Bossy Wedding: The Ceremony, Part Zwei

We held our ceremony at the Weingut Cobenzl, an idyllic vineyard overlooking the entire city of Vienna. It was the hottest day of the summer, without a cloud in the sky. On the urging of our photographer, we chose to see each other and take portraits before the wedding, so that we could be with our friends and family as much as possible after the ceremony. CM closed his eyes and kept his back to me until I was right behind him. Then he turned around and saw me.

 I had kept all the details of my dress, etc. a complete secret from him (hard to do since we generally tell each other everything!), and I loved seeing the look on his face when he turned around. We wandered around and took a few pictures, but it was so hot that we didn't last long.

Our guests gathered in the air-conditioned tasting room and drank grape juice mixed with fizzy water (SO good on a hot day!). We waited in a back room and relaxed, mostly just grinning at each other. At 4 o’clock sharp, the guests walked together down the street to the vineyard itself. We followed behind and hid until we heard the music begin: Joshua Radin’s version of “Fly me to the moon,” the most romantic song I know.

Lily, our adorable flower girl, went first, deliberately tossing petals from her basket one by one. Then CM and I walked down the aisle holding hands. I felt myself start to tear up the moment I saw our friends and family beaming at us. “Uh oh,” I said, “it’s starting.” CM squeezed my hand harder.

 Writing our own ceremony seemed like a daunting task, but I’m so glad we did. In putting it together, we talked a lot about what marriage meant to us, what we were promising to each other, what was important. Each decision we made was informed by those conversations. I found this post (and the subsequent comments) extremely helpful. (If anyone is interested in the full text of our ceremony, I’m happy to send it your way—when I was researching I liked reading entire ceremonies online, even of strangers.) We wanted it to be personal and meaningful while not losing the gravitas of the occasion. I liked the idea of saying the same words that couples have saying to each other at weddings for generations. We wanted to involve our friends and family as well. So we wrote a secular ceremony that ended up being perfect for us.

My Gay Husband introduced us and told our story, and then Eric’s stepdad did a reading from Robert Fulghum’s “Union.” We said “I do” to traditional vows (in sickness and in health, etc.), and then read to each other the vows we wrote, based on several different sources:

Surrounded by the light and love of our family and friends, I take you to be my beloved.
I ask you to be none other than yourself and vow to share my whole self with you.
I promise to hold your hand through every adventure,
to face life’s challenges together with patience and humor,
and to love you faithfully and wholeheartedly.
I vow to always remain your best friend and your biggest fan.
This commitment is made in love, lived in hope, and made eternally new.

We had planned to read them off a slip of paper, but right before the wedding we decided to read them out of MGH’s book with the whole ceremony instead. Of course while I was saying the vows I got overcome for a moment, had to borrow a handkerchief to dab my eyes, and promptly lost my place in the book. We had to take a moment to find my place before I could continue.

In researching ceremony ideas, I loved the tradition of congregational vows, where all gathered promise to support the marriage. Throughout our relationship, we have been blessed to have so many people rooting for us and helping us succeed. The guests at our wedding will be part of our marriage forever, and I loved hearing them answer “We do” and “We will,” vowing to offer their strength and comfort to us always. After the congregational vows our wedding rings were passed through each person’s hands in a ring blessing/ring warming ceremony. So much positive energy was coming our way during the wedding, and I love thinking of that energy every morning when I put on my ring.

While the rings were passed around, Mama Bossy did a reading from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet (using the book she had been given when she was 18!) and CM’s mom read the “Blessing of the Hands.” When the rings came back to us, we exchanged them with one last set of vows. As a benediction, MGH read an excerpt from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea:

A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart’s. To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back—it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it.

Then he pronounced us married, we kissed (chaste without being dismissive, very important), and it was done!

I’m so happy we were able to devise a special ceremony that felt like us but still felt weighty—a difficult balance. I think in planning a wedding it’s tempting to focus all your energy on the dress, the decorations, the flowers, the dinner. But the most important part of any wedding is the ceremony itself; otherwise you’re just throwing a party. The act of standing up in front of our loved ones to make public our private promises felt brave, and important, and transformative.

We're so married, y'all.

(All photos by the incomparable Pink Pixel.)


  1. What a lovely second part of your wedding story. I'm so glad you've written it down for your to remember years later and can show your grandkids!

  2. Her grandkids? What about our grandkids? Aren't you skipping something?

  3. Settle down, the both of you. :)

  4. HAHAHAAH! I wasn't even really thinking specifically about that... just that its a great story to share with family... and friends... and that seems to be the catch phrase "tell/show your grandkids" because its a story that lasts.

    That being said, Mama Bossy is right. :-P

  5. Louisa and Eric! I loved the story of your wedding and how much it became exactly what you envisioned.
    I feel that I was there with you and all the paricipants.
    Thank you for sharing so vividly. Grandma


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