Secular Jewish Wedding

The Wedding of Bruce and Ruth

ruth bruce sm(Bells ring to call the ceremony to order.)

Good afternoon everyone.

We are gathered here today in this beautiful setting, filled with friendship and happiness, to share and witness the union of two very special people, Ruth and Bruce.

Thank you all for joining us today to celebrate one of life’s greatest moments – a time for us to give recognition to the worth and beauty of love, and to cherish the words which shall unite Ruth and Bruce in marriage.

Ruth and Bruce have chosen to create a ceremony that reflects who they are – a ceremony that includes the participation of the people that they know and love, stressing the importance of family, and capturing how much each of you in attendance mean to them.

For Ruth and Bruce, this marriage ceremony is both a pledge of enduring love – and a public expression of their commitment to one another.

Let this marriage be an occasion that reminds us all of the bonds of love we have with our own families and friends.

As we witness the love shared between Ruth and Bruce let us be mindful of how important and wonderful these bonds are to all of us.

Today we witness the joining of two lives and two families from two ancient and rich traditions.  

In honor and in celebration of their heritages, Ruth and Bruce have chosen rituals from each of their backgrounds for their wedding ceremony.  

Together, they will expand to something greater than themselves.  

Theirs is a love that knows no boundaries.  

They stand as a beacon of light – inspiring all of us to love.  

This Huppah, under which Ruth and Bruce stand, represents the life that they are establishing and the home they will create together.

Its four sides are open, representing that there will be no secrets and symbolizing the importance of community and participation in each other’s lives.

It does not promise that love or hope or pledges will keep out weather or catastrophe.  

But the Huppah’s few lines of enclosure are a sketch of what might be.  

You, the members of their families present here, stand at the walls and corners of their symbolic home, for you are the foundation upon which the structure of their lives rest.

That the Huppah is temporary and its construction is insubstantial reminds Ruth and Bruce that the only thing real about a home is the people living in it – who love and choose to be together, to be a family.  

The only anchor that they will have will be holding onto each other’s hands.

The roof of the Huppah is formed by a tallis symbolizing the importance of what is beyond ourselves and the presence in our hearts of all the generations past and present, and those whom we love who are not here to rejoice with us today.

(Ruth will read something about her mother, Patricia Hubertus and there will be a table with  Patricia’s photo and flowers)

Ruth and Bruce appearing together under this Huppah before you – their closest family, who have come together to witness this event, is a public proclamation by them that they are now bonded together as husband and wife.

It is appropriate that the families of Ruth and Bruce are here today to share in their celebration – for the values, understanding and mutual respect they bring to their marriage is rooted in the love, friendship and guidance all of you have given to them.

A good marriage is doing things for one another not out of a sense of duty or sacrifice – but in the spirit of joy.

It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.

A good marriage is saying, “I love you” every day, in word and deed.

It is not a search for perfection in each other, but a cultivation of flexibility, understanding, mutual respect, and a pledge to maintain a sense of humor.

Ruth and Bruce realize that there is only one life and that everyone’s life is limited to only a certain amount of time.

Life choices, therefore, must be weighed and careful consideration must be given to any decisions that may alter one’s path and impact it, both negatively and positively.  

Such is the path that has led Ruth and Bruce to this day.

As Robert Green Ingersoll said, “The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here.”

In the tradition of Ruth’s heritage, it is customary to do a reading from both the old and new testaments.

Bruce’s mother Pearl will now provide a reading from the Old Testament of the Bible:

(Pearl reads her passage)

Ruth’s father, Robert, will now provide a reading from the New Testament of the Bible:

(Ruth’s father reads his passage)

Thank you, Pearl and Robert.

It is my pleasure to unite this lovely couple using this cup which is symbolic of the cup of life.  

As you share this cup you will fill with wine, you undertake to share all of what the future may bring.

May you find life's joys doubly gladdened, its bitterness sweetened, and all things hallowed by true companionship and love.

This cup of wine symbolizes the gratitude Ruth and Bruce have for the loving care and teaching of their parents, Bernard and Pearl, and Robert and Patricia, along with the guidance and loving kindness of Ruth’s stepmother, Joann.

This cup also symbolizes the ties of the heart, mind and memory that link brothers and sisters, Jennifer and Brian, Emily and Kaleb; the relationships that may be forged between them, and thereby filling this cup to overflowing.

Ruth and Bruce, although you are two distinct persons, both respecting the dignity of the other, you have chosen to unite your lives and to seek your happiness together.
Your individual joy will be all the greater because it is shared.

Your individual fulfillment will be all the stronger because it rests in the fulfillment of the other.

We ask you to share this cup of wine – to honor and blend the heritages of you both.

(Ruth and Bruce pour a little wine into the cup from an open bottle)

Take this cup and drink the wine as an affirmation of your hope for the future – a future that welcomes your dreams and makes them real.

Happy are the man and woman who find love in marriage.

(Ruth and Bruce drink from the cup)

The lighting of a Unity Candle comes from Ruth’s heritage and represents the blending of these two lives, and through them, two families.   

(Four candles are on the table – one lit starter candle,
two tapers and one large unity candle)

Emily, Kaleb, Jennifer and Brian:

Your parents want you to know how much they love you, and how important your presence is in their lives.

And so they have asked as a show of support for the future that is about to unfold for them, and for you, that the four of you present them with the tapers that they will use to light their Unity Candle.

Emily and Kaleb, please step forward and together hold one taper.

(Emily and Kaleb take one taper out of its holder)

Jennifer and Brian, please also step forward and together hold one taper.

(Brian and Jennifer take the other taper out of its holder)

Emily, Kaleb, Jennifer and Brian, now please light your tapers with the starter flame.

(Emily, Kaleb, Brian and Jennifer light their tapers)

Emily and Kaleb, please give your taper to your mother.

(Emily and Kaleb hand their lit taper to Ruth)

Jennifer and Brian, please give your taper to your father.

(Brian and Jennifer hand their lit taper to Bruce)

With your two tapers, Ruth and Bruce, please light the Unity Candle.

(Ruth and Bruce light the Unity Candle with their tapers and place a hurricane cover over it)

(Bruce blows out his taper and gives it back to Brian and Jennifer who place it back in its original holder)

(Ruth blows out her taper and gives it back to Emily and Kaleb who place it back in its original holder)

Just as a candle will extinguish itself without air so shall your marriage if you do not give each other breathing room.

Be close; yet allow each other to breathe.
Like the flame of this candle, be free in the giving of warmth, comfort, and guidance.

In marriage, two people turn to each other in search of a greater fulfillment than either can achieve alone.

Marriage is a bold step, taken together, into an unknown future.

It is risking who we are with hope for what we can become.

Only in the giving of yourselves – fully – and the sharing of your lives with one another, can this process of growth take place.

The words we say here today have no magic or prophetic powers.

The power of stating wedding vows reflects a reality that already exists in the hearts and minds of these two people.

Ruth and Bruce, nothing I can say and nothing you can say to each other today will, in itself, ensure a long, happy, satisfying and committed marriage.

Only your love for one another and your continued integrity to make your commitment real can do that.

Ruth and Bruce, it is now time to exchange your vows.

(Bruce and Ruth will have the following words on an index card and will go back and forth)

I love you,
Not only for what you are
But for what I am
When I am with you.

Ani l’dodi, v’dodi li
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.

We have all now witnessed your exchange of vows.  

Yet words are fleeting and the sound of them will soon be gone.

Therefore, the wedding rings become enduring outward and visible symbols of your inner spiritual bond and of the promises you have made to each other.

They are fashioned as circles having neither beginning nor end – symbolizing the wholeness of your love, the unbroken and everlasting.

The precious metal from which they were forged represents the sincerity of your commitment.  

It is strong, enduring, and does not tarnish.  
As you wear them, may you be reminded always of your eternal love for, and devotion to each other.

Ruth and Bruce, repeat after me:

“I join my life with yours …

(Ruth and Bruce repeat these words)

and offer myself into your loving care.”

(Ruth and Bruce repeat these words, as they place the rings upon each other’s index finger, then they move the rings onto their ring fingers)

You will note that Ruth and Bruce first placed their rings not on their ring fingers, but on their index fingers.  

This is an ancient custom from Bruce’s heritage, which believes that there lies an artery in this finger that leads directly to the heart.  

By placing the ring first upon the other’s index finger, they are offering each other their hearts.  

Moving the ring then to their ring finger signifies acceptance.

Ruth and Bruce, you have expressed your love to one another through the commitment and promises you have just made.

In expressing your affirmations, you have formalized, in our presence, the existence of the bond of love between you – vowing to be loyal and loving toward one another, and in doing so, have pronounced yourself husband and wife.

You have kissed a thousand times, maybe more, but today the feeling is new.

No longer simply partners and best friends, you have become husband and wife and I ask that you affirm this with a kiss.

Today, your kiss is a promise.

You may now kiss.

(Ruth and Bruce kiss)

Ruth and Bruce have chosen to conclude their marriage ceremony with the ancient tradition of breaking a glass beneath their feet, signifying the breaking down of barriers between all good and moral people.

But before they do so, I’d like to leave them with the following words from the Apache Wedding Poem:
Now you will feel no storms, for each of you will be shelter to the other.

Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now there is no loneliness, for each of you is companion to the other,

You are two persons, but there is one life before you, and one home.

Turn together to look at the road you traveled, to reach this – the hour of your happiness.

It stretches behind you into the past.

Look to the future that lies ahead.

A long and winding, adventure-filled road, whose every turn means discovery, new hopes, new joys, new laughter, and a few shared tears.

May happiness be your companion.

May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead, and through all the years to come.

Go this day to your dwelling place and enter into your days together.
May your days be good and long upon the earth.
(Margaret places a glass wrapped in a white cloth on the ground; Ruth and Bruce make mincemeat of it)

(All in attendance shout “Mazel Tov”)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Loev.