This morning, I had the honor of performing a wedding ceremony for a lovely couple, Ed and Keiko, who I came to know recently because of my connection with the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena. They were planning their wedding in the garden and I had mentioned to the staff at the garden that I am ordained with the Universal Life Church and like to officiate at weddings, so they introduced us. Ed is an architectural surveyor and an artist who loves working with stone. Keiko is a chemist, who studied at CalTech and now runs a chemistry lab at Occidental College. I have been in touch with them both via email, over the phone and in person a few times over the last few weeks, and even though we have only just got to know each other, I felt very close to them this morning as they gathered with their family and friends to exchange their vows. Drafting a wedding ceremony is an extremely intimate experience, since during this process, a couple have to share their feelings for each other and their hopes for their life together with someone they hardly know, and trust that this person will not only choose the right words to express their feelings, show up on time for the ceremony (ours didn’t!) and perform elegantly on the day. I always feel deeply honored to be trusted with such an important task.
Ed, who apparently told his mother he would never get married, was a charming groom, dapper in a light gray suit, filling the garden with his humor and warmth, while Keiko was stunningly beautiful in her traditional white Japanese wedding kimono, which can’t have been comfortable but she wore it with grace. The step down into the garden from the tea house where they had been having their photographs taken was precarious for Keiko in her elaborate kimono and Japanese zori sandals, but Ed was there to steady her, and Keiko trusted him to guide her feet. This struck me as a strong start to their life together. After the ceremony was over, it was time for me to leave. I wanted to give them something of mine that would symbolize the ceremony in a garden. I had a small river rock with the Chinese character for Peace carved into it. It seemed to fit the occasion – the garden setting, Ed’s love of rocks and Keiko’s Japanese background. The rock was undoubtedly carved in California, where they are starting their married life, which I hope is brings them the warmest, most enjoyable kind of peace together