We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'.That quote is from a speech made by Susan Sarandon’s character in the movie Shall We Dance. I don’t remember the exact context, but the idea of witnessing your spouse’s life is pretty powerful. When it came time to talk about our wedding ceremony this idea was something the Future Mrs. W wanted to work into the ceremony. She would be cross with me if I didn’t tell you all that she came to this idea independently. She has never seen the movie and was unaware of the similarity until I told her.
The man marrying us gave us license to write whatever we wanted within a particular framework. So Future Mrs. W tried her hand at it and incorporated the ‘witness’ concept into part of the pastor’s speech that he calls The Marriage Message. It’s supposed to remind us of the commitments we’re making and stress the importance of the marriage bond.
She wrote this on our guests contributes as witnesses to our vows:
They want all of you to be present with them as they express their sacred vows of commitment to one another. By your presence, they ask all of you – their families and friends – to bless their commitment. They have asked you to be with them this afternoon because through your love and friendship, guidance and encouragement, you have helped shape who they are. You have helpedAnd later this, on our contributions to each other’s lives as witnesses:
them arrive at this moment, ready and able to marry one another and share their joy with us.
To “witness” something is to notice it, to affirm it, to experience it. W and Mrs. W, you are here to pledge to be a witness to each other’s lives. You are promising to care about the good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things –everything. W, your life will not go un-noticed because Mrs. W will witness it. Mrs. W, your life will not go un-noticed because W will witness it.The witness concept applies to the audience as they witness our commitment to each other, and to us as we witness each other’s lives. To me, the emphasis on having a witness implies that there is more validity to our lives and our wedding because there is someone there to see it happen. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that, but I most definitely want someone to remember me after I'm gone, and while I'm still here for that matter.
I think she’s made an excellent start. But it needs a little more. To me, witnessing is passive. A witness is something that sees something happen. I want my wife to be more than a witness to my life, I want her to actively participate in it. I’ve always said that the perfect relationship to me having someone to cheer me up when during the bad parts of life and celebrate with me during the good parts. So I’m trying to expand on what she wrote and articulate that. I’ve decided to add this to what she has already written.
You’re also pledging to be an active and vital part of each other’s lives. To support and encourage each other during the tough times. To add your wisdom during life’s big dilemmas. To celebrate the triumphs. Because success is a lot sweeter when you have someone to share it with.That’s where it stands right now. I feel like something more is needed, but I’m not really sure what. She reads this too, so feel free to make suggestions to both of us.