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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Big Fat Geek Wedding: The Ceremony

Artwork by Jeff Shyluk
On August 11, Sylvia and I were married. After many months of planning, a lot of stress and a broken leg, everything came together perfectly, thanks to the help and generosity of our family and friends. We had a really terrific day, and at the end of it all we really were completely overwhelmed by the warmth, humanity and decency of the many people who have touched our lives. It really was a memorable day for us, and we're so grateful that our dearest friends were either able to attend or sent us their best wishes from afar.

A few highlights...

The bride arrives in style, pulling up in a stretch limo.

Our officiant, Kevin Taft, briefs the crowd before the appearance of the bride and groom. Here's how the wedding program was scripted. There were just a couple of ad libs...

12:55: Introduction of marriage commissioner and announcements

KEVIN: Good afternoon, and thank you all so much for coming. My name is Kevin Taft, and I’m very pleased to serve as Earl and Sylvia’s marriage commissioner today. Before the bride and groom arrive, I have a couple of quick announcements.First, feel free to take photographs as the bride and groom make their way onto the stage, and as they exit. During the ceremony itself, however, we would ask that you refrain from flash photography. Yolande, the official photographer, will be taking photos during that time.

After the ceremony is complete, Earl and Sylvia will be available to greet guests in the receiving line in the main lobby. The staff here at Woodvale need to start rearranging the room for tonight’s reception, so I would ask everyone to quickly move out into the lobby as soon as the bride and groom have left the room.Everyone is welcome to use the clubhouse on the second floor. Cocktails start here at 5:30; dinner is at 6, and the dance follows at 9.

All right, with all that out of the way, let’s begin.

1:00 Procession of Groom’s Party, Entrance of Bridal Party

[Kevin signals usher Mike Totman, who will be standing by the ghetto blaster, that it’s okay to start the entrance music for the groomsmen and bridesmaids. Music (“Hymn”) plays, groom and bride’s parties take the stage. Follow with groom’s and groom’s parents entrance (“Ilia’s Theme”), then bride’s and bride’s parents entrance (“Con Te Partito”). Pause for a moment for photographs, then move to…]

Jim Hole leads a standing ovation for Sylvia, who walked down the aisle in spite of a badly broken, still-healing leg.

1:15-1:20 VOWS

KEVIN: For many years, all Members of the Legislative Assembly have had one happy privilege: that of uniting two people in the bonds of matrimony. And so, we are gathered here today with you, Sylvia Frances Boucher, and you, Earl James Woods, in the sight of your family and friends, in accordance with our laws and many beliefs, that you may pledge, before these witnesses, your love for one another and your commitment to sharing a life together.
Sylvia, Earl, the people gathered here today have come before us to witness the formal and public declaration of your marriage. Will you now, before these people, stand and declare, in your own words, your intention to love and cherish one another, from this moment forward?

EARL and SYLVIA: We will.

KEVIN: Then please proceed with your wedding vows.

[Earl and Sylvia stand; Sylvia hands Norma her flowers; Earl and Sylvia speak their vows to each other while holding hands.]

EARL: Sylvia, you have opened up new worlds for me. You are my greatest treasure, my best friend, my most trusted companion. I promise to love you completely, to make your happiness my first and most joyful duty, to protect you from harm, and to share the adventure of life with you, from this moment forward.

SYLVIA: Earl, you have brought peace into my life, peace I’ve never experienced before. You are my constant, my best friend, my greatest joy. Your happiness is my happiness, and my vow to you is to love and take care of you always, and to support you through whatever life brings. I love you. You are my Superman.

KEVIN: Earl and Sylvia have chosen a short selection of quotes and poems to summarize, in a few words, their feelings for each other. First, I would ask Sylvia’s Aunt and godmother, Frances Joly, to take the stage for the first reading.

FRANCES: On Soulmates - This reading is from The Bridge Across Forever, by Richard Bach, best known as the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we're pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we're safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we're two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we've found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.

The second reading is from the I Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes, an ancient text that explores the inevitability of change; in this case, a positive one.

When two people are at one in their inmost hearts, they shatter even the strength of iron or of bronze. And when two people understand each other in their inmost hearts, their words are sweet and strong, like the fragrance of orchids.

KEVIN: Thank you, Frances. Now I would ask Earl’s friend Peter Harris to step forward and deliver the second reading.

PETER: My first reading is "She Walks in Beauty," by the British Romantic poet, Lord Byron. With apologies to the original author, Earl has made one slight amendment to this famous poem, changing a single word to better match his bride.

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every golden tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

The second reading is "To Celia," a romance poem of transcendent love rendered in English by Ben Jonson from a love letter by Philostratus of ancient Athens.

Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss within the cup,
And I'll not ask for wine

The thirst that from the soul doth rise,
Doth crave a drink divine;
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
I would not change for thine

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honoring thee
As giving it a hope that there
It could not withered be;

But thou thereon didst only breathe
And sent'st back to me,
Since when it grows and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.

KEVIN: Thank you, Peter. Now, will the Best Man please step forward to present the rings?

[Jeff, the best man, moves into position and hands over Sylvia’s ring to Earl. He remains in place.]

KEVIN: Earl, please repeat after me:
Sylvia, accept this ring/as the physical manifestation/of my never-ending love for you.

[Earl gives Sylvia her ring.]

[Jeff hands over Earl’s ring to Sylvia. Jeff moves back into his normal position.]

KEVIN: Now Sylvia, please repeat after me:
Earl, take this ring/as a sign and symbol/of my undying love for you.

[Sylvia gives Earl his ring.]

KEVIN: Now will both of you please repeat after me:Let these rings symbolize/our infinite love/and commitment to one another.

KEVIN: And now, to satisfy the legal requirements of this civil marriage ceremony, I would ask the groom to repeat after me:

I do solemnly declare/that I do not know of any lawful impediment/ why I, Earl J. Woods,/may not be joined in matrimony to Sylvia F. Boucher.

I call upon those persons present/to witness that I, Earl J. Woods,/do take thee, Sylvia Frances Boucher,/to be my lawful wedded wife.

KEVIN: And now, the bride. Sylvia, please repeat after me:

I do solemnly declare/that I do not know of any lawful impediment/why I, Sylvia Frances Boucher,/ may not be joined in matrimony to Earl J. Woods.

I call upon those persons present/to witness that I, Sylvia Frances Boucher,/do take thee, Earl J. Woods,/to be my lawful wedded husband.

KEVIN: Thank you. With these requirements satisfied, and with these two people expressing openly and honestly their love for one another in the sight of their friends and family, there is one more important task to accomplish. Would the Best Man and Maid of Honour please join the bride and groom to witness the signing of the marriage certificate?

[Mike starts signing music. Earl carries Sylvia to signing table. At the same time, Norma carries flowers to signing table and places them there for d├ęcor. Norma and Jeff witness as Earl and Sylvia sign the certificate; when finished, they resume their original positions in front of the columns.]

KEVIN: I am pleased to declare you husband and wife. You may share a kiss.

KEVIN: Ladies and gentlemen, please join with me in celebrating the union of Earl J. Woods and Sylvia Frances Boucher Woods!

[Earl carries Sylvia to lobby for receiving line; rest of wedding party follows.]
Next: The Reception...