Gary and Danielle's Wedding Ceremony

Photo by Karla Van HornOn May 9, 2015, I performed this ceremony to wed Gary Zapparelli and Danielle Martinez at Camp Bartlett in Santa Paula, CA.  I am a Humanist Officiant who is ordained to perform wedding ceremonies by the Universal Life Church. I am generally not for hire and only perform ceremonies for friends.  I have performed four weddings and always write and assemble the ceremonies myself. 
I'd like to welcome you all here today to celebrate the marriage of these two beautiful people Gary Zapparelli and Danielle Martinez.
It's my honor and privilege to marry these two today, in this beautiful place, Camp Bartlett. Thank you to the Zapparellis for hosting us here. Danielle is stunning in her beautiful dress and Gary even shaved his neck beard for this. You know it is an important day.
I met Gary right before he turned 21, at a place, I'll be honest, he probably shouldn't have been when he was not yet 21, but he's always seemed a little older than his age. What I mean by that is he's always known who he is, what he likes, what he's into. He likes those things without apology or remark. Most guy in their 20s usually take a few years to figure that stuff out and their motivation usually influenced by who they are trying to emulate or impress.Gary has always been self-possessed. It's a good quality for a guy, particular a young guy in this day and age. He's always knew when girls weren't right for him, always focused on his work. Didn't need to party to prove anything. He's already got the word "Senior" right in his job title and has his priorities straight. I gotta admit sometimes I don't get to see Gary as much as I like but I realize that's because he's got important stuff going on, or he's watching Adventure Time, either way, he's doing what he wants to be doing and I respect that.
Danielle and Gary discovered each other, as the kids do these days on a dating site, Groupon. No Just Kidding, Grindr. They instantly hit it off. Danielle, in public, is a woman of few words but many smiles. She's kind, giving and compassionate and makes incredible cupcakes, which I have eaten about a dozen...that one time. Together they found a mutual love of Harry Potter, Firefly, table games, podcasts, all things geeky and fun like amusement parks and comic conventions. He's a computer guy, she's a science girl, they would definitely get sorted into Ravenclaw. It's a rare thing to find someone to whom you can be yourself around unapologetically. To share those things that you should be rightfully embarrassed of and keep to yourself, like Dr. Who, and yet find that the other person not only shares your joys but what you love becomes even more enjoyable when you can share it with that person.
Gary and Danielle very quickly became involved in each others lives and were delighted by their commonalities but also, respected each other differences, allowed each other to be who they were with no expectation of changing or compromise. (Give it a few years though, eh?)
Danielle says she realized she loved Gary when he stopped by her house one day just to check on her because she had been sick a few days. She happened to pass out before he got there and smacked her face on the counter on the way to the floor, she answered the door with a face full of blood, and Gary dropped everything, (he was on his way to work) and took her to the hospital. So obviously genuine and convincing was his concern for her that he even managed to convince the ER nurses that he didn't really beat her into the bloody pulp she was, even though they kept asking several pointed questions about that.
Funny enough, when I asked Gary when he knew he loved Danielle, it also involved Danielle passing out, this time as she gave blood (because she's a compassionate human being) in the Blood Donation Truck, Gary sat with Danielle, as sometimes happens, she got a little woozy and turned white, as her blood pressure dropped. Gary had this incredible sense of dread pass over him, He wondered what he might do without her. He realized she was everything to him and that he wanted to be with her always. She was obviously fine, She got some juice and recovered, but that feeling stuck with him. He didn't want to lose her.
That meant two things, Gary, a self-described misanthrope, (he freely admits that he doesn't really like people) was going to have to figure out how to make room in his life for someone special, and Danielle was going to have to learn how to spell "Zapparelli."
I'm sure these two have been on other dates together when there weren't medical emergencies, but either way, I recommend joint medical insurance come Monday two days from now.
And so Gary proposed at the MGM Grand in Vegas. Danielle said yes and here we are. Ready to bring them together.
I like to think of weddings as a joint venture of two people creating a life together because they know that they are greater together than apart. We marry because something is special about declaring your intent to the entire world, in saying outloud in front of everybody what you guys already know and feel in your hearts. In that way it's not transformation into something else, it's a next step in the same journey. It's LEVELING UP. You made the commitment together and we all here, your friends and family, to participate in your marriage. It will not only mean great changes for you, but also changes for Friends and Family. Those who love and respect you can't think of you as as Gary OR Danielle, but always hereafter as Gary AND Danielle.
I have a few things for you to ponder as you two begin a new life together. Specifically four items, a passage, an observation, a poem, and a quote:
Remember patience with each other in all things. You are always to be kind first and assume the best before you wonder about the worst. With each other, you have nothing to prove and should always think of the other's needs first before your own, remembering always to support and encourage your spouse. Remember that the lessons you have learned over a lifetime about how to treat people should apply to each other first and foremost. Never take each other for granted and seek first to understand and then be understood. Be slow to anger, quick to forgive. Don't look to each other for a mirror of yourself, but as a way to check yourself before you have wrecked yourself. Your love should be about finding the best in yourselves and using that discovery to create a life that makes you happy and makes each other happy and makes others happy to know you. Your love should be the basis for enduring all future heart aches, all future discoveries, all future dreams, and all future endeavors, struggles and victories.
Yes, for those of you paying attention that was essentially Corinthians 13:4-7 so, something old. Here's something new:
Love is the feeling of amazement when you recognize that the cold and uncaring universe, in all its randomness and chaos and infinite size, has managed to produce something so unlikely: someone who almost exactly matches what you would have chosen for yourself if you knew yourself well-enough to know what you wanted and had the ability to create as the universe does. When you are lucky enough to encounter that special someone, you are compelled to defend them, preserve them and appreciate them for as long as you are fortunate enough to have them.
And here's something borrowed, a poem Gary and Danielle chose to represent their love for each other.
"Love"Photo by Karla Van Hornby Roy Croft
I love you,
Not only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.
I love you,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.
I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak things
That you can't help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.
I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple;
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.
I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After all.
And last something blue, and I mean blue in the comedy sense. From Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, one of Gary and Danielle's favorite movies:
"When I'm around you, I kind of feel like I'm on drugs. Not that I do drugs. Unless you do drugs, in which case I do them all the time. All of them."
Are you guys ready to get to the good part?
Gary do you choose Danielle to be your wife and partner, sharing your whole self, through laughter and struggles, for the rest of your life?
Danielle do you choose Gary to be your husband and partner, sharing your whole self, through laughter and struggles, for the rest of your life?
Gary do you have a token of your dedication to give to Danielle? Please place it on her finger and repeat these vows:
I, Gary, take you, Danielle, to be my wife and my partner in all parts of my life, loving what I know of you, and trusting what I do not yet know. I eagerly anticipate the chance to grow together, getting to know the woman you will become, and falling in love a little more every day. I promise to love and cherish you through whatever life may bring us.
Danielle do you have a token of your dedication to give to Gary? Please place it on his finger and repeat these vows:
I, Danielle, take you, Gary, to be my husband and partner in all parts of my life, loving what I know of you, and trusting what I do not yet know. I eagerly anticipate the chance to grow together, getting to know the man you will become, and falling in love a little more every day. I promise to love and cherish you through whatever life may bring us.
By the power vested in me by the State of California it is my great pleasure to pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to be the first to introduce, Gary and Danielle Zapparelli.