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Sample Ceremony - John & Amy (Custom Message)

Friends and family, what a joy it is to welcome you here, for we have come to celebrate the miracle of love and to witness the union of this man and this woman into the bond of Matrimony. JOHN and AMY, every experience you have ever had, everything you have ever done, and every twist and turn in life has miraculously brought you to this very moment as you now stand before these witnesses to take each other as husband and wife.

Charge to the Bride & Groom
I ask you both to remember that love and loyalty alone will stand as the foundations of a happy and enduring home. If the vows you make today are kept, your life together will be full of joy and peace, and the home which you make shall thrive through whatever the future may hold. In this new life together, I encourage you to always remember the thrill of your early love. Cherish the visions and hopes you have on this day, and do not let them be tarnished by common events or routine habit. I ask you both to make your love for each other a growing part of your lives, nurturing it every day in every way possible. But, it is also necessary to recognize that marriage is a relationship of two people, neither of whom are always at their best. During these hard and trying times, I implore you to always act with charity, understanding, and compassion toward one another. And finally, I ask you both to remember this day as the most important day in your lives--as the day in which you promised, before these witnesses and each other, that you will love each other no matter what for all the days of your lives.

Let us pray. Lord, we ask that you bless the marriage of JOHN and AMY.
When there is injury, help them find comfort
When there is discord, help them find harmony
When there is doubt, help them find faith
When there is despair, help them find hope
When there is darkness, help them find light
When there is sadness, help them find joy
Show them that it is only in giving that they will receive
It is only in forgiving that they are forgiven
and It is only in dying that they are born to eternal life.
We ask this not just for JOHN and AMY but for all of us here today as well as those not here that we now name in our hearts. [pause] We ask that you and those that have gone before watch over them and be with them for all the days of their lives.
In your name we pray, AMEN.

JOHN and AMY, the two of you are about to become husband and wife. You are about to pledge everything you have and everything you are to each other. This is not a commitment that either of you should take lightly. The vows you are about to take do not come with an asterisk or fine print that says “unless I change my mind” or “unless I’m having a bad day” or “until it becomes too difficult.” The promises you are about to make to each other must be honored every moment of every day for the rest of your lives. But…these promises come with the greatest reward you could possibly imagine - true and honest love.
Optional Reading 1
Margo would like to share a few words regarding the Art of Marriage

Message to the Bride & Groom
Weddings are incredibly wonderful and absolutely amazing things. Stop and think about it for a moment – how many things had to go exactly right in this world just for the two of you to meet? And then how many more things had to go right since that first moment you saw each other to bring the two of you to where you now stand today, ready to take each other as husband and wife?

When your relationship began, it wasn’t exactly easy – you were separated by almost a hundred miles and years driving back and forth between Milwaukee and Madison just to be able to see each other. As you got to know each other you began to see how the both of you just ‘fit’ with the other.

As time went on, you began to forget about what life was like before you met and it just seemed to be a foregone conclusion that you would be together for the rest of your lives. It was just ‘assumed’ as you began talking about the things you would do after you were married without ever really talking about getting married.

John’s family, on the other hand, WAS talking about the two of you getting married. They saw how perfect this odd match was and they knew that it was simply destined to be. In fact, they were the ones that had already chosen 9/10/11 as your date (and did their best to make sure the two of you made that date).

After John finally realized what the rest of his family already knew, he decided it was time to pop the question. He put a lot of thought into it and did a lot of work to make it perfect. For those of you that don’t know, he actually placed Amy’s ring inside a bag, placed the bag inside a gem filled treasure chest, wrapped the chest in cloth and then found the perfect hiding place for it in the hollow of a fallen tree along the riverbank. It had all the makings of a ‘made for TV’ Lifetime movie type moment…but it all hinged on Amy.

He suggested that they take the dog for a walk along the river bank – but she didn’t want to because it was too muddy. He insisted…and she was none to pleased with him for insisting that they walk down the path. As they neared the tree, the dog began sniffing around tree (that was about the only thing that went according to plan). He wondered aloud what the dog was doing and went over to the tree to ‘investigate’.

He then pulled out the cloth-wrapped and dirt-covered treasure chest and Amy promptly yelled at him to put it back. She thought for sure it was a severed head. But despite her protest, he kept going – he slowly brushed the dirt off and began unwrapping the cloth and she continued to yell at him to put it back – she was sure it belonged to someone else and that person would see them messing with his stuff.

He was able to work through Amy’s instance that he simply put it back and leave it alone and managed to find the ring he had so carefully placed there. At this point most women would begin to tear up or give the man a hug or even begin to giggle. Not Amy. Her first response was ‘you GEEK’! But then he asked and she said yes.

Marriage is a lot like that. No matter how much you plan and how much work you do, you can never truly control what happens next and you can never truly control what life sends your way. There will be bumps in the road and wrenches in the gears throughout your lives together. But as long as you’re together, it will all work out in the end.

Every time a couple comes to me and asks me to marry them I ask them one simple question: “Why do you want to get married?” Almost every couple I’ve ever asked has answered my question the same way – “because we’re in love.” I then ask “But what happens when you’re no longer in love?” More often than not, they just stare at me blankly.

I invite you to ask any couple here today if they’re still in love. Most will answer that they are. But if you ask them if they’ve been in love every minute of every day that they’ve been together, I guarantee you that they will tell you there have been days that they haven’t been in love.

There is a difference between being IN LOVE, which the two of you are right now, and what TRUE love actually is. Being IN LOVE is incredible – it’s your heart skipping a beat when you catch a glimpse of each other from across the room, it’s the anticipation you feel the moment before you kiss, and it’s the longing you feel when the other isn’t around. It’s the longing and desire kind of love.

If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you’ve most likely heard the minister read the passage from First Corinthians chapter 13 which says that “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

This passage was originally written to the Greeks in the Greek language. The Greek language actually has four words for love. One means sacrificial love, one means passion, one means friendship, and one means fondness. The love that this passage refers to is not the “IN LOVE” passion kind or even the “friendship” or “affection” kind; it is the sacrificial kind.

It may be hard to imagine today, but there will days when you will not be IN LOVE. Some of those days will be easy – just those gloomy, cloudy, rainy kind of days. Other days will be harder – the lightning flashing, thunder crackling, river rising kind of days. There will be days when you feel so frustrated and angry with the other that you feel like simply giving up. There will be days you feel so hurt by the other that it feels as if your heart will tear in two. There will be days you feel so guilty for something you’ve done that you don’t feel worthy of being loved by the other. During these times, it is the sacrificial kind of love that will see you through. Let’s look a little deeper into that passage.

Love is patient. It is choosing to endure what we do not want to endure for the good of the other. It is taking the full brunt of all the frustration and anger that has built up in the other; it is giving the other space and time when it is needed, and it is doing these things without even a single word in defense or in response.

Love is kind. It is seeing the other at their very worst and not passing judgment. It is not saying “I told you so.”

It does not envy. It is celebrating the good that comes to the other instead of begrudging them because it did not come to us.

It does not boast. It is not blowing our own horn or singing our own praise. It is being so completely enthralled by the other that we would rather listen to and learn about them and their day than share about ourselves.

It is not proud. It is not saying to the other ‘look how much I love you; I’ve done all of these things for you today. I’ve taken out the trash, I’ve mowed the lawn, I’ve vacuumed the carpet, I’ve done the dishes, I’ve folded the laundry, and I’ve cleaned the bathrooms because I love you.” It is doing those things quietly without wanting recognition because they will make the other happy.

It does not dishonor others. It is not building yourself up by tearing the other down. It is not sharing with your friends the shortcomings of the other no matter how funny they may be.

It is not self seeking. It is serving the needs of the other before serving the needs of your own self. It is remembering to say “yes, dear” instead of “but honey.”

It is not easily angered. It is understanding that what is said and what is done is not always what is meant. It is knowing that the other is human – mistakes are made.

It keeps no records of wrongs. This, of course, one only applies to the husband – wives will keep a record for the duration of the marriage.

It always protects. It is creating a safe environment for the other; an environment in which each can be himself or herself openly and freely.

It always trusts. It is knowing that the other will love us no matter what we do or what we say.

It always perseveres. If both of you do all of these things, your love will see you through those times when you’re not IN LOVE.

JOHN and AMY, please turn and face each other and take the other’s hands in yours. Look down at the hands you are now holding. These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever. These are the hands that will work alongside yours as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief temporarily comes your way. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy. These are the hands that will give you support and encouragement to chase down your dreams. These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. These are the hands that will lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into eyes that are filled with overwhelming love for you.
And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

Sharing of Vows
JOHN, do you take AMY to be your wedded wife, and in the presence of these witnesses do you vow that you will do everything in your power to make your love for her a growing part of your life? Will you continue to strengthen it from day to day and week to week with your best resources? Will you stand by her in sickness or in health, in poverty or in wealth, and will you shun all others and keep yourself to her alone as long as you both shall live? If so, answer “I Do.”

AMY, do you take JOHN to be your wedded husband, and in the presence of these witnesses do you vow that you will do everything in your power to make your love for him a growing part of your life? Will you continue to strengthen it from day to day and week to week with your best resources? Will you stand by him in sickness or in health, in poverty or in wealth, and will you shun all others and keep yourself to him alone as long as you both shall live? If so, answer “I do”.

Exchange of the Rings
The wedding ring serves three purposes. First, it shows the entire world that your heart belongs to someone else. Second, it is your first gift to each other as husband and wife. The precious metal and gems from which the ring is made signifies how precious you are to each other. Third, and most importantly, it is worn every moment of every day to remind you of the promises that you’ve just made to each other.

JOHN please place the ring on the finger of your bride and repeat after me:

AMY, I give you this ring//as a symbol of my love//and faithfulness to you.

By the same token AMY, please place the ring on the finger of your groom and repeat after me:

JOHN, I give you this ring//as a symbol of my love//and faithfulness to you.

AMY and JOHN, you have chosen to enter into the promise of marriage with each other by pledging your love and devotion with your vows and sealing those vows with the exchange of the rings. Therefore I now pronounce you Husband and Wife. You may now kiss your bride.

Closing Prayer/Blessing
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 which 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.

Presentation of the Bride & Groom
Friends and family, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you