Friday, August 20, 2010

Our "Minister"

Andrew and I met with the lady who is going to marry us a couple of weeks ago. She wants to get to know us a little before the ceremony and I appreciate that because then she can tailor the ceremony to us. I don't want the same stale wedding vows everyone else recites but doesn't really contemplate the meaning of. Don't get me wrong. Many people say the classic vows and do understand them, do mean them, and do feel they speak to them personally. I don't feel that way. So, if I were to say them, I wouldn't feel they had any meaning. We want to do what has meaning to us. One set of vows we are considering says something like this:
"This ceremony confirms for everyone else what we already know to be true"
WOW! Is that perfect for us or what? I mean we've been together for 10 years now! We keep getting the advice, "It's a bit different, living together married vs. not married." We get that advice from people who were together for only a few years before they got married. We've got 10 years behind us. Nice try, but it's not quite the same!

Anyway... the lady marrying us is non-denominational minister. I prefer to refer to her as our "officiant" however because the term "minister" is quite misunderstood. It's often associated with Christianity but it certainly doesn't refer to only Christian leaders or even to just religious leaders (i.e. "Prime Minister"). But Christians think they own everything (including marriage and a 2-block radius around ground zero) so I try to be careful with the term. Especially after Andrew's mom's reaction to the word, "Did you say 'minister'? I thought you guys aren't religious? Why are you using a minister?" I quickly set her straight. I really don't know why people jump to conclusions so quickly. Andrew's mom knows us pretty well. She has a pile of evidence as big as her house that tells her Andrew and I are not religious. But she flinched at that 1 word and that made her question us and ignore everything she already knows to be true. I don't know what it's like to have such little self-assurance and I don't want to know. Plenty of people do the same thing, not just Andrew's mom (I don't want to pick on her all the time).

I am really happy with who we chose as our officiant. She respects and supports all faiths and doesn't believe one to be more or less true than another. When she says the word "god" she's talking about an idea, not a person, being, or thing (which is why I personally choose not to capitalize it). She has similar feelings to ours about organized religion, although I think Andrew and I lean a little further in one direction. She told us about a very interesting couple she married recently. They were young, only 23 years old. The guy went to West Point. He has strong negative feelings about the military. I think he went to West Point to learn more about the military so he can challenge it and perhaps promote change one day. He's also a devout atheist. Just before he got married he was given some lifetime achievement honor (at only 23). His achievement? He has read each and every book about war that has ever been written. In his reading, he found religion at the heart of every single war. Not surprising. But nice to have it confirmed by a competent source. I really liked that our minister found this guy interesting and respectable. I'm sure she told us that story to deliver the message, "I keep all kinds of company and respect all belief systems, especially the well-informed ones." Message received. We made the right choice!


  1. I love this post. I have similar feelings about my officiant, but the damn word is so underused even some spell checkers get it wrong. At any rate, I'm glad you found someone who "clicks" with you both - not an eaay feat. And I love the line about just confirming what is already there; we had a line a LOT like that (I wish I could find the file to check!) and it led into some line about wanting to live in a world where all couples in love could make this public commitment... or something. I can't recall exactly. Anyway, I know it's going to be a beautiful ceremony with Andrew's wit on one end and your pithiness on the other :) xxoo

  2. Awesome! Glad you found someone good, that is a challenge. We had my brother marry us (a non-denominational internet minister) after the church minister left town after committing adultery with one of the parishioners. (This was after weeks of interviews/counseling that you usually have to go through when working with a church. Gotta love hypocritical clergy!) It was actually the best thing that happened, because my brother was the best person to craft the ceremony for us, Husband and I actually ended up writing almost all of it.

  3. Awww, how exciting I'm glad the wedding planning is coming along. I love that line. This ceremony confirms for everyone else what we already know to be true. How beautiful and true. Like you Dave and I were together for 10 years to before the marriage thing. I don't think it really changes for you two. But I do think the your families will see things a little different now.