to-day companionship - the pleasure in doing things together, or in doing separate things but in delighting to exchange experiences - is a continuous and central part of what two people who love each other can share.

Dad, Mom, you stand here representing the parents of both Lauryl and Stephen. As such you are not here to give the bride away but rather to be recognized not only as Lauryl's parents and a vital influence on her journey into adulthood, but also as an symbol of parental love and guidance which shapes us all into the people we are today. Are you ready to wish Lauryl and Stephen well on their new journey together?

<"Yes">

It is appropriate that you, family and friends, are here to participate in this wedding. The ideals, the understanding, and the mutual respect which these two bring to their marriage have roots in the love, friendship, and guidance, with which you have provided them.

I won't talk for too long, but there are some things I'd like to say before you all get to watch them kiss. First, I'd like to read a bit from "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibrant"

Then Almitra spoke again and said, And what of Marriage, master?
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be for evermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness.
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

There is an art to marriage as there is to any creative activity we human beings engage in. This art asks that we pay attention to the little things as well as the big ones that are part of the closeness of marriage. Here's some of those little things... feel free to take this list, set it to a techno block-rockin beat, and get fame and riches: Never grow to old to hold hands. At least once each day, remember to say "I love you." In so much as it is possible, develop the capacity to forgive and forget and heal quarrels as they happen so that you do not go to bed angry. Your courtship should not end with the honeymoon; so pay attention that you do not come to take each other for granted, and remember to speak words of appreciation and demonstrate your gratitude in thoughtful ways. It is important to have a mutual sense of values and common objectives so that you stand together as you work through the world and do things for each other, not as a duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. Do not expect perfection of each other, but do give each other room to grow and cultivate flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor in your relationship. And your marriage is not just for two people. Use it to form a circle of love that gathers in your families and friends. Find room for the things of the spirit and make your search for the good and the beautiful a common search. Make yours a relationship in which "the independence is equal, the dependence is mutual, and the obligation is reciprocal." Remember that standing together never means dissolving your individual selves into each other, but indeed means the strengthening of the individuality of each. A good marriage evolves when two distinct souls face life's joy and its sorrow in harmony, not in unison.

This list sounds very long and very heavy, yet it is only a small part of what is required of two people who would truly accept that making a marriage over the years is an artistic endeavor worthy of our best efforts. It is not just another relationship in our lives; it is the one that gives us courage and the support to reach out to other people in love and wholeness.

Marriage has certain qualities of contract, in which two people take on the housekeeping tasks of living, together, to enhance life's joy. However, marriage is more than a contract. Marriage is commitment to take that joy deep . . . deep in to the discovery of who you most truly are. And thus marriage is even deeper than commitment. It is a covenant, a covenant that says: I love you. I trust you. I will be here for you when you are hurting, and when I am hurting, I will not leave. It is a covenant intended not to provide haven from pain or from anger and sorrow. Life offers no such haven. Instead, marriage is intended to provide a sanctuary safe enough to risk loving, to risk living and sharing from the center of oneself. This is worth everything.

For the Literati in the crowd today, here's a few words on the subject from Shakespeare. His sonnet #116:

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:
Oh, no! It is an ever-fix'd 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 prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.
 

Lauryl and Stephen, you have invited us to witness the happiness that you have found in each other. Are you ready to make the pledges to which you commit yourselves to each other in love?

<"Yes">

Lauryl and Stephen, you have come to this celebration with an awareness that your marriage will have its rewards and its joys, as well as sorrows. Your lives will be intertwined with Castle's and it would be unrealistic to assume that the three of you will always live in harmony. However, as you have already established a strong foundation for a family life, you will be able to meet future challenges with humor, understanding and compassion. May you, by example, help your children to grow into self-reliant adults, and in turn, may you learn from them, fully appreciating their youthfulness

<Stephen's:

<My dearest Lauryl, whom I love and cherish,
< ideal of intelligence, beauty, and grace,
< I am deeply honored and enormously elated
< to take you as my wife, lover, friend,
< and my mate in the truest sense.
< Created for me to love and to love me in return.
< My finest hour is the day you first said I love you.
< I offer myself to you and Castle,
< who I am inordinately proud to call my son.
< I pledge before family and friends, earth and sky,
< to love and adore you as long as
< there is light in my eye and breath in my body,
< and I pray the Goddess smiles on our union.

<Lauryl's:

< My dearest Stephen, both amazing and bold,
< I stand here with you, my soul's found-keeping,
< to share with our friends and family
< that you are my friend, my lover,
< moondancer, and husband.
< Every cell of my body sings your name.
< I promise to you my fullest potential of love,
< my caress for your pain,
< and my touch for your pleasure.
< I offer you all that I have,
< all that I am,
< and all that I will be.
< Before all that is living and dead I promise to you
< that my love, adoration, and desire for you
< will never end.

The ring is a symbol of unity in which your lives are now joined in one unbroken circle. Your wedding rings declare that even in your uniqueness you have chosen to be together, to allow the presence of another human being to enhance who you are and who you will become. May your love have the strength and resilience of these rings which you have chosen to symbolize your love.

<Stephen: "I hope you wear this ring as a reminder that I love you every single day of your life.">

<Lauryl: "I hope you wear this ring as a reminder that I love you every single day of your life.">

Stephen and Lauryl, marriage is the joining of two people- the union of two hearts. It lives on the love you give each other and never grows old, but thrives on the joy of each new day. May you always have in your hearts the memory of this special day. May you always be able to talk things over, to confide in each other, to laugh with each other, to enjoy life together, and to share moments of quiet and peace, when the day is done. May you enjoy a lifetime of happiness.

I have one more bit af advice for you, this time from the verse of Ogden Nash:

To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you're wrong, admit it;
Whenever you're right, shut up.

Forasmuch as Stephen and Lauryl have grown in knowledge and love of one another, and because they have agreed in their desire to go forward in life together, seeking an even richer, deepening relationship, and because they have pledged to meet sorrow and joy as one family, we rejoice to recognize them as husband and wife.

<Smooch>