Twelve years ago today, in one of the proudest moments of my life, I performed the wedding ceremony for Neal and Sonia. Here is what I wrote:
Welcome, everyone, to the marriage ceremony of Sonia Penaloza and Neal Smith-Rubio. For those who are wondering, yes, it's legal having me up here doing the marrying. Legalities aside, what is important is that you are all here to witness this special occasion. Neal and Sonia have been together for a long time, and part of what makes this ceremony important is that they are, now and forever, sharing their togetherness with us, inviting us to a public recognition of their life and love.
Con permiso, quiero hablar por un momento en espanol, y disculpeme, porque mi espanol es un poquito malo. Pero pienso que es importante en una ocasion como esto hablar en los dos idiomas de las familias. Creo que este boda sirve como un simbolo del siglo 21, con muchas culturas, y familias de los estados unidos, de mexico, de espana, todo incluido en una nueva familia de Penaloza, Smith y Rubio. Vamonos al futuro con Sonia y Neal.
The future. That's what we're looking at here. Not just Neal and Sonia's future, but the future of all of us who will share, with them, the rest of their lives. But while the marriage ceremony itself is public, marriage life is a private affair between the two participants. For that reason, there's not a whole lot I can say here in terms of advice; it's your lives to live, and the decision to come here today was yours and yours alone.
I can say this. When you are young, you take pride in the things that you accomplish for yourself. As you join with others, not only in marriage but in friendship and in the workplace, you take pride in what you accomplish as part of a team. But there comes a time in your life when you realize that, in an odd way, you can take pride in what others accomplish with your help. When you watch the fruits of your life ripen into something that feeds others. Your pride is less in yourself than it is pride in your influence on those other people. I look out at all the people who have come here today, and I see people on whom I'd like to believe I've had some influence. And I certainly see people who have had that influence on me. Today, I am proud of my son, of the life he has created for himself, of the partnership he has formed with Sonia, and, yes, I am proud of whatever influence Robin and I have had on what has led Neal to this day. And I am proud that Sonia is a part of our family. I won't say I am proud to welcome her into our family, for in fact, she has been a part of our family for many years, now. But I am proud to join Sonia and Neal today in announcing to the world, esto es mi familia. This is my family.
[Song by Cory]
Neal, do you take Sonia to be your wife? [I DO] Will you love her, honor her, and stand by her in everything, so long as you both shall live? [I WILL]
Sonia, do you take Neal to be your husband? [I DO] Will you love him, honor him, and stand by him in everything, so long as you both shall live? [I WILL]
Exchange of Rings
At this point, as Sonia and Neal prepare to exchange rings, I'm supposed to say something about the symbolic meaning of rings, about how the circular nature of the ring represents a love that never ends but always circles back upon itself. But instead I'd like to mention a more obvious meaning of a wedding ring: it means you are married. When you see a person with a ring on the fourth finger of their left hand, you say to yourself, "that person is married." When Robin and I were married, I told her I didn't want a wedding ring, and so our ceremony was a bit shorter than most; we only had one ring to deal with! But six months later, we got me a wedding ring. Because I didn't really understand until I didn't have one: a wedding ring says to the world, "hey, I'm married!"
Sonia, do you have a ring for Neal? Neal, do you accept this ring as a symbol of Sonia's love? Neal, do you have a ring for Sonia? Sonia, do you accept this ring as a symbol of Neal's love?
I've tried to avoid saying the usual clichés today, but at this point I can't resist. Neal and Sonia, I now pronounce you husband and wife. It's time to kiss!