“When I talk to Greg, I feel like I’m on vacation. Talking to him is truly that relaxing. The first time I met Mollie, I felt rejuvenated yet calm and relaxed. I thought to myself there are more of these people in the world. These people who just want the world to be a better place and who dedicate themselves to this cause.”
This quote represents just some of the heartfelt words shared by guests as the wind gently rustled the leaves overhead during my cousin Mollie’s wedding ceremony last weekend.
Mollie married Greg, a birthright Quaker, on a picturesque farm located in rural Pennsylvania surrounded by friends and family. It was a beautiful, unique wedding, and something that I’d never experienced. Let me explain.
Mollie and Greg had a Quaker wedding and before last Saturday, I had no idea what that meant. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, my mom mentioned to me that my cousin and her soon-to-be husband were going to meditate during the ceremony. Meditate? That certainly sounded different.
While there wasn’t meditation per se, there were a few periods of silence during the ceremony, designed for reflection and for taking in the moment. I learned that Quakers marry without a lot of fanfare, which I found makes their celebrations relatively different than the traditional Protestant ceremonies in which most of us are accustomed.
Often referred to as the silent ceremony, during a Quaker wedding there is no officiant; no giving away of the bride; the wedding certificate is signed by all guests; and there are periods of silence after which those attending the wedding may speak on the couple’s behalf.
Tears glistened in my eyes as Mollie and Greg walked down the aisle together, arms locked in solidarity. Mollie looked breathtaking in a simple ankle length white dress with a lace overlay and brown boots. Her hair was pulled back and tied up in simple knots with real leaves and flowers knitted though it. She wore no make up. Greg looked serene, happy, and handsome.
When the couple reached the altar of sorts, they sat on a small loveseat under a rustic arch made of twisted vines and branches facing their guests. Their friend played a lovely song on her harp written specifically for them. Then, after several minutes of silence, Mollie and Greg stood, faced one another, and exchanged vows – unprepared and from the heart. After the vows, Mollie and Greg again sat hand in hand on the small loveseat in silence, breathing in the sounds of nature. Birds were chirping, and leaves were rustling in the breeze. After a few moments, guests began to stand, one by one, to say a few words or to voice support for the newlyweds. It was amazing.
During the reception, Mollie and Greg made their guests the center of attention. The bride and groom, along with their parents, and a few friends served the first course of the meal. Based on the many well wishes and uniquely expressed congratulations during the ceremony, I was not surprised by this selfless act.
What struck me most about Mollie and Greg’ wedding wasn’t necessarily the differences in ritual or tradition but the simplicity of it all and the intended focus on loving each other and those around them. Now, I know that all weddings are focused and centered on the love two people share, but this wedding felt different. In fact, it didn’t really feel like a wedding rather it was as if we were simply invited into Mollie and Greg’s special world for one special evening.
Whether it was watching them patiently wait as family members gathered for a photo, happily serving one hundred plus guests a salad plate, or smiling with joy when my two boys ate cupcakes from the cake table far too early, everything that happened during Mollie and Greg’s wedding day was a genuine, authentic reflection of who they are every day. Patient. Understanding. Loving. Kind.
I’ve been to a lot of weddings, and while I have fond memories from all that I’ve attended, this wedding touched me like no other, and will forever stand out in my heart.
Although I didn’t share it during the ceremony, my wish for Mollie and Greg is that they continue to live each day as they did on their wedding day. Enjoying each other, those around them, and every single moment they share.