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Shannon and Seth's wedding ceremony was conducted by their two very good friends, Debbie and Hannah, both former classmates of Shannon's at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.  They created a very beautiful ceremony that included these four readings.  

"Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog"  by Taylor Mali  

"Union" by Robert Fulghum

Unity Sand Ceremony 

Seven Benediction Blessings

"Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog" by Taylor Mali  (read by Debbie)

First of all, it's a big responsibility,
So think long and hard before deciding on love.
But love gives you a lot of things…

On cold winter nights, love is warm.
It lies between you and lives and breathes
and makes funny noises.
Love can wake you up all hours of the night with its needs.
Love can give you a sense of security:
When you're walking down the street late at night
and you have a leash on love,
ain't no one gonna mess with you.

Love needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.

Love does not like being left alone for long.
But come home and love is always happy to see you.
Love may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,
but you can never be mad at love for long.

Love leaves you little surprises here and there.

Love makes messes.
Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.
Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper
and swat love on the nose,
But then love gives you big kisses,

And you laugh at the little things.

Sometimes love just wants to play.
Running you around the block, leaving you panting.
It pulls you in several different directions at once,
or winds around and around you,
until you're all wound up and can't move.

And love brings you together.
People who have nothing in common but love
stop and talk and greet each other on the street.
Most importantly, love needs love, and lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and loves you and never stops.  

"Union" by Robert Fulghum (read by Hannah)

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time… (pause)…Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, boss!!, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.

For after today you shall say to the world –
This is my husband. This is my wife.

Unity Sand Ceremony (read by Debbie)

Shannon and Seth, today you are making a commitment to share the rest of your lives with one another. As you each hold your separate containers of sand, they represent your lives to this moment; individual and unique. Soon you will combine your sand together, symbolizing the bringing together of two lives into one.

We begin with a layer of Neutral Sand, which symbolizes that your marriage is grounded in respect, friendship and the love of family and friends.  You come here today from two different families. Today, a new family is created. At this time, I would invite Shannon and Seth’s parents to come forward. (The four parents walked over to the beach and scooped up some sand.)  These vials of sand represent each family. Now the parents will take their sand and simultaneously pour their sand together, symbolizing the uniting of the two families into one.

Next we combine the individual colors.  This symbolizes that the marriage and family union is based on the strength of the individuals. Notice that each color still maintains its own identity.  This is how it should be even in a marriage and family union.  When you look at the vase and see the many configurations you can see the merging of the three colors.  But each grain of sand maintains its own space. The blending of the sand is a symbol of the union of your lives.  Just as the grains of sand can never be separated, so will your marriage be a molding of individual personalities, bonded together forming one heart, one love.


First Blessing - read by Avalon Bymers, Seth’s Grandma
May you be blessed with love. May understanding bring a deep and abiding peace into your lives, fostering a love that is not only passionate but serene. May this love between you be strong and enduring.

Second Blessing - read by Dorine Williams, Shannon ’s Grandma
May you be blessed with wisdom. May you continually learn from one another and from the world. Together, may you grow, deepening your knowledge and understanding of each other and of your journey through life.

Third Blessing - read by Duane Bymers, Seth’s Grandpa
May you be blessed with community. May you always be blessed with the awareness that you are an essential part of a circle of family and friends. May there always be within this group a sense of mutual love, trust, support and respect.

Fourth Blessing - read by Deb Lengkeek, Seth’s Mom
May you be blessed with art and beauty. May your creative aspirations and experiences find expression and bring you joy and fulfillment. May your sense of humor and playful spirit continue to enliven your relationship.

Fifth Blessing - read by John Bishop, Shannon ’s Dad
May you be blessed with health. May life bestow upon you wholeness of mind, body and spirit. May you live long that you may share many happy years together.

Sixth Blessing - read by Ven Lengkeek, Seth’s Dad
May you be blessed with the experience of nature. May nature in her magnificence continue to inspire you and bring you a sense of transcendence. May the elements of earth, air, fire and water sustain you and heal you.

Seventh Blessing - read by Jill Bishop, Shannon ’s Mom
May you be best friends, better together than either of you are apart. May you work together to build a relationship of substance and quality. May you respect each other’s individual personality and philosophy and give each other room to grow and fulfill each other’s dreams.