The Wedding of Sarah and Matt
by Matthew Pedone
This past Monday marked the 2nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's ruling that denying the right of any two consenting adult to marry is unconstitutional, and so, I thought I'd take a break from the Honeymoon recap and honor that anniversary by posting about my own wedding. This also fulfills a promise I'd made back in 2014, but never actually kept - to post the full text of the ceremony on the blog we'd set up for the wedding.
The first thing to say about our wedding is that we wanted it to be different, but not just for the sake of being different. We wanted it to be a celebration of us, not just fancy dresses and champagne. There's nothing wrong with the big church wedding, the bride walking down the aisle to the bridal march, the first dance to something popular (and, actually, there are some really good choices in there), rented tuxes and pointlessly expensive white dresses, floral centerpieces, and all that jazz, but that's just not us. Our first dance? Pearl Jam's cover of "Love, Reign O'er Me", because we're big Pearl Jam fans. Our centerpieces? Bags of various types of flour, because we love cooking (and inspired by the scene in "Stranger than Fiction" in which Will Farrel brings baker Maggie Gyllenhall "flours" instead of "flowers"), along with accents from Harry Potter and Doctor Who.
Lovely flour arrangements. With recipes on the back. Also, Harry Potter and Doctor Who accents.
(Photo: Sharon T. Simpson)
Sarah wore a reasonably-priced red dress that she might actually wear again someday. My groomsmen and I bought new suits from a beloved local store that we will all definitely wear again. We designed our own Save the Date cards, wedding invitations (in the style of mock recipe cards), and programs (designed to look like the tickets from the 2008 Frozen Four, at which we met). I put together a card box that looked like a weighted companion cube from the "Portal" video games. We put together our own playlists for the pre-ceremony and cocktail hours. Sarah's "Ladies of Awesome" walked in to Harry Potter music. Our wedding party was introduced over the Doctor Who theme (from the Tenth Doctor); Sarah and I were announced to the 11th Doctor's unoffical theme, "I am The Doctor". Sarah walked down the aisle to a piano version of the recent hit, "Same Love".
Hand-crafted Companion Cube. Which reminds me, what about the cake?
(Photo: Sharon T. Simpson)
As such, we decided that we didn't want a boilerplate wedding ceremony. We weren't getting married in a church, and neither of us is religious, so we weren't going to have readings from any holy books. Like the rest of the wedding, we wanted something personal, yet universal. Something that was us, but would also resonate with everyone assembled. Sweet, but not sappy. Nerdy, but not just blatant references to shows, movies, and books that many in attendance wouldn't recognize. In the months leading up to the wedding, I got to work, compiling quotes from some of our favorite stories and shows, as well as from other authors and sources about love and marriage. I started to really think about why people get marriedin this day and age, particularly if there are no religious hang-ups getting in the way. Sarah and I had been living together for the better part of four years at this point. We'd been together through the stresses of a week without power, both of us working crappy jobs and having just enough money to get by, and, most recently, one of us putting themselves through school while maintaining a full-time job. Neither of us was going anywhere. There are legal implications, taxes, spousal benefits, health insurance, and in the end, it's a piece of paper filed with the government. Yet, it's also a vow taken in front of family and loved ones.
The cake is a lie (or, at least, usually overpriced and underwhelming), so we had an ice cream sundae bar instead. Because... Ice cream!
(Photo: Sharon T. Simpson)
I think what I really did was try to examine that idea, to look at marriage not as some major change in our life, but a more subtle change, more of a simple confirmation that the two of us are officially committing our lives to one another, or joining our lives together. From this day forward, we'd be one unit, not just two different people in a long-term relationship. I used quotes and references from myriad disparate sources, including classic Doctor Who, modern Doctor Who, the TV show "Eureka", the band The Postal Service, Shakespeare, the movie "Airplane II: The Sequel", writers Madeline L'Engel, JRR Tolkein, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Robert Fulghum, and late TV host (and the friendliest neighbor) Fred Rogers. My ring vow is a poem by Rilke, Sarah's is from the movie, "The Nightmare Before Christmas". And, of course, most relevant to the recent marriage equality anniversary (the reason I'm posting this now), and Pride celebrations happening all over the country (and the world), I used an excerpt from Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall in a 2003 ruling. We chose not to explicitly say what the ruling was on, as I think that would have shifted the tenor of the ceremony, and I don't know how many people picked up on it, but I thought it was a subtle way to express my opinion and support.
I have altered this a bit for the privacy of the family. "K" refers to my sister, who presided over the ceremony (she wasn't legally able to marry us; that actually happened earlier in the day, shortly after breakfast, with an official Justice of the Peace as part of our rehearsal). I also removed three lines from her parts that called out the text she was about to quote. If I could go back, I would change that, and cite the works in our program. I feel like this flows better. Also, the bracketed "stage directions" were put in as a joke, but left in because Sarah and I both suspected they'd be needed. Which they were.
I've also annotated the references. Hovering over the footnote number should reveal the inspiration for the text. Or click here to see a list.
The Wedding of Sarah and Matt
August 9th, 2014
K: I would like to start by thanking Sarah’s parents for escorting Sarah down the aisle without another major disaster.
Sarah and Matthew would like to thank everyone for being here. They are elated that you are able to come here and to share this very special day with them. They would also like to ask that you refrain from taking pictures during the ceremony. Studies have shown that the more focused you are on taking pictures, the less you are actually experiencing an event and thus actually remembering what has occurred, and they want everyone to experience and remember this great day. Two photographers are covering the ceremony – we promise there will be plenty of images at your disposal.
Do you mind if I tell you a story?1 It’s a story you might have heard; the story of Sarah and Matt, from the beginning. First, the Earth cooled. Then, the dinosaurs came, but they died and turned to oil.2 A few million years later, at a Frozen Four featuring teams neither of them roots for, Matt was chatting with a group of friends when Sarah joined them. They actually didn’t talk much that weekend, though they did share a few beers together. After the tournament ended, and college hockey fans went back to whatever they do when there’s no more college hockey, Sarah and Matt started talking online, getting to know each other bit by bit, until finally, Matt asked Sarah out, much to the joy of their mutual online friends who were starting to get a little tired of their flirting…and they thought they were being subtle.
They drank hot chocolate, ate Tim Tams, decorated a Christmas tree, and closed down a museum. At the end of the night, they shared their first kiss. Over the next couple of years, there were more dates. Weddings, and snowstorms, and hockey games and even a couple of trips to Florida. As time passed, one thing became clear, they were in love, and fit together like puzzle pieces made of clay.3 They made cocoa and got engaged.4
Today, they are just four months shy of the sixth anniversary of their first date, and just about four months beyond the sixth anniversary of that Frozen Four. To many of us here, six years is nothing. To others, it’s a lifetime. To Sarah and Matt, in some ways, it is both. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday that they were braving snowstorms to meet up for one of their first dates. At the same time, it’s hard to remember anything other than constant love and companionship they’ve shared, supporting each other through bad jobs, medical emergencies, and the struggles of balancing school, a career, and a home.
Almost four years ago to the day, Sarah left the Boston area to move to Manchester and live with Matt. It was a decision inspired by necessity, but followed through with love. They were ready to take the next step in their lives, to make that commitment, and they haven’t looked back. Today, the time has come for them to take the next step beyond that. The next commitment.
As Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall wrote in a 2003 ruling:
“Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, marriage provides an abundance of benefits. In return it imposes weighty obligations. Marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family.”
Sarah and Matt have chosen to get married as a way to formalize that commitment they have already made to each other, and to society as a whole. The language surrounding marriage, though, often speaks of two becoming one. Sarah and Matt pride themselves on their individuality, and they value personal freedom highly, so some might question their decision to get married and risk that individuality.
"The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.” 5
Sarah and Matt are not sacrificing their individuality today, they are putting their trust in each other to protect their individuality, to be the guardians of each other’s solitude.
“Ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take. It is indeed a fearful gamble. Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature.
To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take. If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation. It takes a lifetime to learn another person. When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.” 6
Marriage does not bind us. It does not imprison us. The rings you will wear and the vows you will make to not shackle you to another person, do not make you property. Marriage frees us to create something entirely new, yet utterly the same. It allows us to learn about another person, to grow a bond that lasts a lifetime. To grow love. What is love? As one friendly neighbor7 once said:
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
On that note, I have a couple of questions for the happy couple.
Do you, Sarah, promise to remember that love is an active noun, to be the guardian of his solitude, to participate in the creation of marriage, and to love and cherish Matthew, to the best of your abilities, as long as the other survives?
Sarah: I promise.
Kerrie: And do you, Matthew, promise to remember that love is an active noun, to be the guardian of her solitude, to participate in the creation of marriage, and to love and cherish Sarah, to the best of your abilities, as long as the other survives?
Matthew: I promise.
Kerrie: The circle of the ring symbolizes eternity. Time never-ending. Love is timeless, transcending everything we know, everything we understand and giving us strength and comfort forever. What is past is now present. And what is present will become your future. That is what love is, like the circle of the ring – never ending.8 The rings, please.
Sarah: Matthew, I place this ring on your finger as a symbol of my devotion to you and as a symbol of the vows I make to you this day. My dearest friend, if you don't mind, I'd like to join you by your side, where we could gaze into the stars, and sit together, now and forever. For it is plain as anyone could see, we're simply meant to be.9
[pause for Matt to stop crying]
Matt: Sarah, I place this ring on your finger as a symbol of my devotion to you and as a symbol of the vows I make to you this day. Understand, I'll slip quietly Away from the noisy crowd when I see the pale Stars rising, blooming over the oaks. I'll pursue solitary pathways through the pale twilit meadows, with only this one dream: You come too.10
[pause for Matt to stop crying]
Kerrie: Now join your hands, and with your hands your hearts.11
“You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you [have just made] are a way of saying to one another, ‘You know all those things we've promised and hoped and dreamed- well, I meant it all, every word.’ Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another- acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall cross a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after this day, you shall say to the world, this- is my husband, this- is my wife.” 12
It is my honor to present to your friends and family gathered here today, and to the rest of the world, Matthew and Sarah as husband and wife.
Standing high upon this stone, in the sight of many, you may kiss your spouse.15
[Etta James – At Last]