October 04, 2004

The Wedding Ritual

Posted at October 4, 2004 01:16 AM in Daily Life .

The PDF version is here.

Al & Rebecca's Wedding Ceremony

Officiated by Sam Webster



The space is arranged with an altar at the far end from the entrance. The priest enters, proceeds to the altar sunwise.

Sam Webster (to the guests): "I wish to welcome all of you here who have come here today. We have gathered in this place today to witness the beloved union of Rebecca Erlin and Albert Billings in the sight of their families and friends. They have invited you here to share this most special of occasions with them and to bear witness as their two become one. (pauses) We will now begin the wedding ritual with a purification and consecration of this space."

Sam goes to the East taking the cup of water.

Sam (placing salt in cup): “Let the salt of Earth admonish the water to bear the virtue of the Great Sea. Mother, be thou adored.”

He asperges the space in each quarter sunwise and then returns to the North. He then takes up the incense.

Sam (lighting incense): “Let the Fire and the Air make sweet the world! Father, be thou adored.”

He then censes the space in each quarter, moving as he did with the cup.

Al enters the space and proceeds to the altar facing Sam. Al moves to stand slightly off to the right side and turns to face the guests.

Rebecca enters the space, accompanied by Louetta and Leon Erlin. All three proceed to the altar together.

Sam: "Welcome, Louetta and Leon. Do you bring your daughter with love and joy on the occasion of her wedding?"

Louetta & Leon Erlin: (answer as they may)

Sam: "Please present your daughter to your son-to-be and, if you choose, give your blessings to them."

Louetta & Leon: (answer as they may)

Louetta and Leon then proceed to their seats in the front. Rebecca and Al turn to face Sam.

Sam: "Rebecca and Al, you are here today to dedicate yourselves to each other in the union which is marriage. Is it your will that you do so today?"

Rebecca: (answers)

Al: (answers)

Sam: "I will now purify and consecrate you by fire and water so that you may begin this rite pure in body and spirit."

Sam (asperging Rebecca): "I purify you with Water."
(asperging Al): "I purify you with Water." 

Sam (censing Rebecca): "I consecrate you with Fire."
Sam (censing Al): "I consecrate you with Fire."

Sam: "Purified and consecrated together, we will now invoke those presences that give strength and wisdom to us all." 


Taking of Refuge

Sam: "I call to the company of those who have attained:
to witness and to aid!
I take refuge in the already enlightened state
That is in my self and all other beings
That is the provident, the very ground of being.
I take refuge in bornless, stainless awareness"

Sam: "A...A...A"

Sam: "Remember all ye that existence is pure joy;
that all the sorrows are but as shadows;
they pass & are done; but there is that which remains."

Sam: "All is pure and present,
And has always been so.
To this realization
We commit ourselves —
Pure and Total presence."



Sam (to guests): "Rebecca and Al are happy today not only because they can share the joy of their love for each other with family and friends, but also because they have the opportunity to express their aspirations for the future. They will now share their promises with each other."

Rebecca and Al turn to face each other in front of Sam.

Rebecca & Al: "Today we promise to dedicate ourselves completely to each other, with body, speech, and mind. In this life, in every situation, in wealth or poverty, in health or sickness, in happiness or difficulty, we will work to help each other perfectly. "

Sam (to Rebecca & Al): "Rebecca and Al, do you pledge to help each other to develop your hearts and minds, cultivating compassion, generosity, ethics, patience, enthusiasm, concentration and wisdom as you age and undergo the various ups and downs of life and to transform them into the path of love, compassion, joy and equanimity?"

R&A: “We do”

Sam: "Recognizing that the external conditions in life will not always be smooth and that your own minds and emotions will sometimes be mired in circumstance, do you pledge to see all these events as a challenge to help you grow, to open your hearts, to accept yourselves, and each other; and to generate compassion for others who are suffering? Do you pledge to avoid becoming narrow, closed or opinionated, and to help each other to see various sides of situations?"

R&A: “We do”

Sam: "Understanding that just as we are a mystery to ourselves, each other person is also a mystery to us. Do you pledge to seek to understand yourselves, each other, and all living beings, to examine your own minds continually and to regard all the mysteries of life with curiosity and joy?"

R&A: “We do”

Sam: "Do you pledge to preserve and enrich your affection for each other, and to share it with all others? To take the loving feelings you have for one another and your vision of each other's potential and inner beauty as an example and rather than spiraling inwards and becoming self absorbed, to radiate this love outwards to all beings?"

R&A: “We do”

Sam (to All): "So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of humanity. And when one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy. For the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not appear simply to be the desire of a lover, but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, and of which she has only a dark and doubtful presentiment. Although they are divided into opposites, for loves sake, in truth they were never separate, but always joined heart--to--heart like these two beings here before you. For love is that true bliss that seeks to return us to this primordial union."


Exchanging of Rings

Sam (to Madeline Billings in audience): "Madeline, please approach with the rings."

Madeline comes forward, carrying the rings on a cushion and presents them to Sam. She pauses to hug Al and then Rebecca and returns to her seat.

Sam hands the rings together to hold between them and in front of him. He then purifies and consecrates the rings with water and fire.

Sam (gesturing to the rings): "The wedding ring is an outward and visible sign of union. These rings are an ancient symbol of unity, blessed and simple. Round like the sun, like the eye, like arms that embrace one another. Circles, for love that is given comes back round again and again. Therefore, may these rings remind you that your love, like the sun, illuminates; that your love, like the eye, must see clearly; and that your love, like arms that embrace, is a grace upon this world."

Sam: "Please take the ring of your betrothed."

Rebecca & Al do so.

Sam (turning to Rebecca): "Please repeat after me: I give you this ring [pause]. Wear it with love and joy [pause]. As this ring has no end, neither shall my love for you [pause]. I choose you to be my husband this day and every day." (Rebecca places ring on Al's finger)

Sam (turning to Al): "Repeat after me: I give you this ring [pause]. Wear it with love and joy [pause]. As this ring has no end, neither shall my love for you [pause]. I choose you to be my wife this day and every day." (Al places ring on Rebecca's finger)



Sam Webster: "Forasmuch as Rebecca and Al have grown in knowledge and love of one another, and because they have agreed in their desire to go forward in life together, seeking an even richer, deepening relationship, and because they have pledged to meet sorrow and joy as one family, I declare that by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride!”

Rebecca & Al kiss. After they finish, they turn to face the guests.

Sam: “Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in congratulating Mr. and Mrs. Billings.”

When such congratulations as occur are finished, Sam continues.



Sam: "We will now close this ritual so that we might enjoy our time together on this day."

Sam (raising arms and proclaiming): "May the benefit of this act and all acts,
Be dedicated unto the Complete Realization and Supreme Enlightenment
Of all beings, everywhere, pervading space and time, so mote it be!"

"May the benefits of practice, ours and others
Come to fruition, ultimately and immediately
And I remain in the State of Presence. —A"

Sam: "Telestai! It is finished."


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