A Lesbian Havdalah Wedding

Found In: Weddings & Commitment Ceremonies

Tags: LGBTIQ, same-sex wedding

By Judy & Chris | Complete Ceremony

A Note from the Brides

When Chris and I began talking about a commitment ceremony, we knew that we wanted a ritual to mark the change in our relationship from dating each other to being married. But what exactly that would be was very confusing. At first, we couldn't even decide what to wear. We thought that outside in the springtime would be nice. But sundresses weren't our style. Then we thought velvet, which of course meant wintertime. We found that the anniversary of our first kiss was on a Saturday night in January and finally we were able to begin to picture things in our mind.

We spent a very long time figuring out why we were really doing this. We felt like most people get married because it is the natural next step. You fall in love, get married, buy a house, have kids.... It sort of happens on auto-pilot. But for us, there was nothing auto about it. There were no magazines to tell us what to do. In our opinion, we could make very meaningful vows to each other without all of the ceremony. We didn't believe that a public declaration would make the promise more binding. What we realized is that we wanted to have our friends and families not because we wanted to declare our love in front of them, but because we were asking our loved ones to recognize our life-long commitment to each other and with that recognition to provide support. This became the theme throughout our ceremony.

We wanted to begin our ceremony with a candle lighting and then havdalah. We knew that we wanted to pass a flame from one person to the next. The symbolism seemed obvious, but logistically we had a hard time figuring out how to do this without setting the place on fire, or getting wax all over everyone's good clothes. One evening we found the candles and votives that would work. As we left the Pier One store, we got in the car and played the Kenny G song that we wanted to begin our ceremony with, and we lit the candles to see if they would work. We didn't spill any wax and we didn't start a fire. We looked at the sky and an incredible, full rainbow appeared in the sky in front of us. We just sat there and watched the rainbow in awe. The beginning of our ceremony was born.

I think the ceremony will let you know just about everything else, except that you should also know that Chris and I both think this was one of the best and most meaningful days of our lives (second to the birth of our son). We actually did feel different after our ceremony. It's hard to explain, but even though we were out to everyone who attended our ceremony, having our ceremony was a very "outing" experience. What we had built together in our ceremony and in our relationship had become so strong that there was no denying it.

Judy and Chris' Wedding Program

The country of marriage lies well beyond careless happiness,
on the other side of, but never out of reach of the valley of delight.
A person can drop straight into the place as if by parachute,
but the long winding and climbing approach is more interesting.
In either case, once there, you have a lot to learn.
But when the harvests roll in, they're full and mellow.
Each day then breaks like a birthing no other has been so fresh and new.
And night, when it comes, comes easy.
Moonlight veils the houses and fields;
stars rise, flare, pale, and disappear
to return the next night as if the world had no end.

Eleanor Munro

Dear family and friends,

Words seem inadequate to describe our joy that you have come to celebrate this very special day with us. You have traveled from near and far, made special arrangements and organized your schedules to be here. Most importantly, you have provided us with support, strength, and love. You have helped to remove obstacles such as fear and homophobia, allowing us to celebrate the truly amazing love we have found with each other.

As you help us celebrate today, we also hope that you will accept a very important role in our future. With you, our family and our friends, and with the strength you have instilled in us, we feel safe and secure. We hope that you will help us to broaden the boundaries of this security; that you will help make the place outside of our family and friends that are here today, more nurturing toward us.

Your love and support is not something that we take for granted. Our ceremony is a celebration of our love for each other. Tonight's celebration is our thanks to you for helping us get here.

Love and thanks,

Chris and Judy

Assembling the Chuppah

The chuppah, or wedding canopy, is a symbol of our home. Our chuppah is very special to us. Each panel was made with care by our closest family members and friends. The love that was put into these panels makes the space beneath it safe and holy. The chuppah is held by loved ones who support us in our relationship and represent the community that will help us establish our home together. These people are to us as cornerstones are to a building.

Candlelighting

"The Wedding Song" by Kenny G

Havdalah

Written especially for Chris and Judy by Rabbi Joel E. Soffin

Readings

Ketubah Reading and Exchange of Rings

Our vows are incorporated into a piece of artwork that was inspired by the poem "We Are Two Trees" that we wrote to describe our relationship. Together, the poem, our vows, and the illustration form our Ketubah, or marriage contract, which we call Brit Ahavah and is our written covenant of love.

Second Glass of Wine

Wine is used in celebrations to represent sweetness and joy. We have two glasses of wine in our ceremony. The first, in the havdalah service, was shared with our chuppah bearers to celebrate our joining the community as a couple. The second glass we reserve for ourselves, to celebrate our union and our new life together.

Recognition

Poem by Susan and David
Pronouncement led by Andrew

By the power of your love for each other
Because you have created a Covenant of Love, a Brit Ahavah
And exchanged rings and vows of commitment
We now recognize you as Beloved's for Life, as Life Partners

Breaking of the Glass

For us, the breaking of the glass represents the strength of our union by making this statement: "For anyone who tries to come between us and our love, you must first put the glass back together."

Challah

Following the ceremony, we invite everyone to break bread with us before the celebration feast.

Tzedakah

It is a tradition for a couple to give tzedakah, a gift of charity, at the time of their wedding, so that others may share in their joy. As we celebrate our happiness and good fortune this day, and dream of buying our first house, we wanted to help make the dream of having a home possible for others in our city. We have given our gift to D. C. Habitat for Humanity.

Havdalah

From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together. And a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.

    —Baal Shem Tov

We, as a couple, cannot survive in a vacuum. The love and support that is now emanating from all of you is also symbolized here by the light and warmth of the candles that now surround us. The love that we feel is empowering and is creating a beautiful haven here, under our chuppah. The candlelight beautifies our ceremony, just as you enrich our lives. Thank you!

Tonight we celebrate Havdalah along with our Brit Ahavah. Just as we celebrate Havdalah to remind us of the sweetness and peace of the Sabbath, we hope that this ceremony will empower us, and each one of you, to help make the outside world a more loving place, so that a separate place of refuge is no longer needed. Havdalah also represents the dichotomy between the common and the holy just as our ceremony celebrates our passage from an undefined relationship to recognized life partners.

At this time we would like to invite our friend, Rabbi Joel Soffin, under the chuppah to lead us in Havdalah.

Twisted candles
bound to one another
firmly gripping, grasping
clinging to the oneness
that springing open in
flames leap to
sear before our eyes
the ending of Shabbat and
the promise of our lives
renewed.

From Siddur V'taher Libenu

Behold how good it is to have a family, A home to be comfortable in, A place of joy and happiness, Peace and tranquility when desired, Noise and laughter at any time, A place to be wanted, We thank You, God, for all these blessings.

Let the wine we drink
enable us to taste of joy;
Let the wine we share
draw us closer in love.

B'rukhah at Ya Eloheinu ruach ha-olam boreit p'ri ha-gafen.

Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha-olam borei p'ri ha-gafen.

Praised are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Can you perceive the fragrance of these spices? Perhaps not yet. Their aroma passes slowly through the air. Like this sweet smell, the results of acts of love may not be immediately seen, but you will feel them deep inside your souls.

May your chuppah  this canopy  carry the smell of these spices always. Let their aroma draw you back to the holiness of this day.

B'rukhah at Yah ruach ha-olam boreit minei v'samim.

Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha-olam borei minei v'samim.

Praised are you, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, Creator of varied spices.

Shabbas is the time we take off our masks
and recognize ourselves.
Over, the light is our last gift.

The candle is the other, of itself.

by Danny Siegel

We are privileged to share this moment with you.
We are touched by the trust you placed in us.
We are blessed by the love that flows from you to each of us.

B'rukhah at Yah ruach ha-olam boreit m'orei ha-esh.

Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha-olam borei m'orei ha-esh.

Praised are you, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of the light of fire.

Havdalah, a time of separation and contrast:
between light and dark;
rest and work;
bitter and sweet;
the Sabbath and the rest of the week.

The greatest symbolism is between light and dark:
the darkness of the world around us
cold and cruel
but easily destroyed.

Destroyed by the light of education,
of understanding, of peace,
and of caring.

Brightened by goodness and by love.

-by Danny Siegel


B'rukhah at Yah ruach ha-olam ha-mavdilah bein kodesh l'chol, bein or l'choshekh, bein yisrael l'amim, bein yom ha-sh'vi'i l'sheshet y'mei ha-ma'aseh.

Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha-olam ha-mavdil bein kodesh l'chol, bein or l'choshekh,bein yisrael l'amim, bein yom ha-sh'vi'i l'sheshet y'mei ha-ma'aseh.

Praised are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who distinguishes holy from profane, light from darkness, the seventh day from the six days of creation.

B'rukhah at Yah ha-mavdilah bein kodesh l'chol.

Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha-olam ha-mavdil bein kodesh l'chol.

Praised are You, Eternal our God, who distinguished holy from profane.

Let the wine we drink enable us to taste of joy;
Let the wine we share draw us closer in love.

Drink the wine and pass it to chuppah holders and Rabbi. Pour some wine into the dish:

 

This candle flame
I will, gazing like a lover at her loved-one's inner light
having blessed it,
I will think of you.

Extinguish the candle in the dish.

As we extinguish the Havdalah candle, we remember its warmth and light throughout the work week, strengthened by its memory. The candlelight that originated from our immediate families, was passed to all of our loved ones, and then used to light a single candle representing our loving relationship which will remain bright throughout this evening, along with the love that it symbolizes. We hope that for the rest of our days the love and memory of this ceremony will inspire pride and strength in us all.

At this time we would like to invite our friend Ross under the chuppah for a prayer for peace.

Today, and all days, we pray that all people learn to live together in harmony and friendship. Let the day, come when oppression, discrimination, and prejudice will be forgotten, and all the world will be filled with peace.

Where there is ignorance and superstition, let there be enlightenment and knowledge.

Where there is prejudice and hatred, let there be acceptance and love.

Where there is fear and suspicion, let there be confidence and trust.

Where there is strife and discord, let there be harmony and peace.

May we have the vision to see that each of us, in some way, can help realize these aims. And may the day come when all humanity will recognize that it is one family.

At this time we invite our friends to tell the story of how we met and the five years of our courtship.

We now invite our friends John and Melissa under the chuppah to read poems that describe our relationship. The first we wrote for our Ketubah, and the second is from Richard Bach's book, A Bridge Across Forever.

We are two trees overlooking a river. Fate placed us side by side. Our branches embrace, creating a vibrant canopy alive with our love. With our roots gently braided in the rich soil, we stand united through any storm or difficult season. We dance joyously in the wind, celebrating the beauty that surrounds us, sharing in the sun and the rain, the wildflowers and the rainbow. The river, like each of us, maintains its own essential nature, and like our love, flows on forever. Like the living tapestry of the forest, we weave our hearts and our lives together, growing ever stronger through our union; soulmates for life.

A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we're pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we're safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.

Chris, the love we share is the kind of love that I used to believe only existed in my fantasies. These past five years that we have shared have been the very best of my life. The challenges we have faced have strengthened our love; making each day better than the one before. You make my world a heaven on earth; a place that is more colorful, more harmonic, and more fragrant than the one I knew before. You create a place where I feel beautiful and you boost me toward reaching my greatest potential. With you I am free to be myself, and can become anything that my imagination can create. You make me feel secure. In your arms, all of the evils of the world shrink away to total safety. You are my home in this world.

Today,
Standing before loved ones,
I declare my complete commitment to nurture our love.
I promise to be ever open with you;
Communication is the cornerstone of our relationship.
I promise to cherish your uniqueness
And to help you grow in any direction you choose.
I promise to build with you a home, a family,
And the dreams we create together.
I promise to be ever faithful.
I promise to love you and to be your
Beloved for Life.

Judy, you have changed my life in so many wonderful ways. I have never before experienced a love as strong and complete as the one we share. I love you because of who you are and how I feel when I am with you; like the yin and the yang, we balance and complement each other; your soul speaks to mine, and I am drawn to your gentleness, strength and compassion; your confidence, vulnerability, and humor; your playfulness, honesty, and vibrancy. From you I have learned that love must be nourished with faith, patience and honesty; that believing in, and loving oneself, is the first step in loving another; that trust and respect are the most important elements in a relationship; and that passion is not limited to the art of loving, but extends also to the art of living.

Today,
Standing before loved ones,
I declare my complete commitment to nurture our love.
I promise to be ever open with you;
Communication is the cornerstone of our relationship.
I promise to cherish your uniqueness
And to help you grow in any direction you choose.
I promise to build with you a home, a family,
And the dreams we create together.
I promise to be ever faithful.
I promise to love you and to be your
Beloved for Life.

Judy, this ring is a symbol of my unending love for you. (place ring on finger)

Chris, this ring is a symbol of my unending love for you. (place ring on finger)

Set me for a seal upon your heart
For I am with you 'til the end of time.
For many waters cannot quench this love of ours

From the hills I will give my love to you
Like the flowers open in spring
Come away with me, my beloved, my friend
Come away 'til the end of time.

by Debbie Friedman

B'rukha at Ya Eloheinu ruach ha-olam boreit p'ri ha-gafen.

Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha-olam borei p'ri ha-gafen.

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Creator of life, who has given us the fruit of the vine.

Judy and Chris,

Today we celebrate your future. Your happiness is contagious. Just being around you makes us smile. We are impressed by the strength each of you has as you support one another through difficult times. We are confident that you are fully capable of dealing with any challenge.

You have our profound respect and our unending support. Christina, we already love you and consider you another daughter. Now we officially welcome you as a full and valued member of our family.

You are a beautiful couple, committing yourselves to each other in the presence of God and in the company of your very proud family and friends. Judy and Chris, we love you, both as your parents and as your friends, and wish that someday, not too long from now, you can live in a world where you can enjoy your full rights as a couple. We wish for you a long and happy life together, a life filled with blessings, with love, and most of all, with peace.

B'rukha at Ya Eloheinu ruach ha-olam she-hechiyatnu v'kiy'matnu v'higiatnu la-z'man ha-zeh.

Barukh attah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha-olam she-hechiyanu v 'kiy'manu v'higianu la-z'man ha-zeh.

Blessed is the Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this day.

Everyone reads together:

 

By the power of your love for each other
Because you have created a Covenant of Love,
a Brit Ahavah,
And exchanged rings and vows of commitment,
We now recognize you as
Beloved's for Life,
as Life Partners.

Used with the permission of the authors