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McManus - Ethics & Religion

October 3, 2007

Column # 1,362

An Innovative Wedding

by Mike McManus

            SILVERTHORNE, COL – My wife and I mentor couples preparing for marriage and attend many weddings. None were as innovative as one last weekend of my nephew, Brian and his bride, Sara.

            They both work during the day for a firm that manages trials of experimental drugs, but in the evening they are actors.  In fact, they and four of their acting friends from college moved to New York, where they worked during the day but were improv actors at night, hoping to make the big time.

            While in New York, Sara contracted cancer of the leg. She underwent a painful operation and had to postpone their wedding. After four years they all returned to Denver, where they do improv acting at night.   Determined to dance at her wedding, Sara took up long-distance biking to rebuild her strength.

            How could the couple honor their divorced parents, two of whom had remarried, stepparents and partners? My brother Tim had remarried Rhoda; but his first wife, Judy remained single.  Sara’s mother had remarried; her father, Don, was living with Cecily.

            The wedding program was a PLAYBILL for a show called “The Big Love.”

            Listed as the Executive Producers were the parents: Don Alan with Cecily Crowther, Eveyln Alan (Sara’s mother) with Philip Zorc, Judith McManus, and Timothy McManus with Rhonda Knop.  There were no references to who was married.

            To the music of a guitar, Tim walked in holding Judy’s hand up high, and Rhonda’s hand high on his right. He honored Brian’s mother and his current wife.

            Chairs were set up in a circle next to a babbling brook, with a view of the Rocky Mountains painted with the golden leaves of aspens.

            When the bridesmaids and groomsmen entered, they formed a semi-circle around the wedding guests. Each of them spoke about the character of the bride and groom, focusing upon an assigned word, such as Family, Honor or Connectedness.

            The first groomsman spoke about Playfulness: “You have taught me how to bring joy, how to keep things light, how to smile.” Another on Integrity: “Be true to your own moral compass. I see you being true to each other.”

            A bridesmaid reflected on Passion: “Your minds and hearts are full of energy, in the spring of life. You have a desire to explain the world to each other, fierce joy and endless passion.”

            Another defined Compassion as “to suffer with,” and said each “had an awareness of someone else’s pain, and a desire to ameliorate it.”  She said that Sara “felt safe with Brian,” adding that “There are three types of compassion: for yourself, for others, and for something larger - a commitment to the arts. We can all say `I promise to live compassionately.’”

            On Growth, a bridesmaid said, “Each sunrise is another moment to begin growing in intimacy and passion.” The final bridesmaid talked about Balance: “Your blending of two families and extended families is amazing to watch.”

            The service was conducted by Andy MacDonald, dressed in a Scottish kilt and his wife, Circe, whose long stole indicated she is an ordained minister. They had known the couple for more than a decade. Andy said, “You are a model of loving devotion to each other. You share the same sensitive wisdom, a forgiving sense of humor.”

            Circe told them, “You have chosen to love each other, to love for life. You have brightened our lives. We are here for you. Sweetly keep the promises you made today.” She asked each, “Do you choose consciously and happily to use the power of marriage to hold him (her) as a green garden in a life pasture?”

            After saying “I do,” each vowed to “stand beside you in good times and bad, as a covenant partner, to console you, to make all decisions with you, to strengthen you, to be your partner, to be my best self and to treat you with respect.”

            Instead of spending a huge sum for music, at dinner individual wedding guests or whole tables stood to sing a love song. Upon hearing the word “love, the bride and groom kissed!

            It was an unorthodox wedding in which the wedding party played an active role.  Bridesmaids and groomsmen usually stand in a silent tableau. Why not have them actively participate, describing the character of the couple they know better than most of the wedding guests? 

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