Apr 13, 2011

Journey Of A Thousand Miles: The Ceremony Conclusion


Now that we had walked down the aisle, heard Mama-In-Law Meerkat tell our love story, performed our sand ceremony and exchanged vows and rings, there was only one thing left for Roberto to do - bless our marriage. 
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you.
May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years.
May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth.

Then, in what seemed like a blink of an eye, our ceremony was over and I heard Roberto say the words that I have been waiting two and a half years to hear:
I now pronounce you husband and wife. Chris, you may kiss your bride.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my privilege to present to you for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs. Meerkat.

Then I heard our guitarist start to play our recessional song - First Day Of My Life.

Mr. Meerkat leaned towards me and whispered "what do we do now?". My reply: "We walk". 

At that moment it was still sinking in that I was now a married Meerkat.

It all felt like something right out of a fairytale or movie. It was surreal.

I remember Mr. Meerkat and I laughing and joking with each other as we walked down the aisle but for the life of me I can't remember a thing we said. I just remember feeling so completely happy.

As our guests made their way down the aisle, Sol and Jonathan grab a picture of each person or couple as they passed.

I never would have thought to put this on my "must have photos" list but it resulted in not only a picture of everyone at the wedding but in one of the only pictures I got with our moms together.

I love that they left the ceremony together holding hands. It really did put into action what Mama-In-Law Meerkat said in our ceremony about our families growing together.

Up Next: Mix and Mingle - Our Cocktail Hour

Apr 10, 2011

Journey Of A Thousand Miles: Vows, Rings, And Hands

You have seen us walk down the aisle, heard Mama-In-Law Meerkat tell our love story, and saw our sand ceremony but I know the part that you're really waiting to see. The part where we say the I Dos.

After we had finished the sand ceremony, Roberto smoothly transitioned into our statement of intent and vows.

Chris, do you take Carla to be your wife. To love and to cherish from this day forward?
Chris: I Do

Carla, do you take Chris to be your husband. To love and to cherish from this day forward?
Carla: I Do

The I Dos made my sister tear up a bit.

Then is was time to say our vows. It took a lot for me to hold back my tears. Don't let this picture fool you. My voice was definitely quivering while I was saying them.

I, Carla, take you Christopher, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; now and forever

I, Christopher, take you Carla, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; now and forever

Mr. Meerkat even got a bit choked up while saying his vows so I wiped away some of the tears. 

Before I knew it, it was time to exchange rings. This was a moment I had been thinking about since we first got engaged.

At first I didn't even notice Roberto holding our shell ring holder out to us so we could collect our rings. I guess I was too busy looking at my almost husband.

After we had shaken the sand from our rings,  Roberto started the reading for our ring exchange.

For thousands of years lovers have exchanged rings as a symbol of their commitment. These simple bands are not of great value in and of themselves, but are made precious by our wearing of them. Your rings say that even in your uniqueness you have chosen to be bound together. Let these rings always serve as a reminder that wherever you go, you may always return to your shared life together.

Chris, repeat after me - I give you this ring as a symbol of my endless love and commitment for you.
Chris: I give you this ring as a symbol of my endless love and commitment for you. 

Carla, repeat after me - I give you this ring as a symbol of my endless love and commitment for you.
Carla: I give you this ring as a symbol of my endless love and commitment for you. 

I was having a hard time holding it together at this point. After a small pause, so I could try and compose myself, Roberto started the "these are the hands" reading (aka hand ceremony).

Chris and Carla take a moment and look at each other’s hands so you may see the gift that they are to you.

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to passionately love and cherish each other through the years.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.
These are the hands that will tenderly hold and care for the ones you love.
These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.
These are the hands that when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.

Makes me tear up even reading those words now but I got through the hand ceremony without a flood of waterworks which was one of my biggest fears.

Then it was time for my sister to give our last reading.

The reading I choose is by James Kavanaugh:

Del Sol Photography

To love is not to possess,
To own or imprison,
Nor to lose one's self in another.
Love is to join and separate,
To walk alone and together,
To find a laughing freedom
That lonely isolation does not permit.

It is finally to be able
To be who we really are
No longer clinging in childish dependency
Nor docilely living separate lives in silence,
It is to be perfectly one's self
And perfectly joined in permanent commitment
To another--and to one's inner self.

Love only endures when it moves like waves,
Receding and returning gently or passionately,
Or moving lovingly like the tide
In the moon's own predictable harmony,
Because finally, despite a child's scars
Or an adult's deepest wounds,
They are openly free to be
Who they really are--and always secretly were,
In the very core of their being
Where true and lasting love can alone abide.

That one last smile my sister gave us before she took her seat said more to me than a million words could.

Up Next: Our Ceremony Conclusion

Apr 7, 2011

Journey Of A Thousand Miles: A Sand Ceremony

After Mama-In-Law Meerkat had finished reading our love story, Roberto stepped up to the microphone to begin our sand ceremony.

You both come here today from two separate families. From these two families a new family will be created. Today you join your lives and families together. 

Mama Meerkat and Sister Meerkat

The two separate bottles of sand symbolize your separate lives, separate families and separate sets of friends. They represent all that you are and all that you'll ever be as an individual. They also represent your lives before today. 

As these two containers of sand are poured into the third container, the individual containers of sand will no longer exist, but will be joined together as one. Just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the individual vases, so will the love and bond between the two of you render you inseparable. 

Then it was time for Best Man Meerkat and the second reading. I would consider Best Man Meerkat one of our closest friends and who out of all our friends, knows us the best. Not to mention that for as gruff and rough as Best Man Meerkat is, he always has a way with words so I was really excited to see the reading he would pick.

The reading I would like to do is from a guy named Jumi who is a fantastic word smith and has some pretty inspiration things to say. He says:

Happy is he who is able to escape from the lower self and feel the gentle breeze of friendship. His heart is so full of the Beloved that there is no longer room for anyone else. The Beloved flows through his every vein and nerve. Every atom of his body is filled with the Friend.

The true lovers can no longer perceive either the scent or the color of their own selves. They have no interest in anything other than the Beloved. Their heart is attached neither to throne nor crown. Greed and lust have packed their bags and left their street. If they speak, it is to the Friend. If they seek, it is from the Friend. They no longer take themselves into account, and live only for love. They leave the raw and turn to the ripe, abandoning completely the abode of the self.
Yep Best Man Meerkat out did himself with this one. Unique and perfect.

Up Next: Rings, Vows and Hands

Apr 6, 2011

Journey Of A Thousand Miles: Our Love Story Ceremony

It was time for our ceremony to begin.

Roberto began the service by welcoming everyone.

Family and friends, you have been invited here today to share with Carla and Chris a very important moment in their lives; the moment when they become husband and wife. Today is about love: the love between the two people before you, the power of love to heal and transform, and the notion that with love, all things are possible.

Carla and Chris, you have waited for this moment, planned for this moment and worked towards this moment for a long time. Now I ask that you simply be in this moment. Stop thinking about where you are going to be in the future and simply celebrate where you are right now. This is what you worked so hard for, so take a few deep breaths and savor this moment.

Then it was time for our first reading. We asked each reader NOT to share the reading they selected with us before the ceremony.

Carla and Chris have asked three people who are very special to them to select a reading for today. The first reading will be from Chris's cousin, Ked.

My reading if from Capitan Corelli's Mandolin:

Love is a temporary madness,
it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness,
it is not excitement,
it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
That is just being "in love" which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two.

After Ked sat down Roberto introduced Mama-In-Law Meerkat. Instead of having a standard wedding address we asked her to surprise us with her version of our love story. We wanted all our guests to know how we had gotten from two goofy college kids to becoming husband and wife.

When I was first asked to write the love story of Christopher and Carla from my perspective the first thing that came to my mind was that Christopher and Carla were the last ones to know. Everybody else in both families seemed to find it so obvious that the two of them were meant to be together but they remained ambivalent.

Christopher and Carla first met right after we dropped Christopher off at Western in 2005, she was one of the orientation volunteers. When Carla went up to speak at the front of the room she knocked the table over. Christopher said that was when he knew he had to meet her. Soon Carla became part of ever conversation I had with Christopher. It was apparent that he had found someone special. That she was somehow going to make an impact on his life. He just wasn't sure what it was at that time.

Del Sol Photography 

She encouraged him to step out of his safety zone and try different things. You began hearing about coffee bars of all things and the wonderful different coffees and teas she was having him try. You have to know Christopher to know that he never really liked coffee or tea before this but he was trying anything she put in front of him. And now every time you think of Christopher and Carla the first things that you think of are the coffees, the teas, the presses and all the things that go along with them. And you also think of the lifetime of happiness and new experiences that Carla's going to give to Christopher and Christopher will expose Carla to.

The connection between the two began to grow soon after that. Christopher was very excited when Carla asked him to join the womens engineering society. Then there was the robotics league. Something that Carla had done in the past and that Christopher joined to help her. He was amazed by her patience and her understanding. And most of all he was amazed at her love of playing with LEGOs because there was nothing better than that for him.

Del Sol Photography  

On one trip to Kalamazoo Christopher ask if he could bring a friend along to dinner. We assumed it would be one of his friends from high school and he came in with Carla. After we said our goodbyes and Sister-In-Law Meerkat got in the car, she looked at us and said "friends? no way". It was clear to me, as Father-In-Law Meerkat and I talked on the way home, that this was the start of something that was going to last a lifetime.

Not long after that Christopher called and asked what we would think of him asking Carla out. And my response was I had assumed they had already been dating. He said he thought she was great but didn't know she felt but hoped that she would share the same feelings. When I asked Carla about that time she said she didn't know they were dating until Chris leaned over and kissed her.  

Christopher and Carla are two very unique and special people to many people. Their love for so many things including each other will continue to grow.

When Christopher took Carla to Mackinac Island to propose he had carefully thought out everything. From designing the engagement ring to packing his own picnic lunch. And on a romantic beach he asked Carla if she would spend the rest of her life with him. Carla said she knew it was right as soon as he put the ring on her finger.

Carla and Christopher are definitely a couple cast from one mold. Their love for all things that are geeky- computers, gadgets, film, video games, coffee and tea but most of all their love for each other - will bring them a lifetime of happiness. 

Christopher and Carla we are so happy to share this beautiful day with you. It brings us great joy to watch our families grow together and to witness the next chapter of your love story. We love you both and wish you great happiness.

Up Next: Our Sand Ceremony