The Words

 

 

 

The wedding ceremony of Aviva Brandt and Scott Foster

Officiated by  Judge Thomas Moultrie

11:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, 2001, The Governor Hotel, Portland

 

 

We are gathered here today to celebrate the wedding of Scott and Aviva, and to share this first day of the rest of their lives together as husband and wife. As individuals, they have valued your love, friendship, guidance and encouragement. It is only fitting then that you should be present as they join their lives together in marriage.

Aviva and Scott, you stand here now as two individuals at the dawn of your life together. For more than six years, you have been coming to know, respect and love each other. Today, you are making the deepest commitment of your lives as you publicly acknowledge your intention to be married and, with it, your promise of trust and devotion.

We know that no minister, no rabbi, no public official can marry you. Only you can marry yourselves. By a mutual commitment to love each other, to work toward creating an atmosphere of care and consideration and respect, by a willingness to face the tensions and anxieties that underlie human life, you can make your wedded life come alive.

A good marriage is many things, but it is, above all else, a relationship of love. Essentially, to be in love means to have a deep sense of identification with another person. It is to live in the life of that person, feeling his or her joys and troubles as if they were your own. And when two people are truly in love, each is concerned with helping the other become what he or she desires to be.

There should be a sharing of your lives. Your lives should be a life together, but there should also be spaces in your togetherness. Allow each other room and privacy to be individuals, with hearts and minds of your own. For only by being a whole person can you have something to give to the one you love. Each of you should keep the freedom of spirit that brought you together here today.

***

[Reading by Denise Anthis from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran]

By Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

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.

 

***

It is our hope that your marriage will give you the strength and commitment to face all of life’s adversities. But equally important, let us hope that it will enhance your sensitivity to all that is wondrous and beautiful. Your home should be a place to share the joys of life. We hope that you will find there a deep sense of serenity, a serenity that comes as each of you learn to understand, to accept, and to forgive yourselves as well.

The essence of this commitment is the taking of another person in his or her entirety, as lover, companion and friend. It is therefore a decision that is not to be entered into lightly, but rather undertaken with great consideration and respect for both the other person and oneself.

***

[Reading by Susan Frahm from a marriage ceremony in Owlsight by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon]

This bond, this joining, is not meant to be a fetter. A joining is a partnership, not two people becoming one. Two minds cannot fuse, two souls cannot merge, two hearts cannot keep to the same time. If two are foolish enough to try this, one must overwhelm the other, and that is no love, nor is it compassion, nor responsibility. You are two who choose to walk the same path, to bridge the differences between you with love. You must remember and respect those differences and learn to understand them, for they are part of what made you come to love in the first place.

Love is patient, love is willing to compromise – love is willing to admit it is wrong. There will be hard times; you must face them as bound warriors do, side by side, not using the weapon of your knowledge to tear at each other.

There will be sadness as well as joy, and you must support one another through the grief and sorrow. There will be pain – but pain shared is pain halved, as joy shared is joy doubled, and you each must sacrifice your own comfort to share the pain of the other. And yet, you must do all this and manage to keep each other from wrong actions, for a joining means that you also pledge to help another at all times.

You must lead each other by example. Guide and be willing to be guided. Being joined does not mean that you accept what is truly wrong; being joined means that you must strive that you both remain in the light and the right.

You must not pledge yourselves thinking that you can change each other. That is rankest folly, and disrespectful, for no one has the right to change another. You must not pledge yourselves thinking that there will be no strife between you. That is fantasy, for you are two and not one, and there will inevitably come conflict, and it will be up to you to resolve. You must not pledge yourselves thinking that all will be well from this moment on. You must come to this joining fully ready, fully committed, and fully respectful of one another.

 

***

[Lift wine glass]

This wineglass symbolizes the cup of life, which contains both sweetness and bitterness. Through your years together, you will drink from both cups, sharing the good and the bad, the sweet and the bitter. But today, you’ll drink of the sweetness we wish for your life together. Out of the many years you have shared has grown the love that brought you to this day. As you continue to share in each other's life, you will, as a symbol of this enduring cooperation, share this cup of wine.

 

[Hand glass to Scott, he will sip and pass to Aviva.]

***

Aviva, Scott, please face each other and join hands.

Scott, do you take Aviva to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold

from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as you both shall live?

[Scott: I do.]

Aviva, do you take Scott to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold

from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as you both shall live?

[Aviva: I do.]

Marriage is an intensely personal act, but, in order for the couple's marriage to gain strength to last throughout the years, their union must be supported by their greater society of family and friends.

In this spirit, Scott and Aviva ask all of you now: do you support their marriage and accept the new partner into your life as family and a friend of your own?

[Guests: We do.]

***

Before you are three special candles. The two smaller candles symbolize the lives of the bride and groom. Until today, both have let their light shine as individuals. Now they have come to publicly proclaim their love in the new union of marriage.

They do not lose their individuality. Yet, in marriage, they are united in so close a bond that they become one. Now, they bring their separate lights together, lighting the center candle to symbolize the beginning of a new life. Henceforth, their light will shine together for each other, their family and the community.

The eighteenth-century rabbi Baal Shem Tov (pronounced bl-SHEM-tv) is quoted as saying: "From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls that are destined for each other find one another, their streams of light flow together and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being."

[Music as candles are lit]

***

May I have the rings? For hundreds of years, couples have exchanged rings as a token of their wedding vows. These gold bands are not of great value in and of themselves. But what they stand for now, and what they will come to mean over time is beyond price. The great circle of life itself is symbolized in these small circles on your fingers. Cast together from a single piece of gold, these two rings share similar yet different designs; they are part of a greater whole, yet separate, as you can remain individuals while thriving together in your marriage.

Scott, take this ring, place it upon Aviva’s finger, and repeat after me:

"With this ring, I thee wed."

Aviva, take this ring, place it upon Scott’s finger, and repeat after me:

"With this ring, I thee wed."

***

The vows that you have spoken to each other are your gifts to one another, as well as your promise. These vows now become your guide and your bond to each other, giving you strength to weather difficult times, and an inward serenity that comes with the knowledge that for the rest of your lives, your friend, lover and partner will always be at your side.

In as much as Aviva and Scott have consented together, in the presence of these witnesses, to become husband and wife, now therefore by virtue of the authority vested in me as a Circuit Judge of the County of Multnomah and the State of Oregon, I pronounce you husband and wife.

***

The Jewish tradition of the breaking of the glass at wedding ceremonies has many meanings besides serving as a reminder of the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the year 70. It teaches us that in times of joy, we must also realize life brings sadness and sorrow. The sound of the breaking glass is said to frighten away evil spirits who might otherwise spoil this joyous occasion with their mischief. The frailty of the glass also suggests the frailty of human relationships. Even the strongest love is subject to disintegration. The glass, then, is broken to "protect" the marriage with an implied prayer: "As this glass shatters, so may our marriage never break."

[Scott stamps on glass]

***

Arlene and Marlys, as Aviva and Scott’s mothers and as representatives of this community, please come forward as witnesses on the marriage license.

[signing ]

Everyone, may I be the first to present the newly wedded couple, Scott and Aviva.

[recessional]

 

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