lavender blessing
minister's reflections
questions of intent
exchange of rings
closing words
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the wedding ceremony

Katherine Guilbault and Chris Hass were married at 5:30 PM, July 20th, 2002. Family and friends witnessed and participated in the event. This ceremony took place outdoors on a temperate summer day at the Warren Conference Center, Ashland, MA.

The following is a transcript of the approximately 1/2 hour ceremony. Our deepest thanks to those whose thoughts inspired us to write this ceremony, and to those who supported us throughout our lives to make the wedding possible. Special thanks to Katherine's cousin Reverend Lynn Brodie for officiating and for her thoughtful reflections.

Upon arrival, guests were treated to guitarist Maurice Cahen's acoustic performance of classical spanish guitar and jazz.

Guests were seated in a circular formation around a central space where the officiant, bride and groom would stand. Approximately 80 guests were in attendance. Katherine and Chris were especially pleased with the circular seating arrangement, as it kept everyone they love close, and (hopefully) gave everyone a good view and a chance to hear the proceedings.

Friends and family kindly served as ushers by handing out programs, and directing guests to their seats. The ushers were:

procession (top)

Appearing from atop a nearby hill, the bridal party processed to the site of the wedding ceremony. Once assembled, Reverend Lynn Brodie began with a welcome.

welcome (top)

minister: Welcome friends and family. We are glad to have you here. Today we ask you to celebrate and bless the marriage of Katherine and Chris, as these beloved friends enter into the evolving partnership of husband and wife. We ask you to celebrate yourselves, for over the time that you have known them, you have been a vital and sustaining part of their success and happiness. We celebrate as well those who could not be here today, but who are present in our thoughts and hearts. We come joyfully together in love and understanding. Shared love makes burdens lighter, makes distances more acute, togetherness more precious. Understanding tempers love, giving it the strength to grow and sustain. Understanding comes from perpetual renewal: The courage to understand yourself, and to meet each other anew each day. Together, love and understanding move us to challenge life in ways we dare not risk alone. It is Katherine and Chris's pledge today that in partnership they will sustain their love, and seek to understand each other, and themselves.

minister: In addition to loved ones, we seek guidance from those who inspire us through the written word. Towards that end, Katherine and Chris have selected several passages as readings. Their good friend Gretchen Grozier will read the first passage.

readings (top)

gretchen: Katherine first encountered this is a poem in a book of poetry given to her by her grandmother, Memere Guilbault. It is called, "An Oath of Friendship," by an Anonymous writer from China, 1st Century BC.

Shang ya!
I want to be your friend
For ever and ever without break or decay.
When the hills are all flat
And the rivers are all dry
When it lightens and thunders in winter
When it rains and snows in summer
When Heaven and Earth mingle-
Not till then will I part from you.

minister: The next passage will be read by Chris and Katherine's friend and Chris's college roommate, Dave Tweedie.

Psalm I from The Book of Psalms.
Blessed are the man and the woman
Who have grown beyond themselves
And have seen through their separations.
They delight in the way things are
And keep their hearts open, day and night.
They are like trees planted near flowing rivers,
Which bear fruit when they are ready.
Their leaves will not fail or wither,
Everything they do will succeed.

minister: The third reading will be read by Marc and Frances Overcash, who have shared their playfulness and guidance with Chris and Katherine since they met in college.

marc and frances: This is a selection from Letters to a Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke. Katherine and Chris have selected this reading because it describes their feelings about marriage.

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.

That is why this too must be the criterion for rejection or choice: whether you are willing to stand guard over someone else's solitude, and whether you are able to set this same person at the gate of your own depths. For the more we are, the richer everything we experience is. And those who want to have deep love in their lives, must collect and save for it, and gather honey.

singing (top)

minister: Katherine and Chris also seek inspiration through song. They have asked their sister-in-law Liz to sing for us. She will sing "Tis a gift to be Simple." David Tweedie, will accompany her on the fiddle.

lavender blessing (top)

minister: Many wedding ceremonies include a ritual of unity such as lighting of unity candles. Katherine and Chris have been inspired to create a unique blessing using lavender. They have been inspired by the kindness of their friend Trish Dearing, who grew, picked, and prepared the lavender you now hold during a year spent in South Africa.

Lavender is used in bouquets, potpourris, and in some foods. It also has many medicinal purposes, and is believed to relieve stress and fatigue, cure headaches and other muscle aches, and repel insects. As Trish tended this lavender, she thought warm thoughts about Katherine and Chris and their upcoming marriage. As she and her companions prepared the lavender, Trish related her fond stories and memories to each person so that they too would add warm thoughts to the creation of this gift.

I invite each of you to hold these lavender flowers in your hands as you reflect on your wishes for Katherine and Chris's marriage.

Katherine and Chris's Godparents, Paul and Elaine Proulx and Linda and Ken O'Bannon, please come forward.

(Bowls to collect lavender in are given to the godparents.)

minister: I invite everyone to pour your lavender into the collection bowls as they are passed by Katherine and Chris's Godparents. You may save some lavender for yourself if you wish. The lavender will combine bit by bit just as Katherine and Chris's relationship has brought together many different people over the years. Lavender comes from the Latin word lavare, meaning to wash. Today we will "wash" Katherine and Chris in warm thoughts for their marriage.

(Bowls brought forward. Katherine and Chris consolidate lavender into one container. Minister sprinkles lavender on them, not in Katherine's hair.)

minister: May this community of family and friends continue to support you in building and nurturing a healthy and lasting marriage. May this lavender always remind you of the many people who love you and care about you, those who you can call on to support you in times of need and to celebrate with you in times of joy. May the blessings of love and community be with us all.

reflections: "side-by-side" by rev. lynn m. brodie (top)

Choosing a unity ritual for Chris and Katherine's wedding took some creativity because most unity rituals like the lighting of a central candle emphasize a merging of two people's lives. Katherine and Chris emphasize the wisdom of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, who says that the merging of two people is really impossible. Instead the true goal of marriage should be to become "guardians of each other's solitude."

The first image I had of this phrase involved Chris standing outside Katherine's study door with arms crossed and a stern expression on his face, blocking entrance to all living creatures including himself.

But what is it truly to be "guardians of one another's solitude"? I reflect back over Chris and Katherine's relationship. They met, way back 14 years ago and began their relationship as "just friends." That typical high school phrase can lead to so much more. Truly friendship is the core of lasting lifelong long relationship. Their friendship deepened into a dating relationship, and soon after a pattern began when Chris left for college.

I remember the family talking about how sweet their romance had been and how they would now likely go their separate ways. In a sense they did: They lost communication over the course of the next two school years as Chris pursued his college studies and Katherine completed high school. And in a sense they did not go their separate ways. They reconnected each summer and rekindled the relationship. And then Katherine left for college. In the next years Katherine and Chris both pursued their studies and careers in different fields at different colleges and jobs, allowing each other the time and space needed to develop their individual life goals and dreams while finding ways to come together and share as partners in relationship. It wasn't always easy. Through it they encouraged each other in their life callings and remained friends who are committed to each other. Living in separate cities for many years and supporting each other's dreams was an important way to guard each other's individuality and to help each other to become fully who they are called to be. By helping each other to develop their uniqueness as individuals they also allowed themselves to be able to be more fully together.

For a time between these two "emotionally close" individuals a quite literal "distance" separated them. Maybe that has helped them to glimpse the reality of life which Rilke writes of.

Now that Katherine and Chris live together, these distances take on a new meaning.

Katherine and Chris, the reading you chose proclaims that two human beings who are emotionally close and live together are still separated by "infinite distances". You have chosen to reflect on the fact that no matter how close you manage to be (no matter how well you communicate, nor how much you share, nor how much you care for each other) still you ar ultimately on your own life journey, which not even your soon to be spouse can travel for you or understand completely. These are lonely, scary thoughts.

This acknowledgment of the separation between even the most happily married couple asks you to accept the limitations of human life. Marriage is full of realities and frustrations and imperfections and limitations. Rilke calls you to accept this not as a harsh reality, but as a comfort and a blessing, to embrace those limitations, "loving the expanse between" you so that a "marvelous living side-by-side can grow up." It is this which Rilke says "gives[you] the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky." The lavender blessing symbolized this "marvelous living side-by-side". Each flower of lavender is whole and complete in itself. We brought those individual flowers together as separate entities not to completely merge, but instead to stay individual and yet create a new and beautiful whole. This is an image, not just of marriage but of community, because marriage is not just the partnership of two people, but also the creation of a new community of family and friends, who will not only guide and support and celebrate with you, Katherine and Chris, over the years, but also with each other.

In your marriage preparation work, you identified values and ways of relating which will help you to create a healthy and fulfilling marriage relationship, a living side-by-side in love. You are committed to the freedom to be individuals while supporting each other. You are committed to balancing your personal needs and desires and schedules with the needs and desires of the family unit. You have agreed to support and value each other's careers equally regardless of the salary level. You value flexible and evolving roles and a life full of playfulness, creativity, goals and growth. The glue that holds all this together is good communication, open dialogue about the good and bad things in your relationship as well as a deep trust.

Sometimes you will achieve a beautiful, marvelous living side by side and you will recognize it instantly and celebrate. Sometimes that living side by side as partners in life and marriage will feel uncomfortable and require taking risks. You have not chosen the traditional "for better or for worse til death do us part" type of vows, but you have chosen vows which call on you to be all you can be and to support each other on life's journey. You will promise to encourage and inspire each other and help your partner achieve life's dreams "even when neither of you are sure where that may lead you" as an individual or as a couple. This love involves a risk taking, a not knowing, And yet in many ways your approach to life is not a risk at all because it ensures that each one of you will strive to live up to the best of who you are and who you are called to be, that you will support each other in being whole and complete as individuals, even when that is difficult. For as Rilke said, the more we are as individuals, the more we can be truly ourselves in a marriage relationship and in the world, the more we can support each other's wholeness, "the richer everything we experience will be". The marriage you envision involves cultivating a deep trust not only in each other and your relationship, but in the callings and longings of your soul. It calls for trust in the meaning of both your life and your life together, as well as trust in the ultimate wisdom of the unfolding universe, in the spirit of life and the spirit of love. May the vision of this day and the vows you are about to share inspire you to live side by side in a "marvelous" love all the days of your lives.

(Katherine and Chris change positions so that those who may not have been able to see before could now see.)

questions of intent (top)

minister: Chris, do you promise to love Katherine, remaining faithful to the joy and laughter you feel today? Do you promise to encourage and inspire Katherine to achieve her dreams, even when neither or you are sure where that may lead you? Do you promise to strive to be your best, protecting your own dreams and aspirations, so that you can be a better partner with Katherine? Do you promise to continue to communicate openly and honestly, as the foundation of your relationship together?

chris: I do.

minister: Katherine, do you promise to love Chris, remaining faithful to the joy and laughter you feel today? Do you promise to encourage and inspire Chris to achieve his dreams, even when neither of you are sure where that may lead you? Do you promise to strive to be your best, protecting your own dreams and aspirations, so that you can be a better partner with Chris? Do you promise to continue to communicate openly and honestly, as the foundation of you relationship together?

katherine: I do.

vows (top)

minister: Katherine and Chris used a selection by Elmo A. Robinson as inspiration for their shared vow.

katherine: I love you. It is my deepest desire that we spend our days and years together. Our love shall unite us in a genuine union of hearts and lives, in which I shall cherish and care for you.

chris: I love you unconditionally, hoping for your love given freely in return. My love is not a demanding love, nor does it find room for resentments and hostilities. I will seek ever to understand you, to admire you for what you are, to recognize your potentialities, and to help you to attain them. I have faith in you and in our future together.

katherine: I love you. The togetherness for which I hope is one in which the strength in each of us will complement the weakness of the other. Already the two of us constitute a family, united by an invisible bond, and providing soil in which love can flourish, increase, and mature. To this bond, as well as you, I pledge my devotion.

chris: I love you. I shall become part of your family, and you shall become a part of mine. Your responsibilities shall be my responsibilities. In the community in which we live, we will seek companionship and fellowship of those who will enhance our love rather than endanger it. As we live out the full span of our years, may we look back over them and rejoice, that our love has indeed bestowed upon us the blessings of a union, which has led us out of the realm of convention and into the realm of the extraordinary.

chris and katherine: This is my vow to you.

exchange of rings (top)

minister: These rings are a symbol of the unbroken circle of love. May they be a daily reminder to Katherine and Chris of their vows to each other and their resolve to live together in unity, love, and happiness. Katherine and Chris, as a symbol of your love and respect for each other, will you now exchange rings?

(Best man provides rings.)

katherine: I give you this ring as a symbol of our vows, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you. I will be true to you, respect you, and grow with you throughout all the years.

chris: I, give you this ring as a symbol of our vows, and with all that I am, and all that I have, I honor you. I will be true to you, respect you, and grow with you throughout all the years.

blessing (top)

minister: May you be a blessing and comfort to each other, sharers of each other's dreams, consolers of each other's sorrows, helpers to each other in all life's vicissitudes. May you encourage each other in whatever you set out to achieve. May you trust each other, trust life, and be unafraid. May you love each other and offer love and support to those around you.

pronouncement (top)

minister: By exchanging vows and rings you have pledged your friendship and commitment, each of you in the presence of this company. By the power of your own love, we are truly glad to recognize you as husband and wife.

closing words (top)

minister: Katherine and Chris, may your life together be long, devoted, healthy, and full of peace. May you be a source of comfort and inspiration for each other. (To all) May your happiness reach out to others, and may your love grow in joy. Amen.

kiss and presentation of husband and wife (top)

minister: The ceremony is ended. We invite you to reach under you chairs for the little containers of bubbles, and blow bubbles as we join in welcoming Chris and Katherine Guilbault Hass among us this day as husband and wife. Let us celebrate with them as they share the first kiss of married life.

(Big smackeroo here.)

minister: Please join Katherine and Chris at the Warren House (the white building with the chimney behind us) for light refreshment before dinner.

minister: Go now in peace.


© 2002 Chris and Katherine Hass, all rights reserved.