I’d like to begin by welcoming everyone to the ceremony. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Winona. I first met Rachel in kindergarten, but she didn’t like me because she thought my name was “Vernona.” I didn’t like her because she couldn’t skip a bar on the monkey bars. Needless to say, the friendship didn’t work out.
By second grade, however, we were both more mature and accepting, and we’ve been best friends ever since.
I briefly switched schools in the third grade, and at Buxton Elementary, I met a boy by the name of Scott Nichols. We played wall ball together at recess a few times, even though he was a year older and way too cool for me. Scott and I both came back to Banks two years later, he met Rachel, and I bet you can guess how that story ends.
Never in my wildest elementary school dreams did I imagine that my wall ball partner would grow up and marry my best friend, or that I would perform the ceremony. But here we are. I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I say I couldn’t be happier that these two found each other, and that I’m still a part of their lives.
Rachel and Scott got together six years ago, when most of their peers were involved in the stupid mind games that pass for high school relationships. Even in the very beginning, it was obvious that their relationship was different. I think that, even in the very beginning, we all knew these two would be the ones who made it.
Scott and Rachel’s relationship is different because, well, Scott and Rachel are different. They don’t put a lot of stock in other people’s ideas of how things should be. They are unique, nonconforming, and comfortable with who they are. To this end, they threw out all the “rules” that have suffocated countless other relationships.
When the rules said, “Be cool around your boyfriend,” Rachel was herself. When the rules said, “Don’t show your girlfriend too much affection,” Scott always held Rachel’s hand. When they got to college, and a lot of people said, “Play the field! Date around!,” they chose to lean on each other. And even recently, when people said, “You have to get married in a church,” Rachel and Scott said, “How about the Rachel’s backyard, with lots of beer and illegal fireworks?”
This refusal to conform is what makes their relationship strong, it’s what makes this wedding fun, and it’s certainly one of the things we love most about them.
But enough about the bride and groom; I’d like to take a moment now to address the audience.
When you sit down today to sample one of the cakes, you might find yourself next to someone you’ve never met. You might strike up a conversation and find that you have absolutely nothing in common. But no matter the individual differences between us, we were all brought here today by our love and respect for Rachel and Scott. This fact binds us together almost as strongly as the bride and groom.
Everyone’s heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Not everyone realizes that it takes a village to raise a marriage.
We are Scott and Rachel’s village.
We will be there for them in the hard times. We will celebrate the good times. This group has been assembled from both coasts and beyond, and each one of us has played a role in this union—we have lent them support, laughed at their jokes, challenged them and helped create their paradigms of love and happiness. From these two families sitting here today grew two amazing people who are perfect for each other. From the many groups of friends sitting here today have grown priceless experiences, unlimited strength, and two well-honed senses of sarcasm.
Therefore, it is important to acknowledge that long before we took our seats today, we were part of something bigger. This marriage will be unshakable because Scott and Rachel are strong, and they are strong, at least in part, because of us.
Marriage is nothing without gratitude and appreciation. Rachel once said to me, “I think people forget how cool it is that someone wants to be with you forever.”
These are wise words, indeed.
Be grateful for your partner. Tell them they are loved and appreciated until they say, “Okay, I get it.” Never resist a generous impulse.
This gratitude and appreciation for your spouse will come easiest in the good times, but it is perhaps most important in the hard times. These are the times when gratitude will save you. Take a breath, and, to paraphrase the bride: “Remember how cool it is that someone wants to be with you.” Even if, at certain moments, you just want that someone to go away.
In addition to unwavering gratitude, some of the best marriage advice I’ve found comes in the form of a poem by Ogden Nash:
To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.
The good times in this marriage will far outweigh the hard times. Every single person here today knows that you two will live long and happy lives together. You will achieve great success and have brilliant children who will make ours look bad. Your relationship will find strength in a lifetime of shared challenges and triumphs.
And remember, you will always have your village.
Rachel, do you promise to love, honor, and respect Scott for as long as you both shall live?
Scott, do you promise to love, honor, and respect Rachel for as long as you both shall live?
The rings, please.
These rings symbolize a lifetime together—a promise to honor and respect each other. These rings are an acknowledgement that there are six billion people in this world, and your spouse chose you. Every time you look down at this ring, be grateful for your spouse’s presence, and know that they are always grateful for you.
You may exchange rings.
By the power vested in me by the State of Oregon, I now pronounce you husband and wife.
You may kiss.