i’m gonna try to write words, but i know that my words will not do the experience justice.
today, i had the pure joy, honor, + privilege to perform my first wedding ceremony. and as if that wasn’t enough, there were many other factors that made it even more amazing…
about 2 weeks ago, i got an email from someone who had seen my officiant/minister profile online. she introduced herself and told me that she + her partner of twenty-six years (!) wanted to be married. they were from alabama and wondered if i could meet them in murphy – a little mountain town in north carolina that borders georiga, tennessee, and alabama – and perform their ceremony.
well, of course i said yes!
so, today, after emails back and forth for the past 2 weeks and preparing a ceremony that that approved of, i hopped in my car and drove through the mountains, on windy roads, through colorful woods, and by a rushing river to get to murphy. i was excited, nervous, and so humbled to be doing this.
i parked my car on the main street in murphy and saw the courthouse, big + beautiful, overlooking the downtown area. suddenly, i realized that we were in very conservative, rural country and people might not look too highly on two women getting married. the ladies would have to go into the courthouse and apply for their marriage license, and legally they have every right to do that, but i wondered how people would react in the office. i was now nervous about any negativity that we might encounter.
i made my way to the register of deeds (where you get your marriage license) and waited for the ladies to arrive. the elevator dinged, and two women appeared – all of us instantly knowing who the others were. one of the ladies gave me a hug, the other shook my hand. lesbian vibes bouncing everywhere in that little hallway.
after a few moments of just meeting face to face, we walked into the office. they were nervous. i was nervous. and the lady asked what she could help us with. the two women proudly said that they wanted a marriage license, and the woman behind the desk said, “certainly. can i have your id’s?”. that was it!
apparantly, same-sex couples from the surrounding states had been showing up in murphy all week in order to get married. remember, it is now legal in north carolina, but illegal in every other southern state. so, the past 2 weeks, since it became legal, people have crossed state lines in order to fulfill dreams.
for these two women, it had been a dream that they both thought would never happen in their lifetimes, they told me as we stood there while the paperwork was being processed. they fidgeted, one more than the other, and they just wanted to get it over with. but, they were so elated to have this opportunity.
i can’t even imagine… being together all of those years and not able to openly show their love. alabama is even more backwards than north carolina. they described to me how they hid their love for each other for a long time, how they snuck about, and how they just confronted their bullies. they have been through a lot, way more than i have, and here they were, about to make their family legal – able to truly take care of each other. in this moment, they were being treated just the same as other couples seeking to be married. it was a huge moment.
so, with the marriage license in hand, we headed back upstairs to find a place to do the simple ceremony i had planned for them. we saw a staircase with a large window behind it – the staircase was the main one in the center of the big, ornate courthouse. we decided that would be the spot.
i stood with my back to the window and they faced me, side by side. and then… the words just flowed. they answered and proclaimed their love and promises to each other. i began to choke up as i got to the pronouncement part. they were beaming. we were all gitty. and then, i said it:
“You have each chosen this common road of marriage, and from this moment forward your intentions and paths are united. You have expressed your commitment to one another and taken to yourselves the relationship of Partners in life and solemnly promised to love, honor, comfort and cherish each other for all the days to be. So live vibrantly. Hold fast to your ideals. Challenge one another, and give each other new experiences of joy.
Therefore, in accordance with the laws of North Carolina and by virtue of the authority vested in me it is my honor to declare you married, partners in life, spouses for life.”
after the ceremony and filing the marriage license (my other job as minister), i walked around downtown and found myself having lunch in a cozy cafe. i just sat, beaming, feeling like i was going to explode. knowing that i was fulfilling some of the things that i am meant to do in this world.
i basked in the knowledge that i got to be part of something huge today. and i am completely humbled by the fact that i shared such a special moment in the lives of these two, inspiring women. what an incredible, incredible experience.
now, i’ve still not come down from my high. and, i am ready to keep on celebrating. gonna have some dinner with my brother and my wife soon – both of whom are super stressed and not at all in the same place emotionally i am in tonight. hopefully i will make them feel better.
then, tomorrow, we are attending a greek orthodox wedding for our dear, sweet friends in asheville.
and, get this, i am performing another wedding ceremony on sunday – for a friend and former co-worker.
that’s right, that 3 weddings in three days. love is in the air!