What I Said at my Mother’s Wedding


I officiated the ceremony as a minister of the Universal Life Church. About forty people were invited, and only about ten knew that a wedding was taking place. This was to avoid wedding gifts. 

It was a beautiful day, and I was so honored to be able to play a role in the ceremony. I give my sincerest and happiest congratulations to my mother and stepfather.

What follows is more or less what I said, without the crying.

Hello and welcome. I’m Vincent, Rebecca’s son, and I’ll be officiating the wedding of Francis and Rebecca. In other words, I am marrying my mother.

We are gathered here today to celebrate these people we love, to celebrate their love, and to witness them pronounce that love in a legally binding way. To that end, I present our official witnesses: Rebecca’s son Alexandre, and Francis’ daughter Jenny.

I was told on four separate occasions to keep this speech short. I’ll just tell you in a few sentences what I think love and loving relationships are, and hopefully it’s somewhat in line with what Rebecca and Francis think they are.

In true romantic love, you admit that another person’s happiness has become your happiness. It does not exist as an action in response to fear of loneliness, but as a deeply defining knowledge and understand beyond belief that this relationship is a major part of who you have become, and that you do not expect that to change.

Further, it is a given that you have accepted each other’s faults. You have accepted your own faults, too, or are at least open to the idea that you’re not perfect. That you are willing to grow old together has also been made explicit, but you also recognize that you will be continue to simply grow together.

A loving relationship can be a respite from the harsh objectivist logic of public life, a place where you can give and receive plain kindness, patience, and forgiveness without having to keep score. You will be challenged, you will eventually grow, but there is someone you can count on when you make mistakes.

It is also the responsibility of representing all of that to someone else. You know they will fail you and hurt you, and you shoulder that, and it remains worth it.

So that’s what I think love and marriage are, but I am only 22. The bride and groom have prepared vows, which they will now recite.

[The bride and groom said their vows.]

In my experience, relationships tend to benefit from unadorned honesty. By happy coincidence, that’s what is legally required of these two today. We all know this marriage has been in effect for years, but let’s make it official.

[At this point I formally asked the bride and groom if they took each other to be each other’s lawfully wedded spouse. The legal part. They answered in the affirmative.]

You may kiss the bride.


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