If you are writing your own ceremony, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to your Marriage Address, that moment where your officiant talks about marriage and love and places it in context of your relationship.
In my wedding ceremonies, I include a Love Story – the story of the couple! It’s based on their past and experience – how they met, how they fell in love, and how they decided that this was it – that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. It’s always sweet, always funny, and I try to elicit both laughter and a few tears with each of them, because that’s how I think a relationship should be – full of emotion.
The Love Story is in place of the sermon, homily, or officiant’s address in a more traditional ceremony – so instead of making generalities about marriage and love, and offering advice on how to create a good marriage – I use my couple’s own words to explain WHY they are a good match, why they love each other, and why they have made the choice to stand before their family and friends today, to declare their love and devotion to each other. I think it’s a great thing to include because no one will EVER have it in their ceremony other than YOU – it really makes your ceremony all about YOU and your partner, and truly makes it unlike any other wedding ceremony that will ever exist!
But how do I write this, if I don’t know the couples?
I give them homework!
Well, I usually also meet my couples in person, or have some phone conversations with them, too, to get a good sense of the kind of ceremony and Love Story they are looking for. Some people want to get a certain feeling across, or not have as much humor – and I can tell from speaking and meeting people a bit about this. But the homework is really where I get most of my details and information about the Love Story from.
If you’re having a friend or family member officiate, they probably know your stories already – but it may help to sit down and re-tell them, so they can get a fresh perspective. As a good example – I officiated at my best friend’s wedding. I had lived with her for five years, and her fiance for two, and had known them for their entire relatiosnhip – so I knew a lot of their stories! But I still asked them for their own perspective about their stories, so I could get a fresh take on it, while still adding my own take on it.
I usually choose two or three “mini” stories to use in the overall Love Story – you or your officiant can decide how many you’d like to include. This “mini” stories form the arch of the Love Story, and usually flow from one to the other well – these include:
- The first meeting
- The first date
- First kiss
- First “I Love You”
- Moment they knew they were in love
- The Proposal
Based on the info that I get, I pick and choose to find the moments that really stick out to me – the ones that are appropriate to share and really show how their relationship has evolved and grown through the time they’ve known each other.
After telling their story, I always end my Love Stories by sharing what the couple love and admires about each other, and often include their hopes for the future.
So – in addition to getting the typical stories (How’d you meet? How did you feel about one another at the time?, etc), I always ask these:
- What do you love about your partner?
- What actions of his/her say “I love you”?
- What do you admire about your partner?
- What have they taught you?
These questions are a little more in depth, and can really help your officiant explore your relationship and make your Love Story really memorable, sweet, and touching.
The greatest compliment I ever got for one of my ceremonies came from the mother of the bride – she told me that “it was like you had known them forever.” I really try to capture the relationship in my Love Story, and I think it’s a wonderful keepsake to have down the line as well.
Still want to know more? Here’s a copy of the Love Story I wrote for my best friend when she was married last summer (shared with her permission!). Text always looks longer on paper than when it is read out loud – this took about five or six minutes to read in their ceremony.
When Lindsey and Ben first struck up a conversation outside of the theatre in college, they each had distinct first impressions of each other. Ben thought he was talking to me. Lindsey thought Ben was gay.
Lindsey was stage managing the auditions that Ben, a freshman, had decided to try out for. Lindsey was a friendly sophomore, and began chatting with Ben before the auditions. They argued about bagels – Ben insisted that Montreal had the best bagels. Lindsey said, “That’s ridiculous! We’re right near New York. They have the best bagels.”
During the bagel conversation, Ben realized that Lindsey was not me. His first thought was “I hope she casts me!” But after a few minutes, Ben thought, “Hey, she’s really fun… and cute… but way out of my league.”
Ben was cast in not one, but two of the five shows that were being auditioned that night. It was an unusual situation, and the directors needed to check with Ben to see if he would agree to it. As soon as contacting Ben was mentioned, Lindsey leapt to her feet and said, “I’ll call him!” before zipping out the door to the closest phone. There was definitely a connection between them that had been sparked, though neither had realized it yet.
When the rehearsals began, Lindsey and Ben got to spend a lot of time together. Outside of the theatre, they began taking walks in the woods behind Ben’s dorm. Neither knows quite when the transition from friends to something more happened. Because they were working together on the show, they decided to keep the beginning of their relationship a secret. And they did – they “came out” as a couple at the end of October, a few days after the show closed.
Though neither Lindsey nor Ben remember exactly when they fell in love, they both had distinct moments when they knew they would be together for a long time. The Christmas after they met, Lindsey told her mother that she could marry Ben: “I didn’t see myself with anyone else – I just knew that Ben was a true partner that I could live my life with,” she said. Her mom told her that when she met her dad, she had that same feeling – she knew they would be together forever.
Ben recalls a night early in their relationship when he discovered a stack of books hidden under Lindsey’s pillow in her dorm room – books on Judaism and Jewish traditions. He thought that this was an odd thing for Lindsey, who was Lutheran, to have in her bed. This moment is what got Ben thinking – “Hey, maybe she’s the one.” That feeling was driven home while he watched Lindsey walk across the stage at her college graduation, several years later. At that moment, Ben knew that this was the person he was going to spend his life with.
On a rainy day in June of 2006, Ben took Lindsey up to Scituate, Massachusetts, where he had grown up. The clouds began to clear up as they drove to the Scituate lighthouse, and they walked out to the beach, over the rocks. They sat their together, talking and looking out at the ocean. It started to drizzle again, so Lindsey got up to leave. Ben stood up as well, and turned to her. “There are three main reason that I wanted to take you out here,” he began. “One, I have always thought of this as my special place. I used to come out here when I was a kid and thought I was the only one who knew about it. I’ve never wanted to share this spot with anyone, until now.
“Two, this light house is called Lover’s Lighthouse. Each lighthouse has a code to help ships identify their location, and this one blinks out “I Love You.”
“Three, this is the site of one of the most important events in my life.”
At that, Ben got down on one knee, and took out a ring. “Will you marry me?” he asked.
Lindsey was surprised, and opened her mouth to answer him – but before she could, Ben began to slip on the wet jetty! “Hurry up and say yes before I slip!” he said.
Lindsey answered, “Of course I’ll marry you!”
Ben says that he loves Lindsey because she can debate and tickle equally well. He admires her dedication and commitment to what she believes in, and says that Lindsey is one of the smartest people he knows. But the connection that they feel is how he truly knows he loves her – “I feel closest to Lindsey when we share a deep look and don’t have to say anything,” he says. “Just a deep look filled with love and so many emotions.”
Lindsey loves how passionate Ben is about doing good in the world. She loves his silliness, and his ability to bring huge issues down to a personal level. She loves how he calms her and his constant, if annoying, ability to actually know what she’s thinking and call her on it. But the thing that she loves the most about him? “Oh!” she exclaims, “I love his nose!” To Lindsey, nothing says “I love you” more than when Ben hangs up his towel in the bathroom and when he makes her a bagel.
As you can see, bagels are an important and central theme in Ben and Lindsey’s love story.
Lindsey and Ben, we are overjoyed to share in this celebration with you today. It brings us immense happiness to be here as witnesses to the next chapter in your love story.