On July 8 I was humbled and honoured to compose and conduct the marriage ceremony of my cousin Andrea to her partner Jason. In the months leading up to the ceremony I engaged people I knew in discussions about marriage in preparation for this role. I appreciated their thoughts and comments.
Andrea and Jason’s day went off phenomenally. It was obvious their families, and friends had an exceptional time. I had never been to a wedding with so many children under the age of ten present. There must have been about 15 to 20 little ones, and their presence brought a positive energy that was priceless. Jacob (Andrea and Jason’s son) must have had the time of his young life. (At one point I barely captured him in time as he nearly stole golf balls that were in play on the 18th green.)
Some people not present were keen to know what I had spoken about at the wedding. Thus, I have included my reflection portion of the ceremony below. Months of contemplation and crudely written Post-It notes gave fuel to these words. It was written over the course of two days at Lake Windermere in somewhat seclusion, and then edited down to run at about 4 minutes 50 seconds. This was shortened even further because the temperature during the ceremony was 30+ degrees and with the fear of people fainting due to heat I cut a few bits out here and there. Here is the intended final version in its entirety. Bear in mind that it was written to be delivered as a spoken reflection.
Andrea and Jason requested a brief reflection about the definition of marriage, and what marriage means to them. Documented definitions will describe marriage as a legal union, or legal commitment. There is an emphasis on it being binding and continual through both good times and bad. It is a pledge requiring great contemplation and understanding of its magnitude. There is no doubt that Jason and Andrea have thought seriously about marriage in this light. However, the concept of marriage goes beyond defined terms.
Over the past few months family and friends that have experienced marriage for various lengths of time and overcome various challenges were able to contribute to this reflection. They were asked to try to articulate one value, or one characteristic that defined their own successful marriage. Some of the responses included:
- give & take
While all of these values imply a commitment, they also make clear that marriage is not stagnant. Marriage is a partnership of growth. This is the commitment Andrea and Jason have called upon all of you to witness – their public pledge to a never-ending partnership of positive growth.
For this growth to occur both parties must put their partnership before themselves as individuals. Both must be committed to the other person’s hopes and dreams, and support the other during fears and troubles. Both must look beyond what they offer as individuals, and focus on how they can grow and evolve as partners.
The seeds of this commitment were sown long before today, and it will continue the rest of their lives. It began with the support of all of you in seeing Andrea and Jason discover who they are as individuals. Growing into the personal values that define them: caring, honesty, perseverance, parenthood. It evolved into their understanding that the other, makes them a better person, enhances their values. Together they are better parents, better providers, better partners, better people.
There will be changes, challenges, risks, and rewards. Andrea and Jason are still to evolve as individuals, as parents, as partners. Marriage is a promise to be active in the positive evolution of the partnership. Each must respond to the changes, challenges, risks and rewards – no matter what they are – so that the other person, their partnership, and their family will always come first.
This partnership of growth, this commitment, all the values mentioned earlier – all of these are fuelled by: love.
Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous, arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way, nor does it resent.
Rather, love is hopeful, enduring, and understanding.
Andrea and Jason’s marriage is a continuation of their love, the love of their families, the love they both share for Jacob….. the love all of us will offer to them in support of their evolving marriage.
Years from now, if we ask Jason and Andrea what one value makes their marriage successful their answers might differ, their answers might change. This will only emphasize the evolution and growth that takes place in a successful marriage, and that love and commitment to the partnership of growth will remain constant no matter what they face.
Thanks again to all who helped.
Wishing Andrea, Jason, Jacob and their family boundless hope, love and joy.