Reader Chris recently performed a wedding between an atheist and a “spiritual Buddhist.” He adapted the text for it from a Buddhist ceremony (courtesy of John Karuna Cayton) and wanted to share it with all of you in case you’re looking for some inspiration for your own service.
(For what it’s worth, it would also work for gay/lesbian weddings.)
Welcome, family and friends, and thank you for coming here today to this beautiful garden to help me celebrate the love between these two, ________ and ________. On the journey of life, we as individuals evolve, transform, and change, developing our potential, and finding out more than we ever thought we could know about ourselves. As we travel down this path, we meet many people, some good, some bad, some for only a little while, and some whose path converges with ours for the rest of our lives. The impact those people have on our lives and the impact we have on theirs is profound and creates a bond, steadfast and lasting, that shapes our path together, and even has an impact on those around us. Now ________ and ________ paths have found them together and have converged, and they are happy today, not only because of their unity and the unity of their path, but also because they can share that unity with us here assembled, and those people lucky enough to be in their lives.
________ and ________, do you pledge to help each other to develop your hearts and minds, cultivating compassion, generosity, ethics, patience, enthusiasm, concentration and wisdom as you age and undergo the various ups and downs of life and to transform them into the path of love, compassion, joy, and equanimity?
Do you pledge to help each other develop loving kindness, allowing your love to be your example of the love we should share with everyone around us, and move each other to have more love and patience for all in the world?
Do you pledge to help each other be mindful of your thoughts and emotions, and to support and guide each other on your path, even when your path is rocky and unsteady, and especially when the path is obscured from your sight and you aren’t sure where to go?
Do you pledge to help each other when your thoughts and emotions may turn to negativity, and help each other see the opportunity for emotional growth in challenging times and help each other take full advantage of that emotional growth so your hearts can be fully open to each other?
Do you pledge to preserve and enrich the love between you, and to share it with all those around you, generating compassion and empathy for all living beings and striving to never turn a deaf ear to each others suffering or the suffering ever present in the world?We Do
When it comes time to part, due to the impermanence of this world, do you pledge to look back on your time with joy, a joy you have built and shared together, and shared with the world around you, and remember your happiness and the kindness you showed the world and the kindness you were showed in return?
Do you pledge to remember the pain caused by ignorance and anger, and to apply an antidote whenever these are present, and to help each other avoid this pain and work toward the welfare of others with all you wisdom, compassion, and skill?
Do you pledge to continually develop the patience in yourselves that you may better understand each other, knowing that lasting change is slow and requires work and understanding, and to continually seek inspiration from those around you and in your everyday lives?
Understanding that as we are a mystery to ourselves, we are also a mystery to each other. Do you pledge to continually seek understanding of yourselves, each other, and all living beings, to continually examine your own minds, and regard all the mysteries of life with curiosity and a joy that comes with being able to share those mysteries with the one you love?
And do you pledge to dedicate yourselves to each other in this life, with body, spirit, and mind, in health or sickness, wealth or poverty, happiness or difficulty, so long as you both shall live?
[Exchanging of the rings]
The wedding ring is an outward symbol of the emotional and spiritual commitment that ________ and ________ are making which unites two loyal hearts in partnership
Ladies and gentlemen, by the power vested in me by the wishes of ________ and ________, and the witness of family and friends, I now pronounce you [Husband] and [Wife]!
It is said that, while on a path, it is better to travel well than arrive, so please join me in wishing, for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. ________ a long, fruitful, and happy journey along their path together!
And if that doesn’t work, you can always use a line from one of these cards.