Address The address, or sermon, constitutes a message of celebration and exhortation made by the Officiant at your ceremony. The purpose is to deliver a message directed to you personally and to inspire in your guests a deep sense of the meaning of love and the value of marriage. This is an opportunity for you to add some dimension to your wedding, to have someone express what you truly feel about the meaning of marriage.
__________________________________________________________________________________________ 1. Marriage is the fearless fathoming of our own depths, a coming face-to-face, in the dark mercurial waters of our endless self-involvement, with the jewel-like treasures of our own submerged capacities for compassion. For love received is needs met; but love delivered is compassion, is the human spirit altered, is our own most whole becoming. In loving we are encouraged to the limits of our most exquisite human possibilities. Thus marriage is an invitation to transcend the human condition. For in stepping beyond the self-focus of wanting to have only our own needs met, in schooling ourselves in the experience of putting another human being and his or her needs in a position of equal value to our own, we touch the web of transcendence, the presence of the divine. For loving one another is the beginning of compassion, and compassion generalized is participation in the divineâ€”that experience of life and of the world that paradoxically submerges us in all that exists, while at the same time elevating us above it. The compassionate, soul-changing loving of a single other human being connects us most profoundly to the All. And it is in the practice of this radiant other-discovering love that true marriage calls forth the best in us, the most we can ever become.
2. Marriage is the joining of two lives, the mystical, physical, and emotional union of two human beings who have separate families and histories, separate tragedies and destinies. It is the merging and intermeshing not only of two bodies and two personalities, but also of two life stories. Two individuals, each of whom has a unique and life-shaping past, willingly choose to set aside the solitary exploration of themselves to discover who they are in the presence of one another. In marriage we marry a mystery, an other, a counterpart. In a sense the person we marry is a stranger about whom we have a magnificent hunch. The person we choose to marry is someone we love, but his depths, her intimate intricacies, we will come to know only in the long unraveling of time. We know enough about our beloved to know that we love him, to imagine that, as time goes on, we will come to enjoy her even more, become even more of ourselves in her presence. To our knowledge we add our willingness to embark on the journey of getting to know him, of coming to see her, ever so wonderfully more.
3. Swept up by attraction, attention, fantasy, hope, and a certain happy measure of recognition, we agree to come together for the mysterious future, to see where the journey will take us. This companionship on lifeâ€™s journey is the hallmark of marriage, its natural province, its sweetest and most primal gift. To be married means we belong to someone else, that we are no longer always alone, that we no longer must eat and sleep, dream, wake, walk, talk, think, and live alone. Instead there is a parallel presence and spirit in all that we undertake. We are bridled, connected, attended. We move in the midst of the aura, the welcoming soul-filling presence of another human being, no longer facing the troubling, heart-rending hurts of our lives in isolation. In marriage we are delivered from our most ancient aloneness, embraced in the nest of human company, so that the sharp teeth of the truth that we are born and die alone are blunted by the miracle of loving companionship.
4. Marriage is the incubator of love, the protected environment in which a love that is personal and touching and real can grow, and as a consequence of that growth, develop in us our highest capabilities as loving human beings. We are each still and always becoming, and when we marry, we promise not only our own becoming but also our willingness to witness and withstand the ongoing becoming of another human being. That is because in marrying we promise to love not only as we feel right now, but also as we intend to feel. In marriage we say not only, “I love you today,” but also, “I promise to love you tomorrow, the next day, and always.” In promising always, we promise each other time. We promise to exercise our love, to stretch it large enough to embrace the unforeseen realities of the future. We promise to learn to love beyond the level of our instincts and inclinations, to love in foul weather as well as good, in hard times as well as when we are exhilarated by the pleasures of romance. We change because of these promises. We shape ourselves according to them; we live in their midst an live differently because of them. We feel protected because of them. We try some things and resist trying others because, having promised, we feel secure. Marriage, the bond, makes us free—to see, to be, to love. Our souls are protected; our hearts have come home.
5. Because we are safe in marriage, we can risk; because we have been promised a future, we can take extraordinary chances. Because we know we are loved, we can step beyond our fears; because we have been chosen, we can transcend our insecurities. We can make mistakes, knowing we will not be cast out; take missteps, knowing someone will be there to catch us. And because mistakes and missteps are the stuff of change, of expansion, in marriage we can expand to our fullest capacity; in marriage we can heal. Because lifetime is movement, the passage of time equals change. Therefore, when we promise time to one another, we are putting ourselves in the midst of an infinity of change. Implicitly this is also a promise to expand. We will not be cardboard men and women. We will be electric human beings with variegated histories and fabulous unknown futures. For marriage is more than just the sentimental formalizing of a feeling; it is a vote of confidence, indeed of conviction, that the romantic feeling of love will be enlarged to encompass far more than itself, that both persons will be able, in time, and within the sacred circle of marriage, to infinitely expand.
6. Change compounded is transformation; and therefore one of the ultimate consequences of marriage is transformation. For so long as we live out our lives in the context of another human being, the changes that accrue in us, that are indeed inspired, required, cajoled, and beaten out of us by our interactions with another— all these will result, in time, in a major transformation of our selves. We would become someone quite different without the person we have married, for it is the alchemy of the relationship itself that transforms us. That which we become in the presence of another person—the person we love most deeply, the person we choose to marry and spend our whole life with, the person in whose presence and as a result of whose actions and inactions, words and silences, causes us to change, ultimately to transform—brings us inescapably into the being of our highest selves. We become what we are meant to be. It is precisely at the point at which marriage, the institution, and love, the emotion, intersect that there exist some of our greatest emotional and spiritual possibilities. For marriage is love in the round; marriage is loving in every direction. We marry not only to be loved, to be consoled through the miracle of company, to feel secure, to have a place and a person to whom we can come home, to have our own needs met; we marry also to come into the presence of our own capacity to love: to nurture, to heal, to give, and to forgive.
7. For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person-- it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distanceâ€Ś Once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.
8. We mean something very real, when we bind ourselves in love. It can mean sweet freedom and fulfillment. When we love we see things other people do not see. We see beneath the surface and observe qualities which make this one different from and dearer than all others. To see with loving eyes is to know inner beauty and to be loved is to be seen and known as we are known to no other. Such love means security. Each of us would like to have an absolute security. This we cannot have, but we come close to it when we are loved - when another human being wants us, wants to share life with us, accepts us, without qualification or reservation, not as perfect, but as human, with strengths and weaknesses. The love of which we speak is not static. It is a growing and dynamic relationship. We dream that tomorrow we will grow and fulfill our possibilities. It is a blessing when someone believes in our dream of ourselves and wants to live with us and help make dreams and aspirations come true. Love of this sort can grow. It is not, like youth, a moment that comes and is gone, remaining only a memory of something which cannot be recovered. It can grow because it has something to grow upon and grow with. It does not become contracted and stale, because it has for its object all the objects with which the two lovers are concerned. Love endures only when the lovers love many things together and not merely each other.
9. True love breeds unlimited courage and confidence. Such courage and confidence we know are yours as you continue your lives together under the ever embracing bond of marriage. In addition to the fund of affection and thoughtful consideration which you have for one another, you will need a capacity for self-sacrifice, patience and forbearance, for this is no light adventure which you are undertaking. The secret of love and marriage is that of religion itself. It is the emergence of the larger self. It is the finding of oneâ€™s life by losing it. Such is the privilege of husband and wife - to be each himself, herself and yet another; to face the world strong, with the courage of two. The high and fine art of married life is in this mutual enrichment, mental and spiritual, this give and take between two personalities, this mingling of two endowments which depletes neither, but enables each. The more he or she gives, to receive only the more.
10. Groom and Bride believe that there should be equality between men and women in every relevant way and that it is especially important for this principle to be recognized in the marriage relationship. Marriage must be a cooperative venture in every sense. It is a relationship based on love, respect and a determination on the part of both wife and husband to adjust to each otherâ€™s temperaments and moods - in health or sickness, joy or sadness, ease or hardship. Bride and Groom hold in common the interests and ideals of a Humanist world. Living together in this way, they will deepen their love for each other.
We are here to share your joy and hope and to speed you along the path which, henceforth, you are to tread together. May it be the path of blessedness, bright with the fragrant flowers of prosperity and spiritual conquest; a path of deepening and widening love that you shall travel arm in arm throughout eternity.
11. When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, and of relationships, we leap at the flow of the tide, and resist its ebb in terror. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity, when the only continuity possible, in life, as in love, is in growth, in fluidity, in freedomâ€”in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but still partners in the same pattern. For relationships, too, must be like islands. We must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limitsâ€” islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides. One must accept the security of the winged life, of the ebb and flow of intermittency.
12. It takes years to marry completely two hearts, even of the most loving and well matched. A happy wedlock is a long falling in love. Young persons think love belongs only to the brown-haired and crimson-cheeked. And so it does, for its beginning. But the golden marriage is a part of love which the wedding day knows nothing of. Very few are married totally, and then only after many years of growth in wisdom and understanding. Such a large and sweet fruit is a complete marriage that it takes a long summer to ripen in, and then a long winter to mellow and season it. But a real and happy marriage of love and judgment between a sincere and loving woman and man is one of the things so very good that if the sun were, as the Greeks fabled, a God, he would stop the world and hold it still now and then in order to look all day long on some example of such a marriage, and feast his eyes on the very spectacle of it.
13. Dear friends, how wondrous it is, to be assembled here to bless and to ask your blessing upon Bride and Groom as they pledge each to the other their commitment to marriage. Before they make this joyous step into their common futures, I want to take advantage of my position to speak to Groom and Bride on behalf of us all. We have been invited to witness this joyous event because each of us is special to Bride and Groom; whether we are family, acquaintances, or friends. They want to thank each of you for sharing this time with them. And they want you to know the time and thought they have put into the words and meaning of this ceremony. We join them in celebrating their union and look with joy to their future!
14. By a mutual commitment to love one another, a commitment to create an atmosphere of caring, consideration and respect for one another, you will make this marriage a fixed star in a world of anxiety, change and uncertainty. On this special day in which you will exchange vows of marriage, you stand somewhat apart from all human beings, you stand within a charmed circle of your love, and this is as it should be. First of all, we wish for you a love that makes both of you better people, that continues to bring you joy and zest for living, that provides you with the energy that will allow you to face the responsibilities of life. We wish for you courage to be what you have chosen to be. Nurture and cultivate your dignity and pride in your choice of one another as life companions. Be steadfast in your respect for one another. Love follows respect.
We wish for you children—children who will not be mere reflections of yourselves, but who will learn from you your best characteristics, children who will go forth and recreate the values which you shall have instilled in them. Finally, we wish that at the end of each day you will be able to say to one other: “Because you have loved me, you have given me faith in myself; and because I have seen the good in you, I have found an abiding faith in the quality of our lives together.”
15. A wedding is the celebration of the miracle of love, and that's what we are here to do: to celebrate that miracles do occur; that at any moment, the unexpected can happen; and that after almost giving up hope, most inexplicably and wonderfully, the path of our entire lives can change. Marriage is a meditation on our histories as well as on our future, on our losses and failures, as well as our hopes and possibilities. And so, as Bride and Groom wed, it is worthwhile to contemplate that they could not and would not be standing before us today if they had not followed their own star home and done what they needed to do to deliver themselves to this point in their lives.
16. By making this commitment of love for one another you stand in great cultural and historic traditions. In every age, in every culture, men and women have woven patterns of family living which have set community, as well as personal, standards and histories. Thus, marriage is more than a union of two persons. It is also a combining of two families, two cultures, two traditions. It is the beginning of an entirely new tradition which you yourselves will create, one to enrich all who know and love you. Instead of merely being part of history, you will be making your own. On this day you stand in the charmed circle of your love. But love is not meant to be the possession of two people alone. It serves as a source of community energy, in a form in which to find new strength together which you do not have separately. You stand here today as thoughtful people who wish to express your feelings for one another within a framework of a meaningful life.
17. Marriage is dedication. You give yourself, your life and love, into the hands of the one you love. You do so trustingly and generously. By the same token, each of you receives a gift – the gift of life, and love, of the other. You receive this gift not only from the one you love, but also from the parents who brought you into this world and reared you. You also receive this gift of love from friends and family who are joined today in friendship and faith in your marriage.
18. Your wedding is a happy occasion, but your marriage will be a many-textured thing. In it, both magic and sorrows will befall you. You will intend one thing and end up doing another. You will imagine your mate to be a certain way and discover that they are not, that they are a person unto themselves. You will have clashes and discover things you did and did not want to know. You will rumple each other’s spirits as well as bedclothes and hair. You may say mean and hurtful words, and, for love, be able to forget them. Above all, remember that love is what matters. Love will prevail. It is the love you feel for one another that will be the answer to all your difficulties. Love will be stronger than any conflicts, bigger than all the changes. Love will be the miracle always inviting you to learn, to blossom, to expand. And it is to love-- to the love you are celebrating, embodying, and radiating on this special day-- that you must return. So remember these things as you go out into the world as a married couple: that your love will have seasons, that your relationship is a progression, and that love will prevail. Remembering them, holding them in your
hearts and in your minds, will give you a marriage that is as deep in its joy as your courtship has been in its magic.
19. Swept up by attraction, attention, fantasy, hope, and a certain happy measure of recognition, we agree to come together for the mysterious future, to see where the journey will take us. This companionship on life's journey is the hallmark of marriage, its natural province, its sweetest and most primal gift. To be married means we belong to someone else, that we are no longer always alone, that we no longer must eat and sleep, dream, wake, walk, talk, think, and live alone. Instead there is a parallel presence and spirit in all that we undertake. We are bridled, connected, attended. We move in the midst of the aura, the welcoming soul- filling presence of another human being, no longer facing the troubling, heart-rending hurts of our lives in isolation. In marriage we are delivered from our most ancient aloneness, embraced in the nest of human company, so that the sharp teeth of the truth that we are born and die alone are blunted by the miracle of loving companionship.
20. Bride and Groom, in presenting yourselves here today to be joined in marriage, you perform an act of faith. This faith can grow and develop and last, but only if you both decide to make it so. A lasting and growing love is not guaranteed by any ritual. If you would have the foundation of your marriage be the devotion you have for one another, not just at this moment, but for all the days to come, then treasure the hopes and dreams that you bring here today. Establish that your love will never be blotted out by the common, nor obscured by the ordinary in life. Faults will surface where now you find comfort, and admiration can be shattered by the routine of daily life. Dedication, love, and joy can grow only when you nourish them together. Stand fast in that hope and confidence, having faith in your shared destiny just as strongly as you have faith in yourselves and in one another today. Only with this spirit can you forge a union that will strengthen and endure all the days of your lives.
21. Marriage is universally regarded as one of the crucial events of human life, taking its place with those other two - the coming hither in birth and the departure from life through death. The joy we now feel is a solemn joy because the act of marriage is fraught with weighty consequences, both social and personal. By this marriage you two will reach a new social status and rise to a new plane of social dignity. But, also, with the founding of the family, there come the most difficult tasks and exacting disciplines which fall to our human lot. Your marriage requires â€œlove,â€? which is a word often used with vagueness and sentimentality. We mean something very real, when we bind ourselves in love. It can mean sweet freedom and fulfillment. When we love we see things other people do not see. We see beneath the surface and observe qualities which make this one different from and dearer than all others. To see with loving eyes is to know inner beauty and to be loved is to be seen and known as we are known to no other. Such love means security. Each of us would like to have an absolute security. This we cannot have, but we come close to it when we are loved - when another human being wants us, wants to share life with us, accepts us, without qualification or reservation, not as perfect, but as human, with strengths and weaknesses. The love of which we speak is not static. It is a growing and dynamic relationship. We dream that tomorrow we will grow and fulfill our possibilities. It is a blessing when someone believes in our dream of ourselves and wants to live with us and help make dreams and aspirations come true. Love of this sort can grow. It is not, like youth h, a moment that comes and is gone, remaining only a memory of something which cannot be recovered. It can grow because it has something to grow upon and grow with. It
does not become contracted and stale, because it has for its object all the objects with which the two lovers are concerned. Love endures only when the lovers love many things together and not merely each other. 22. From "The Irrational Season" by Madeleine L'Engle Ultimately there comes a moment when a decision must be made. Ultimately two people who love each other must ask themselves how much they hope for as their love grows and deepens, and how much risk they are willing to take. It is indeed a fearful gamble. Because it is the nature of love to create, a marriage itself is something which has to be created, so that, together we become a new creature. To marry is the biggest risk in human relations that a person can take. If we commit ourselves to one person for life this is not, as many people think, a rejection of freedom; rather it demands the courage to move into all the risks of freedom, and the risk of love which is permanent; into that love which is not possession, but participation. It takes a lifetime to learn another person. When love is not possession, but participation, then it is part of that co-creation which is our human calling, and which implies such risk that it is often rejected.
23. Today you are taking into your care and trust the happiness of the one person in this world whom you love with all your heart. And you are giving yourself, your life, and your love, into the hands of the one who loves you with all their heart. Remember that, to the whole world, you are but one person, but to the one person, you are the whole world. However, true love goes far beyond the feelings of excitement and romance. It is caring more about the wellbeing and happiness of your marriage partner than your own needs and your own desires. True love is not total absorption in each other, but rather, it is looking outward in the same direction together. Love makes burdens lighter because you divide them. It makes joys more intense because you share them. Love makes you stronger so you can become involved with life in ways you dare not risk alone. True love says the two of you are just better together than when you are apart. When you enter into marriage, you enter into life’s most important relationship. It is a gift given to bring comfort when there’s sorrow, peace when there is unrest, laughter when there is happiness, and love when it is shared. A successful marriage is not something that just happens. It takes work, it takes understanding, and it takes time. Most importantly, it takes a commitment from both of you-a commitment to do whatever it takes to make your relationship thrive and not just simply survive.
24. Love, trust, and forgiveness are the foundations of marriage. In marriage, many days will bring happiness, while other days may be sad. But together, two hearts can overcome everything…In marriage, all of the moments won’t be exciting or romantic, and sometimes worries and anxiety will be overwhelming. But together, two hearts that accept one another will find comfort. Recollections of past joys, pains, and shared feelings will be the foundation that holds everything together during even the worst and most insecure moments. Reaching out to each other as a friend, and becoming the confidant and companion that the other one needs, is the true magic and beauty of any two people together. It’s inspiring in each other a dream or a feeling, and having faith in each other to never give up…even when the odds are against you. It’s allowing each other to be vulnerable, to be himself or herself even when the opinions or thoughts aren’t in total agreement or exactly what you’d like them to be. It’s getting involved and showing interest in each other, really listening and being available, the way any best friends should be. Exactly three things need to be remembered in a marriage if it is to be a mutual bond of sharing, caring, and loving throughout life: love, trust, and forgiveness.
25. Marriage can be a great adventure when it is the outward expression of a great love; such a love is characterized by compassion, passion, and courage. It allows you to see through to your partner’s essence, willing to be in total support of your partner’s well-being, goals, purpose, and spirit; and unwilling for your partner to be less than all he or she can be spiritually, mentally, and physically. Such a love requires that you be totally honest with yourself and your mate, that you ask for what you want, take action even though you are afraid, share your feelings and listen but leave your partner free to be who they really are. In other words, always love your partner for who they are, not for who you think they should be. Always remember, relationships are something that must be worked on all the time, not only when they are broken and need to be fixed. Never stop doing the things that brought you together in the first place.
26. Marriage is what you make of it. Your future is a mystery, but whatever it holds, whatever you undertake together will bring you inestimable joy, and the love you share can truly help to change the world. In presenting yourselves here today to be joined in marriage, you perform an act of faith. This faith can grow and develop and last, but only if you both decide to make it so. A lasting and growing love is not guaranteed by any ritual. You are two unique individuals with sometimes differing opinions. I am sure you are quite aware of that fact. It is how you handle those differences that will form and create your marriage. Have honest and truthful communication with each other, speak the truth of what you feel when you feel it even if it may seem difficult. The way in which you express your feelings is also important; speak your truth with love, compassion and understanding. Be an effective, understanding and patient listener. Be prepared to forgive, both yourself and your partner. Never go to bed angry, make a promise to kiss each other every night before bed, no matter what is going on, so that you may sleep peacefully in each others arms as you are meant to. It is also hard to stay angry with your lip puckered, it usually dissolves into laughter. Humor goes a long way and is an important element in any successful relationship. Say I love you everyday, one never tires of hearing the words “I love you.”