Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Ceremony

Photo credit: Michel Élie

Since we did not get married in the church here by a Canadian priest, we technically had a civil wedding. Our legal officiant was S's brother, J-G, who got certified to do our ceremony. But our ceremony was essentially a religious ceremony and our minister was my good friend, M, who I have been friends with since we were in 8th grade. M did most of the ceremony, and J-G did the legal vows and commitments necessary in here in Québec. So it was an interesting mix of a civil and religious ceremony. Minister M and I worked together to create the ceremony and choose what we would include.

Because we are a couple coming from two different language backgrounds, it was important to us to have a bilingual ceremony. I was very intent on surtitles (projected translations) for the language that was not being spoken at the moment, as I wanted everyone to understand what was going on in the ceremony. We had 2 scripture readings in French and one in English, some of the ceremony was led by M in English and some in French by J-G. S and I wrote our own personal vows, and we used the standard legal text for the official French vows. We made the choice not to do surtitles for our personal vows, as we said them in both languages so that we could both hear and receive them in our native language and in each other's language.

Photo credit: Martin Dallaire

We keep getting feedback, from people here in Québec especially, about how they enjoyed the ceremony and how they liked what Minister M chose to say. They found her approach refreshing and unlike what they had previous experienced in church or religious weddings. We have heard it called inspiring and moving, and several people have mentioned how they liked how during the communal blessing, she made a point of asking for the support and encouragement of family and friends, and not judgment. So far, I think three or more people have asked for written copies of the text of the ceremony. Several people have also commented on how they really appreciated hearing the legal description of marriage by J-G. The Québec law on marriage is very specific about equality in marriage and how each person in a marriage gives to the household in money and actions as they are able and each person shares responsibility in the decisions of the couple. Unfortunately, I forgot to include the legal description of marriage in the part to be translated, so the non-French speakers were a little in the dark while J-G read the articles of the law on marriage.

Despite the fact that the translation was a LOT of work for J-G and S (that I could not help with since it was mostly English being translated to French), it all got done. Their hard work was (and still is) so appreciated by me and I know the guests also appreciated it. S sat up a big screen and projector for the surtitles and set it up in a slide show that was pretty and elegant. Our friend D ran the surtitles during the ceremony.

Perhaps one of my favorite things about the ceremony is how personal it all felt. From our officiants, to the words in the ceremony, to the beautiful music, to the surtitles, to the stage manager, to the readings and was all put together with our friends and family involved in every role. How wonderful it was to be in the middle of it all and realize all this was a gift from people who love us.

Being surrounded by friends and family from all over the world as we made this commitment was amazing. We included a communal blessing of marriage because I really wanted to involve our loved ones more actively in the commitment we were making. Minister M beautifully wove it into the ceremony. During this part, we had the chance to turn and look at our family and friends, and M asked them to stand and to respond with a commitment to offer us their love, support, and encouragement in our union.

It was moving to look out on these people who we love, who were all there to support us in this next step together, and feel surrounded by all their love and encouragement. To know they came all this way to support us (and some came from very far!), and to think about all the other loved ones who were supporting us long-distance because they were unable to come... It was mind-blowing to have that much love and support sent your way all at once. In a completely and inexplicably wonderful way.

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