Notes on Officiating

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of officiating my cousin’s wedding in Baltimore. It was on the sixth anniversary of my brother’s wedding, at which I also officiated. In preparing the ceremony, one that I wrote from scratch with the help of my cousin and his fiancee, I asked friends and family what they remember as the most memorable parts of their wedding ceremonies, or those they had recently attended and even officiated.

The most common response was the parts of the ceremony where the quality of the couple’s relationship clearly shines through. To help me capture the quality and history of their ten years together, my cousin, Drew and his fiancee, Eleni, came out to visit me for a long weekend. We spent our time hiking, visiting the gardens, and reflecting on their relationship. I was able to ask them exploratory questions that got them to reflect and speak openly about how they developed their relationship, how they fell in love, and how they work so well together.

As I said in the ceremony, part of what struck me about their relationship is their ability to grow with each other and because of each other. At their suggestion, we used a quote from Vincent van Gogh to illustrate this: “And there is the same difference between someone who is in love and what he was like before as there is between a lamp that is lit and one that is not. The lamp was there all the time and was a good lamp, and now it is giving light and that is its true function.”

It seems to be a remarkable indicator of resilience and fulfillment when a couple can mutually reinforce their individualities, help each other glow more brightly, as they foster their partnership. Drew & Eleni do this in encouraging each other’s individual passions and in sharing their passions supportively. They find joy in returning to each other and recounting their adventures together. They also find great reward in helping each other to appreciate and enjoy their passions together.

Another essential aspect of the ceremony that Drew and Eleni wanted to capture was the powerful impact their families and friends have had and continue to have on their relationship. To help illustrate how important this is to Drew and Eleni and to help their gathered families and friends re-invigorate their commitment to fostering the enduring relationship, we asked the community to stand at the end of the ceremony. The bride and groom faced all those gathered. And in response to my calling upon them to affirm their commitment to encourage, love and support Drew & Eleni into the future, they all proclaimed, “We do.”

It was a profound and moving moment in which the community was actively involved in the ceremony. They were able to commit to stay involved in the couple’s life, bearing witness and helping bear responsibility for their well-being.

I was thrilled we captured the richness and joy of their relationship. What a tremendous honor to be called upon to officiate.

It’s also worth checking out the venue, the library at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. Here’s a link to some photos and some history. Here’s another striking photo.