Friends, we are gathered here at this hour, to witness and to celebrate the coming together of two separate lives. We have come to join this man, and this woman, in marriage, to be with them and rejoice with them in the making of this important commitment. 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 which is not to entered into lightly, but rather undertaken with great consideration and respect for both the other person and oneself.
Love is one of the highest experiences that we human beings can have, and it can add depth of meaning to our lives. The sensual part of love is one of life's greatest joys and when this is combined with real friendship, both are infinitely enhanced. The day to day companionship, the pleasure in doing things together, or in doing separate things but in delighting to exchange experiences, is a continuous and central part of what a man and a woman who love each other can share.
Marriage symbolizes the intimate sharing of two lives, yet this sharing must not diminish but enhance the individuality of each partner. A marriage that lasts is one which is continually developing and in which each person is individually developing, while growing in understanding of the other's feelings can develop fully only with years of intimacy. This wonderful knowledge of another person grows out of really caring for the other so much, that one wants to understand as completely as possible what the other is feeling. Thus it is possible to share not only joys and successes, but also the burden of sorrows and failures. To be known in this way is a priceless thing, because such understanding and acceptance make it easier to live with our problems and failings and worries. But again, while marriage is the intimate sharing of two lives, it can yet enhance the differences and individuality of each partner. We must give ourselves in love, but we must not give ourselves away. A good and balanced relationship is one in which neither person is overpowered or absorbed by the other.
Thus it is out of the tension between separateness and union, that love, whose incredible strength, is equal only to its incredible fragility, and is born and reborn.
We are here today then, to celebrate the love which GROOM and BRIDE have for each other, and to give social recognition to their decision to accept each other totally and permanently. Into this state of marriage, these two persons come now to be united.
Please face each other, joining right hands as a symbol of your union.
GROOM, You now take this woman, whose hand you hold to be your lawful wedded wife, hereby engaging to love, cherish and protect her, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, and forsaking all other women, you will provide for and support her in all things as the ordinance of God commands and the laws of the state require, so long as you both shall live. Do you thus covenant and agree? If so, please answer, I do.
BRIDE, You now take this man, whose hand you hold to be your lawful wedded husband, hereby promising to love, honor and cherish him, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, and forsaking all other men, you will provide for and assist him in all things as the ordinance of God commands and the laws of the state require, so long as you both shall live. Do you thus covenant and agree? If so, please answer, I do.
LET US PRAY;
Almighty God, may we have your presence at this ceremony of marriage, in order that you, dear Lord, may guide these two individuals in the glorious and happy ways of married life. Teach them to live the life of love and honor and to have them be ever respectful of each other. We ask this in the name of the father who taught us to say when we pray -- Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine art the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
GROOM, will you place her ring, the symbol of your love, upon the left hand of your future wife.
BRIDE, will you place his ring, the symbol of your love, upon the left hand of your future husband.
GROOM and BRIDE, having declared in the presence of these witnesses that you take one another as husband and wife; and having symbolized your marriage by the joining of hands and the giving and acceptance of rings;
Now therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the State of Wisconsin, I do now declare in the presence of these witnesses that you are husband and wife.
You may kiss the bride.