On January 4, 2003, at the Carolina Inn, I joined Leesa and Gary in marriage. Leesa's daughter as well as their parents were with us too. It was a sweet and simple ceremony that reflected exactly what they wanted. Here is one reading they chose for their ceremony (the author is unknown):
“Marriage is a commitment to take that joy deep, deeper than happiness, deep into the discovery of who you most truly are. It is a commitment to a spiritual journey, to a life of becoming in which joy can comprehend despair, running through rivers of pain into joy again. Thus, marriage is even deeper than commitment. It is a covenant, a covenant that says: ‘I love you – I trust you – I will be here for you when you are hurting, and when I am hurting, I will not leave.’ It is a covenant intended not to provide haven from pain or anger or sorrow. Life offers no such haven. Instead, marriage is intended to provide a sanctuary safe enough to risk loving, to risk living and sharing from the center of oneself. This is worth everything.”
They also had their mothers present readings as well--The Key to Love and An Old Wedding Blessing. They wrote their own personal vows and read them to each other. It was a beautiful wedding and a very happy day. Unfortunately, for some reason, I don't have a photo of Leesa and Gary on that special day.
So, for almost ten years I had no inkling of how they were doing and what had happened in their lives. Then on August 20, 2012 I got an email from Leesa telling me that they wanted to do a renewal of vows ceremony exactly ten years from their wedding date at the Carolina Inn in the same room--the South Parlor. I was delighted to hear from them and that I was available and that I would be honored to preside over their ceremony. She firmed up the plans with the Carolina Inn. I sent her some sample renewal of vows ceremonies as well as their original ceremony and told her and Gary to put their heads together and come up with what they wanted for their renewal of vows ceremony. And they did. With a little editing back and forth we had a very beautiful and heart touching ceremony which also highlighted their adventures for the past ten years and a blessing for their three children too. They decided to keep their vows secret from each other and they each worked with me separately to get them just right. They kept the same ring vows they said to each other in their wedding.
On that Friday afternoon at 4:00 we all gathered in the South Parlor with Gary's father as their only guest and I met their two sons ages 7 and 9. Their daughter is now a lovely teenager who presented a reading during the ceremony. And Gary and Leesa look exactly the same as they did on their wedding day! I did not know if I would recognize them but no problem once I saw them. It was so sweet and very private. They did not want any photographs of their children but I got one of the three of us with my cell phone and their permission to post on this blog!