Friends, we are gathered here at this hour, to witness and to celebrate the coming together of two separate lives. We have come to join this man, and this woman, in marriage, to be with them and rejoice with them in the making of this important commitment. The essence of this commitment is the taking of another person in his or her entirety, as lover, companion and friend. It is therefore a decision which is not to entered into lightly, but rather undertaken with great consideration and respect for both the other person and oneself.
Love is one of the highest experiences that we human beings can have, and it can add depth of meaning to our lives. The sensual part of love is one of life's greatest joys and when this is combined with real friendship, both are infinitely enhanced. The day to day companionship, the pleasure in doing things together, or in doing separate things but in delighting to exchange experiences, is a continuous and central part of what a man and a woman who love each other can share.
Marriage symbolizes the intimate sharing of two lives, yet this sharing must not diminish but enhance the individuality of each partner. A marriage that lasts is one which is continually developing and in which each person is individually developing, while growing in understanding of the other's feelings can develop fully only with years of intimacy. This wonderful knowledge of another person grows out of really caring for the other so much, that one wants to understand as completely as possible what the other is feeling. Thus it is possible to share not only joys and successes, but also the burden of sorrows and failures. To be known in this way is a priceless thing, because such understanding and acceptance make it easier to live with our problems and failings and worries. But again, while marriage is the intimate sharing of two lives, it can yet enhance the differences and individuality of each partner. We must give ourselves in love, but we must not give ourselves away. A good and balanced relationship is one in which neither person is overpowered or absorbed by the other.
Thus it is out of the tension between separateness and union, that love, whose incredible strength, is equal only to its incredible fragility, and is born and reborn.
We are here today then, to celebrate the love which GROOM and BRIDE have for each other, and to give social recognition to their decision to accept each other totally and permanently. Into this state of marriage, these two persons come now to be united.
Please face each other, joining right hands as a symbol of your union.
GROOM, do you take BRIDE to be the wife of your days, to love and to cherish, to honor and to comfort, in sorrow or in joy, in hardship or in ease, to have and to hold from this day forth? If so, please answer I DO.
BRIDE, do you take GROOM to be the husband of your days, to love and to cherish, to honor and to comfort, in sorrow or in joy, in hardship or in ease, to have and to hold from this day forth? If so, please answer I DO.
GROOM, what pledge to do you offer in token of these vows? (This ring)
GROOM, as you place this ring, symbol of your commitment in marriage, on the third finger of BRIDE's left hand, please repeat after me; With this ring, I wed you, and pledge my faithful love.
BRIDE, what pledge to do you offer in token of these vows? (This ring)
BRIDE, as you place this ring, symbol of your commitment in marriage, on the third finger of GROOM's left hand, please repeat after me; With this ring, I wed you, and pledge my faithful love.
GROOM and BRIDE, having declared in the presence of these witnesses that you take one another as husband and wife; and having symbolized your marriage by the joining of hands and the giving and acceptance of rings;
Now therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the State of Wisconsin, I do now declare in the presence of these witnesses that you are husband and wife.
You may kiss the bride.