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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 and contract of Matrimony.  NICK and KRISTINA, 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.

NICK and KRISTINA, 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.

With this knowledge, NICK, do you take KRISTINA 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.”

KRISTINA, do you take NICK 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”.

Blessing of the Family
As much as this wedding is a celebration of the joining of two lives together into one, it is also a celebration of family.  More than just relatives, this family also includes the friends that love or care about KRISTINA and NICK. 

It only takes two people to make a marriage…but it takes an entire family to make a marriage work.  There will be times when both KRISTINA and NICK feel like giving up.  There will be times when they are so angry or hurt that they simply don’t want to continue being married.  It will be up to all of you, their family, to help them through these times.  You will need to be there to listen to them and to let them vent their frustrations.  You will also need to be there to push them back together and hold them accountable for the vows they are taking today.  Doing this, you will help them make their marriage work.

I now ask you, NICK and KRISTINA’s extended family, will you be there to support them , to encourage them, and to help them through the difficult times?  And will you also be there to share their joy during the best times?  If so answer, ‘We Will’. 

Mother’s Roses    
Nick and Kristina would not be here today if it were not for the love, support, sacrifices, and encouragement from their families...and more specifically, their mothers.  Mothers do so much for their children when they are young and when they are grown.  Nick and Kristina would like to take just a moment to thank and honor their mothers for all they have done for them.

Music Selection

Reading 1: “On Marriage,” from The Prophet by Kahil Gibran (read by Kimberly Meekins)

You were born to be together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in your silent memory.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.
Love one another, but make not bondage 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 other of your bread, but eat not of the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each 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. 

Reading 2:  The words of Gerald May (read by John Nasrah)
"There is a desire within each of us, in the deep center of ourselves that we call our heart. We were born with it, it is never completely satisfied, and it never dies. We are often unaware of it, but it is always awake. It is the human desire for love. Every person in this earth yearns to love, to be loved, to know love. Our true identity, our reason for being, is to be found in this desire...

...love is the 'why' of life: why we are functioning at all, what we want to be efficient for... I am convinced it [love] is the fundamental energy of the human spirit, the fuel on which we run, the wellspring of our vitality. And grace, which is the flowing, creative activity of love itself, is what makes all goodness possible.  Love should come first; it should be the beginning of and the reason for everything.

Message to the Bride & Groom
Well, guys, this is it!  You are about to become husband and wife!  Who would have thought, three years ago, that you’d be standing here today?  If you stop and think about it, how many things had to go exactly right for the two of you to end up here today?  What if Kristina had never met Stacia?  Would the two of you ever have met?  What if the two of you hadn’t gone down to the timeshare in Kissimmee for that week of golfing?   If that week wouldn’t have happened, Nick wouldn’t have had the opportunity to pour his heart out to Kristina on the balcony…every night…for the entire week.  But thankfully, all those things happened.  And eventually, you had your first date at the most romantic place on the face of the earth…the Omaha Zoo.  Whether you call it God or life or fate, the result is the same – in this sea of souls we call the world, your two souls managed to find each other.

Kristina new right away that she’d found ‘the one’.  In fact, by the end of that incredible week in Kissimmee, her feelings were so strong that it was actually a little bit scary.  True love can have that effect!  You spend your whole life trying to become someone strong and confident and self reliant.  You do your best to put on a great show – the perfect look, the perfect walk, the perfect talk, the perfect job, the perfect ‘things’ – and then you suddenly find yourself looking into the eyes of someone who can somehow see through all of that…who can see you for you.  What’s even more incredible is that someone loves you not despite your imperfections, but because of them.  That’s what Kristina felt after that incredible week.  But she couldn’t let Nick know that!  She had to hide her true feelings from him.
What she didn’t know is that Nick felt that exact same thing at that exact same time.  He knew that the chemistry was undeniable.  He’d never met somebody as warm and kind as funny and as beautiful as Kristina.

So here we are, three years later.  Nick is ready to take Kristina as his wife.  He knows that he’s found, in his words, his best friend and soul mate.  He’s learned early in his life what so many of us don’t learn until later – that life is so much more meaningful when it’s spent with someone you love.

Kristina is ready to take Nick as her husband.  She can’t imagine life without him – without her best friend.  He makes her laugh, comforts her through the bad times, and perhaps most importantly, makes things fun. The two of them truly are perfect together. 

The journey that the two of you have been on up to this point has been incredible…but it ends today.  Until today, the two of you were bound only by your feelings.  You were free to go your own separate ways at any time.  In just a few moments, the two of you will enter into a life-long commitment to each other and begin a new journey in your lives.

It’s impossible to know what you’ll find in this new journey.  In five years, you may find that you’ve met the goals that you’ve set for yourselves.  You’ll have traveled where you’d like to travel and are ready to start a family.   In 25 years, your children will have grown and the two of you will still be falling in love with each other each and every day, just like you did every day during that incredible week in Florida.  And who knows…you may be doing that on some incredible paradise sipping margaritas!

The good thing is that throughout your journey, some things will remain the same.  Kristina will still be using the word ‘cute’ and fill every weekend with plans.  Nick, your schedule will probably continue to be all booked up!

Kristina, Nick will still probably be putting flour or crackers in the fridge and cream cheese and orange juice in the cupboard.  In fact, that will probably get worse as time goes on…much worse.   As long as you don’t find a child in the cupboard or dog in the fridge, you should be okay.
One other thing will remain the same…the fact that in 5 years, 25, years, or even 50 years, you will still be spending every day with the one person on this earth who was meant for you – the one person that ‘gets’ you, the one person that is enthralled by you, and the one person that loves you…no matter what.

NICK and KRISTINA, 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
(They wrote their own vows) 

Exchange of the Rings
The wedding ring serves three purposes.  First, it shows the entire world that your heart and your life belong 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. 

 NICK please place the ring on the finger of your bride and repeat after me: KRISTINA, I give you this ring//as a symbol of my love//and faithfulness to you.

By the same token KRISTINA, please place the ring on the finger of your groom and repeat after me: NICK, I give you this ring//as a symbol of my love//and faithfulness to you.

KRISTINA and NICK, 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, with the power vested in me by the State of Wisconsin, I now pronounce you Husband and Wife. You may now kiss your bride.