go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God…” Another passage that is often chosen, for couples of all walks of life, is I Corinthians: “Love is patient; love is kind…” This is always a lovely reading, but when I heard it read in an interfaith church service celebrating the one-year anniversary of the first legal same-sex weddings in Massachusetts, it took on a whole new, and incredibly powerful, meaning for me, especially this part: “(Love) does not insist on its own way… it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” A strong reader, who knows what these passages mean to you, will be able to deliver them with the energy you wish. Prayers, offered either by your officiant, or by loved ones, certainly have a place in your spiritual ceremony; at the opening, before or after the vows, and at the end,
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are good times to pause and pray. The Jewish Seven Blessings, sheva b’rachot, have been adapted in many forms, and can be especially meaningful when read by friends and family to you at the end of the ceremony. This can be a gentle and tactful way to include step-parents or significant others as well, inviting each person to read one of the lines in turn. One of my favorite versions ends with the blessing, “May you be best friends, better together than either of you apart.”
Cultural Connections When partners come from different cultures or countries, your lives already contain the richness of these experiences. Your ceremony can honor this as well. Readings from favorite authors can be read in their native language, and then read in English if you wish. I suggest reading it in the native language first, and then having someone special follow with the translation.
You might also include both versions in a program, so people can follow along. Becca and Teresa included a South African prayer in their outdoor ceremony held at the Stevens Estate in North Andover, to acknowledge the years they had both spent in Africa (at the same time, but didn’t know each other yet!) A groom from Brazil was delighted when his mother agreed to read a passage in Portuguese at his wedding; his father had passed away just a few years before, and she brought his Bible from their hometown to read from at the ceremony.
Family Support When you have open support from your family for your celebration, it means so much. When Matt and Mike got married at Hamilton Hall in Salem last fall, they asked their brothers, with whom they are very close, to read, and both were excited. Mike’s brother read the enchanting poem called “Pathways,” by Rainer Maria Rilke,