On July 31, 2016, Friends gathered at RFM to celebrate a wedding in the manner of Friends. The couple was married in a civil ceremony in France three years ago, however there was no religious ceremony here in the United States... until now. The groom is a member of the Meeting, and his parents informed the Meeting earlier this summer of the young couple's intention to celebrate the marriage in the manner of Friends. Since the couple had already gone through discernment by convening a clearness committee years ago, the Meeting enthusiastically welcomed the notion of celebrating the occasion here at RFM.
Upon entering the Meetinghouse, the community room where post-Meeting fellowship is held was decorated in orange splendor with each table and place setting having some shade of the vibrant color -- the bride's favorite color. The groom's parents had decorated the room in such a way that it invited Light. Inside the Meeting Room, the air conditioning was humming away quietly and created an atmosphere conducive to reflecting in silence without the cumbersome and oppressive humidity to distract us from our thoughts. There was a gorgeous flower arrangement at the front of the Meeting Room, again designed by the groom's mother. The setting was set for the joyous occasion.
Approximately 30 Friends and guests gathered in the Meeting Room and settled into silence. Our clerk welcomed everyone, explained to those unfamiliar with Quaker wedding and Meeting for Worship how the next 60 minutes were to proceed, and invited everyone at the conclusion of the Meeting to sign the marriage certificate.
Shortly thereafter, the couple stood up and recommitted themselves to each other with their marriage vows and a kiss. And that's the marriage! As one Friend said, "There was no pricking of fingers and mixing of blood, no tying of a cord that encircles the couple. They married each other with their words. It's simple as that... words convey so much power, just as much as silence is an act in of itself."
It was certainly a "gathered" Meeting as the Spirit of love made its way through many Friends, and many of them were moved to speak and stood up to offer messages of love, support, observation, and advice. One can only imagine how the couple was feeling as each person stood to address the couple. One Friend was so moved by the experience that she said, "I want to embrace you both with so much love." When she sat down, Friends encouraged her to stand back up and approach the couple and actually embrace them.... and embrace them she did, along with a gentle kiss. The mother and father of the groom stood up and delivered messages that only parents know how to in such occasions -- imbued with a lifetime of love. It was quite easy for us to see how each of them was beaming with pride in seeing their son marry the woman of his dreams, and to welcome their daughter-in-law into the Quaker fold. The bride and groom each stood up separately to poingantly acknowledge their gratitude and appreciation to each other and to the Meeting for their support. This Meeting for Worship ended with all those present to sign their names on the marriage certificate, which will be framed and displayed prominently in the young couple's home.
After the ceremony, we gathered in the Community Room. While guests were queuing to greet and congratulate the couple, members of the Meeting worked expeditiously to set up the buffet luncheon by taking food out of the ovens and prepare the drinks. The meal was delicious -- typical of when Friends gather, it was wholesome. Given the sheer magnitude of guests, the meal was catered, however, the wedding cake was something to definitely write home to about: the groom's mother had prepared a stunning homemade, made-from-scratch cake with butterscotch icing topped with five vibrant fresh-cut orange flowers (orange, again, being the favorite color of the bride).
All in all, it was a joyous time for RFM, and we extend our best wishes to Evan and Christelle for a lifetime of love and joy with the occasional moments of silence to reflect and marvel at the love each has for the other.