HUMWED.JTM - A non-theistic Humanist wedding ceremony put together
by James T. McCollum
The Wedding Ceremony
ANGUS ANDREW MALCOLM and HEATHER JEAN CAMPBELL
University of Rochester, Interfaith Chapel
on on 22 December 1989
We are gathered here, not to witness the beginning of what will
be, but rather what already is! We do not create this marriage,
because we cannot. We can and do, however, celebrate with Angus,
Heather and their families the wondrous and joyful occurrence
that has already taken place in their lives.
So let the celebration begin!
Trumpet Voluntary, by Clarke
Bridal Chorus from Loehengrin, by Richard Wagner
Heather MacLeod - Organ
THE CELEBRATION OF MARRIAGE:
This wedding, in the Humanist spirit, celebrates the joy and
beauty of life. Humanism sees a person as an active and
inseparable unity of body and personality. Reason is the guide,
but reason never separate from the emotions and strivings of the
whole person; so that emotion and intellect functioning together
provide the firmest foundation for married love.
Marriage is a supreme sharing of experience and an adventure in
the most intimate of human relationships. It is the joyous
uniting of a man and a woman whose comradeship and mutual
understanding have flowered into romance. Today Heather and Angus
proclaim their love to the world and we who are gathered here
rejoice with them and for them in the new life they now undertake
Marriage is universally regarded as one of the crucial events of
human life, taking its place with those other two - the coming
hither in birth and the departure from life through death.
The joy we now feel is a solemn joy because the act of marriage is
fraught with weighty consequences, both social and personal. By
this marriage you two will reach a new social status and rise to a
new plane of social dignity. But, also, with the founding of the
family, there come the most difficult tasks and exacting
disciplines which fall to our human lot.
Your marriage requires "love," which is a word often used with
vagueness and sentimentality. We mean something very real, when
we bind ourselves in love. It can mean sweet freedom and
fulfillment. When we love we see things other people do not see.
We see beneath the surface and observe qualities which make this
one different from and dearer than all others. To see with loving
eyes is to know inner beauty and to be loved is to be seen and
known as we are known to no other.
Such love means security. Each of us would like to have an abso
lute security. This we cannot have, but we come close to it when
we are loved - when another human being wants us, wants to share
life with us, accepts us, without qualification or reservation,
not as perfect, but as human, with strengths and weaknesses.
The love of which we speak is not static. It is a growing and
dynamic relationship. We dream that tomorrow we will grow and
fulfill our possibilities. It is a blessing when someone believes
in our dream of ourselves and wants to live with us and help make
dreams and aspirations come true.
Love of this sort can grow. It is not, like youth, a moment that
comes and is gone, remaining only a memory of something which
cannot be recovered. It can grow because it has something to grow
upon and grow with. It does not become contracted and stale,
because it has for its object all the objects with which the two
lovers are concerned. Love endures only when the lovers love many
things together and not merely each other.
True love breeds unlimited courage and confidence. Such courage
and confidence we know are yours as you continue your lives
together under the ever embracing bond of marriage. In addition
to the fund of affection and thoughtful consideration which you
have for one another, you will need a capacity for self-sacrifice,
patience and forbearance, for this is no light adventure which you
The secret of love and marriage is that of religion itself. It is
the emergence of the larger self. It is the finding of one's life
by losing it. Such is the privilege of husband and wife - to be
each himself, herself and yet another; to face the world strong,
with the courage of two.
The high and fine art of married life is in this mutual
enrichment, mental and spiritual, this give and take between two
personalities, this mingling of two endowments which depletes
neither, but enables each. The more he or she gives, to receive
only the more.
Marriage is dedication. You give yourself, your life and love,
into the hands of the one you love. You do so trustingly and
generously. By the same token, each of you receives a gift - the
life and love of the other. You receive this gift not only from
the one you love, but also from the parents who brought you into
the world and reared you and from the personal world of friends
and family who are joined in friendship and faith in your
Heather and Angus hold in common the interests and ideals of a
Humanist world. Living together in this way, they will deepen
their love for each other.
It is a Humanist belief that there should be equality between men
and women in every relevant way and that it is especially
important for this principle to be recognized in the marriage
relationship. Marriage must be a cooperative venture in every
sense. It is a relationship based on love, respect and a
determination on the part of both wife and husband to adjust to
each other's temperaments and moods - in health or sickness, joy
or sadness, ease or hardship.
We are here to share your joy and hope and to speed you along the
path which, henceforth, you are to tread together. May it be the
path of blessedness, bright with the fragrant flowers of
prosperity and spiritual conquest; a path of deepening and
widening love that you shall travel arm in arm throughout
Reading by Flora Macdonald:
Song of the Open Road
Listen! I will be honest with you. I do not offer the
old smooth prizes, but I offer rough new prizes.
These are the days that must happen to you:
You shall not heap up what is called riches,
You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or
However sweet the laid-up stores.
However convenient the dwelling,
You shall not remain there.
However sheltered the port, and however calm the waters,
You shall not anchor there.
However welcome the hospitality that welcomes you,
You are permitted to receive it but a little while.
Afoot and lighthearted, take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before you,
The long brown path before you leading wherever you choose.
Say only to one another:
Comerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law:
Will you give me yourself?
Will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?
The Ceremony of the Candles:
Our community is shared, if in a different way, by those who have
passed beyond this life. Their roles in the lives of Heather and
Angus are no less remembered and honored as we savor today's
joyous moments. Join with us, then, in fond memory of all these
people, and in particular Grandfather and Grandmother Malcolm. In
their memory, let us be silent together.
In all the quiet of this very special moment, we pause, also, to
give thanks for all the rich experiences of life that have brought
Heather and Angus to this high point in their lives. We are
grateful for the values which they have found by their own
strivings. We are grateful that within them is the dream of a
great love and the resources to use that love in creating a home
that shall endure.
We are especially grateful for the values which have flowed into
them from those who have loved them and nurtured them and pointed
them along life's way. The heritage each brings to this marriage
will continue to be an important element in their lives, but now
will be shared between them. In commemoration of the merging of
these two rich heritages and in memory of those, living and dead,
who were part of these heritages, I now invite Angus's parents and
Heather's parents to bring forth lighted candles, representing
each of the families of this couple.
Angus and Heather will now light the flaming chalice with these
candles, symbolizing the union of their two families in this
marriage and the rich heritage each brings to it.
As Heather and Angus light the chalice, they do not extinguish
their flames. Although they are embarking upon a new and unique
relationship in the union of their lives in marriage, they,
nonetheless, retain their own separate and unique identities and
(NOTE: The parents of the Bride and Groom each obtain a lighted
candle from opposite sides of the front of the sanctuary or room
in which the wedding is taking place, lighting it from stationary
candles that have been burning throughout the service. They, in
turn, present the lighted candles to their respective child. The
couple then jointly light the flaming chalice at the center of the
sanctuary. This ceremony signifies the heritage each is bringing
to the marriage and the blending of these two heritages. If the
third paragraph is used, the candles are not extinguished as the
chalice is lit, but are placed in holders alongside. Appropriate
music should accompany this ceremony)
This celebration is the outward token of a sacred and inward
union of hearts, which the church and temple may bless and the
state make legal, but which neither state nor church can create or
annul. It is a union created by your loving purpose and kept by
your abiding will. It is in this spirit and for this purpose that
you have come here to be joined together.
Angus, will you have this woman to be thy wedded wife, to live
together in marriage; will you love her, comfort her, and honor
her, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, so long as
you both shall live?
ANGUS: I will!
Heather, will you take this man to be thy wedded husband, to live
together in marriage; will you love him, comfort him, and honor
him, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, so long as
you both shall live?
HEATHER: I will!
Will all you, here present, promise and commit yourselves to
support and uphold this union of these two people?
The Ceremony of the Rings
Traditionally, the marking of the passage to the status of
husband and wife is marked by the exchange of rings. These rings
are a symbol of the unbroken circle of love. Love freely given
has no beginning and no end. Love freely given has no giver and
no receiver - for each is the giver and each is the receiver. May
these rings remind you always of the vows you have taken here
ANGUS: (Cued) This ring, a gift for you, symbolizes my desire
that you be my wife from this day forward.
HEATHER: (Cued) This ring, a gift for you, symbolizes my wish
that you be my husband from this day forward.
Inasmuch as Heather and Angus have consented together in this
ceremony to live in wedlock and have witnessed their vows in the
presence of this company, by the giving and receiving of rings, it
gives me great pleasure to now pronounce that they are husband and
Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind
yourselves often of what brought you together. Take
responsibility for making the other one feel safe, and give the
highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that
your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulty and fear
assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at
sometime or another, remember to focus on what is right between
you, not only the part that seems wrong. In this way, you can
ride out the times when clouds drift across the face of the sun in
your lives, remembering that, just because you may lose sight of
it for a moment, does not mean the sun has gone away. And, if
each of you take total responsibility for the quality of your life
together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.
The Toast to Life
The years of your lives are as a cup of wine poured out for you to
drink. The grapes when they are pressed give forth their good
juices for the wine. Under the wine press of time our lives give
forth their labor and honor and love.
This cup contains within it the sweet wine of happiness and hope.
This same cup, at times, holds the bitter wine of sorrow and
One who drinks deeply of life invites the full range of
experience into his or her being.
This cup is symbolic of the pledges you have made to one another
to share together the fullness of life.
As you drink from this cup, you acknowledge that your lives,
until this moment separate, have become one vessel into which all
your sorrows and joys, all your hopes and fears, will be poured,
and from which you will receive mutual sustenance.
Many days you will sit at the same table and eat and drink
Drink now, and may the cup of your lives be sweet and full to
Hymn to be sung by the Congregation:
Prayer for This House
May nothing evil cross this door,
And may illfortune never pry
About these windows; may the roar
And rain go by.
By faith made strong, the rafters will
Withstand the battering of the storm.
This hearth, though all the world grow chill
Will keep you warm.
Peace shall walk softly through these rooms,
Touching our lips with holy wine,
Till every casual corner blooms
Into a shrine.
With laughter drown the raucous shout
And, though these sheltering walls are thin,
May they be strong to keep hate out
And hold love in.
We know not what the future may bring into the lives of Angus and
Heather, but we pray that together they may be equal to the needs
of their tomorrows. May they find patience in time of stress,
strength in time of weakness, courage in time of discouragement,
vision in time of doubt, and, in all time, a growing love.
We who are here present, and those who are absent, thinking of
these two people, hope that the inspiration of this hour will not
be forgotten. May they continue to love one another forever.
APACHE WEDDING PRAYER
Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter
for the other.
Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth
to the other.
Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before
Go now to your dwelling to enter into the days of your life
And may your days be good, and long upon the earth.
The Lewis Bridal Song (Mairi's Wedding)
Dugald MacCrimmon - The Great Highland Bagpipes