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We often get asked about our wedding cermony, which was written around poems and stories. Here is a copy for those searching for wedding poems and ideas for a cermony rich in traditional yet contemporary and non-traditional. --egh & jgh

The Wedding

July 10, 1998

The Readers

The Bride
The Groom
The Narrator
Family and Friends
Janet S. Granger
Edward G. Happ
Richard Mayberry
David Sacci
Scott Sacci
Susan Granger
James Mapes
Don Granger
Lisa McRee
Marjorie Irish
Byron Janis
Maria Janis
Ann Moore
Lou Holtermann
Alice Smith
Bruce Smith
Ken Williams

Processional: Violin Concerto No. 3 in G--Adagio --W.A. Mozart

The Welcome

The Bride:

We have asked you to join us here today to share in our marriage--not merely as witnesses, but also as participants--in the telling of our story, the same as we tell and retell the stories in the religious traditions we share.

To tell this story, we are weaving together poetry and other writings because our story begins in poetry and is living poetry--we would like our lives together to be a communion of these deepest feelings.

Our "model" for this ceremony is the Passover Seder, because this is a spiritual experience we both share in our religious traditions. We will read and use symbols much like the Seder. Our desire is to celebrate the common spirituality of our two traditions.

The text that you have today is arranged much like a play, with parts for each of you. We hope you enjoy the unfolding of the story and the readings as much as we enjoyed finding these pieces and assembling them to create this celebration. Let us begin

The Groom:

Once upon a time, there were two poets.
Now there are three.
This is the story of how they came to be.
It is a story of threads and ties--
a new cloth from an old cloth,
new poem from an old poem--
for poetry is a language of threads and ties:
it is seeing the connections that run through moments and events
even when they are disparate, and broken.
We have asked all of you to come and share,
not as audience before whom we weave our tale,
but as co--creators of this moment, this poem,
a special place, a special word, here and now,
when we ask through these words we speak
to one another,
that it be holy, blessing, gift.


Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
The sun is yellow
And so are daffodils--
And the grass is green.

I. The Blessing


The Seder, as all Sabbath celebrations, begins with a blessing and with wine. This is the Kiddush. It is not a blessing of the wine, but rather a blessing of the time as sacred time.

Ken Williams:
Sanctifying Time

Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time. Unlike the space--minded man to who time is unvaried, iterative, homogeneous, to whom all hours are alike, qualitiless, empty shells, the Bible senses the diversified character of time. Judaism teaches us to be attached to holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge from the magnificent streams of a year. The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals; and our Holy of Holies is a shrine that neither Romans nor Greeks were able to burn.

--Abraham Heschel

Don Granger:

We would like to ask God's blessing on this time when we have come together, and drink the wine to unite us as one in this celebration today. We will now say the Kiddush together.

The Kiddush

All: (Raise the Kiddush cups and say):

And there was evening and there was morning: the sixth day.
And the heavens were completed
and the earth and all its components (were completed).
And God completed on the seventh day
His work which He had been doing.
And He ceased on the seventh day
and He sanctified it,
because on it He ceased from all His work
which God had created through doing.

--The Vayekhulu, Genesis 2:1--3


We praise You, Lord, our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Don Granger:

The blessing that sanctifies the Sabbath day...


We praise You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe who hallows us with mitzvot and favors us with the holy Sabbath, lovingly and graciously bestowed upon us, a memorial of the act of creation, first of the holy assemblies, a remembrance of the going forth from Egypt.

You have chosen us and hallowed us from among all peoples, by lovingly and graciously bestowing upon us Your holy Sabbath. We praise You, O God, who sanctifies the Sabbath.

All: Amen (Drink the wine)

Richard: Let us pray...
Wedding Day

Almighty God, we call You to the marriage today, remembering that you responded to such a call in the long ago. Without Your presence and without Your blessing, there can be no true union of hearts and lives in marriage. Help us to hold sacred the institution that You blessed in such a wonderful way in Cana of Galilee. Deliver us from anything, without or within, that might mar the beauty, disturb the harmony, or shorten the length of this relationship that should be, and can be, the most satisfying and blessed of all life's experiences. Our voices are lifted to You in prayer for Your grace in the deep experiences that marriage brings. In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

II. The Wilderness


In both our traditions, often the greatest moments of blessing, the greatest moments of grace and forgiveness, are those that come through exile and suffering. This theme is also true for our story today.

Alice Smith:

In the Jewish tradition, it is believed that when a man marries, his sins are forgiven. Like the holiday of Yom Kippur, marriage is thought to bring atonement for all past wrongdoing. Thus the wedding day is supremely sacred, for the bride and groom, who are seen to embark upon married life in a state of utter purity, embody in ritual the words of the ancient prophet Isaiah: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be whiter than snow."

--Daphne Ros Kingma, Weddings


In the Christian tradition, St. Paul, says this word of grace most eloquently:

Ann Moore:
A Letter to the Romans

What then shall we say to this?
If God is for us, who is against us?
Who shall separate us from God's love?
Shall tribulation, or distress,
or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril,
or sword?
No, in all these things
we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us.
For I am sure that neither death, nor life
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers,
nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God

--St. Paul, Letter to the Romans, 8:31, 35, 37--39


To symbolize this separation and atonement--the making one--the Bride and Groom will break a candle, then light both halves, one from the other, and then together light the third, so there is again one flame.

Bride and Groom:
(break and light the candles)

Lou Holtermann:
(read during the lighting of the candles)

Believe in a love

"Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it."

--Ranier Maria Rilke

III. In the Fullness of Time


As poetry weaves image and reality in the words of the metaphor, so these two lives have become closer through the sharing of the poetry at the center of who they are. It is in this love of words where their relationship began. And we are here today because of the poetry in their lives.

Byron Janis:
When I Met My Muse

I glanced at her and took my glasses
off--they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. "I am your own
way of looking at things," she said. "When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation." And I took her hand.

--William Stafford

Marjorie Irish:
Poem 611

I see thee better -- in the dark --
I do not need a Light --
The Love of Thee -- a Prism be --
Excelling Violet -- …

What need of Day --
To Those whose Dark -- hath so -- surpassing Sun --
It deem it be -- Continually --
At the Meridian?

--Emily Dickinson

James Mapes:
Sonnet CXV

Those lines that I before have writ do lie,
Even those that said I could not love you dearer:
Yet then my judgment knew no reason why
My most full flame should afterwards burn clearer.
But reckoning Time, whose million'd accidents
Creep in 'twixt vows, and change decrees of kings,
Tan sacred beauty, blunt the sharp'st intents,
Divert strong minds to the course of altering things;
Alas, why, fearing of Time's tyranny,
Might I not then say, 'Now I love you best,'
When I was certain o'er incertainty,
Crowning the present, doubting of the rest?
Love is a babe; then might I not say so,
To give full growth to that which still doth grow?

--William Shakespeare

Maria Janis:
The Minute I heard

The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
How blind that was.

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.


IV. Happily Ever After


In every love, as married life, there must be a bit of fairy tale--first in the romance of meeting and coming together; and then in the little things done for each other as bits of magic. Love is part fairy tale--a bit child--like, full of wonder, awe--something that is told and retold to each other. ... A story about a little prince tells the tale of this magic.

Lisa McRee:

The Fox and the Rose

"Come and play with me," proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."
"I cannot play with you," the fox said. "I am not tamed"…
"What does that mean, tame?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties . . . To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world . . .
"If you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back under­neath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow . . . Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! ...
"Please--tame me! Said [the fox]
One only understands the things that one tames. . . If you want a friend, tame me . . ."
"What must I do to tame you?" asked the little prince.
"You must be patient," replied the fox. "First you will sit down at a little distance from me--like that--in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . . [and you must] come back at the same hour. If, for example, you come at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites."
"What is a rite?" asked the prince.
"They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours . . ."
So the prince tamed the fox . . .
[Then the fox said,] "Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back … and I will make you a present of a secret."
The little prince went away, to look again at the [garden of] roses.
"You are not at all like my rose," he said. "As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world . . .
"You are beautiful, but you are empty," he went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you--the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered . . . because it is she that I have sheltered . . . because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose."
And he went back to meet the fox.
"Goodbye," he said.
"Goodbye," said the fox. "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye."
"What is essential is invisible to the eye," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.
"It is the time you have devoted to your rose that makes your rose so important"
"It is the time I have devoted to my rose--" said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.
"Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose… ."
"I am responsible for my rose," the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.

--ANTOINE DE SAINT--EXUPERY, from The Little Prince, translated by Katherine Woods

A Warm Wind

It was a happy day for Wilbur. And many more happy, tranquil days followed.
As time went on, and the months and years came and went, he was never without friends. … Charlotte's children and grandchildren and great grandchildren, year after year, lived in the doorway. Each spring there were new little spiders hatching out to take the place of the old. Most of them sailed away, on their balloons. But always two or three stayed and set up housekeeping in the doorway. …

Life in the barn was good--night and day, winter and summer, spring and fall, dull days and bright days. It was the best place to be, thought Wilbur, this warm delicious cellar, with the garrulous geese, the changing seasons, the heat of the sun, the passage of swallows, the nearness of rats, the sameness of sheep, the love of spiders, the smell of manure, the glory of everything.

Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.

V. The Readings


This story is also one of a shared spirituality, for we share the oldest books of the Bible in each of our religious traditions. And these books contain some of our earliest poetry. Listen to what our ancestors say…

Susan Granger:
Psalm I

Blessed are the man and the woman
who have grown beyond themselves
and have seen through their separations.
They delight in the ways things are
and keep their hearts open, day and night.
They are like the trees planted near flowing rivers,
which bear fruit when they are ready.
Their leaves will not fall or whither.
Everything they do will succeed.

--adapted by Stephen Miller



Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up. Again, if two lie together, they are warm; but how can one be warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him.

--Ecclesiastes 4:9--12

VI. The Vows

Narrator: Janet and Ed will now exchange the poetry and vows they have written to each other.

The Bride:


There is so much to say and
no words with which to

I listen to the radio,
sure there is a song whose lyrics I can steal.
But the music never uncovers all the feeling,
though the rhythms sometimes come

I read the works of others,
longing for a poem, a sonnet,
a window or clue.
Searching the great names, I find that
no one has combined the right
nouns and verbs and adjectives
for me.

I dig deeply into the dictionary and thesaurus and find only
descriptions for the void:
the deep, throbbing of a heart that pulls on the
fiercely tangled stomach and the
taut, strained lungs.

Where are the
I remain mute
my soul becomes raw in its
no phrases to suture it,
no incantations to soothe it,
no stories to numb it.
if only I knew the language
to breathe
the whole
of all the feeling
and meaning
out of my body


The Groom:
Love Poem

How can I
say the words,
form them with
my lips and tongue,
They are too
My mouth is full,
feasting on the
curves of vowels,
the delicacy of
and the perfume
of white space.
I try a whisper
and it is
smaller than
a comma--
even poetry
can do no
more than
sing in harmony
as background
notes, or
tap rhythmically
on a metaphor
as it sinks.

The flat--liners
talk of bright lights
at the end.
All I see
are suns coming
over the horizon,
and finches happy
in the dawn.
I am with them
and my eyes
and ears
are aflame,
blind without
a sound,
at the


David and Scott:
(The children present the rings)

The Bride:

My Pledge

I, Janet, take you Edward,
to be my partner in marriage
and in life

To love you and honor you
To give thanks for you and
To serve you
with my wit
my strength
my poetry
my heart
To stand by you always
and in every way
though sickness threaten
and turmoil prevail
To create with you a living metaphor
of the beauty of a relationship
between a man and a woman

I promise to always listen to you
labor with you
encourage you
To be faithful to you
patient with you
and forgive you

To believe in you
though you may doubt yourself
To be the mirror
of your highest dreams and values
And to walk beside you always.

The Groom:
My Pledge

I, Edward, take you Janet,
to be my partner in marriage
and in life

To love you and honor you
To give thanks for you and
To serve you
with my wit
my strength
my poetry
my heart
To stand by you always
and in every way
though sickness threaten
and turmoil prevail
To create with you a living metaphor
of the beauty of a relationship
between a man and a woman

I promise to always listen to you
labor with you
encourage you
To be faithful to you
patient with you
and forgive you

To believe in you
though you may doubt yourself
To be the mirror
of your highest dreams and values
And to walk beside you always.


The Way

The way is long -- let us go together
The way is difficult -- let us help each other
The way is joyful -- let us share it
The way is ours alone -- let us go in love
The way grows before us -- let us begin

--Source Unknown

We now pronounce you man and wife.


Serenade No.10 in B--Flat--Adagio
--W.A. Mozart

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