One big question for me has been whether or not we want to have a prayer in our ceremony. There is one big reason why not.
Praying in public makes me uncomfortable.
Unbelievably uncomfortable. Look, the way I see it, religion, faith, they aren't for sharing. They are your private, personal feelings and they are not up for discussion, they are not up for debate, they are yours and yours alone. I'll admit I go to church, but that's as far as it goes. When I've gone to 5k races run by church and they make us pray in public, I squirm and bow my head and feel uncomfortable. When there is an invocation at an event, again, uncomfortable. When I'm at church where they pray (Unitarians = no public prayer), I'm uncomfortable. So why, why, on our wedding day, of all days, the day that is supposed to be about us and about our marriage, why would I even think of including a ritual that I know is going to make me feel horrifyingly uncomfortable? Something that will make me feel like I'm standing in front of 130 of my closest friends and family, stark naked?
Because. Because this day is about us. Because this day is about what we want from ourselves. It is about the promises that we will make to each other, in front of the people we care about. This day is about us, but it is about us being a part of something bigger. It's about us being together forever, for this life, or the next, depending. (Although, legally, death ends a marriage.) And this isn't a violation of the first amendment, to stand up in front of our family and our friends and acknowledge that while we stand before them, we also stand before a greater spiritual community or entity and that when we ask for pledges of support from our family and friends, maybe we should also ask that from that other thing. (See? Do you SEE how uncomfortable I am?)
So thus began a search for a prayer that made me feel comfortable. It's pretty safe to say that I will be the least comfortable person in the ceremony about this part, but it matters to me to do this. To ask The Whatever From the High Atop the Thing to protect us, to help us be better together, to help us keep our vows, to keep us safe and well and bless us with long lives that we spend together. Oh, and before you suggest a moment of silence, yes I thought about it, but it's not enough, and I always get fidgety during the moment of silence at Church.
Something like this was out of the question without some serious adaptation. (I come from die-hard scientists. Nobody gets referred to as the Creator in our house.)
"Heavenly Creator, we gather to celebrate your gift of love, and its presence among us. We rejoice that these two people have chosen to commit themselves to a life of loving faithfulness to one another. We praise you, Lord, for the ways you have touched our lives with a variety of loving relationships, and we give thanks for ________ and __________ and for the special love and friendship you have put in their hearts. Renew within us an affectionate and loving spirit. Enrich our lives with the gracious gift of your love so that we may embrace others with that same love. May our participation in this celebration of love and commitment, give to us a new joy and responsiveness to the relationships that we cherish. In your loving arms we pray, Amen." (source)
This is closer, but again, minus the Creator language:
Gracious Creator, guide ____________and___________ and walk beside them together as husband and wife. Give them grace and love enough to forgive each other during those turbulent times in their relationship. Grant them also the gift of celebration so they can enjoy the many happy times they will share together. Dear Lord, grant their love for each other be as beautiful as it is in this hour, may it grow deeper and stronger in the years ahead. Amen (source)
I kind of like this one, from Robert Louis Stevenson:
Lord, behold our family here assembled.We thank you for this place in which we dwell,for the love that unites us,for the peace accorded us this day,for the hope with which we expect the morrow,for the health, the work, the food,and the bright skies that make our lives delightful;for our friends in all parts of the earth.Amen. (Source)
Getting closer - although not sure how I feel about the torch of love language. But the sentiment is nice:
"Bless this marriage, as ____________ and ______________ begin their journey down the road of life together. May they respect each other's likes and dislikes, opinions and beliefs, hopes and dreams, and fears even though they may not always understand each other.
May they rest in the knowledge that no matter what happens by holding on to each other things will work out for the best. Most of all, dear God, help them to keep the torch of love burning with the fire that they now share in their hearts. " (source)
This is my favorite so far:
In joining your lives may God grant you both...Love... to afford each other a special quality of time together. Joy...in the accomplishments of one another. Understanding...that your interests and desires will not always be the same. Friendship...based on mutual trust. Courage...to speak of a misunderstanding and to work on a solution before the setting of the sun. Compassion...to comfort each other in pain and sorrow. Foresight...to realize rainbows follow rainy days. Imagination...to keep with you part of the child you used to be. Mirth...from your sense of humor. Awareness...to live each day with the knowledge that there is no promise of tomorrow. May God bless you and keep you in the Palm of His hand. (source)
As a descendant of Irish Catholics, I appreciate the "Palm of His hand" language, but I want something different (that maybe doesn't include "His"). Perhaps something like "May you have all of these things, and more, and the blessings of your family and friends who are gathered here today, to guide you as you start your lives together. May God bless you and keep you safe and happy together from this day forward."
Any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions from fellow prayer-phobes or from people that are, y'know, comfortable with their faith?