Charlotte and Kyle never had to change their wedding plans. This wasn’t a case of cutting down the guest list or rejiggering expectations. When Kyle proposed to Charlotte in the Arnold Arboretum this May, they sat down together. They looked out at the crazy world and decided that nothing was certain, that they loved each other, and that they wanted to be married. So, in less than three months, in a tiny church ceremony with only their immediate family in attendance, they were.
What struck me most about Charlotte & Kyle’s wedding is how beautifully it centered around the marriage ceremony. I’ve been to a lot of weddings and witnessed many ceremonies. They’ve ranged from brief 7 minute ceremonies (just the essentials) to lengthy, full masses with plenty of pomp and tradition. But when you cut away most of the trimmings of a grand wedding reception – the 200 guests, the four course dinner, the music and dancing – it brings the ceremony into sharp and powerful focus. It centers the marriage inside the wedding.
This ceremony wasn’t the shortest or the longest I’ve seen, but it was one of the more emotional and heartfelt. It was so filled with intention. Some parts were well-worn with tradition and some parts were new to me. There were carefully chosen readings and handwritten vows with matching promises. And among the new-to-me customs, there was a foot washing ceremony.
As I learned during the ceremony, foot washing is a Christian ritual based on a passage from John (13:1-17). In the passage, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. This is an act of humility and care. It is leveling. It says, although I am your teacher, I am also your servant. It represents and requires deep physical and emotional intimacy. And a marriage partnership demands this same humility, leveling, and intimacy.
The tableau of each partner kneeling before the other, cooling their skin with such care took my breath away. My experience of spirituality has been evolving over the past few years and I don’t always have clear words for what I believe. But during this carefully crafted ceremony, during the gently humble offering this couple gave to each other, I felt this knowing with deep clarity; the symbols and stories we surround ourselves with have the power to shape our lives just as much as anything that happens to us. And this symbol, the washing of feet, was a beautiful way for Charlotte and Kyle to claim a vision of their partnership, now and in the future.
After the ceremony, a few friends and neighbors surprised Charlotte and Kyle by waiting outside the church. The reception was as intimate as the rest of the wedding, held in Kyle’s parents’ backyard. There was food and cake and s’mores around the fire as the sun set over their wedding day.
The next day, these newlywed adventure buddies began their lives together with an epic “mini-moon” climbing literal mountains. Another powerful symbol, I think.
Charlotte and Kyle, I hope these images might also be a symbol for you as you grow old together – of your youth, trust, faith and love.
Venue: Bridgewater United Methodist Church // Officiant: Rev. Alicia Velez Stewart // Flowers: Pemberton Farms (arranged by bride) // Hair & Make-Up: Bride // Dress: ModCloth // Rings: Brilliant Earth & Blue Nile // Catering: Groom’s parents // Cake: Just Desserts Bakery & Cafe