Here is the text of my wedding ceremony earlier this year. I was not able to find any appropriate ceremonies for me, so I wrote my own. I’m posting this for those looking for a wedding ceremony inspired by Objectivist ideas.
(The only thing missing are some readings contributed by our friends and family.)
We gather here today to mark the marriage of Sarah and David. They have invited us to witness their partnership so we may know the nature of their bond and to respect, honor, and celebrate their union.
Prudence will indicate that bonds so total and everlasting should not be entered lightly, and not without due consideration and full knowledge of the commitment they entail. But when two people recognize that they are each other’s highest value, and that their individual happiness depends on each other, it is their sacred right to enter into the partnership of marriage. And so, a decent respect for their friends and family requires that they should declare the reasons that impel them to join and celebrate their marriage.
Ring Warming Ceremony
During this ceremony Sarah and David will exchange rings. These rings are a visible sign of their commitment to one another. As this ceremony proceeds, we invite family and friends to take part in the warming of the rings. We ask that you wish them health and happiness, and all that is noble in life. I ask that each guest hold them for a moment, warm them with your love and make a silent wish for this couple, and their future together. When these rings come back they will contain, in their precious metal, that which is more precious, that which is priceless – your love and hope and pledge of support for their marriage.
[Rings are passed around while ceremony proceeds]
Nature of love
When you find the right person, falling in love is easy. Like the beginning of a fire, love begins with a bright, beautiful flame, hot and fierce, but unstable and flickering. But unless the nature of the fire is properly tended, it may grow out of control and burn out without the chance to become deep, unquenchable embers. Much as man understood and mastered fire, and built upon its careful maintenance great civilizations, so must a couple understand and nurture the fuel of their relationship.
Love, is the emotional response of one person to the virtues of another, the spiritual payment given in exchange for the personal selfish pleasure which one person derives from the virtues of another’s character. Love is the expression of one’s values, the greatest reward we can earn for the moral qualities we have achieved in our character and person—the emotional price paid by one man for the joy he receives from the virtues of another.
To love is to value. It takes a rationally selfish man, a man of self-esteem, to be capable of love—because he is the only man capable of holding firm, consistent, uncompromising, unbetrayed values. The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.
Love is not blind. On the contrary, love is an expression of philosophy – a subconscious philosophical sum of one’s total sense of life, as reflected through another’s soul. When one’s power of reason is called up to support that emotional appraisal, when love is a conscious integration of reason and emotion, of mind and values, then—and only then—it is the greatest reward of man’s life.
Sarah and David have recognized that the bonds between them are not based on any superficial infatuation or momentary qualities, but on their fundamental values, their fundamental way of facing existence. While their views and taste might differ in the particulars, the totality of their approach to living – their sense of life – is in profound harmony. They see in each other the embodiment of the values they strive to achieve in themselves.
Sarah & David are here to declare and publicly acknowledge that they are each other’s highest value. The culmination of their minds and life’s work can only be found, celebrated and lived out in the presence of the other.
Nature of agreement
It is often said that love is sacrifice, that human relationships are built upon surrendering values for the sake of others. Sarah and David do not see it that way.
They do not surrender their independence, nor their goals, but they recognize the unity of their spirits, and their ambitions.
They do not ask each other to sacrifice or to live for the other, but recognize that to seek their own values is to serve their mutual ends and happiness.
They do not ask each other for undeserved, unselfish love, but pledge to strive to earn each other’s love, admiration and respect anew each day.
They aim not to sacrifice their lives to each other, but to seek a profound, personal, selfish joy from the mere existence of each other. It is their own personal, selfish happiness that they seek, earn and derive from love.
They are deeply desperately concerned for each other’s welfare because of the value that it adds to their own lives.
Love derives not from unearned benevolence; instead it comes as a response to a profound value.
Marriage advice (group activity)
[Turn to couple:]
Sarah and David:
Your lives so far have been lived as individuals, maturing physically, mentally, and emotionally, forming the values by which you wish to live the rest of your lives. Today, you make a declaration that you are ready to take the next step in life: to commit to an everlasting bond, to form a family, and together to weather the challenges ahead.
Building lasting relationships is not easy; it’s not automatic; it takes effort and persistence, and mistakes, and learning. To help you navigate some of the early rapids, your friends and family have offered to give you some words of advice for your life together:
Pam & Tom Arceneau:
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love, that hold yours on your wedding day as you promise to love each other all the days of your life.
These are the hands that will work along side yours as you build your future together.
These are the hands that will passionately love you and care for you throughout the years.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief torments your mind, and, with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will give you strength when you struggle, and support and encouragement to chase down your dreams.
These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children, and help keep your family together as one.
These are the hands that will, countless times, wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
And lastly, these are the hands, that even when wrinkled with age, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch—a touch from these hands.
Thank you for your words of wisdom.
Ring Warming Conclusion
These rings, now warmed by those you care for the most will forever show the world you are one. They will carry with them the eternal love and blessing of your friends and family. The wedding rings represent an enduring material announcement of Sarah and David’s affection and commitment to each other.
Sarah and David have prepared their vows for each other:
[Individual vows follow]
In the name of the best within me, I solemnly declare my commitment to establish a lifelong bond with you. I pledge to love, honor, and share my material and spiritual wealth with you, to regard your goals as my own, to leave no corner of my soul closed to you. I pledge to share in your triumphs and tragedies, fortunes and tribulations, gains and obligations, in happiness and sadness. I pledge to love you for all time, and to stay faithful and true to you. I will comfort you in your pain and encourage you with your dreams. As our journey through life begins today, I promise to you that I will forever be by your side and I will be ready to face everything the world has to offer us.
For the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on our capacity for rational judgment, I pledge to you my life, my soul, and my sacred honor.
I, Sarah Allen, take you, David Veksler, to be my beloved husband, to have and to hold you, to honor you, to treasure you, to be at your side in sorrow and in joy, in the good times, and in the bad, and to love and cherish you always. I promise you this to you from my mind, body and soul, for all the days of my life.
I love you for what you are, but I love you yet more for what you are going to be.
I love you not so much for your realities as for your ideals. I pray for your desires that they may be great, rather than for your satisfactions, which may be so hazardously little.
A satisfied flower is one whose petals are about to fall. The most beautiful rose is one hardly more than a bud wherein the pangs and ecstasies of desire are working for a larger and finer growth.
Not always shall you be what you are now.
You are going forward toward something great. I am on the way with you and therefore I love you.
[Officiant: David/Sarah, please repeat after me:]
With this ring, I thee wed, and with it, I bestow upon thee all the treasures of my mind, heart, and hands.
I now pronounce you husband and wife. You have established the foundation of your lives together. May you build upon it a prosperous and happy home. You may kiss the bride.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you for the first time as a wedded couple, Sarah and David Veksler.