The Wedding of Stephanie Brown and Jerad Hutchinson
Sunday, October 25th, 2009, at 2:00pm
Yosemite Valley, Yosemite, California
Officiated by Taylor Odenwald
Welcome and thank you for joining us as we celebrate Steph and Jerad’s commitment to one another.
They are delighted that you have come to share in their joy during this special day.
By your presence, you celebrate with them the love they have discovered in each other, and you support their decision to commit themselves to a lifelong relationship.
As much as today is a celebration of their marriage, it is also a celebration of their love, which is built upon the last four years they have spent together and all the experiences encompassed by that time.
They have invited you to this beautiful place, to Yosemite National Park, and show you a glimpse of an important piece of their love. To share with you these mountains, these forests, these waterfalls because during their years together, they have come here many times, on days like today, together. So humbled and awed by the purity of their surroundings that Yosemite has become a shelter, a respite, and a very special place to them.
They wanted to show you the beauty of these fields and these cliffs because this is where their hearts have made their home.
They have invited you here because their love is connected to this place. Their time spent here has always been a time of peace, of connectedness, and of a deepening respect for the divine, for nature, and for each other.
They ask that you open your hearts and minds to the timelessness of this place and to the love we are here to share through this ceremony.
Marriage is a bond to be entered into only after considerable thought and reflection. By making this commitment today, Steph and Jerad’s relationship will become stronger, better, and deeper. Today, they demonstrate their devotion to each other by dedicating themselves to a life together. And they show their respect for each other by setting forth to honor the vows they have created. Today, their lives, which began on separate paths, will be joined as one.
As French writer Marcel Proust said, “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
You are the people who make the souls of Steph and Jerad blossom. We want to acknowledge and thank all of you for your support and participation today.
“Friends,” a famous writer once wrote, represent “a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” Each of you has been invited to participate in this commitment ceremony because you have, in some way, brought about a new world in Steph or Jerad.
Steph and Jerad, today you are surrounded by your closest friends as they gather to witness your commitment and share in the joy of this happy occasion.
Life is a story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And, like a story, it is best experienced with the people you love. Everyone in this circle is here because they’re a part of Steph and Jerad’s story. Some of you are participating by holding things, some of you will be adding your voices to the ceremony, and some more will be participating by laughing and crying along with us.
Nevertheless, everyone’s active participation in this wedding begins now. Jerad and Steph will be wearing rings as a sign of their commitment to one another, and as the ceremony proceeds, they invite you to take part in the warming of these rings. Each guest is asked to hold them for a few moments, warm them with your love and make a silent wish or prayer for this couple and their future together. When these rings come back they will contain, in their precious metal, that which is more precious, that which is priceless; your love and hope and pledge of support for their marriage.
[The rings will make their way around to each of our guests as the ceremony proceeds.]
So, now that we all understand our roles here today, we will begin the ceremony.
First, Tina, will make a blessing:
May your marriage bring you all the
exquisite excitements a marriage should bring,
and may life grant you also patience, tolerance,
May you always need one another - not so much
to fill your emptiness as to help you 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 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
May you have love, and may you find it loving one another!
Albert Einstein said: “Strange is our situation here upon Earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. However, there is one thing that we do know, that we are here for the sake of others. Above all, for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy.”
And now Tyson will do a reading of The Key to Love:
“The key to love is understanding …
The ability to comprehend not only the spoken word,
but those unspoken gestures,
the little things that say so much by themselves.
The key to love is forgiveness ….
to accept each others faults and pardon mistakes,
without forgetting, but with remembering
what you learn from them.
The key to love is sharing …
Facing your good fortunes as well as the bad, together;
both conquering problems, forever searching for ways
to intensify your happiness.
The key to love is giving …
without thought of return,
but with the hope of just a simple smile,
and by giving in but never giving up.
The key to love is respect …
realizing that you are two separate people,
with different ideas;
that you don’t belong to each other,
that you belong with each other, and share a mutual bond.
The key to love is inside us all …
It takes time and patience to unlock all the ingredients
that will take you to its threshold;
it is the continual learning process
that demands a lot of work …
but the rewards are more than worth the effort …
and that is the key to love.”
Marriage. It ranks right up there with birth and death as one of the three biggies in life. But it’s the only one that we’ll celebrate with a conscious awareness. Very few of you remember your arrival, and even fewer of you will attend your own funeral. Pick a society, any society: Jewish farmers 100 years ago in Poland, English émigrés to Canada, San Franciscan hipsters ... What’s the one thing they all have in common? Marriage. It’s like a cultural handrail. It links us to the past, and guides us to the future.
Marriage is the union of disparate elements: male and female, proton and electron. What we’re talking about here is the very tension that binds the universe. When we look at marriage, we’re looking at creation itself.
And now Beth will read Union by Robert Fulghum:
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 commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – 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 are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that 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, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.
For after today you shall say to the world –
This is my husband. This is my wife.
Now we will hear the reading of the marriage certificate.
On this the twenty-fifth day of October in the year
Two thousand nine
In the town of Yosemite Valley, California
Stephanie Renee Brown &
Jerad Louis Hutchinson
Took each other by the hand and joyfully declared themselves married, promising to be loving and equal partners as long as they both shall live.
As confirmation and celebration of this commitment we set our hands.
(S & J Sign certificate)
And we, as members of their loving community, set our hands in witness and pledge to celebrate and support this union.
(Guests Sign certificate)
This is the point in the ceremony when the officiant usually talks about the wedding bands being a perfect circle, having no beginning and no end. But we all know that these rings do have a beginning. Rock is dug up from the earth. Metal is liquefied in a furnace at a thousand degrees. Hot metal is poured into a mold, cooled, and then painstakingly polished. Something beautiful is made from raw elements. Love is like that. It's hot, dirty work. It comes from humble beginnings, made by imperfect beings. It's the process of making something beautiful where there was once nothing at all.
Each of you has enhanced the beauty of Jerad and Steph's rings with your love and hopes for their future. Steph and Jerad, when you look down at your rings, remember that you are literally surrounded by all of the love and well-wishes that were given to you today. In addition, love is not only given; it has to be received and accepted to be truly beautiful.
Now, take hands. And all of you who love each other, please take each others' hands as well. To reach out to someone and be acknowledged and loved is a human need. Taking the hand of one who loves you is a powerful symbol of that unspoken bond.
Your hands are also the part of you that you use the most. As you go about your daily work and play, your ring is a tangible reminder of the promises you’ve made to each other. It will always be with you, visible, worn openly and with pride.
With that in mind, may I have the rings?
Taylor (to J): Jerad, please repeat after me: As a symbol of my commitment to you and our family, I offer you this ring.
Jerad: As a symbol of my commitment to you and our family, I offer you this ring.
Taylor (to S): I accept your gift with joy and gratitude.
Steph: I accept your gift with joy and gratitude.
Taylor (to J): I accept your gift with joy and gratitude.
Jerad: I accept your gift with joy and gratitude.
Steph, please hold Jerad’s hands palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as he promises to passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness. These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future, a family, as you laugh and cry, as you share your innermost secrets and dreams. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow and tears of joy. These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief engulfs your heart. These are the hands that when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch. These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes; eyes that filled completely with his overwhelming love and desire for you.
Now Jerad, please hold Steph’s hands palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you. These are the hands of your best friend, smooth, young and carefree, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as she promises to passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness. These are the hands that will massage tension from your neck and back in the evenings when you complain that your body is falling apart. These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times. These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick, or console you when you are grieving. These are the hands that when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch. These are the hands that will give you support as she encourages you to chase down your dreams.
Together as a team, everything you wish for can be realized.
God, bless these hands that you see before you this day. May they always be held by one another. Give them the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. Keep them tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their wondrous love. Help these hands to continue building a relationship founded in your grace, rich in caring, and devoted in reaching for your perfection. May Steph and Jerad see their four hands as healers, protectors, shelter and guides. We ask this in your name. Amen.
Steph and Jerad have elected today to begin a new tradition, a custom which now becomes uniquely their own.
Stephanie, I give to you this flower. Because this beautiful flower grew from a tiny seed, it symbolizes the way my love for you has grown. From the first faint tingling of its inception, it has become stronger and larger until today it blossoms for all to see. [He gives her the flower]. Each year on our wedding anniversary, I will give you another flower. In so doing, I will remember this day and renew the vows we’ve made. I am confident that each year my flower will be symbolic of ever deeper and more beautiful feelings of love.
Jerad, I give to you this vase of water. [He takes it and holds it.] Because water is the one element without which we would surely perish, it symbolizes the importance of your love in my life. Water, like love, can take many forms. Sometimes it is steam, sometimes ice. But no matter what happens to it, even if, for a time it seems to disappear, it always returns. Each year on our anniversary, I will refill this vase, offering it to you as a symbol of my ever renewing feelings of love. [She puts the flower in the vase and they both hold the vase together.]
Without water, the flower would die.
Without the flower, the vase of water would not be beautiful.
My gift is enhanced by yours, just as my life is enhanced by yours.
My gift is lovely because of yours, just as my life is better because of you. [We hand the rose and vase to Taylor.]
On each anniversary, as you re-enact the giving and receiving of the flower and the water, may you remember with joy this day when you pledge your love and lives to each other. May this be only the first of many cherished traditions in a home filled with happiness.
Remember that a relationship is a progression; your love will have seasons like Nature itself. There is an old Chinese proverb that says: “The Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, “ and now your journey has begun, and a new chapter has started in your story.
Dom will now read a Native American Blessing:
Dom: I would now like to end this celebration with this very special blessing used in Apache wedding ceremonies:
May the sun bring you new happiness by day;
May the moon softly restore you by night;
May the rain wash away your worries
And the breeze blow new strength into your being,
And all the days of your life
May you walk gently through the world and know its beauty.
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years. May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth.
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, difficulties 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.
Steph and Jerad, in the presence of your closest friends who have joined you to share this moment of joy in your lives, you have declared your deep love and affection for each other. You have stated your wish to always be open to a deeper, richer friendship and partnership. Your have formed your own union, based on respect and honor. Therefore, it is my joyful responsibility to officially acknowledge your union as "Husband and Wife". You may now seal your marriage with a kiss.