We decided to go with a priest in part so we could also use a traditional service, and thus avoid writing our own vows. Even though we’re both writers, we were intimidated by the idea of putting our specific feelings into words and reading those words in public. And then we decided not to use a priest after all and ended up writing the entire ceremony. This fell to me since I was the one with the week off work. So I did some google searches and stared at a blank screen for a while before I starting typing.
My first draft was trash, like first drafts usually are. On my second pass, I started to flesh out the concept of two people committing to each other with details of our love story — like where we had our first date, what we’ve become for each other, and the supreme court decision that gave us the right to marry. We also invited our officiant (AKA college bestie) to add some of her own words, had two friends lead a community affirmation call-and-response, and invited my wife’s oldest niece to read a blessing.
In the end, this is how it all went down.
PROCESSIONAL: True Love Will Find You in the End by Daniel Johnston
KRISTA: No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
So wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in the supreme court opinion that gave all men and women in America the same right to marry. Today, we’re here to celebrate as Kelsey and Irene claim that right for themselves.
When Kelsey and Irene met, it wouldn’t have been possible for them to get married, not that either of them were thinking about it back then. Kelsey had just started her first job in radio, and Irene was finishing her Masters degree. Neither was looking to start a whole new life with someone else, but love knew better. Love knew they belonged at the other’s side. So it plucked them from their lives and placed them together in a coffee shop on Melrose called Stir Crazy. They talked about books and writing, about music and movies, about their love for Los Angeles and about the Simpsons episode Marge Versus the Monorail. They discovered they worked a few blocks from each other, and started meeting at the library for lunch. Before they knew it, they were in love. That was ten years ago, and now they are partners in all things. They’ve made a home with each other and established a community. They’ve traveled together, they write together. They protect, care for and challenge each other. And they make each other laugh. Individually, they can both be quiet, but together, they never run out of things to talk about. Together, they have become something greater than once they were.
(written by Krista) Today I have the extraordinary privilege to say a few words about my experience watching Kelsey and Irene grow and flourish as a couple. Kelsey is unequivocally one of my favorite people on earth—she has long been one of the most caring, supportive, and original people I know. But as someone who has known Kelsey for a decade and a half now, dating back to the pre-Irene era and our days at UCLA, I can say with complete confidence that she has never been more gregarious, outgoing, and – most importantly – truly and deeply happy. It is a rare treat to see someone you love so much, meet their match. And that is exactly what happened when these two crazy kids met. Since that time, I have come to know Irene, and I can see exactly why Kelsey is drawn to her. Irene has a quiet strength and incredible kindness. Irene’s brand of humor and dry wit are a perfect compliment to Kelsey’s. I consider myself incredibly lucky to count Irene as one of my friends now as well. Irene and Kelsey individually are two of the smartest and most creative people I know, and together, as a writing duo and life partners, they are a force to be reckoned with. I couldn’t be happier for you both and I am thrilled to be a part of this pivotal moment in your lives. Even though you have been together for a decade now, today is special because you are declaring out loud your love and devotion to one another in front of your family and closest friends. Let our presence here be a reminder that you have a community of people who love and support you today and always.
Before they make their promises to one another, Kelsey and Irene’s friends, Joanna and Nina are going to ask you to make some promises to them.
NINA: This is a community affirmation of Irene and Kelsey, please answer “we will”.
JOANNA: Will all of you gathered here give your pledge to honor and uphold Irene and Kelsey and to recognize them as a family in this community?
NINA: Will you guide them and keep them in your thoughts during times of trouble and celebrate with them in times of joy?
JOANNA: Will you stay up too late with them, laughing, or talking, or just enjoying each other’s presence?
NINA: Whenever the Dodgers play the Giants, will you promise to root for the Dodgers?
KRISTA: Now Kelsey and Irene will make their vows to each other.
KRISTA: Irene, will you have Kelsey to be your wife, to live together in this covenant of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
IRENE: I will.
KRISTA: Kelsey, will you have Irene to be your wife, to live together in this covenant of marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and be faithful to her as long as you both shall live?
KELSEY: I will.
KRISTA: To bless this union, Irene’s first niece Amanda will read a poem.
AMANDA: Now you will feel no rain, For each of you will be shelter to the other. Now you will feel no cold, For each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there is no more loneliness, For each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two bodies, But there is one life before you. Go now to your dwelling place, To enter into the days of your togetherness. And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
KRISTA: Irene and Kelsey, by the power vested in me by American Marriage Ministries dot org, and the great state of California, I now pronounced you married. You can kiss your bride.
RECESSIONAL: Forever and Ever Amen by The Drums
In the end, like the whole wedding, the ceremony felt very “us”. It was perfect.