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Circle of Love Wedding Ceremonies

Hearts are Bound By: Rev. Shannon Mackay

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Wedding ceremony ideas:


The following pages are a collection of readings, poems and prayers that can be brought into your wedding ceremony to make it unique to you. They are one way of adding a certain flavor to your ceremony to help shape it into the wedding of your dreams. For example, if you wanted to bring in a little religious flavor, you could choose a Bible reading. Or maybe you love poetry and want to express your feelings about your marriage through a beautiful poem. Or perhaps a certain reading distills the perfect essence of marriage and you would like to share it to inspire your loved ones. Please note that one way of honoring a loved one or a friend is to invite them to participate in the ceremony by sharing a reading, poem or prayer. This adds drama, warmth, connection and joy to your ceremony. You could also share the reading, poem or prayer yourself, either to your partner, or together. Of course, you can always have me enthusiastically present your favorite passage as you take in its rich joy and meaning on your miraculous day.


Marriage is in many ways a simplification of life, and it naturally combines the strengths and wills of two young people so that, together, they seem to reach farther into the future than they did before. Above all, marriage is a new task and a new seriousness, - a new demand on the strength and generosity of each partner, and a great new danger for both.


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 their 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.


That is why this too must be the criterion for rejection or choice: whether you are willing to stand guard over someone else's solitude, and whether you are able to set this same person at the gate of your own depths, which he learns of only through what steps forth, in holiday clothing, out of the great darkness.


Life is self-transformation, and human relationships, which are an extract of life, are the most changeable of all, they rise and fall from minute to minute, and lovers are those for whom no moment is like any another. People between whom nothing habitual ever takes place, nothing that has already existed, but just what is new, unexpected, unprecedented. There are such connections, which must be a very great, an almost unbearable happiness, but that can occur only between very rich beings, between those who have become, each for his own sake, rich, calm, and concentrated; only if two worlds are wide and deep and individual can they be combined.... ...For the more we are, the richer everything we experience is. And those who want to have a deep love in their lives must collect and save for it, and gather honey.


Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulty and fear assail your relationship - as they threaten all relationships at one time or another - remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives - remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.


Navajo hymn to the Thunderbird, translation by Washington Matthews


To the West:
Over there are the mountains. May you see them as long as you live, for from them you receive sweet pine for incense.
To the North; .
Strength will come from the North. May you look for many years upon the Star that never moves.
To the East:
Old age will come from below, from where comes the light of the Sun.
To the South:
May warm winds of the South bring you food. Blackfoot prayer to the four directions

To the Mound of the East: Spring

Under the influence of the vernal yang, the vegetation is reborn. The time of fertilizing rains, the time of love.
The thunder sounds and wakes the hibernating creatures. That which seemed dead revives, and pursues its destiny.
May the innumerable new beings live their life to its end. May the crowd of the living fully enjoy the happiness of the vernal spring.To the Mound of the South: Summer
The red light grows, heat increases, The flowering trees are in full splendor.
After the flowers will come fruits, plentiful and savory ...
To the Mound of the West: Autumn
The West is the region of white light. Autumn wind gently kills the vegetation. But the seeds of the plants are preserved. They contain the germ of the spring to come.
To the Mound of the North: Winter
Somber is the region of the North. All beings which hibernate have gone into the earth.
Vegetables have lose their leaves, and frost freezes the land ... May the people, remembering their origin, retain love for simplicity....
May they make offerings, may they prepare the lands, in order that their next harvest may be abundant. Chinese prayer to the four directionsTen thousand things bright
Ten thousand miles, no dust Water and sky one color
Houses shining along your road.


-Henry David Thoreau


From Buddha's teaching: Unlimited Friendliness
This is what should be done by the man and woman who are wise, who seek the good, and who know the meaning of the place of peace.
Let them be fervent, upright, and sincere, without conceit of self, easily contented and joyous, free of cares; let them not be submerged by the things of the world; let them not take upon themselves the burden of worldly goods, let them be wise but not puffed up, and let them not desire great possessions even for their families.
May all beings be happy and at their ease. All beings, whether weak or strong - omitting none - in high, middle, or low realms of existence, small or great, visible or invisible, near or far way, born or to be born.
Even as a mother watches over and protects her only child, so with a boundless mind should one cherish all living beings, radiating friendliness over the entire world, above, below, and all around without limit. So let them cultivate a boundless good will toward the entire world, unlimited, free from ill-will or enmity.
Standing or walking, sitting or lying down, during all their waking hours, let them establish this mindfulness of good will, which is the highest state. Those who are perfect will never again know rebirth.

From The Prophet, by Kahil Gibran: On Friendship
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind,
nor do you withhold the "ay."
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts,
all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his
absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love
but a net cast forth: and the only unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there by laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

From The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis
Love is a great thing, a great good in every way; it alone lightens what is heavy, and leads smoothly over all roughness. For it carries a burden without being burdened, and makes every bitter thing sweet and tasty. Love wants to be lifted up, not held back by anything low. Love wants to be free, and far from all worldly desires, so that its inner
vision may not be dimmed and good fortune bind it or misfortune cast it down. Nothing is sweeter than love; nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing wider; nothing happier, nothing fuller, nothing better in heaven and earth; for love is born of God...

Love keeps watch is never unaware, even when it sleeps; tired, it is never exhausted; hindered, it is never defeated; alarmed, it is never afraid; but like a living flame and burning torch it bursts upward and blazes forth...

Love is quick, sincere, dutiful, joyous, and pleasant; brave, patient, faithful, prudent, serene, and vigorous; and it never seeks itself. For whenever we seek ourselves, we fall away from love. Love is watchful, humble, and upgrade; not weak, or frivolous, or directed toward vain things; temperate, pure, steady, calm, and alert in all the senses. Love is devoted and thankful to God, always trusting and hoping in him, even when it doesn't taste his sweetness, for without pain no one can live in love.

Go placidly amid the clamor of life, and remember the peace to be found in silence.
Speak your truth quietly, listen to others, but avoid loud and aggressive people who vex the spirit.
Do not compare yourselves with others - there will always be greater and lesser persons and you may become vain and bitter.
Enjoy your achievements as well your plans.
Keep interest in your own careers. They are a real possession.
Be cautious in your affairs, for the world is full of trickery, but do not let this bind you to virtue in others - many strive for high ideals and life is full of heroism.
Be yourselves especially - do not feign affection and do not be cynical about love, for in the face of all greed and disenchantment, love is as perennial as grass.
Grow older, gracefully surrendering the things of yours when the time comes.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
Do not allow yourselves to become distressed by imaginings, many fears come out of fatigue and loneliness.
Have self-discipline but be gentle with yourselves.
You are the children of the Universe, no less than the trees and the stars.
You have a right to be here, and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be and whatever your labors and aspirations.
In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your souls and be true to them.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is till a beautiful world.
Go honestly. Strive to be happy.

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare
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 fixed 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 proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where this is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled
as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Excerpt from The Bridge Across Forever
(Richard Bach)
A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we're pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we're safe in our own paradise. Our soul mate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we're two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we've found the right person. Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life.


Marriage Joins Two People In The Circle Of Its Love
Edmund O'Neill
Marriage is a commitment to life, the best that two people can find and bring out in each other. It offers opportunities for sharing and growth that no other relationship can equal. It is a physical and an emotional joining that is promised for a lifetime.


Within the circle of its love, marriage encompasses all of life's most important relationships. A wife and a husband are each other's best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, listener, and critic. And there may come times when one partner is heartbroken or ailing, and the love of the other may resemble the tender caring of a parent for a child.


Marriage deepens and enriches every facet of life. Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher, commitment is stronger, even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly.


Marriage understands and forgives the mistakes life is unable to avoid. It encourages and nurtures new life, new experiences, and new ways of expressing a love that is deeper than life. When two people pledge their love and care for each other in marriage, they create a spirit unique unto themselves, which binds them, closer than any spoken or written words. Marriage is a promise, a potential made in the hearts of two people who love each other and takes a lifetime to fulfill.


On Love~
By Thomas Kempis ~
Love is a mighty power,
a great and complete good.
Love alone lightens every burden, and makes rough places smooth.
It bears every hardship as though it were nothing, and renders
all bitterness sweet and acceptable.

Nothing is sweeter than love,
Nothing stronger,
Nothing higher,
Nothing wider,
Nothing more pleasant,
Nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth; for love is born of God.

Love flies, runs and leaps for joy.
It is free and unrestrained.
Love knows no limits, but ardently transcends all bounds.
Love feels no burden, takes no account of toil,
attempts things beyond its strength.

Love sees nothing as impossible,
for it feels able to achieve all things.
It is strange and effective,
while those who lack love faint and fail.

Love is not fickle and sentimental,
nor is it intent on vanities.
Like a living flame and a burning torch,
it surges upward and surely surmounts every obstacle.


What Is Love~
Author Unknown ~
Sooner or later we begin to understand that love is more than verses on valentines and romance in the movies. We begin to know that love is here and now, real and true, the most important thing in our lives. For love is the creator of our favorite memories and the foundation of our fondest dreams. Love is a promise that is always kept, a fortune that can never be spent, a seed that can flourish in even the most unlikely of places. And this radiance that never fades, this mysterious and magical joy, is the greatest treasure of all - one known only by those who love.




Prayer Honoring The Directions
In many ancient religious traditions, it is customary to bring a service of worship or celebration by calling on the four directions. This is a way of symbolically inviting all of creation to be present and take part in the festivities. This morning, we, too, want to invite the whole of creation to be with us here and now.

Oh Great Spirit of the North, we come to you and ask for the strength and the power to bear what is cold and harsh in life. We come like the buffalo ready to receive the winds that truly can be overwhelming at times. Whatever is cold and uncertain in our life, we ask you to give us the strength to bear it. Do not let the winter blow us away. Oh Spirit of Life and Spirit of the North, we ask you for strength and for warmth.

Oh Great Spirit of the East, we turn to you where the sun comes up, from where the power of light and refreshment come. Everything that is born comes up in this direction the birth of babies, the birth of the puppies, the birth of ideas and the birth of friendship. Let there be the light. Oh Spirit of the East, let the color of fresh rising in our life be glory to you.

Oh Great Spirit of the South, spirit of all that is warm and gentle and refreshing, we ask you to give us this spirit of growth, of fertility, of gentleness. Caress us with a cool breeze when the days are hot. Give us seeds that the flowers, trees and fruits of the earth may grow. Give us the warmth of good friendships. Oh Spirit of the South, send the warmth and the growth of your blessings.

Oh Great Spirit of the West, where the sun goes down each day to come up the next, we turn to you in praise of sunsets and in thanksgiving for changes. You are the great colored sunset of the red west, which illuminates us. You are the powerful cycle, which pulls us to transformation. We ask for the blessings of the sunset. Keep us open to life's changes.

From Captain Corelli’s Mandolin Love is a temporary madness; it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two. Louis de Bernieres

From Gift From The Sea

When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.
The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides. -Anne Morrow Lindbergh



from Naked We gathered together for the wedding which took place on a clear, crisp October afternoon. The ceremony was held upon a grassy precipice that afforded magnificent views of the surrounding peaks, their trees resplendant in fiery red and orange. It was easy to imagine, looking out over the horizon that we were it, the last remaining people on the face of the earth. The others had been wiped out by disease or famine and we had been chosen to fashion a new and better world. It was a plesant thought until I pictured us foraging for berries and having to bathe in ice cold streams. Bob's family, hearty and robust, could probably pull it off but the rest of us would wither and die shortly after we'd run out of shampoo. My father wept openly during the ceremony, the rest of us studied his crumpled face and fought hard not to follow his example. What ws this emotion? My sister was getting married to a kind and thoughtful man who had seen her through a great many hardships. Together they shared a deep commitment to Mexican food and were responsible card-carrying members of the North American Caged Bird Society. The tacos and parrots were strictly between Lisa and Bob, but the rest of her belonged to us. Standing in a semicircle on top of that mountain it became clear that while Lisa might take on a different last name, she could never escape the pull of our family. Marriage wouldn't let her off the ook, even if she wanted it to. She could move to Antarctica, setting up home in an underground bunker but still we would track her down. It was useless to run. -David Sedaris


Daily Afflictions We’re all seeking that special person who is right for us. But if you’ve been through enough relationships, you begin to suspect there’s no right person, just different flavors of wrong. Why is this? Because you yourself are wrong in some way, and you seek out partners who are wrong in some complementary way. But it takes a lot of living to grow fully into your own wrongness. It isn’t until you finally run up against your deepest demons, your unsolvable problems – the ones that make you truly who you are – that you’re ready to find a life-long mate. Only then do you finally know what you’re looking for. You’re looking for the wrong person. But not just any wrong person: the right wrong person – someone you lovingly gaze upon and think, “This is the problem I want to have.” -Andrew Boyd


from The Shipping News Quoyle experienced moments in all colors, uttered brilliancies, paid attention to the rich sound of waves counting stones, he laughed and wept, noticed sunsets, heard music in rain, said I do. A row of shining hubcaps appeared in the front yard of the Burke's house. A wedding present from the bride's father.
For if Jack Buggit could escape from a pickle jar, if a bird with a broken neck could fly away, what else might be possible? Water may be older than light, diamonds crack in hot goat's blood, mountaintops give off cold fire, forests appear in mid-ocean, it may happen that a crab is caught with the shadow of a hand on its back, that the wind be imprisoned in a bit of knotted string. And it may be tht love sometimes occurs without pain or misery. -Annie Proulx




On Marriage
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of 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.

-Kahil Gilbran

Blessing For A Marriage

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!

-James Dillet Freeman

A successful marriage is one where each partner discovers that it is better to give love than to receive it. To truly love another person is to wish that person to develop and flourish in his or her own terms. In a long marriage there will be joy and laughter, but also sadness and sorrow, harmony and discord, as you strive to overcome adversity and fulfil your dreams.The key value of wedlock is that it allows for intimacy between a woman and a man, who can enjoy each other's company, share ideals and expectations, confess failures and admit defeats to each other, and yet realise in union the qualities of the good life.As you build your home, embark upon careers, and raise a family, your marriage can become a work of art in which both of you together give it line and form, colour and tone. You will be challenged every day and in every way to make your marriage work. If you do, it can become a thing of beauty, a joint creation of aesthetic"

-Paul Kurtz


North, South, East and West


From the east house of light
may wisdom dawn in us
So we may see all things in clarity

From the north house of night
May wisdom ripen in us
So we may see all from within

From the west house of transformation
May wisdom be transformed into right action
So we may do what must be done

From the south house of eternal sun
may right action reap the harvest
So we may enjoy the fruits of planetary being

From above house of heaven
where star people and ancestors gather
may their blessings come to us now

From below house of earth
may the heartbeat of her crystal core
bless us with harmony and peace to end all war

and from the centre galactic source
which is everywhere at once
may everything be known as the light of mutual love

The Covenant of Marriage

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 a commitment to take that joy deep, deeper than happiness, deep into the discovery of who you most truly are. It is a commitment to a spiritual journey, to a life of becoming -- in which joy can comprehend despair, running through rivers of pain into joy again. 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 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.

The Voyage of Commitment:

The voyage of commitment is never made alone; we cannot be committed only to ourselves or we will die. We must ask whether we call give ourselves to another, or to others not knowing the changes that time, bad luck, and sickness may work on them .You have to give more than this in real love, and be ready to move into darkness, illness and loss of beauty, if you care at all about someone else. We stand on sacred ground when we stand close enough to another to give ourselves withoutstrings, conditions, or codicils written into our commitments. Are such commitments possible? How can we tell tell unless we have given ourselves to another, made our heart vulnerable, in order to achieve a sense of life which is deeper than the trembling moment and its dreadful ticking uncertainties.

Tolstoy Having embarked on marriage he saw at every step that it was not at all what he had imagined. At every step he experienced what a man experiences when, after admiring the smooth, happy motion of a boat on a lake, he finds himself sitting in it himself. He found that it was not enough to sit quietly without rocking the boat, that he had constantly to consider what to do next, that not for a moment must he forget what course to steer or that there was water under his feet, that he had to row, much as it hurt his unaccustomed hands, that it was pleasant enough to look at it from the shore, but very hard, though very delightful, to sail it.

From the Buddhist scriptures

 This is what should be done by the man and woman who are wise, who seek the good, and who know the meaning of the place of peace.Let them be fervent, upright, and sincere, without conceit of self, easily contented and joyous, free of cares; let them not be submerged by the things of the world; let them not take upon themselves the burden of worldly goods; let their senses be controlled; let them be wise but not puffed up, and let them not desire great possessions even for their families. Let them do nothing that is mean or that the wise would reprove.May all beings be happy and at their ease. May they be joyous and live in safety.All beings, whether weak or strong - omitting none - in high, middle, or low realms of existence, small or great, visible or invisible, near or far away, born or to be born: may all things be happy and at their ease.Let none deceive another, or despise any being in any state. Let none by anger or ill-will wish harm to another.


Even as a mother watches over and protects her child, her only child, so with a boundless mind should one cherish all living things, radiating friendliness over the entire world, above, below, and all around without limit. So let them cultivate a boundless goodwill toward the entire world, unlimited, free from ill-will or enmity.


Standing or walking, sitting or lying down, during all their waking hours, let them establish this mindfulness of goodwill, which is the highest state. Abandoning vain discussions, having clear vision, free from sense appetites, those who are perfect will never again know rebirth.


Thoughts In a Garden

This is a special place, a place where people have brought beautiful living plants, here to establish them, to nurture and care for them, that they may forever surround us with the beauty we now see. And into this place where we stand, you have brought something beautiful -- the relationship that is becoming your marriage. Here you are declaring it and pledging it, promising to establish and nurture it. We are aware of the special beauty between the two of you, just as we are aware of the special beauty of this place. We are with you now in this appropriate place to celebrate your relationship as it is and as it is yet to be, and in doing so, we ask only that you remember how your life together will have the same seasons and needs as this garden. There will be growth like spring and loss like fall; there will be giving as the blossoming flower, and rest as the seed beneath the snow. All the seasons will be yours, but remember, too, that gardens are not must happenings. The more wonderful the garden, the more skilled the gardener. So you will have to care deeply for the life that is yours together, and nurture it. You will have to appreciate your differences and cultivate them. You will have to take care of yourself, if for no other reason than out of love for the other. And you will need the support of family and friends to reach full growth. As you caringly chose this place to declare your marriage, so remember its lessons for your life together through the seasons that are yours to share. And may those seasons bring you and yours joy and happiness.  -B R. Gerhardt



The chuppah stands on four poles.
The home has four corners.
The chuppah stands on four poles.
The marriage stands on four legs.
Four points loose the winds
that blow on the walls of the house,
the south wind that brings the warm rain,
the east wind that brings the cold rain,
the north wind that brings the cold sun and the snow,
the long west wind bringing the weather off the far plains.
Here we live open to the seasons.
Here the winds caress and cuff us
contrary and fierce as bears.
Here the winds are caught and snarling
in the pines, a cat in a net clawing
breaking twigs to fight loose.
Here the winds brush your face
soft in the morning as feathers
that float down from the dove's breast.
Here the moon sails up out of the ocean
dripping like a just washed apple.
Here the sun wakes us like a baby.
Therefore the chuppah has no sides.
It is not a box.
It is not a coffin.
It is not a dead end.
Therefore the chuppah has no walls.
We have made a home together
open to the weather of our time.
We are mills that turn in the winds of struggle
converting fierce energy into bread.
The canopy is the cloth of our table
where we share fruit and vegetables
of our labor, where our care for the earth
comes back and we take its body in ours.
The canopy is the cover of our bed
where our bodies open their portals wide,
where we eat and drink the blood
of our love, where the skin shines red
as a swallowed sunrise and we burn
in one furnace of joy molten as steel
and the dream is fresh and flower.
O my love 0 my love we dance
under the chuppah standing over us
like an animal on its four legs,
like a table on which we set our love
as a feast, like a tent
under which we work not safe
but no longer solitary in the searing heat of our time.

-MARGE PIERCY, on her marriage to Ira Wood

The Privileged Lovers
The moon has become a dancer
at this festival of love.
This dance of light,


This sacred blessing,
This divine love,
beckons us
to a world beyond
only lovers can see
with their eyes of fiery passion.


They are the chosen ones
who have surrendered.
Once they were particles of light
now they are the radiant sun.


They have left behind
the world of deceitful games.
They are the privileged lovers
who create a new world
with their eyes of fiery passion.


'We are each a secret to the other.

To know one another cannot mean to know everything about each other; it means to feel mutual affection and confidence, and to believe in one another. We must not try to force our way into the personality of another. To analyse others is a rude commencement, for there is a modesty of the soul which we must recognise just as we do that of the body. No one has a right to say to another: "Because we belong to each other as we do, I have a right to know all your thoughts." Not even a mother may treat her child in that way. All demands of this sort are foolish and unwholesome. In this matter giving is the only valuable process; it is only giving that stimulates. Impart as much as you can of your spiritual being to those who are on the road with you, and accept as something precious what comes back to you from them.'  -Albert Schweitzer

'You are a part of me.

I do not know
By what slow chemistry you first became
A vital fibre of my being.
Go Beyond the rim of time or space, the same
Inflections of your voice will sing their way
Into the depths of my mind still. Your hair
Will gleam as bright, the artless play
Of word and glance, gesture and the fair
Young fingers waving, have too deeply etched
The pattern of your soul on mine. Forget
Me quickly as a laughing picture sketched
On water, I shall never know regret
Knowing no magic ever can set free
That part of you that is a part of me.'
-Frank Yerby

Blessed are you, Holy One of All, who created joy and gladness, bride and bridegroom, mirth and song, pleasure and delight, love, fellowship, peace and friendship....The Hebrew "Seven Blessings"
Eternal God, creator and preserver of all life, author of salvation and giver of all grace. Look with favour upon the world you have made and for which your son gave his live and especially upon this man and woman whom you make one flesh in Holy Matrimony.
Give them wisdom and devotion in the ordering of their common life that each may be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorry and a companion in joy.
Grant that their wills may be so knit together in your will, and their spirits in your Spirit, that they may grow in love and peace with you and one another all the days of their life.
Give them grace when they hurt each other to recognize and acknowledge their fault and to seek each others forgiveness and yours.
Make their life together a sign of Christ’s love and to this sinful and broken world, that unity may overcome estrangement, for­givness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair.
Bestow on them, if it is your will, the gift and heritage of children, and the grace to bring them up to know you, to love you, and to serve you.
Give them such fulfillment of their mutual affection that they may reach out in love and concern for others.
Grant that all married persons who have witnessed these vows may find their lives strengthened and their loyalties confirmed.
Grant that the bonds of our common humanity, by which all your children are united one to another, and the living to the dead, may be so transformed by your grace, that your will may be done on earth as it is in heaven; where, 0 Father, with your Son and the Holy Spirit, you live and reign in perfect unity, now and for ever.

~The Book of Common Prayer

The maiden is the daughter of light ...
Delightful is the sight of her, Radiant with shining beauty.
Her garments are like spring flowers,
And a scent of sweet fragrance is diffused from them .. Truth rests upon her head.
By the movements of her feet, she shows forth joy ...
Her two hands make signs and secret patterns, describing the dance of the blessed aeons.
Her fingers open the gates of the city. Her chamber is full of light ... Her bridesmaids are seven, Who dance before her.
Twelve are they who serve her
And are subject to her,
Gazing toward the bridegroom
That by the sight of him they may be enlightened; And forever be with him in eternal joy. Bride and groom shall be at that marriage ... And both shall be in joy and exultation.
And thus they glorified and praised, with the living Spirit, The Father of Truth and the Mother of Wisdom.


from the apocryphal Acts of Thomas, translation by R. McL. Wilson

Nothing happens without a cause.

The union of this man and woman has not come about accidentally but is the foreordained result of many past lives. This tie can therefore not be broken or dissolved.
In the future, happy occasions will come as surely as the morning. Difficult times will tome as surely as night. When things go joyously, meditate according to the Buddhist tradition. When things go badly, meditate. Meditation in the manner of the Compassionate Buddha will guide your life.
To say the words "love and compassion" is easy. But to accept that love and compassion are built upon patience and perseverance is not easy. Your marriage will be firm and lasting if you remember this. Buddhist marriage homily

At the Wedding March
God with honour hang your head,
Groom, and grace you, bride, your bed
With lissome scions, sweet scions,
Out of hallowed bodies bred.

Each be other’s comfort kind:
Deep, deeper than divined. Divine charity, dear charity,
Fast you ever, Fast bind.

Then let the march tread our ears:
I to him turn with tears
Who to wedlock, his wonder wedlock,
Deals triumph and immortal years.

-Gerald Manley Hopkins

When our two souls stand up erect and strong, Face to face, silent, drawing nigh and nigher, Until the lengthening wings break into fire At either curved point,-what bitter wrong Can the earth do us, that we should not long Be here contented! Think. In mounting higher, The angels would press on us and aspire To drop some golden orb of perfect song Into our deep, dear silence. Let us stay Rather on earth, Beloved-where the unfit Contrarious moods of men recoil away And isolate pure spirits, and permit A place to stand and love in for a day

...Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Marriage is a solemn and religious tie; and therefore the pleasure we take from it should be restrained, serious and seasoned with a certain gravity.... A good marriage-if there be any-rejects the company and conditions of love and seeks to reproduce those of friendship. It is a sweet companionship of life, full of trust and an infinite number of useful and solid services and mutual obligations....
That few are observed to be happy is a token of its value and price. If well-formed and rightly taken, there is not a finer estate in human society. Though we cannot live without it, yet we do nothing but decry it. We see the same with bird-cages: the birds outside despair to get in and those within despair to get out.

~Michel De Montaigne

I hereby give myself.

I love you. You are the only being whom I can love absolutely with my complete self, with all my flesh and mind and heart. You are my mate, my perfect partner, and I am yours. You must feel this now, as I do.... It was a marvel that we ever met. It is some kind of divine luck that we are together now. We must never, never part again. We are, here in this, necessary beings, like gods. As we look at each other we verify, we know, the perfection of our love, we recognise each other. Here is my life, here if need be is my death. It's life and death, as if they were to destroy Israel-if I forget thee, 0 Jerusalem-"
-Iris Murdoch

My grief has ended.

Comes now the season of joy.
For the flowers of Spring are jeweling my green garden. Let us make ready to walk through its paths. Go! Tell the nightingale that Spring is here.
And tell the minstrel to come with his lute.
Let him sing us a ballad of the flowers of Spring. Do not listen to the parrot whispering to the rose That Autumn will soon be here.
With spring my love returned to me,
And again I behold the moon of my delight. Let others have their various festivals. My only festival is when, in Spring, I see my love's narrow feet
Step through the garden like lisping twin flowers. Then Khushal Khan puts on his brightest robes And enters the bazaar of his love's soft arms. ~Afghan Love song


My boat is of ebony,
the holes in my flute are golden.
As a plant takes out stains from silk so wine takes sadness from the heart.
When one has good wine,
a graceful boat,
and a maiden's love,
why envy the immortal gods?
-Li TAI Po


Come live with me and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove That hills and valleys, dales and fields And all the craggy mountains yields.
There we will sit upon the rocks
And see the shepherds feed their flocks, By shallow rivers to whose falls Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses With a thousand fragrant posies, A cap of flowers and a kirtle Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle.
A gown made of the finest wool Which from our pretty lambs we pull; Fair lined slippers for the cold, With buckles of the purest gold;
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs: And if these pleasures may thee move, Come live with me and be my love.
The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing For thy delight each May morning: If these delights thy mind may move, Then live with me and be my love.


The essence of a good marriage

is respect for each other's personality combined with that deep intimacy, physical, mental, and spiritual, which makes a serious love between man and woman the most fructifying of all human experiences. Such love, like everything that is great and precious, demands its own morality, and frequently entails a sacrifice of the less tothe greater; but such sacrifice must be voluntary, for, where, is not, it will destroy the very basis of the love for the sake which it is made. ~Bertrand Russell

Like everything which is not the involuntary result of fleeting emotion, but the creation of time and will, any marriage, happy or unhappy, is infinitely more interesting and significant than any romance, however passionate. W.H AUden

Afternoon in a Bark Yard on Chestnut Street Here are a man and a woman, being married. The entire world of summer lawns holds its breath for the event. The trees around them are lovely, displaying the small breath and motions of August. The couple glance at one another. Where has the moon gone, the requisite moon? Nearby, a mother begs her child, "Try to remember; when did you have it last?" Oh, impossible mystery. Where is joy when it is not here? Time says nothing. These things can happen, and will, while children at the yard's border play among grown-ups tasting the summer's wine.
Memory looks at its watch, smiling. The moon will begin to come round the way it always did but we'd forgotten.
The lovers touch hands and think of some place they want to be, and go there. The child, happy at last, has remembered where its lost ball is. In the the garden the pink phlox and the lilies show off, between the old moon here in the hot sky and the one to come. Everyone hugs or shakes hands and walks off toward the future, waving. The man and woman look at each other.
They know it means happiness, this year. They do.
-David Kellett

Letter to her daughter

You learned from me that commitment, love, loyalty, "being there" are at the center of everything. I taught you, by example, that life is very complex, that there are no final solutions, there is only the commitment to the search for quality and genuineness. I taught you to treasure the real and to shun the plastic. I taught you to value human relationships, to run away from bigotry and to expose it when you find it. I taught you to believe in the value of books, to respect education and learning, to admire goodness and integrity and wisdom. Let's not forget humor. Above all, perhaps, I taught you by example that a thoughtful and examined life requires difficult choices; that there are, for such a life, no instant fixes. We live in a society which sells trivial answers for every complex human dilemma. In our household, from our example, you were able to draw on a different set of strengths, not available in the ambient society of your growing up. I see all of these strengths in your life now. You have become the kind of woman I dreamed of raising.  -Rachael Levine

Song for a Country Wedding 

We have come in the winter To this warm country room, The family and friends Of the bride and the groom, To bring them our blessing, To share in their joy, and to hope that years passing The best measures employ To protect their small clearing, and their love be enduring.
May the hawk that flies over these thick-wooded hills,
Where through tangled ground cover With its cushion of quills,The plump porcupine ambles And the deer come to browse While through birches and brambles Clear cold water flows,
Protect their small clearing, ,And their love be enduring.
May the green leaves returning To rock maples in spring Catch fire, and, still burning, Their flaming coat fling On the lovers when sleeping To contain the first chill Of crisp autumn weather With log-fires that will protect their small clearing,
And their love be enduring.
May the air that grows colder Where the glacier has left Its erratic boulder Mountain water has cleft,
And the snow then descending No less clear than their love Be a white quilt depending From sheer whiteness above
To protect their small clearing,
And their love be enduring.

-William Jay Smith


Love's Philosophy

The Fountains mingle with the River
And the Rivers with the Ocean, The winds of Heaven mix for ever
With a sweet emotion; Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?
See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another; No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother, And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea: What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me? ~PERCY By SHE SHELLEY

Live You by Love

Live you by love confined,
There is no nearer nearness; Break not his light bounds, The stars' and seas' harness: There is nothing beyond, We have found the land's end. We'll take no mortal wound Who felt him in the furnace, Drowned in his fierceness, By his midsummer browned: Nor ever lose awareness Of nearness and farness
Who've stood at earth's heart careless Of suns and storms around,
Who have leant on the hedge of the wind, On the last ledge of darkness
...C. Day Lewis


Tanganyikan fishermen's prayer

I will woo her, I will go with her into the wilderness and comfort her: there I will restore her vineyards, turning the Vale of Trouble into the Gate of Hope, and there she will answer as in her youth, when she came up out of Egypt. On that day she shall call me, "My husband . . ."
Then I will make a covenant on behalf of Israel with the wild beasts, the birds of the air, and the things that creep on the earth, and I will break bow and sword and weapon of war and sweep them off the earth, so that all living creatures may lie down without fear. I will betroth you to myself forever, betroth you in lawful wedlock with unfailing devotion and love; I will betroth you to myself to have and to hold, . . . I will answer for the heavens, and they will answer for the earth, and the earth will answer for the corn, the new wine and the oil. Hosea


O Morning Star! when you look down upon us, give us peace and refreshing sleep. Great Spirit! bless our children, friends, and visitors through a happy life. May our trails lie straight and level before us. Let us live to be old. We are all your children and ask these things with good hearts. Hymn of the Great Plains Indians to the sun

O Spirit, grant us a calm lake, little wind, little rain, so that the canoes may proceed well, so that they may proceed speedily.
May you be for us a moon of joy and happiness. Let the young become strong and the grown man maintain his strength, the pregnant woman be delivered and the woman who has given birth, suckle her child. Let the stranger come to the end of his journey and those who remain at home dwell safely in their houses. Let the flocks that go to feed in the pastures return happily. May you be a moon of harvest and of calves. May you be a moon of restoration and of good health.


African prayer to the new moon

Let us all wear furs.
We shall not keep hidden What we have learned. We shall preserve What we have found.
We have decided here and now to marry our son and daughter. Therefore, 0 goddess of Fire, hearken and be witness. Protect this pair from every illness; watch over them so that they may grow old.


Turko-Mongolian prayers 

You are my [husband/wife]
My feet shall run because of you. My feet, dance because of you.
My heart shall beat because of you. My eyes, see because of you. My mind, think because of you. And I shall love because of you.


Eskimo love song 

0, You who dwell in Tsegihi,
In the house made of dawn,
In the house made of evening twilight, In the house made of dark cloud,
In the house made of the he-rain, of the dark mist,
In the house made of the she-rain, of pollen, of grasshoppers, Where the dark mist curtains the doorway, The path to which is the rainbow,
Where the zigzag lightning stands high on top,
Oh, divinity!
With your moccasins of dark cloud, come to us,
With your leggings and shirt and headdress of dark cloud, come
to us,
With your head enveloped in dark cloud, come to us, With the dark thunder above you, come to us, soaring, With the shapen cloud at your feet, come to us, soaring, With the far darkness made of the dark cloud over your head,
come to us, soaring.
With the far darkness made of the rain and the mist over your
head, come to us, soaring.
With the zigzag lightning flung out on high over your head, With the rainbow hanging high over your head, come to us,
With the far darkness made of the dark cloud on the ends of
your wings,
With the far darkness made of the rain and the mist on the ends
of your wings, come to us, soaring.
With the zigzag lightning, with the rainbow hanging high on
the ends of your wings, come to us, soaring.
With the near darkness made of the dark cloud of the he-rain
and the she-rain, come to us,
With the darkness on the earth, come to us.
With these I wish the foam floating on the flowing water over
the roots of the great corn.
I have made your sacrifice,
I have prepared a smoke for you, My feet restore for me.
My limbs restore, my body restore, my mind restore, my voice
restore for me.
Today, take out your spell for me, Today, take away your spell for me,
Away from me you have taken it,
Far off from me it is taken,
Far off you have done it.
Happily I recover,
Happily I become cool,
My eyes regain their power, my head cools, my limbs regain the strength, I hear again.
Happily I walk; impervious to pain, I walk; light within, I walk; joyous, I walk.
Abundant dark clouds I desire,
An abundance of vegetation I desire,
An abundance of pollen, abundant dew, I desire.
Happily may fair white corn, to the ends of the earth, come
with you.
Happily may fair yellow corn, fair blue corn, fair corn of all
kinds, plants of all kinds, goods of all kinds, jewels of all
kinds, to the ends of the earth, come with you.
With these before you, happily may they come with you, With these behind, below, above, around you, happily may
they come with you,
Thus you accomplish your tasks.
Happily, the old men will regard you,
Happily, the old women will regard you,
The young men and the young women will regard you, The children will regard you,
The chiefs will regard you,
Happily, as they scatter in all directions, they will regard you. Happily, as they approach their homes, they will regard you. May their roads home be on the trail of peace, Happily may they all get back.
In beauty I walk,
With beauty before me, I walk,
With beauty behind me, I walk,
With beauty below and above me, in the beauty about me, I
It is finished in beauty. It is finished in beauty. It is finished in beauty.

Holy the Firm

Every day is a god, each day is a god, and holiness holds forth in time. I worship each god, I praise each day splintered down, splintered down and wrapped in time like a husk, a husk of many colors spreading, at dawn fast over the mountains split.
I wake in a god. I wake in arms holding my quilt, holding me as best they can inside my quilt.
Someone is kissing me-already. I wake, I cry, "Oh," I rise from the pillow. Why should I open my eyes,
I open my eyes. The god lifts from the water. His head fills the bay. He is
Puget Sound, the
Pacific; his breast rises from pastures; his fingers are firs; islands slide wet down his shoulders. Islands slip blue from his shoulders and glide over the water, the empty, lighted water like a stage.
Today's god rises, his long eyes flecked in clouds. He flings his arms, spreading colors; he arches, cupping sky in his belly; he vaults, vaulting and spread, holding all and spread on me like skin....
The day is real....
The day is real. . . . I stand and smooth the quilt.
"Oh," I cry, "Oh!"



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.

The more you invest in a marriage, the more valuable it becomes.
~Amy Grant

In marriage, each partner is to be an encourager rather than a critic, a forgiver rather than a collector of hurts, an enabler rather than a reformer.
~H. Norman Wright and Gary J. Oliver

Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards.
~Benjamin Franklin

A portion of your soul has been entwined with mine. A gentle kind of togetherness, while separate we stand. As two trees deeply rooted in separate plots of ground, while their topmost branches come together, forming a miracle of lace against the heavens.
~Janet Miles

The kind of marriage you make depends upon the kind of person you are. If you are a happy, well-adjusted person, the chances are your marriage will be a happy one. If you have made adjustments so far with more satisfaction than distress, you are likely to make your marriage and family adjustments satisfactorily. If you are discontented and bitter about your lot in life, you will have to change before you can expect to live happily ever after. ~Evelyn Duvall and Reuben Hill

Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along. ~Rumi

The quality of love and the duration of a relationship are in direct proportion to the depth of the commitment by both people to making the relationship successful. Commit yourself wholeheartedly and unconditionally to the most important people in your life. ~Brian Tracy

I love you, for putting your hand into my heart and passing over all the foolish, weak things that you can’t help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out into the light all the beautiful belongings that no one else had looked quite so far enough to find  ~Roy Croft

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where, I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.
~Pablo Neruda

Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life.  ~Leo Buscaglia

Life without love is like a tree without blossom and fruit.  ~Kahlil Gibran