I had the great honor of marrying Amy and Bryan this summer at a lovely rooftop venue overlooking the East River and the 59th Street Bridge.
When I first met with this beautiful couple (truly, they are adorable), we discussed ways to blend their philosophy on love, their values, and their unique romantic story with cultural aspects that would also honor their families.
Together they shared an interesting mix of roots -- a combination of Chinese/Taiwanese and Korean/American along with several family faith traditions such as Buddhism, Catholicism, and Judaism. They wanted everyone to feel included, yet wanted to bring in sacred elements that were meaningful for them both.
Buddhism was part of the bride's family background and the groom was very comfortable with that tradition, so we opted for a ceremony that featured Buddhist and Asian elements blended in a very loving and contemporary way. Although it was by nature an interfaith and intercultural union, the ceremony of marriage was more about the spirit of love than religion.
My thanks to the newlyweds for allowing me to share some aspects of their ceremony here to help other couples who might be interested in including the spirit of Buddhism or Chinese culture in their interfaith, non-denominational, or personalized ceremonies.
We began with a welcoming statement to the guests and an non-religious opening blessing, then we honored family with words and the symbolic gesture of bowing to show reverence to their dearest family members, their guests, and one another. It went like this:
Rev. Laurie Sue speaks: It has been said in a Buddhist Homily that: "Nothing happens without a cause... The union of this man and woman has not come about accidentally but is the foreordained result of many past lives. This tie can therefore not be broken or dissolved."
At a wedding, we see firsthand how the lineage of love gets passed along. The light of love that illuminates this marriage would not be possible without the love passed along to Amy and Bryan by their families.
At this time, they would like to take a moment to honor the people who have loved and nurtured them. (Names of loved ones here.)
It is most appropriate on this day that we thank you all for your inspiration by bowing.
The bride and groom will bow to the bride's family to honor and thank them. (bow to Amy's side)
Next the bride and groom will to bow to the groom's family to honor and thank them. (bow to bryan's side)
The bride and groom will now bow to their guests to thank you all for your love and support. (bow to center)
And finally, Bryan and Amy will bow to honor one another. (bow to each other)
Blessing After Bowing:
We completed the bowing with this short, celebratory blessing.
This family is united in a circle of love and strength.
Every joy shared adds more love.
Every obstacle faced together makes the circle stronger.
With every birth and every new union, the circle will grow.
We included some loving advice from a great Buddhist spiritual leader, read by the groom's sister. This is from The Dalai Lama:
"Take into account that great love
and great achievements involve great risk.
And that a loving atmosphere in your home
is the foundation for your life.
Be gentle with the earth, be gentle with one another.
When disagreements come remember always
to protect the spirit of your union.
When you realize you've made a mistake,
take immediate steps to correct it.
Remember that the best relationship is one
in which your love for each other
exceeds your need for each other.
So love yourselves, love one another,
love all that is your life together and all else will follow."
Chinese Red String of Fate
We included Amy and Bryan's belief in soulmates, their personal love story, what they love about each other, and also the fun story about how they met. Here's a small excerpt from my "Officiant's Message" to the couple:
Rev. Laurie Sue speaks: Your unique love story brings to mind the Chinese myth, "The String of Fate." It tells us that at birth the Gods tie an invisible red string around the ankles of men and women who are destined to be soul mates and one day marry each other. As they grow, the string gets shorter and brings them closer. It is believed that they will find each other, "Regardless of time, place, or circumstance... The thread may stretch or tangle ... but it will never break."
One day, destiny stands before them as their soul mate appears.
And that kind of sums up what happened with you two. Synchronicity brought you both out to the same lounge... on the same night... each there with your own friends. Your eyes met and your saw something special in one another. And Bryan approached with the cutest pick-up line ever: "So what are you all about."
Modern Buddhist Vows
We adapted these vows based on classic Buddhist sentiments and modern intentions.
Rev. Laurie Sue speaks: Vows are not just the hallmark of the wedding ceremony. They are the foundation of your married life. Amy and Bryan, you have collaborated on your wedding vows and will alternate as you read them. Please use this opportunity to express to each other what your intentions are for your married life.
Amy: We pledge:
To be compassionate, tender and loving.
Bryan: We Pledge:
To be attentive and supportive of one and other.
Amy: To be mindful of our words and ways when life is difficult.
Bryan: To pursue perfect harmony as an ideal.
Amy: To live and work as a team. And be mates and perfect partners.
Bryan: To practice patience and communication so we might continue to discover and learn about each other.
Amy: To be as close and open as possible.
Bryan: To be fearless and consistent in love.
Amy: To live our lives positively, with joy and humor. To seek out fun and adventure together.
Bryan: To never forget the marvel that we ever met and the great fortune that we're together now.
Amy and Bryan Together. We vow to never part. I love you.
This ceremony also included traditional "I dos," ring exchange, and pronouncement of the couple, yet in between we were able to celebrate Buddhism and other cultural aspects and, most importantly, celebrate the love between Amy and Bryan.
And, by the way, they rocked their first dance. It was and epic dance routine -- romantic, sexy, and TV-worthy.