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Our Ceremony: Tinkering with Tradition

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Personalizing our ceremony was of the utmost importance to us. If our guests hadn’t already clued in to our loose relationship with wedding traditions, they got a sense of what awaited them on the very first page of our program:

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There were five key ways that we strived to make our ceremony uniquely ours: music selections, choice of officiant, family participation, readings/crowd participation, and vows. I’ll tell the story of how each made a difference at our ceremony by taking us through our wedding ceremony photos.

Half of Trevor’s family is Scottish, and while he didn’t feel the need to wear a kilt and have a traditional Scottish ceremony, we both thought that incorporating Scottish music would be a great way to pay tribute to his heritage. We decided to play up our beach location and take advantage of the open space by having the bagpiper lead Trevor and his groomsmen from the dunes overlooking the ceremony down onto the main deck, playing “Scotland the Brave” all the while. Trevor’s cousin, an accomplished Scottish drummer, surprised us by playing along with the bagpiper.

(All photos by Beach Productions)

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My cousin is an accomplished violinist, and we chose to have her play music for the bridesmaids’ entrance as well as for my entrance. A more delicate instrument than the bagpipes worked well for the more intimate deck setting. As big music lovers, we thought long and hard about our selections. We wanted to make a transition to pop music with the violin, and set an upbeat tone for the ceremony. We chose The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love,” and it had guests grinning from the start.

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I decided to walk down the aisle with both of my parents in order to honor my mother as well as my father, who have as equal a partnership as any I know. I decided on U2’s “All I Want is You” on violin as my processional. As an instrumental, the song is dramatic, tender, and beautiful all at once, perfectly suited to the moment.

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See how I’m laughing in that last photo? In nearly every photo taken of me during our ceremony, I was grinning from ear to ear. Part of that is how excited I was, of course, but a bigger part of it is that we constructed a ceremony that tickled our funny bones as much as it touched our hearts. Our favorite thing to do is to make each other laugh, and having humor woven through our wedding day was a must. One of the most important ways that we ensured the tone we wanted was in our choice of officiant. Neither of us are religious, and we bristled at the idea of having someone who didn’t know us perform our ceremony. We decided to ask a mutual friend to marry us and never looked back. Our friend Gene added so much of himself and what matters to us into his words. He was funny and he was charming… he quoted Henry Miller. Here’s Gene charming and humoring us all (notice the expression of Trevor’s father, who was his Best Man) and circling the crowd Oprah-style.

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We had two readings during our ceremony. The first was Alice Walker’s “Beyond What,” read by Trevor’s mother. She did a beautiful job and was the perfect choice to read a poem that celebrates a council between equals.

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Next, we had twelve of our oldest friends share a reading: “Love,” by Roy Croft. Given that our wedding party was so small and family-oriented, a group reading presented itself as a fitting way to include more of our loved ones in the ceremony. Each friend was assigned a stanza, and we asked them to spread out among the guests and simply stand where they were seated to recite their line. The effect was like a scattered chorus – one person popping up in the back right, the next in the middle left, etc. – and it was wonderful. I loved having that moment for myself in the middle of the ceremony to see my friends – to watch them read, to see who was seated around them, to feel everyone’s presence, to really hear them. I’ve heard that it’s rare to see anyone at your own ceremony outside of your partner, because you’re so zeroed in on him or her. So for me, having twelve of our friends share that moment made me feel incredibly lucky to have them in my life, and especially lucky to have them with us that day. Twelve friends sharing one poem – pure magic. Here I am listening:

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Although we initially thought we would write our vows from scratch, as the wedding got closer, we found ourselves drawn to the symbolism of repeating vows that millions of couples before us had recited. We found a middle ground by repeating some of the traditional vows as a way to begin, and then added a twist: I wrote Trevor’s vows, and he wrote mine. This allowed us to be personal and true to ourselves while also honoring the essence of a traditional ceremony. In our vows for each other, we ranged from topics like National Public Radio to beach trips to live music to, again, laughing and smiling as much in our lives as possible. We ended with the same vow: to try to see ourselves the way that the other sees us. Here we are doing what we do best: making each other laugh.

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Just before we were announced as husband and wife, Gene asked for blessings from everyone in attendance. First, he asked for our parents’ blessings, and we were able to hear all four of them articulate their support. Then he asked for our siblings’ blessings, and all four of them, standing right up there with us, gave a resounding cheer. Finally, he asked everyone gathered there, as loudly as wildly as possible, if they would offer us their support. Cue a deafeaning chorus of “YES!,” an announcement that we were official, and before I knew it, this was happening:

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We walked down the aisle to “The Brown-Haired Maiden” on bagpipe. One group photo later, and it was party time!

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Next up: You saw how we transformed our ceremony space … could we do the same with a plain white tent for our reception?

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5 comments on “Our Ceremony: Tinkering with Tradition

  1. Ahhhhh The Sanderling!!!! I shot there and LOVE that ceremony spot they have!!!

    I am SO enjoying your recap, the details make my heart sing! Can’t wait for more!

  2. This post absolutely made my day. Me and my FI are not religious and are toying with the idea of hiring someone to officiate or ask a friend to do it. I really want to have my aunt do it, as I know it would make the ceremony that much more meaningful. Ahh too many similarities! I LOVE IT!
    .-= Brit’s most recent blog post: quote #6 =-.

  3. Ashley writes...

    Absolutely amazing, Maggie! The ceremony sounds (and looks) like it was a great representation of you all- so creative and fun!

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