Wedding Ceremony of Kathryn Mary Brawley and Matthew Thomas Suda
Saturday, May 30, 2015, Memphis, Tennessee
We are gathered here today to witness the official (legally-binding) joining of Kathryn Mary Brawley and Matthew Thomas Suda in holy matrimony.
This wedding ceremony is the public recognition of a commitment that Ms. Brawley and Mr. Suda have already made privately in their hearts. It is also their commitment to all of you who know and love them. By inviting you to bear witness to their vows this day, they have chosen to take you with them on this step of their journey into marriage. We all trust that their marriage will grow and prosper, not without challenge and adversity, but with patience, love, work, and the belief that they have chosen wisely in choosing each other.
Since time immemorial, in every society & age, men and women have come together to form families and have given oaths and promises to one another as the cement and bond of that joining. As the greatest of these oaths and promises involve marriage, marriage is not to be entered into lightly, but with your eyes and hearts wide open and with deep awareness of the commitment you are making.
Reading to the Couple
There are only four questions of value in life … What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same: only love.
(Don Juan DeMarco, as seen in The Everything Wedding Vows Book, 3rd Edition, page 125)
You know what getting married is? It’s agreeing to taking this person who right now is at the top of his form, full of hopes and ideas, feeling good, looking good, wildly interested in you because you’re the same way, and sticking by him while he slowly disintegrates. And he does the same for you. You’re his responsibility now and he’s yours. If no one else will take care of him, you will. If everyone else rejects you, he won’t. What do you think love is? Going to bed all the time? Poo! Don’t be weak. Have some spine! He’s yours and you’re his.
(Jane Smiley in At Paradise Gate as seen in Spiritual Literacy, by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, page 431)
You said that I belong to you
And I agree
But the quality of that belonging
Is a question of some importance.
I do not belong to you
Like a purchase
Something ordered and sold
And delivered in a box
To be put up and shown off
To friends and admirers.
I would not belong to you that way
And I know you would not have me so.
I will tell you how I belong to you.
I belong to you like a ring on a finger
A symbol of something eternal.
I belong to you like a heart in a chest
Beating in time to another heart.
I belong to you like a word in the air
Sending love to your ear.
I belong to you like a kiss on your lips
Put there by me, in the hope of more to come.
And most of all I belong to you
Because in where I hold my hopes
I hold the hope that you belong to me.
It is a hope that I unfold for you now like a gift.
Belong to me like a ring
And a heart
And a word
And a kiss
And like a hope held close.
I will belong to you like all these things.
(Enzo’s Poem in Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi, pages 249-250)
Ms. Brawley and Mr. Suda, you stand here today having requested that I officiate at your marriage. Do you both make this request of your own free will with no pressure upon you from other persons?
(Couple says “We do.” Or “Yes.”)
Do any of the witnesses know of any reason why we may not legally continue with this wedding?
(Witnesses say “No.”)
Then let us continue.
Ms. Brawley and Mr. Suda, you you must lay down your lives — your selfish desires, passions, ambition and pride — for each other. You must cherish one another more than you cherish you own self. You mate now comes first — before yourself, before your parents, before your friends, before your job, before your leisure activities, before caring for your own exhaustion and needs at the end of a hard day. You must serve each other. Then and only then will you fulfill your vow to “love and cherish.”
These vows are as binding in adversity as they are in prosperity. They should be broken only by death. If you are prepared to make such a serious commitment, will you now face each other and join hands.
Mr. Suda, in taking Ms. Brawley to be your wife, do you promise to love, to honor, and to cherish her in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, in hardship and in blessing, forsaking all others, until death alone shall part you?
(Groom says “I do.”)
Ms. Brawley, in taking Mr. Suda to be your husband, do you promise to love, to honor, and to cherish him in sickness and in health, in poverty and in wealth, in hardship and in blessing, forsaking all others, until death alone shall part you?
(Bride says “I do.”)
Mr. Suda, please repeat the following to your bride: “I, Matthew Thomas Suda, take you, Kathryn Mary Brawley, to be my wife. Before these witnesses, I promise to love you and care for you for all of our days. I accept you with your faults and strengths, even as I offer myself with my faults and strengths. I promise to support you when you need support and turn to you when I need support. I choose you as the one with whom I will spend my life.”
Ms. Brawley, please repeat the following to your groom: “I, Kathryn Mary Brawley, take you, Matthew Thomas Suda, to be my husband. Before these witnesses, I promise to love you and care for you for all of our days. I accept you with your faults and strengths, even as I offer myself with my faults and strengths. I promise to support you when you need support and turn to you when I need support. I choose you as the one with whom I will spend my life.”
In as much as you have given and received public vows and promises to one another, and by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss. Congratulations!
May you continue to love one another for always. May God bless you and keep you. May God look kindly upon you and be gracious to you. May God reach out to you in tenderness and give you peace. Amen.
— Prepared by Timothy A. Gatewood
Universal Life Church