The Importance of the People In The Room Where It Happens

Two marriers stand against a wooden wall, one in a suit holding their suspenders out, the other in a wedding dress smiling big.

Photo: Mei Lin Barral

When you get married, standing in front of your family, friends, and those people your parents made you invite, you’re making promises to each other about the lives you want to lead together - but what about everyone sitting around you, quietly shedding a tear or two?  What role do your guests play in your love party?

Last year, two of our rebels decided to ask every single person at their wedding to be a part of their day by writing community vows into their ceremony. So after these two repeated their slam poetry inspired promises to each other ending in “Thank you for choosing to marry me”, their officiant turned to the 100+ people in the room, addressed them directly, and invited each person present to make a promise to the couple because this was a celebration of love and community.

They shifted their audience from spectator to active participant, engaging them in this special day, and establishing a bond between them all.  The benefits? “We know we can lean on them for support when we need it,” Kellen + Will said. “They made a vow, a commitment, a long term investment in us - and we resolved to give it back to each of our friends at their future weddings one day”.

So with that, the couple read nine questions out loud - some funny, some serious, all of them a reflection of them as people individually and together as a couple - and asked the people to respond “we do”.  And they did!

But enough about how much we love this tradition breaking approach to promises of forever - let’s look at what these rebels chose to say for themselves…

Officiant: Today is a celebration of LOVE in all of its forms. But it is also a celebration of community - of the people who have supported Kellen & Will throughout their lives; of those who support them today by being present in this space, and of those who will continue to support them as they build a life together.

Each one of you has brought love into Kellen & Will’s lives in an important and meaningful way. Tonight, they shared vows to celebrate the love that they have for one another. But two people in love do not live in isolation. It is through the strength of the love from those around them that allow a couple to flourish in moments of bliss, persevere in moments of struggle, and to emerge as the best versions of themselves.

A marriage needs the support of a community. Thus, by the nature of your presence here today, Kellen & Will believe that you, too, should be asked to take a few vows. They ask that you  please stand as you vow to support their marriage and their love for one another by responding “We do” to the following statements:

WILL: Do you, our beloved friends and family, promise to help us become the best versions of ourselves?
ALL: We do!

KELLEN: Will you promise to respect, affirm and cherish the uniqueness of our partnership, including our mutual love for terrible television such as ABC’s The Bachelor?
ALL: We do!

WILL: In times of joy, do you promise to share in our dreams, support us in our goals, and celebrate with us in our successes?
ALL: We do!

KELLEN: In times of struggle, do you promise to listen to us with compassion, speak to us with encouragement, and remind us that everything is better with a tiny spoon?
ALL: We do!

WILL: Do you promise to help us build a home full of laughter, light, compassion, happiness, and love?
ALL: We do!

KELLEN: If we are blessed enough to have children and start to consider names like “Kimchi” or “Denim,” do you promise to gently remind us that we are starting to be a liiiittle too Brooklyn and that maybe we should consider some of the classics like James or Sophia?
ALL: We do!

WILL: Do you promise to remind us that life will always be hard but love will always be a priority?
ALL: We do!

KELLEN: And most importantly, do you promise to continue to foster love in ALL that you do - in the spaces you inhabit, in the people you meet, and in the care and attention that you give yourself?
ALL: We do!

WILL: Do you want us to kiss now so that we can get this party started?
ALL: We do!

OFFICIANT: Ladies & gentleman, say hello to the new Mr. & Mrs.!

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