DC Courthouse Wedding

Need some inspiration for your service, rite, or ceremony? Let me help! Here's a place to start:

Maya Angelou, "Touched by an Angel"

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love

HOW DO I LOVE THEE~ By Elizabeth Barrett Browning ~

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use In my old griefs,
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose With my lost saints,
-- I love thee with the breath, I shall but love thee better after death.
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --
and, if God choose, and with my childhood's faith.
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

“To Be One With Each Other” by George Eliot

What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen
each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow,
to share with each other in all gladness,
to be one with each other in the
silent unspoken memories?

A Wedding Homily:

The most important words we never know how to say. Our hearts clench, we stutter, lapse into cliché. Yet it is so important to speak: and what we do here, today, is a primary speech,
a beginning to speak, a big speaking: because, probably, kim and Joe, you may have felt in the last few months that until this moment of your lives you never knew how to speak, or had nothing to say.

You may be right. Look to the poets – love is the endless topic, perplexing, troubling, yet nonnegotiable. Truly, Love topples our applecarts; rearranges the furniture in our lives. It is a fire, yet whether it will keep us warm or burn down our house, from one day to the next we will never know. Probably, in the end, it will do a little of both, and kim and joe, you won’t care. Why? Because you are in love, (wherever that is). But now that you are here, what do you say? How do you say it? The youngest son at the Sedar feast, why is this day different from all other days? Why this public moment?

Ritual and Ceremony is a way of speaking when words seem not enough.

At the center you have two people, two words, a speaking and hearing: Legalists will call it a contract, churchy types will call it sacrament. Bush calls it the groundrock of civilization. Parents will call it about time. But, Kim and Joe, what it is NOT: marriage is not self-help. Marriage will not add anything to your life that you do not already bring to it. Marriage will not rescue you from loneliness. In fact it will guarantee loneliness in deeper ways than ever before. Nor does the priest make this magic. Fr. Babbinger and I are, after all, only legal witnesses, for the church. You, Kim, you Joe, do this hard work – and it is -- between you. Or, actually, you have done this hard work. Today only makes public the reality that has, for some time, existed between you. Today is the day you welcome us in. Lawyers here recognize that words are at the center here, and thus, human people are at the center, and must remain so.

At the center, then, the word, I do, I will, the fragile word. Tell me about it, if it is something human, Frost’s husband tells his wife. Words matter, probably more than we give them credit. In the beginning, god spoke; yes, but imagine, for a moment, if he had not? Suppose God had not known how? Or been to overwhelmed by the possibilities of might and what could happen? So, here, too. Suppose you had been silent, walked the other way; taken the drink, Kim, offered by Joe, and said, thanks, have a nice day. Marriage is about risking the word – yes, risking the promises -- those we make, those we desperately need to keep, beyond our ability to keep them.

Thus our celebration today is also about forgiveness. Did you know that Jesus was an economiciaon? Forgive us our debts, he prays, as we forgive those debts owed us. A promise is a check, drawn on a currency of faith, in the economy of love. No accident, too, that the language of forgiveness is economic. To promise and to forgive: We do both out of generosity, we do both out of faith, we do both because we need to. There is a moral statute of limitation upon our frailty. We cannot always carry it. We must forgive, and invite forgiveness. we do both in words.

What do the poets say of love? About this contract, this intimate encounter we witness and make public? In Wallace stevens wonderful poem Penelope, reflecting on the long absence of her husband, Odysseus, thinks, “There was nothing she wanted that he could not bring by coming alone. She wanted no fetchings.

Christine, In Phantom of the opera:
All I want
is freedom,
a world with
no more night . . .
and you
always beside me
to hold me
and to hide me . . .

Kim and Joe, we gather in this church, a place made sacred not because it is god’s but because in it human beings find themselves. It is our story, the jewish rabbi said, that makes God divine, the reason he created the world. To hear our stories. Here we are safe, safe inside human history, knowing that others before us have loved, and others will again. This is our vocation as lovers; this is our gift, as teachers, parents, lawyers – however we are placed in the world: To protect the light God gives us, top keep it safe against the inevitable night. Indeed, to give it away, as free as we received it. For Love is gracious, grace: free. It cannot be compelled, bribed, bartered. There is nothing that Joe wants from Kim, that she, coming alone, does not already have. There is nothing that Kim wants from Joe, that he, coming alone, is not already prepared to give. The gift was ours to borrow. It's as if we always knew, And I won't forget what I did for love, What I did for love.

Rev. Edward J. Ingebretsen

The poem Song of the Open Road by Walt Whitman

Listen, I will be honest with you I do not offer the old smooth prizes But offer rough new prizes
These are the days that must happen to you: You shall not heap up what is called riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve.
However sweet the laid up stores, However convenient the dwelling,
you shall not remain there. However sheltered the port, however calm the waters, you shall not anchor there. However welcome the hospitality that welcomes you,
You are permitted to receive it but a little while Afoot and lighthearted, take to the open road Healthy, free, the world before you the long brown path before you, leading wherever you choose.
Say only to one another: Camerado, I give you my hand! I give you my love more precious than money; I give you myself before preaching and law:
Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?