Our Wedding: The Ceremony

Hey guys! Thank you so much for following along in my wedding series. Today I’m sharing about our wedding ceremony, but if you want to get caught up, you can read the other posts in this series below!

Wedding Posts in this Series

Other Wedding Posts

The Ceremony Space

Each room in the castle Ken and I got married in had its own character and color scheme. It was lovely, but also made it really hard to find a cohesive color scheme or decorating style for the wedding. In the end, Ken and I decided to only decorate with white, cream, and pink flowers, so that that we let the true beauty of each space stand out rather than hiding it in tulle.

The ceremony room before the guests arrived

The ceremony space before guests arrived

The room we got married in had a beautiful red and gold color scheme. As I mentioned in my civil ceremony post, it’s traditional in Dutch weddings for the bride and groom to be seated for most of the ceremony, so the red loveseat was for us!

Red loveseat for married couple

We chose to keep the decorations in this room minimal, with two large floral arrangements in the front of the room, and small floral bouquets tied to the chairs lining the aisle.

Flowers lining the seats along the aisle

The Ceremony: Let’s Get Married!

While our guests milled around in the entrance and made their way to the ceremony room, Ken and I sat with the bridesmaids, my dad, and officiant in another room, and I did my best not to be nervous. Ken and I seemed to be feeling calm, until the officiant turned to Ken and said, “alright, are you ready?”

“Wait, now?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said, and laughed. I squeezed Ken’s hand, and he and the pastor left to walk into the room. Then the coordinators waved in the pairs of bridesmaids, and my dad and I linked arms to walk down the aisle.

When I heard the musician singing “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” as Ken and the bridal party walked in, I suddenly felt overcome with a wave of emotion, and I gave my dad a big, tight hug.

“I love you so much, sweetie,” he said. I nodded and wiped away my tears, doing my best to swallow my nerves at walking into the room where everyone was waiting. As the song ended, the coordinator walked us over, and we entered.

Walking down the aisle with my dad

I walked down the aisle to the song “The Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel, which I used to sing for Ken in the first months we started dating. The walk felt like a dream; I was so high on emotion that I barely felt like myself! I remember looking down and noticing with surprise that there were flower petals on the floor; I hadn’t realized that having a flower girl would mean walking over flower petals. Even funnier, I looked over at a floral arrangement and thought to myself, “Wow, how convenient that the location’s flowers match our color scheme” — not realizing in the moment that Ken and I had actually ordered these arrangements ourselves!

Ken tearing up

When I got to the end of the aisle, I saw Ken and almost lost it. He’s not an emotional person (he’s cried maybe three times in the seven years we’ve been together), so I hadn’t expected him to cry at all. But there he was, lip quivering with tears in his eyes, and I teared up too. Here we were, getting married, celebrating with everyone we loved. After all these years; finally.

Me hugging my dad before he went to sit down

The officiant of the ceremony

I hugged my dad, Ken and I sat down, and our officiant began the service. She did a wonderful job, delivering her message with warmth and humor. She talked about how Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding; led us in interfaith prayer; and shared how she’d known me since I was 11, and about the day I told her (at a new year’s party at her house several years ago) that I thought Ken might be the one.

We had a few readings at the service, balancing Bible verses and secular readings, since Ken is non-religious. His grandfather read a quote by Mark Twain on love:

A marriage makes two fractional lives a whole. It gives to two purposeless lives a work, and doubles the strength of each to perform it. It gives to two questioning natures a reason for living. It brings a new gladness to the sunshine, and a new fragrance to the flowers, and new beauty to the earth, a new mystery to life.

My brother doing a reading

My brother read a verse from Song of Songs that was read at our parents’ wedding (and did his very very best not to crack up at the line “a raging flame,” which made him think of the song Be a Man from Mulan):

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If one offered for love all the wealth of one’s house, it would be utterly scorned. 

Next, Ken and I read our vows to each other.

Our Four-Part Vows

Ken reading his vows

Because our officiant has known me since I was in 6th grade, and has known about my love for and interest in liturgy, she invited me to write the service and have her fill in the areas I couldn’t do myself. Ken had said he wanted us to write our vows rather than reading the traditional vows; but it was also important to me that we included our families and community in the service in some way.

In the end, we did multiple vows. First, Ken and I wrote our vows together, and had them mirror each other. I wasn’t sure about sharing them online at first; but, since the whole point of your vows is to make a public declaration of your promises to one another (and since Ken thought it was fine to share), here they are.

I, Ken, take you, Sara, to be my wife,

   and I promise before this community of family and friends

      to be your true and faithful partner in marriage.

To be yours in riches and in want, in sickness and in health, in celebration and in sorrow.

To build a home that welcomes, a life that fulfills, and a love that lasts with you.

To honor you, care for you, and love you hopefully, enduringly, and unendingly.

This is my sacred vow to you, my partner in all things; for you are my beloved and my friend. I make you these promises today, and all the days of my life.

Sara reading her vows

I, Sara, take you, Ken, to be my husband,

   and I promise before God and this community of family and friends

      to be your true and faithful partner in marriage.

To be yours in riches and in want, in sickness and in health, in celebration and in sorrow.

To love, support, and honor you. To make you laugh and feel loved for the rest of our lives.

This is my sacred vow to you, my partner in all things, for I have found the one whom my soul loves. I make you these promises today, and all the days of my life.

Our hands with our pastor's stole draped over them

Next, we did a ‘Profession of Unity’ based on the Book of Ruth, in which we repeated after our officiant the lines from Ruth’s promise to Naomi, which are also engraved in my engagement ring:

Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die and there I will be buried.

And, finally, the officiant asked our families and friends to commit to supporting us in upholding our marriage commitments.

Pastor: The marriage of Ken and Sara unites their families and creates a new one. Do you who represent their families bless and rejoice in their union?

Families: We do.

Pastor: Do all you gathered commit to do everything in your power to uphold and care for these two persons in their marriage?

All gathered: We do.

Exchanging rings

The pastor guided us in exchanging wedding rings. And then came the big moment! She pronounced us husband and wife, and we shared our first kiss as a married couple.

Our first kiss as a married couple

Our pastor blessed us and sent us out. We headed into the white room next door to eat cake and celebrate.

Confused about the structure of the day? We structured our wedding the Dutch way, which works in reverse compared to American weddings. I’ll explain in the next (and final!) post in the wedding series about the reception. That post will be out tomorrow, so please check back to read more!

Sara Laughed

Author: Sara Laughed

I'm Sara, a writer, programmer, and American in the Netherlands. This blog is about my life, discoveries, and mistakes. Follow along, and thank you for stopping by!

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