“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here this evening to celebrate the marriage of Marie and Leslie. Tonight is a celebration of love and of life, a celebration not to create a bond or a union, but rather to rejoice in the one that already exists. This marks the continuation of a journey that began almost 38 years ago. It also celebrates Marie and Leslie’s commitment to continue nurturing the love between them, and to maintain it as an integral part of their lives. How Marie and Leslie will continue to accomplish this… that will be up to them, for every marriage is as unique as the people that it joins. Yet a hallmark of Marie and Leslie‘s relationship has always been the way they never forget that when they address one another, they are each addressing the most important person in the world to them. The common courtesy of saying “please” and “thank you” is not an effort but a natural response for them. Marriage is a promise that says “You will always come first in my life.” This is an ideal that Marie and Leslie already live by, and marriage is simply a way of giving them full and legal recognition for the example they set as two human beings, joined in loving partnership.”
Welcoming of the Guests
“Marie and Leslie want to thank Jude for opening her home to them and all of you for coming. Tonight’s gathering was planned to be a particularly intimate one, because you are those whom Marie and Leslie love most in the world and those whom they proudly call family. The joy and sense of fulfillment that the title of “grandmother” has brought to their lives is immeasurable. Family are the people with whom we share the story of our lives as it is lived in real time. While they joked about getting married because they were bowing to peer pressure to make honest women out of one another, there is something very special about having you all here with them to witness a moment they never thought would happen in their lifetime. They are so grateful for all of your love and support, for the place you have given them in your hearts and the place you hold in theirs. And of course, as everyone will agree…. Their wedding just wouldn’t be the same without their fur child Wendy!”
Marie and Leslie
“The years that Marie and Leslie have spent in a loving, committed relationship is quite an accomplishment in today’s world. They first met in 1974. It was the heyday of the Women’s Movement, and Marie and Leslie each found herself drawn to the Gay Women’s Alternative, which met in the basement of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Central Park West in Manhattan. G.W.A.- or, as Marie called it, “Gwaaa” – was a place where women could meet, listen to a broad range of speakers from the arts and public affairs, including, among others, Bella Abzug and Gloria Steinem, and then talk, nosh, and connect with one another on more than the superficial level that the clubs offered. Both they and the world have changed since then. It has been quite a journey, but what hasn’t changed is the way they love and care for one another. Although, like all couples they do disagree on occasion, their love and respect for one another are ever present. Through wonderful and difficult times their support for one another has never wavered. Marie and Leslie have two different approaches to life. They describe it as being similar to the way they speak. Marie speaks like graffiti, bold and colorful, right out there, and Leslie speaks clearly and concisely in fully formed paragraphs. Together, they are simply better than either could be alone.
Marie wrote a little about what this day means to them and Leslie said “ditto” so I would like to share those words with you now.
For us, this ceremony is a way of acknowledging and celebrating our partnership of 37 plus years. Tonight, it will be, to be precise, 37 years, 6 months, and 7 days.
It hasn’t always been easy for either of us. We come from different worlds. Leslie grew up in the heart of America, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her family tended, most of the time, to be quiet, polite, and they didn’t interrupt each other. I grew up in Queens, New York, as a member of a large, loud and extended Italian family, in which it was normal for everyone to talk at the same time – in two languages – and to interrupt each other as a matter of course. Often times in an excitable and operatic manner.
Our unlikely partnership has enriched us both in many ways – literally and figuratively. But what we most value in our years of living together is that they have enabled us, in our mixed attempts, to become better human beings. And, we can’t think of anything that matters more to us – God or no God – than that. It’s fair to say that we’ve helped each other grow.
And finally, for whatever time we have left, each of us wants to spend it with the other. Which is another way of saying: “I do.”
“Will Marie and Leslie and their Best Men, James and Patrick, please stand.
This is usually where I would ask for the rings. But Marie and Leslie have chosen not to take them off in order to exchange them once again. Their rings were purchased at ‘Wedding Rings of Greenwich Village’ in the late 1970’s and they have been wearing them ever since. Their initials, which were originally engraved on the inside of the bands, have worn off with time. Yet there is still wonderful symbolism there, because for centuries people believed that words which were worn against the skin, would sink into the very fabric of the wearer’s being, and become a part of who and what they are. May your rings remind you of how far you have come and of how wondrous the journey ahead will be as you share it.
“Leslie, do you take Marie to be your lawfully wedded partner, To have and to hold from this day forward, For better or for worse, For richer or for poorer, In sickness and in health, To love and to cherish Until death do you part?”
Leslie: “I do.”
“Please take Marie’s hand and repeat after me…”
Leslie takes Marie’s hand
“Marie, I will continue to love you, and honor you, put up with you, as you put up with me, respect and cherish you, For all the days of my life.”
“Marie, do you take Leslie to be your lawfully wedded partner, To have and to hold from this day forward, For better or for worse, For richer or for poorer, In sickness and in health, To love and to cherish Until death do you part?”
Marie: “I do.”
“Please take Leslie’s hand and repeat after me…”
Marie takes Leslie’s hand
“Leslie, I will continue to love you, and honor you, put up with you, as you put up with me, respect and cherish you, For all the days of my life.”
Pronouncement of Marriage
“As longevity runs in both families with both of your paternal grandmothers living past 100, even after almost 38 years together, I think there is still room to wish you both a long and happy marriage. And so, by the authority vested in me by the State of New York, it is my honor and privilege to pronounce you Legally Married!
You may seal your promises with a kiss!”