The Most Unexpected Way I've Used My Writing Skills
[image description: a wedding ceremony scene where a woman is putting the wedding band on the man’s ring finger.]
A couple of months ago, some dear friends asked me to officiate their wedding and I had all the emotions. I felt overjoyed, honored, flattered, humbled, and nervous. I’d never officiated a wedding before and wanted to make it good for these two friends I adore.
I figured they asked me because I’m a writer, so I started sketching out the ceremony months in advance. I felt inspired to write them an original reading, though a lot of folks pick a beloved quote from a book, movie, poem, or prayer as their reading(s).
I wanted to make sure they had a reading they loved, regardless of whether there was an existing quote out there that resonated with them. When my husband and I married, we assumed picking our reading would be the easiest part, since we each read a ton of books. But we quickly realized that we don’t read a lot of the same books, so quotes that resonated with me he’d never heard of and vice versa. Even after 4.5 years together, we couldn’t think of a single quote about love that resonated with both of us and that we’d discovered together.
At the time, it didn’t occur to me that we could just write our own reading, so we ended up going with a poem a close friend suggested (edited to remove the god parts since we’re atheist and agnostic). Though we hadn’t heard the poem until our friend showed it to us, we both immediately said “YES!” after reading it and it’s now one of my favorites.
Remembering my own stress about the reading, I wanted to make sure the friends I was marrying didn’t feel panicked about having to hunt down the perfect reading. I was a little scared when I presented it to them, but when the bride-to-be cried and said how beautiful it was, I was glad I’d written it. And, as it turns out, they didn’t have a book/movie/poem quote picked out either. This is a common occurrence, it seems!
This past weekend, I married these two friends. They’re officially united in blissful matrimony! And I can’t help but bask in the power of words.
The officiant who married my husband and me is another close friend of ours and I remember her telling me how powerful it is that certain words, spoken at the right time are legally binding. How one minute each person in the couple is, in a legal sense, single and the next minute they’re bonded in marriage in the eyes of the law and state. (I have issues with marriage being a matter of state, but that’s a debate for another time.)
As our officiant was telling us this, I remember thinking it was such a nice idea. But I didn’t really feel it myself until I married my two friends. There’s power in words and what more beautiful way to show that the pen is mightier than the sword than through a wedding ceremony. As a writer, I found it unbelievably meaningful to see how the ceremony and the final words “I now pronounce you married” transformed my friends. Their smiles consumed them ask they soaked in each other’s love.
After seeing that, I don’t think I could ever doubt the power of words again. Words are a bond. They make the unseen real. They render the invisible visible. They speak truth to power. Words are action. Words are life and love and all the things we value most. Even when they’re spoken by imperfect beings or perfectly average beings who got ordained online in under 10 minutes.
If you’d told me years ago that I’d one day use my writing skills to officiate a wedding, I would’ve thought “no way, that’s a job for a real officiant.” But, now that I think about it, who better to officiate weddings, particularly of the secular variety, than a writer?
I’m still all giddy and happy from the wedding days later. Officiating a wedding is an honor like no other and I hope every writer gets to experience it one day.