[The bridge and groom wrote this entire ceremony themselves. It is long and it is lovely. I’ve tucked some of it below the fold and removed identifying details]
S.’s Parents process, bridesmaids, A. with Mom and Dad
A. and S. have brought us together here for an occasion of great joy and a cause for great celebration. Having found each other seven years ago, they have built the kind of relationship that will serve them well as the foundation for their marriage. They have chosen each and every one of us to be here with them to witness their vows as they join together as husband and wife.
I invite you to be truly present at this special time. Please, turn off your cell phones and put down your cameras. The photographer will capture how this moment looks — I encourage you all to capture how it feels with your hearts, without the distraction of technology. It is very important to A. and S. for their ceremony to be truly “unplugged.” And don’t worry, they will share their pictures!
Declaration of Support
(to guests) As family and friends, you form the community of support that surrounds A. and S.. Each of you, by your presence here today, is being called upon to uphold them in honoring and loving each other.
It is you to whom they’ll turn in the coming years, whether in joy or in sorrow. Always stand beside them, never between them. Offer them your love and support, not your judgment. They ask that you commit to them, as they are committing to one another. That just as they pledge to support and protect the other, you pledge to support and protect their relationship, today and always. Help them to keep their hearts open, full of forgiveness and compassion.
A. and S. have also chosen to sign a marriage certificate. This certificate will be displayed in their home as a reminder of their commitment here today. Immediately after the ceremony, they ask that all present here sign their names as well, as witnesses to their union, so they may also be reminded of the never-ending support of family and friends.
A. and S., today we have come together to celebrate the love you have found with each other. By being here with you, each of us is declaring our support for your decision to join together in marriage.
Your marriage will, no doubt, be filled with surprises. Some you will welcome, while others will test the strength and flexibility of your bond.
Your life together will present many opportunities to refine and deepen your love and to explore the profound depths of your being. May your love create a safe haven for you both on the journey that lies ahead of you. Lead with your hearts and take the time to do the simple things that will nurture your love. Deeply listen to each other—to your dreams and to your frustrations. Be helpmates. Be playful in finding ways to give your love anew to each other every day.
Let your love be an inspiration to others to reach for what is good within us all. May your love be so abundant that you have plenty to share with the rest of us as well.
3:30 ceremony, be there around 3? Kelly starts the processional/timing.
So pleased to be here. So happy for these two.
I’ve known Virgil since February 2011 when another librarian introduced us (hello Mary! librarians in the house!). We swapped email and interacted online and I remember seeing a photo of his new apartment on facebook or somewhere and thinking “that’s a lot of books for a small apartment” and also “I don’t know how anyone can sleep that close to their refrigerator.” Since then we’ve become fast friends.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to anyone at the time, Nicole was finishing up library school nearby in MA and their paths would soon cross in nearby New Hampshire.
By November of that year, every profile photo of Virgil was of him and Nicole. Together. Usually outside. Smiling and happy. Beaming really.
and a photo of a hand with a ring. And everyone was thrilled.
There is nothing like being with the two of them. They are a killer team.
I’ve been lucky enough to have them as neighbors in Randolph where Nicole commutes up the highway to her library job and Virgil commutes over the mountain to his. They’ve joined my bar trivia team where Virgil’s sports knowledge and Nicole’s smarts about children’s literature and 90’s television have helped propel us to multiple championships. “Look out, the librarians are coming” people will say. We’ve helped outfit their place with Bud Light t-shirts and many promotional mugs.
Some days when there’d be a game on, I’d walk over and we’d watch the Red Sox together with the sound down low and listen to records on the record player and talk about what’s going on in town. And tell stories. And laugh.
They’ve created a beautiful home together full of bright colors and nature photography and cozy places for their cats to sun themselves and notes to each other to have a great day (I fed your cats, they say congrats). I feel like I leave their home wanting to go out and be my best self. And this is what they bring out in each other.
Good librarians focus and support and amplify their environments which is exactly what Virgil and Nicole do at their jobs—places where they care deeply for their communities—and everywhere else they go for their families, for their friends and for the world. Most importantly, they do this for each other.
Watching the two of them go from being two people in one relationship to navigating the paths towards a lifelong partnership has been a joyful endeavor.
We are all richer for their union. And today is the day we celebrate it with them.
On this day of your marriage, Virgil and Nicole, you stand within the charmed circle of your great love and the greater circle of those who love you.
So look out, the librarians are coming. And they are better than ever.
Jon Swartz (Nicole brother-in-law) - poem
Jess Carbone (car-BONE-ee, friend of Virgil) - “Thank You” by Led Zeppelin
[brought own vows to the ceremony]
Virgil then Nicole then community
Virgil: Do you Virgil Take Nicole to be your lawfully wedded wife?
Nicole: Do you Nicole take Virgil to be your lawfully wedded husband?
Community: Do you promise to support Virgil and Nicole, to give them your good advice, go easy on your bad advice, share their joys and sorrows, their travels and their home, for all the days of their lives?
SILAS “Do you have the rings?”
Virgil will you now place the ring on Nicole’s finger and repeat after me please?
I Virgil marry you with this ring, with my heart, with my body, and with all the syllables of my soul for all the paths and pages of my life.
Nicole will you now place the ring on Virgil’s finger and repeat after me please?
I Nicole marry you with this ring, with my heart, with my body, and with all the syllables of my soul for all the paths and pages of my life.
Before I pronounce you married partners, there is one last thing. Your wedding day is one that flies. It’s a day filled with travel, friends, food, schedules and music. Many people remember how fleeting their own wedding day was. So I want you to take a few seconds to look into each others’ eyes. Think about the happiness that you are feeling in this beautiful place, in this moment.
Really let that feeling register in your heart and your mind. Now, I want you to think about your life together in twenty thirty forty years. Where are you? What are you doing? We all know that your visions of the future are not identical, but always complimentary.
John Lennon once said, “a dream you dream alone is only a dream, a dream you dream together, THAT is reality.”
That new reality starts Now.
By the power vested in me by the State of Vermont I now pronounce you husband and wife.
2:45 – GET DAVE AND MARCIE TO TELL PEOPLE TO SIT DOWN
3:00: Samantha Becker and Steven Augustus would like to thank you all for being here with them today, and for supporting them through everything that it has taken to make this day a reality. Thanks everyone from coming from such distances and everyone who helped decorate this home and themselves for this special day. It’s a pleasure to have you here to celebrate with them in their home.
We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of these two people, Samantha & Steve, who stand before you, their beloved friends, family and neighbors in trust and love, with hope and wishes.
They ask us all to be present with them and to rejoice in their companionship and their love.
A formality but also a foundation. A legality but also a labor of love. A partnership but also a pair-bonding. Even for two people who have shared their lives as long and as deeply as Steve and Samantha have, marriage is in some ways the next step and in many ways the natural extention of their lives together, lives already shared with Davin, Theo, and Abby, the journey they have already been on.
On this day of your marriage, you stand within the charmed circle of your great love and the greater circle of those who love you.
Reading 1 - Buffy from Corinthians
Reading 2 – Kari from Shakespeare
Samantha to Steve – repeat after me
I Samantha take thee Steve to be my husband, my lover, my madman, my poet, my bear. For better or for worse for richer or poorer in sickness and in health in disagreement and harmony for all the days of my life.
Steve to Samantha – repeat after me
I Steve take you Samantha to be my spouse in our civil marriage to have and to hold from this day on for better, for worse for richer, for poorer to love and to cherish forever or all the days of my life.
Will you Samantha have Steve to be united as one in your civil marriage?
Will you Steve have Samantha to be united as one in your civil marriage?
Steve will you now place the ring on Samantha’s finger and repeat after me please? I give you this ring as a symbol of my love. I choose you.
Samantha will you now place the ring on Steve’s finger and repeat after me please? I give you this ring as a symbol of my love. I choose you.
By the authority vested in me by the voters of Randolph & the state of Vermont, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may now celebrate with your first kiss as husband and wife. Congratulations.
Please join Frank/Lee, Marcy/Keith, Dwight/Arlene and Danny/Kari and Anne in the receiving line.
Thank you all for coming…. We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of these two people, Rich & Rachel, who stand before you in love, in trust, in joy and in hope. They ask us to be present with them and to rejoice in their companionship and their love.
Love is not meant to be the possession of two people alone. It serves as a source of common energy, as a form in which you find the strength to live your lives with courage. It’s the original perpetual motion machine once you set it going. Its energy sustains families, communities and ultimately the world. It’s a great thing you’ve got here. From this day onward, you will come closer together than ever before; you will carry on loving one another in sickness and health, for better and for worse, when you’re close and when you’re far away.
Your love also gives you the strength to stand apart, to seek out your unique destinies, to make your special contributions to the world. It is a thing which is always part of us… and more than us. On this day of your marriage, you stand within the charmed circle of your great love and the greater circle of those who love you.
The JP job has a lot more to do with voting than marrying. That is, if you don’t want to, you don’t really have to marry anyone, but part of the gig is checking voter registrations, being present at the polls, delivering ballots to people who can’t be at the polls, and counting write-in votes.
I’ve been digging through the pile of paperwork I got at the Board of Civil Authority meeting (a board I was not on when I went, but I am on now) and it’s mostly straightforward stuff. I’m surprised, as always, just how much of this stuff really is codified and written down. Only sort of related, I found this book on Open Library that talks about how soldiers voted when they were off fighting the Civil War. Sort of interesting if you’re nerdy about this sort of thing. If you, too, are interested check out Voting in the Field, a forgotten chapter of the Civil War.
Since it is now February I am now a Justice of the Peace. Feels mostly the same so far. I’ve amended the header text on this blog. I can now marry anyone who wants to be married in the State of Vermont. From the Board of Civil Authority meeting last night it appears that the majority of my time will be spent counting write-in ballots after Town Meeting next month.
“Welcome aboard! Bring armor.”—The Town Clerk’s response to me when I dropped off my paperwork and asked if there was anything else I needed to know before the Board of Civil Authority meeting tomorrow.
I’m going to dial it back a little bit in 2013. The daily posts have been great fun but the pickings are slim until I actually start my post in February (and maybe even after that). Feel free to send on suggested links/images to me, my first name at the gmail machine.
So San Diego was a place before it was a place in the United States. Most people know this What I did not know was how the governmental system worked in places that were sort of becoming part of the US and sort of part of another country. A peek into the digital archives of the University of Southern California finds this neat letter (original written in Spanish but with a translation written in English afterwards) where the JP of San Diego in 1836 writes to the folks in Los Angeles to ask why they’re incommunicado. Based on this Wikipedia page, I believe the translation of the JPs name is wrong and the letter is actually from Santiago Argüello the last full-time Commandant of the area and the second Justice of the Peace (Juez de Paz).
One of the historical jobs Justices of the Peace would sometimes do in the course of their duties was to issue certificates of freedom. These were papers that black people would have to carry on them in many states to ensure that they would not be harassed as runaway slaves. Since this was pre-photography in many cases, there would be descriptions of the people carrying the papers to make sure that they were not using someone else’s certificate of freedom. Here is some more description of the process.
So some days people send me things for this blog and other times I just do some idle Googling while things are slow at MetaFilter. So I look for things like the phrase “Justice of the peace” juxtaposed with words like crazy, funny, weird, interesting, etc.
I’m not even sure what I was looking for the other day when I found this Wikipedia page about Conservators of the Peace. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, this is a similar office to JPs but with a few miscellaneous other bits to it. I had never heard of this before and was surprised. After doing some more digging—check the citations at the end of the Wikipedia articles, folks!—it seems that the article is based almost entirely on one guy’s “research" (pdf, but it’s basically the same as the Wikipedia article) a guy whose job just happens to be running training classes for Virginia CPsand who this guy has a sort of checkered past with the whole CP thing but appears to be an attorney who defends gun cases. Huh. Here’s more on the odd Virginia Conservator of the Peace designation which the Washington Post calls “archaic.”
So, even though the research document is legit and has real citations and all the rest, the fact that there’s a Wikipedia article which basically cribs from it is not at all cool from a Wikipedia standpoint. And I was partway in to going down the path to formally objecting to all of this when I realized that I’d started out doing something else and that I would rather be doing that something else, but I’m leaving a note here for later about it. Neat, huh?
In Queensland Australia there are two main types of Justices of the Peace. The one kind is called Justice of the Peace (Qualified) which sort of calls into question what the other kind is called…. which is C.decs (commissioner of declarations). The second type are just for getting your document signatures witnessed. The other sort have a small amount of training, or qualifications. when you buy your JP merch, you have to tell them what sort of JP you are. More details about this from the JP FAQ.
[T]hat is what this season is meant to remind us of.
Forgiveness is not a behavior, but an expansion of awareness beyond the duality of guilt and blame, right and wrong. It is not an excuse for inaction during times of crisis or wrongdoing, but a request for compassion and tolerance to guide one’s response. It is the ability to embrace a more expanded consciousness in which the context of a situation is seen as being part of a larger whole, all of which are seated within a love and intelligence beyond our comprehension.
Blogging by members of the judiciary is not prohibited. However, officer holders who blog (or who post comments on other people’s blogs) must not identify themselves as members of the judiciary. They must also avoid expressing opinions which, were it to become known that they hold judicial office, could damage public confidence in their own impartiality or in the judiciary in general.
The above guidance also applies to blogs which purport to be anonymous. This is because it is impossible for somebody who blogs anonymously to guarantee that his or her identity cannot be discovered.
Which calls into question the future of the anonymous Magistrates blog which I mentioned earlier and while still seems to be chugging along just fine (and discussed this matter here in three parts 1, 2, 3). This has less than nothing to do with me or this blog but I found it interesting. Via my favorite new amusing judicial blog, Legal Cheek.
The old-fashioned Justice of the Peace, who hung out a shingle and married people and performed minor judicial duties, no longer exists in Maine.
However, reality is even more complicated. Thanks to what they call “a constitutional problem” the office formerly called Complaint Justice is now the office called Justice of the Peace and that person must be an actual lawyer. I was curious what this was about and have been browsing the Maine Notary Guide (Maine is one of only three US states that allow Notaries to marry people) but am no closer to understanding this.
Your Petitioner further States that he hastily arose from his bed, and enquired into the cause of her intrusion upon his repose; When he was informed that a Justice of the Peace who was in company in a fit of intoxication had joined them together as man and wife, and at a time when your Petitioner was utterly insensible of the whole transaction—Upon thisinformation he precepetately retire, with pungent feelings of grief; and Alas! when too late protested against the proceedings of that fatal night.
This fortuitous occurrence has proved as destructive to the repose of your Petitioner; and has excited as much consternation among his friends; as was experienced by the Trojans, upon the introduction of the Grecian Horse into Troy.
When I worked at the library, one of the things that brought people in was access to family history. The census is a public record but many people didn’t know how to access it or interact with it. Marriage records are public too, but most of the time are not “surfaced” the way the census information is. The New Orleans city archives has indexed their marriage licenses between the years 1846 and 1880 and made them available online. Just names, you have to send in $2 to get an actual copy, but it’s a great way to peek into NOLA history and a marvelous archive to have online.
“We are used to hearing the words “by the power vested in me by the State of California (or increasingly, the Universal Life Church) but it’s quite another thing, and thrilling indeed, to hear a member of the Supreme Court utter the words “by the authority vested in me by the constitution and laws of the United States,” knowing she is one of only eight other people in the world who can do so.”—A nice story about a wedding where Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the officiant.
Justice of the Peace Michael Little told a crowd in Wichita Falls, Texas today that part of his job is declaring people dead where they die and not where they might have been the victim of foul play. The attention of University Kiwanis Club of Wichita Falls members was riveted as Judge Little told them the story of a man who was shot to death in another county but who did not die until he was admitted into a Wichita Falls hospital.
But I’ve been reading a bit about wedding officiants. Apparently, and this should not surprise me, there are sites where you can find them and some of them like Wedding Wire allow people to rate their experiences. Show up five minutes before the wedding starts, or try to foist your values on someone or call a woman by her soon-to-be-husband’s last name and it will be on the internet forever.
I peeked at how some of the people in my area are advertising themselves. I found out that there used to be a VermontJP.com website (now defunct) and read a nice outline on Kathryn Blume’s website about whether to go with a Justice of the Peace or what she is, a Universal Life Church minister. Her page is called JP or Me? and it’s worth reading.
For people who are interested in what a JP might deal with on a day to day basis, this is a blog that has been running for over six years. Once a single-author blog and now written by a team. This is in the UK where the JPs get to oversee some criminal court matters. Here is their What Do We Actually Do Then? post from 2009.