Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Two Become One: The Ceremony

Mrs. Beaver:

Not long after Anna and Aaron's wedding we shared a number of photos from big day. One post I never got to, however, was the actual ceremony. With Anna and Aaron visiting this weekend, I've been thinking about the two of them a great deal. Thus with a hint of a smile on my face as I relived the joy of their wedding day, this afternoon I gathered these photographs from mulitple files.

Aaron and Anna chose to keep the decorations in the sanctuary simple. White bows decked the pews,

While two bouquets of white roses adorned the alter. The bulletin said this about the roses, "The flowers on the alter are in gratitude to Anna's birthparents for giving her life." Both Anna's birthmother and birthfather were part of the day's festivities, making the day extra special for her. 

After hours of preperation all was ready. The flower girls, bridesmaids and the bride were lined up just outside the sanctuary.

Inside the sanctuary, Anna's 17-year-old sister, Jaynie, played one of Anna's favorite classical pieces, "Carnival of the Animals: The Swan."

The mothers lit the Unity Candle.

Pastor Dave Sowers, the groom and his groomsmen marched to their places to await the arrival of the bridesmaids and bride.

Lissie, the maid-of-honor, was the last in the bridesmaids' processional.

I swung around eager to catch a glimpse Anna.

Sheepishly I realized I'd forgotten about the flower girls--my own daughters! Anna's youngest three sisters delightedly filled the role.

Oksana (left, age 6) and Cassandra (age 10) came down the aisle used by the bridal party to enter, while Amy (age 8) decorated the aisle which the newly married couple would use to exit the sanctuary.

Once the petals were strewn, the bride stepped into the sanctuary on her daddy's arm.
(You can just make them out in the background of this beautiful photo.)
As I peeked around friends and family from my front row seat, I saw:

The impatient groom waited patiently as Anna and I embraced one final time.

Then the bride's father presented Anna Mackenzie to her groom... Arianna, Elizabeth, Emily and Lissie (l-r) watched .

As Aaron and Anna met, Pastor Dave Sowers waited in the background. He has been our family's pastor for nine years and is a dear family friend. His daughter, Emily (also newly married), was one of Anna's bridesmaids.

Aaron and Anna met at the alter before God and those in attendance who would witness as they...

...vowed before the Lord to put the needs of the other first. To fight selfishness....To lay down their own agenda...To live to serve the other...To learn to love out-serving the other.

They would vow to cling to the Lord--together...To seek the Lord--together...To abide in the Lord--together.

They would acknowledge before God and man their inability to live up to these vows without the Lord's help--minute-by-minute, each day for the rest of their lives.

Anna's brother, John, and her sister, Daria, read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. John read each verse in English. Then Daria, adopted from Russia just four months earlier, read the same verse in Russian.

John returned to his place as best man. (Daria is in the background on the right.)

We sang, "There is a Fountain" and "And Can It Be" as Aaron's sister, Amber, played the piano.

At one point I let my thoughts wander as we sang. I was wondering how often a bride and groom are flanked by twins serving as their maid-of-honor and best man.

After we sang, Anna's friend and mentor, Tanya, read Shakespeare's Sonnet 116.

Aaron's friend, Pete, then shared Colossians 3:12-16.

This was followed by Pastor Dave's message on Joshua's famous words to the Israelites, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord," (Joshua 24:15), a passage Aaron and Anna had picked during premarital counseling.

When he finished, the two exchanged vows.

Followed by the exchange of the rings.

After vowing fidelity to one another until death parts them, Aaron prayed over their union for the first time in his role as husband and spiriutal leader. We all watched on as the rest of the world faded away for the two of them...

After Aaron's prayer, the parents surrounded the couple while both dads prayed for their marriage.

All that was left was the kiss...

which went on...

...and on...

...and on...

Until, finally, Pastor Dave good naturedly urged Aaron and Anna from his position behind them to remember those in attendance and finish the ceremony.

Really, though, who could blame the two of them for lingering?

They had waited. They had waited through the months in which they were getting to know one another. They had waited through their courtship. They had waited through their engagement. They had waited to share that first kiss until they were husband and wife. And the reward was sweet!

As a mom, I cheered the two of them on. All four parents had urged Aaron and Anna to wait for a physical relationship until their wedding day. How sweet it was to be able to celebrate that with God's enabling power, they had stood firm against the wiles of our culture and saved the best for once they were "one flesh." (Genesis 2:24, Ephesians 5:31)!

Once they'd finished the kiss, Pastor Dave introduced Mr. & Mrs. Aaron Nix.

Anna retrieved her bouquet from Lissie and...

...the newly married couple departed. Well, temporarily.

They returned to hug friends and family, starting with us.

We then made our departure, filled to the brim with joy. Our first child had just left the nest. While knew we'd miss her terribly, we also knew she was just where God wanted her.


SamUEL Finch said...

This was the most beautiful wedding ceremony that I have ever seen! I am so blessed that I was able to share in your joy on that wonderful day :). I am sure that you will have a great time as you reunite as an entire family this weekend :)

Our Family said...

Thanks, SamUEl! We so appreciate that you came such a long distance to celebrate Anna and Aaron's union with us!

I sure thought of you on our recent trips to the zoo :) !

With love,
Mrs. Beaver

MacMeister said...

I agree SamUEL! Such a beautiful and God-honoring ceremony :-)

caboosed said...

I agree with SamUEL too!! That was probably the most beautiful wedding ceremony I've ever seen...thank you for such a beautiful progression of pictures!