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|This is the wedding of Richard Boggs and Jill Johnson, performed on August 24, 1985. The officiant at the wedding was Frank R. Zindler, the Director of the Central Ohio Chapter of American Atheists. We thank the couple for graciously sharing this special moment in their lives with our readers.
Scherzo, A Midsummer Night's Dream, by Felix Mendelssohn
Overture, Suite in D Major for Two Trumpets and Tympani, by Georg Philipp Teleman
[Richard walks to garden arbor, followed by Jill with her father.]
Officiant: Dear Friends, we have assembled here today to witness the marriage of Richard Boggs and Jill Johnson. Having come to love each other deeply and sincerely, they now wish to unite their lives and establish a home that is uniquely theirs. In this ceremony they dedicate themselves to the happiness and well-being of each other, and we their friends and family join with them in this dedication.
We join with William Shakespeare in declaring, \Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments,\ and we remind Richard and Jill of the lesson of Shakespeare's 116th sonnet:
Love is not love
We caution Richard and Jill always to keep in mind something they know very well: Marriage allows two people to grow and redefine themselves as individuals and as lovers. It succeeds only to the degree that each partner respects the individual other — when each, becoming part of the other and a part of the marriage, does not slip into the shadow of the beloved.
Just as one partner should not become lost within the other, so too a couple should not use marriage as an escape from the world. Two people must accept their responsibility as part of the human community. Their love may make it easier to carry their responsibility, but it cannot be a means to avoid it.
Although Richard and Jill are mature individuals, fully empowered to embark upon the sea of marriage on their own, it is traditional in our society that the bride be accompanied by a loved one as she is presented to her groom. And so we ask aloud,
Who brings this woman to the threshold of matrimony?
Father: I, her father. Willingly and with joy, I bring her to be married to this man.
Officiant: Richard and Jill, as you know, no minister, no priest, no rabbi, no public official can marry you. Only you can marry yourselves. By a mutual commitment to love each other, to work toward creating an atmosphere of care and consideration and respect, by a willingness to face the tensions and anxieties that underlie human life, you can make your wedded life come alive.
On this day of your marriage, you stand somewhat apart from all other human beings. You stand within the charmed circle of your love. And this is as it should be. But love is not meant to be the possession of two people alone. Rather, it should serve as a source of common energy, as a form in which you find the strength to live your lives with courage. From this day onward, you must come closer together than ever before, you must love one another in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, but at the same time your love should give you the strength to stand apart, to seek out your unique destinies, to make your special contributions to the world.
On this, your wedding day, Richard, what promise do you make to Jill?
Richard: I promise to love and protect you, and share my life with you. I promise always to recognize you as an equal individual, and always to be conscious of your development as well as my own. I promise to honor this pledge as long as life shall endure. In token of my love and devotion, I give you this ring.
Officiant: On this, your wedding day, Jill, what promise do you make to Richard?
Jill: I promise to love and protect you, and share my life with you. I promise always to recognize you as an equal individual, and always to be conscious of your development as well as my own. I promise to honor this pledge as long as life shall endure. In token of my love and devotion, I give you this ring.
Officiant: As you live out your lives as husband and wife, think often of the words of Kahlil Gibran:
Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
Richard and Jill, in consonance with this sentiment, would you now drink to one another? Fill each other's cup, but drink from your own. Let this act symbolize your intention to be yourselves even though joined together.
[Bride and groom are handed two chalices. Each in turn pours wine from the same bottle into the other's cup. As they drink, the officiant continues.]
Let this drinking of wine remind you that what matters most in life is the spirit, not the letter; the wine, not the cup. The future is forever in the making, so do not cling too long to any present, however satisfying, lest it become an anchor and therefore a dead past rather than a springboard and, therefore, a usable past.
[Officiant collects the empty chalices.]
May your days and years to come be filled with the integrity and joy that will enable you to abide through all times of ambivalence and doubt. And if your affection for each other has always a little more to grow, it will arise from you and enter the lives of others, enriching and strengthening them.
Inasmuch as Jill and Richard have consented together in this ceremony to live in wedlock and have given their vows in the presence of this company, we now declare that they are husband and wife, not only according to the laws of the State of Ohio, but also according to the laws of their hearts.
[The bride and groom kiss.]