Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Pre-Marital and Wedding Coaching

I want to share the outline to a wedding ceremony I assisted a couple in composing and that I facilitated recently as part of the Pre-Marital and Wedding Coaching part of my coaching practice.

I was originally ordained as a minister when two friends of mine asked me to find a way to officiate at their wedding. The picture above is from that wedding.

It has been an exciting discovery for me to find that planning, creating and facilitating a wedding is a natural fit for coaching. I start with the expectation that the couple will meet with me for at least three hour sessions prior to their wedding, and that their wishes, ideas and dreams about how they want their wedding to look will be the prime factor in how the wedding turns out... and that I am the facilitator of their plans and do not have any pre-conceived ceremony that I will force on them beyond the very few required aspects of the ceremony itself. In that way every wedding is individually designed and totally reflects the couple who are marrying and the people they have invited to witness their vows and include in the ceremony.

Because I believe that a marriage ceremony is largely concerned with vows and promises a couple makes before a loving and committed group of family and friends regarding the nature and commitment of their relationship, a relationship based in love, respect, admiration and joy, much of my focus is on helping the people involved compose a beautiful ceremony in which these promises and vows are spoken aloud. In fact, as the following ceremony details, the ceremony may include promises that those in attendance wish to make to the couple being married.

This can happen in many ways; in as many ways as there are couples and weddings. That being said, the weddings I perform are generally not based in religion, but in the powerfully spiritual basis of how people promise to be loyal and loving to each other on a long-term basis.

I specialize in smaller, less than conventional couplings and am honored to perform same-sex ceremonies or ceremonies that celebrate other configurations of human union and public declaration of love, trust and commitment to a life together.

I should note, in the following ceremony, the "stone ceremony" was something the bride invented during one of our pre-marital and wedding coaching sessions. This kind of ceremony is most effective at smaller gatherings. Also noteworthy is the fact that this is the first wedding I have performed in which readings from the Bible were used, and although the couple in this ceremony chose not to have music or songs, most couples prefer to insert a song or two in the ceremony.


I. Welcome ( Use bell to call people together, Ken stands with me, then flower girl and Julie walk in. before short declarative/exuberant welcome)

II. Reading from Song of Solomon, Chapter 2 verse 10 through 13, Ch 8 verses 6-7
“My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love.”
III. What the bride and groom would like everyone to know about them .
The bride and groom invited all of you to be a part of this moment because they wanted to share their great joy. This comes out of their desire to unite their two families into one. Ken and Julie are honored and blessed to have you all here and wanted to share the beauty of this moment with you in this beautiful place. Most of all they want to make you a part of their great declaration of love and promise… to each other and to all of you as a newly joined family.
IV. Stone Ceremony: ceremony for us to make promises to each other.
Explanation and instructions
a. As we were putting this ceremony together we found a way that makes everyone present a part of the ceremony.
b. every one will take a “promise” stone and place it in bowl
c. find the first stone that speaks to you and place it in the bowl
d. stone represents promises to/advice/hopes for Julie and Ken
e. I’ll go first as example
f. Attendees each go
g. Although Ken and Julie prefer you speak your promise out loud, staying silent is okay. Repeating what others have said is okay.
h. The bride and groom's promise to attendees
V. The bride and groom's vows to each other
VI. Formal Vows
Do you _____ promise to love, cherish, respect and protect _______ a. in sickness and in health b. in times of plenty and in times of loss c. in the face of good times and the in face of struggle d. when divine gifts are shared or when flaws are displayed e. Response: “I do”

VII. New testament reading:
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophesies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
VIII. Now let us bless and exchange the rings you have chosen as emblems of your love and regard for one another. From time immemorial, the circle of metal has been an emblem of the sincerity and permanence of a couple's love and regard for one another and their union. As the precious metal turns again upon itself, so does a good marriage turn upon itself for its refreshment and renewal. It is in that spirit that I, and the rest of those present today, bless these rings.
(Bride/Groom) repeat after me: I give this ring to you (Groom/Bride)/ as a token that I shall love you,/ in all times,/in all places,/ and in all ways,/ forever/
IX. Pronouncement
I now pronounce you husband and wife! cheers and kisses

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