Secular Wedding Ceremony with Personal Vows

The Wedding Ceremony of Jacky and Willi


[Ben Sigelman intro music as people take seats.]

[Ben Sigelman processional music as wedding parties approach the front]


1. Introduction and welcome: Tadas & Mark

TADAS: Welcome to Jacky and Willi’s wedding. They’re thrilled that you’ve all made it out to the Marin Headlands this afternoon – a place that embodies all that they love about the Bay Area. Although both Jacky and Willi proudly hail from the east coast, it’s the California mountains and beaches that ultimately brought them together. They are delighted to have you here with them to join in celebration of their marriage.

MARK: When they say they reconnected in San Francisco after knowing each other in high school, they mean that quite literally. Many of your know the story, but a little less than six years ago, Willi nearly hit (unintentionally) Jacky on her bike with his car while taking a right onto Divisadero from Haight Street. They’ve come a long way since then – even though they continue to drive that same Honda and ride that same bike – and it’s all of you who have helped them to this moment. They want to acknowledge that as they welcome each other into their respective families today, they’re most excited about the opportunity to recognize everyone here as official members of an exceptional community. This is the one time in their lives that they can be with you – truly their closest friends and family – at the same time.

TADAS: There are a number of important people who weren’t able to make it today; Jacky’s Aunt Cynthia, Uncle Charlie, Great Aunt Alice, Uncle Vern, and Godfather Dayton weren’t able to make the trips from St Louis and the East Coast, but we know they are all here in spirit. Willi’s Aunt Sally, Cousin Jenn, Godfathers Richard Lalli and Michael Rigsby, and close family friend Greg Lesch are also sorely missed.

TADAS: There are also a number of people in Jacky and Willi’s lives who’ve passed on but live in their thoughts today: Jacky’s Grandmother Edith and Grandfather Anthony and Willi’s Grandma Jeaner and Grandparents Rita and Valmore.

MARK: Today is a good day for a wedding, and a wedding is a fantastic reason to celebrate. But Jacky and Willi also realize that today is a day not to be taken lightly. They’re a bubbly couple who smile a lot, but have a deep respect for and faith in one another that genuinely binds them. Today is a celebration of that bond as they enter into the next stage of their partnership, which is a stage that has taken them almost 15 years to reach.

TADAS: One thing that has always kept Jacky and Willi close is a shared and compulsive need to make things. As such, they’ve spent much of the past year making, designing, and coordinating much of what you’ll encounter today. For example, Jacky nurtured hundreds of air plants and succulents while Willi brewed 40 gallons of beer and cider. Many of you also contributed your incredible talents and they want to take a moment to thank you: Poppy – Willi’s current and Jacky’s soon-to-be sister-in-law – baked their wedding cake; Judy, Willi’s mom, sewed Alta’s ring-bearer pillow as well as all 128 gorgeous cloth napkins; and many of you pitched in to bottle cider, make caramels, assemble welcome bags, address envelopes, and setup last night’s and tonight’s parties. Thank you!

MARK: John, Tonay, Judy, and Karl have done the most to shape Jacky and Willi into the bride and groom you see before you today. Their unconditional love and support of the couple has allowed Jacky and Willi to reach this definitive moment in their lives. While Jacky and Willi ensure their parents that they will continue to lean on them for wisdom, guidance, and dogsitting duties, they feel fortified knowing that their joining as a married couple inherently marks the stitching of two wonderful families.


2. Readings: Kim and Dick

[Kim and Dick join the party up front]

TADAS: We will now have a reading from the couple’s close friend, Kim Howland. They met Kim and her lovably stubborn Bernese Mountain Dog Murphy (may he rest in peace) in a ski cabin in Tahoe right before they started dating. Since then, they’ve shared in countless hikes, dog walks, dinner parties, and snowless chairlift rides.

Reading #1: Kim

From Kurt Vonnegut

“And now I want to tell you about my late Uncle Alex. He was my father’s kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is. So I do the same now, and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

MARK: The couple has asked Dick Gale, Willi’s Stepfather, to administer their vows; before he does so, he will share a reading.

Reading #2: Dick

Meet Me in the Green Glen

Love, meet me in the green glen,
Beside the tall elm-tree,
Where the sweetbriar smells so sweet agen;
There come with me.
Meet me in the green glen.

Meet me at the sunset
Down in the green glen,
Where we’ve often met
By hawthorn-tree and foxes’ den,
Meet me in the green glen.

Meet me in the green glen,
By sweetbriar bushes there;
Meet me by your own sen,
Where the wild thyme blossoms fair.
Meet me in the green glen.

Meet me by the sweetbriar,
By the mole-hill swelling there;
When the west glows like a fire
God’s crimson bed is there.
Meet me in the green glen.


3. Jacky & Willi vows: Dick, Jacky, and Willi

Dick: Alta will now present the rings.

[Lindsey brings Alta up to the front with the rings.]

Jacky VOW:
-Today I affirm my desire to join you in a new family;
-I resolve to think of your needs as equal to and different than my own;
-I promise that as I change, as you change, and as the world changes, my commitment to you will not;
-I also promise to look beyond your propensity to fall asleep in all your clothes with all the lights on and I will continue to love your ability to see the best in and want the best for all around you.
-Today I declare publicly what everyone already knows; you are my rock and I love you

Willi VOW:
-Today I affirm my desire to join you in a new family
-I resolve to think of your needs as equal to and different than my own;
-I promise that as I change, as you change and as the world changes, my commitment to you will not
-Today I declare publicly what everyone already knows; that I love you

DICK: Willi and Jacky aren’t religious people. Far from it. But they firmly believe in the holiness of community and searched for a shared ceremony that means something special to them. It’s prevalent in many traditions for binding couples to join in the breaking of bread. Jacky and Willi have decided, in the name of craftiness and communal experience, to share an inaugural glass of matrimonial cider. After they take the first sips of this ancient beverage that they made together, they hope that you will also have a glass this evening and, in doing so, join them in the celebration of their new life together.

DICK: Jacky and Willi’s older siblings, Sophie and Ben, will now join them up front to present them with their first drink as a married couple. With this offering brings the unification of families.

[Jacky’s sister and Willi’s Brother join the part up front to present the cider. Ben cracks open the bottle and pours a bit in two glasses, keeping one and giving the other to Sophie. Ben then presents to Jacky and Sophie present to Willi. They drink.]

DICK: By the power vested in me by the state of California, I now pronounce you husband and wife.

DICK: And now let’s celebrate Jacky and Willi’s marriage and drink some of that delicious cider!


Anna Louise, Marin Headlands Wedding | Snippet & Ink



Photo by Anna Louise.


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