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The Ceremony: Pure joy

I remember hearing the congregation stand and the processional music begin. I took a deep breath, the doors swung open, and my heart jumped up into my throat as I saw JP. Then we started to walk.

“Slow down, we’ll get there,” my father calmly said. In my adrenaline rush, I had started off too quickly. I closed my eyes, smiled, and realized what was happening.

Everything around me seemed to disappear. It felt as if the only ones that existed at that moment were my father at my side and my groom in front of me.

We reached the marble steps. JP stood to my father’s right, and Quincy began.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the presence of these witnesses, to join together Lauren and Jean-Pierre in holy matrimony, which is an honorable estate, instituted of God, and signifying unto us the mystical union that exists between Christ and His Church: which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence in Cana of Galilee. It is therefore not to be entered into unadvisedly, but reverently, discreetly, and in the fear of God. Into this holy estate Lauren and Jean-Pierre come now to be joined.

I felt my father, my rock through everything, begin to choke back tears. I put my head on his shoulder, grabbed his hand and squeezed. He squeezed back, caught his breath, and we continued.

I require and charge you both, as you stand in the presence of God, before whom the secrets of all hearts are disclosed, that, having duly considered the holy covenant you are about to make, you do now declare before this company your pledge of faith, each to the other. Be well assured that if these solemn vows are kept intact, as God’s Word demands, and if steadfastly you endeavor to do the will of your heavenly Father, God will bless your marriage, will grant you fulfillment in it, and will establish your home in peace.

Will you have Lauren to be your wedded wife, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others keep only to her so long as you both shall live?

“I will,” he said, strongly and surely. I held my breath– I was up next.

Will you have Jean-Pierre to be your wedded husband, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health; and forsaking all others keep only to him so long as you both shall live?

“I will.” I was surprised at how clear my voice rang out. I sounded strong, assured, confident, and present– just as I was at that moment.

Who presents this woman to be married to this man?

“Her mother and I do.” I squeezed my father’s hand once more, as I knew I was about to let go. He lifted my veil…

..and gave me a sweet kiss on the cheek.

Then, after lowering the veil, he placed my hand into JP’s, and stepped back. Quincy led the two of us up the stairs, and suddenly my world became even more private and intimate than it had been before. This was something special and sacred, and we were surrounded and embraced by love. An otherworldly feeling washed over us both, and I squeezed his hands.

“I, Jean-Pierre, take you, Lauren, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinances; I pledge you my faith.”

“I, Lauren, take you, Jean-Pierre, to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinances; I pledge you my faith.” I said each word, each statement, with purpose. The entire time I thought about what I was saying, and again, I absorbed it all.

Quincy took our rings from Laura and Joe.

The wedding ring is the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, signifying to all the uniting of this man and woman in holy matrimony, through the Church of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bless, O Lord, the giving of these rings that they who wear them may abide in thy peace, and continue in thy favor, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

“In token and pledge of our constant faith and abiding love, with this ring I thee wed, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

We both exchanged rings, said these words, and then Quincy declared us husband and wife.

Forasmuch as Lauren and Jean-Pierre have consented together in holy wedlock, and witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have pledged their faith each to the other, and have declared the same by joining hands and giving and receiving rings; I pronounce that they are husband and wife together, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Those whom God has joined together, let no man put asunder. Amen.

We stood there, the newly declared husband and wife, squeezed hands more tightly than hands probably should be squeezed, and beamed at each other. Tom, my trainer, friend, and confidant, stepped up to do our reading.

i love you much(most beautiful darling)

more than anyone on the earth and i
like you better than everything in the sky

-sunlight and singing welcome your coming

although winter may be everywhere
with such a silence and such a darkness
noone can quite begin to guess

(except my life)the true time of year-

and if what calls itself a world should have
the luck to hear such singing(or glimpse such
sunlight as will leap higher than high
through gayer than gayest someone’s heart at your each

nearness)everyone certainly would(my
most beautiful darling)believe in nothing but love

He did a beautiful job.

It was then time for us to light the unity candle. The music started, and we stepped towards the candles. I was a bit quick on the draw, and almost lit the candle by myself. Thankfully I waited, and we successfully lit the candle together and returned the tapers to their holders.

A word of advice to those using a unity candle: Make sure you get slow-melting or low-drip tapers. We hadn’t prepared for that, and both of us ended up getting hot wax all over our hands. This, however, led to one of the funniest moments of the day for us. As we knelt down and waited for the musicians to finish playing, Quincy told us we did a good job. We both pointed to the wax on our hands.

He whispered. “Aren’t you supposed to save that for the wedding night?” I had to hold in the giggles with everything I had in me. Touché, Quincy, touché.

The song ended, he blessed us and our marriage, and then led the congregation in the Lord’s Prayer.

We stood. I felt as if I were going to burst with happiness.

God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord graciously with his favor look upon you, and so fill you with all spiritual benediction and love that you may so live together in this life that in the world to come you may have life everlasting.

It is my honor to present to you for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs. Jean-Pierre de la Croix. You may kiss your bride.

We frantically flipped up my blusher.

And he kissed me.

Boy, did he ever. There was a huge swell of laughter, hoots, hollers, and whistles.

There was a collective “aww” as our recessional began. We had a singer and guitarist come in especially for it– All I Want Is You.

JP reached up to give me a high-five…

…and I successfully didn’t leave him hanging.

Just like that, it was all over, and we were beside ourselves with joy.

Our ceremony was so incredibly special and so incredibly perfect. It was warm and loving, not at all sterile and intimidating as some may seem. Just magical.

As a last hurrah for our ceremony, I’m including the wonderful footage from Mr. Odom. Even though I made it through the ceremony without a single tear, I can’t help but watch this and have my eyes well up and a smile spread across my face. Please watch it, and hopefully you’ll know what I mean.

Just pure joy.

*All photographs from Matt Miller of Our Labor of Love. Video by Matt Odom of Rock and Roll Hearts.

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This is probably one of the best mash-ups I’ve ever heard or seen. Beautiful video, awesome music. It made my Monday morning, to say the least.

Listen and watch repeatedly for best results.