Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Celebration of Marriage of Elizabeth Butterfield and James Walters

On April 30, 2011, it was my honor and privilege to perform the wedding of two of my friends.  California has this concept where an individual can be deputized to perform marriages on one specific day.  Some counties say only one day; San Mateo allows many.  There were no other takers.  This is the script from which we worked.  Some of it was a group effort, my comments were my own. 

Opening Remarks

   Welcome dear family and friends of Elizabeth and James. 

   Perhaps like me, you have stood in a similar spot and are now thinking about that moment in time.  At that moment, as at this one for James and Elizabeth, everything was possible.  The challenges that arose  before now are set aside, and those coming  don’t matter yet. If you’ve not had this moment in time, perhaps you’ve had another where everything was possible.  In either case, please hold that thought for this couple now.

    Elizabeth and James - turn and look at these friends and family.  They’re here to share this special moment of yours.  It is filled with joy and everything is possible.  Take a mental photograph as their remembered joy merges with their joy for you.  This is what community is about and that is why you have brought us all here together today.

    We must acknowledge Elizabeth’s parents John and Maryanne and James’ parents Linda and Edward.  They have brought their children together at this moment in honor of the love and support that both families have for them as a couple.
About Liz and James

           Face each other (and me) again.

    I first met Liz when in the seventh grade, she joined our Girl Scout Troop.   She was already a young woman who knew her mind and could speak it.  We early on realized she and I are kindred souls. 

    Several years later, James’ name started going by.  I met him when he interviewed me for a history term paper.  What’s not to like about a young man who considers you of historical significance?  Then he came to one of our troop alumnae gatherings, the first of the significant others to do so,  and he fit right in. 

    I’ve spent time with them together and with each separately.  It is so obvious to me that these two were made for each other and are very good for each other. And now ... here we are making it all official.

About Marriage

   When the two you asked me to be here with you for this ceremony, I started thinking about what wisdom I could share with you, based in part on my forty years with my husband Nick (who helped with this part).  

    Here it is: Marriage is a partnership.  Today, you two are saying  before witnesses “this is the person that I plan to spend the rest of my life with, to be my best self with and to give my best to.”   Remember always, you are partners, you are are confidants, you are lovers, you are best friends.  Be as honest with each other as you can and continue trusting and relying on each other. 

    Some cliches are true - never go to sleep angry with each other.  Don’t be afraid to say “I love you” often - with feeling.  Always show each other respect, especially in front of others.  But you don’t have to lose your identities in the marriage either.  There will be uneven times, when one of you needs more than the other.  That’s part of the deal too!  Life will throw challenges and difficulties at you.  You’ll get through them by facing them together. 

    A marriage is so much more than the two people in it.  As each of you grows, so the marriage will grow; as the marriage grows, each of you will.  This partnership, this joining, of  James and Elizabeth will allow you to do things in life that you haven’t yet imagined.  It will take you places you haven’t yet dreamed.  It is a wonderful thing you’re doing today and I am honored and blessed to be part of it. 


     It is my pleasure to introduce Angela Harrington, a friend of Elizabeth and James, who offers a gift of song.  

                        Angela sings "I Cross My Heart" by George Strait

Thank you, Angela!


Elizabeth and James have written their own vows. 


    I, Elizabeth, take you James, to be my husband, I promise to live with you, to trust you and to cherish you. I will love you when we are apart as well as when we are together. I will love you in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad. I will work with you toward our common goals and share our leisure joyfully.

    I love you because you believe in me and your belief helps me achieve more than I ever could otherwise.

    Love demands respect but not obedience. Love requires loyalty without subservience. I promise to respect you as my equal and be loyal to you in every way.

    Today is the beginning of the rest of my life. I choose to spend it, and all of my tomorrows, with you.


    I, James, take you Elizabeth to be my wife. I promise to love, cherish and respect you.  I promise to work with you in partnership in building our life  together. I promise to love you when times are good and when times are hard.  I  promise to do all I can to make our life together a happy one.

    I love you because no matter how dark the day has been, knowing you will be there when I get home  makes the day brighter.

   Today is the beginning of the rest of my life.  I choose to spend it, and all of my tomorrows, with you.

Ring Ceremony

Esther:  James, place and hold the ring on Elizabeth’s finger and repeat after me.

With this ring... I wed you..., for today, ... tomorrow ... and for all the years to come. ... Please wear it ... as a sign of my love ... and a notice to all the world ... that you have chosen me ... to be your husband.

Esther:  Elizabeth, place and hold the ring on Jame’s finger and repeat after me.

Elizabeth:   With this ring,... I wed you ... for today, ...  tomorrow ... and for all the years to come. ... Please wear it ... as a sign of my love ... and a notice to all the world ...  that you have chosen me ... to be your wife.


  You have taken your vows, made your promises to each other and exchanged your rings.  Because it is clear that you will have a strong and loving marriage, I say the following with love and joy:
   By virtue of the authority vested in me ... as (deputy) commissioner of marriages of the County of San Mateo, ... State of California, ... I now pronounce you husband and wife.

  After the recessional, there will be a pause in the festivities for certain formalities.  We invite you to go to the hall and enjoy some refreshments while you wait.

   I now present James and Elizabeth Walters, a legally married couple.


© 2011 Esther A. Heller

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