Wedding Ceremony

Greetings & Intro:

Mawwage…Mawwage is what bwings us togevver today. Mawwage, that bwessed event, that dweam wifin a dweam. Wuv, twue wuv, will fowwow you fowever.

(Bolton then introduces himself, says how we met, his relationship to the Allens, etc.)

Fulghum Reading — Meg

Union by Robert Fulghum

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.

For after today you shall say to the world –
This is my husband. This is my wife.

Meat of the Ceremony:

Bolton: Megan and Ben have been together for more than three years.  They have lived together the entire time, in three different homes with six different housemates.  Their relationship has been tested by struggles and separation and always come out stronger.  As Robert Fulghum said, their three years have been full of informal commitments, threads of connection woven together one strand at a time.  After three years of weaving, you can end up with something pretty darn nice—like a hammock.  Everybody loves hammocks.  So when you’ve already got a hammock, why bother with a ring?

Clearly, something about the status quo wasn’t enough for Megan and Ben, because they chose to get engaged, and they chose to have a wedding and invite us all here.  Now, a wedding takes a private relationship and really throws it into the public realm, before the law, the families, and God. The hammock is pulled out of the backyard and dropped on the beltway.  Megan and Ben are fairly private people. (And Megan hates the beltway.)  So why did they seek out this change?  Why are they taking this public step?

Because they want our help.

Megan and Ben are in love.  They’re so in love that they want to make a lifelong commitment to each other. Romantic love is wonderful; it conjures up excitement, affection, delight, playfulness, satisfaction.  But love is an evolving thing, and it looks different from one day to the next, even among the same two people.  Love can’t possibly last, unchanged, for a lifetime.   So if Megan and Ben want to stay together for the rest of their lives, they need to incorporate a new element into their relationship; something that does last through good and bad; something true; something irrefutable.


Family and Love go hand in hand, and there’s lots of overlap.  But romantic love is grounded in circumstance, and family is grounded in fact.  And while love between people waxes and wanes, families can only get bigger.  Once someone joins a family, those people are connected together for as long as genealogists keep paying attention.  There’s great strength in that. Thinking of family invokes patience, trust, cooperation, respect, and love in its most unconditional form. Pair these traits with what romantic love brings, and suddenly the foundation for a lifelong relationship looks much stronger.

So here’s what makes getting married different, to Megan and Ben, from living together and being in love.  Here’s why a ring is different from a hammock.  By getting married, Megan and Ben are taking all their informal commitments and stripping away what’s casual, what’s half-hearted, and what’s superficial.  From all the good stuff that remains, they’re adding a new promise; with their eyes wide open, they’re declaring that from this moment on, they are family.  Not just Allen; not just Kingsland; but something new. A baby family all their own, born from, and building on, the families here today. This decision will be with them for the rest of their lives.

This is a big promise.  And ultimately, over the years, it’s up to Megan and Ben to keep; a marriage is just as personal as any other relationship.  But they want our help.  And that’s the point of marking the start of a marriage with an event like a wedding; to borrow a theater term, it raises the stakes.  Every promise that they make today will be that much more serious because you and I are here to go “OH REALLY???”

We’re witnessing the birth of a baby family.  We’re watching them make a public declaration of their love.  But we’re not just here to watch.  We, the current families of Megan and Ben—whether related by blood or just related by love— are active stakeholders and participants in their lives.  We can encourage their love to change and grow.  We can help bring their new family, the Allen-Kingslands, to life.   And we can remember what we saw today, so that later down the line, if need be, we can remind them of their promises.

Megan and Ben invited us here today because they’d like us to do these things.  At the risk of putting words in your mouth, I’d like to give them an ‘aye-aye.’


Velveteen Rabbit Reading– Ryan

“What is REAL?” asked the velveteen Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side in the nursery. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When someone loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand. Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”


Bolton: The day is full of symbols.  One of the reasons Megan and Ben picked the Constellation for their wedding is because of its symbolism.  (The other is because of the cannon.)  A ship, commissioned in 1797, sees all kinds of adventures in its early life; struggles through a mid-life crisis in the 1850s and comes out stronger, with a brand new keel; fades away to the point of being condemned in 1994; and, subsequently, is revived by a community of caring friends and becomes a prime attraction in the Inner Harbor.  In the course of all these hard times, like the Velveteen Rabbit, the ship became truly Real to the people who supported her over two centuries.  Similarly, a marriage isn’t always ‘smooth sailing;’ it takes work, dedication, love, and a strong family to keep it alive.

Can we see the rings, please?

(as rings are fetched)

The Constellation is a symbol for today.  These wedding rings are symbols Megan and Ben will carry with them every day.  These particular rings are special; Megan and Ben designed and made them together, start to finish.  They worked with a jeweler who walked them through the steps of turning little rods of gold into gleaming rings.  Two days worth of time with hacksaws and files, torches and tongs, hammers, anvils and presses.  Each of them made the initial patterns on their own, but when it came to the finished product, Megan crafted Ben’s ring, and Ben made Megan’s.  Wearing these rings is a daily reminder of the effort, sacrifice, and love your partner has already invested in the relationship.  When you wear these, remember who they represent.

Megan and Ben have invested a part of themselves in each of these rings.  We’re going to pass the rings around now; please take a moment to share a silent thought or a blessing, so that Megan and Ben can carry you with them every day as well.

Megan: And don’t drop them.

“Every Night” as rings go around (~ 4 mins)… poetry reading (~1 min)

Rumi reading: ‘A Mouse and a Frog’– Kristen.

“A mouse and a frog meet every morning on the riverbank.

They sit in a nook of the ground and talk.

Each morning, the second they see each other,

they open easily, telling stories and dreams and secrets,

empty of any fear or suspicious holding back.

To watch and listen to those two

is to understand how, as it’s written,

sometimes when two beings come together,

God becomes visible.

The mouse starts laughing out a story he hasn’t thought of

in five years, and the telling might take five years!

There’s no blocking the speechflow-river-running-

all-carrying momentum that true intimacy is.

Friend sits by Friend, and the tablets appear.

They read the mysteries

off each other’s foreheads.

Bitterness doesn’t have a chance

with those two.”

Bolton:  Every day Megan and Ben wear their rings, they can remember this moment, and what we’ve all contributed into these symbols of love.


Bolton: Megan and Ben; time to make your promises to each other.
[Bolton flips THE coin to decide who goes first. Whoever wins reads the following first. The other reads the same vows after that. Note: the coin used was a USS Constellation coin, struck from metal from the ship to raise money for its rebuilding. It grants lifetime admission to the museum. Megan’s Grandfather bought it and gave it to her mother, who gave it to her. When we flipped the coin, Megan went first.]

I promise to be the balance and stability in your life.
I promise to give your needs and goals as much respect and energy as I will my own.
I promise to support you in your goals, plans, and dreams, no matter what
and I promise to be your most enthusiastic fan.
I promise to split the boring parts of life with you, so we get more time for the fun stuff together.
I promise to be as patient as I can be when things aren’t going well.
I promise to be there when we’re old and wrinkly and all your dashing good looks have faded away.
I promise to be open to surprises.
I promise to always be ready to talk, and ready to listen, openly and honestly.
I promise to work together on our life, without falling into assumptions, roles, or bad habits.
I promise to stand by you no matter what, because I believe we are stronger together than we are alone.
I promise that our marriage will always be a growing, living thing and that it will change and grow as we do.

[In same order, this line said w/ exchange of rings]

Today, I choose you to be my husband/wife.

Bolton: Here’s what we just witnessed.  A new baby family just came to life—and, consequently, everyone on this boat is now related, either through blood or through love.  Help their love grow; nurture their new family; remember this day; and join me in welcoming Megan and Benjamin Allen-Kingsland.



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