For the fourth time I did something yesterday which profoundly affected me as a person. Each time I have performed this deed, the settings varied widely, from a park in Philadelphia to Cameron Park to the Armstrong – Browning Library on the Baylor Campus to an elegant and beautifully decorated banquet facility in Arlington, Texas.
In addition, the people varied widely from my youngest sister and her fiancé to three couples I did not know and only met briefly before the events.
In each case, the event was emotionally charged for everyone present. I saw my father shed a tear for the first time, and I saw my mother with her smiling face despite the tears running down her cheeks. I saw strangers quietly sobbing and forcing smiles obviously emotionally involved as well. I even shed a tear of my own on each occasion.
What I did to witness all this emotion was act as celebrant for couples who wanted to marry and have a secular wedding ceremony.
In each case, I helped with the vows and the organization of the spoken elements of the wedding. I also helped to calm nervous grooms, and laughed at their jokes, assured them “everything will be fine,” and “this will be the most memorable day of your life.”
But the emotional part for me came at the end of each ceremony. I would say, “By the power vested in me as a Humanist Celebrant and the State of Texas (or Commonwealth of Pennsylvania), I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now share your first kiss as husband and wife.”
I have read this sentence hundreds of times in practice and it ALWAYS goes rather smoothly. But the four times I have done it “live” have resulted in an emotional upwelling I just barely managed to control.
Meeting with these couples, getting to know them a little through emails and phone conversations, involved me in their intimate love and devotion for each other. It is a privilege and an honor which I cherish. And I look forward to my next opportunity.