Ceremony Part I

Too often in today’s world, the reason to have a wedding is for the party at the end…the reception. One thing that I absolutely loved about our wedding was how beautiful the ceremony was, how meaningful we made it…and then the reception just seemed to be a huge celebration of the commitment that we had made, rather than the main attraction.

When we woke up on the morning of May 26, it was pouring outside. I was so worried that the wedding would have to be moved into the tent, but around 1 PM, the rain stopped and the sunshine peeked through! By 6:00, the weather was PERFECT…not too wet, not too dry…not too cold, not too hot.


My sister in law and maid of honor made this arch for the wedding. We already had all the pieces, but in a very ancient looking white. Joanna recommended that we cover it with twigs. It my mind, it didn’t make ANY sense, but I told her to go ahead and do it….and look how it turned out!!! This was essentially the only decor that we had for the ceremony.


My Mom made the ceremony programs, and we printed them at home. That was the cheapest option that we could find. We even made a huge typo that was discovered AFTER printing 200 programs…but we were able to fix it without having to redo ALL of the programs!


We had the ceremony at the end of a soccer field…right next to a big line of trees. The line of trees gave the perfect amount of shade and it really felt PERFECT.


After the guests were seated, we were ready to begin! We had a huge tent set up at one end of the soccer field for the reception. The bridal party started in the tent, walking across the field to the ceremony spot. It was a little bit of a walk, but thanks to my sister in law, she told everyone when to go and how fast to walk. If you look really closely at the picture above, you can see my brother whispering to me, telling me what is going on, since I was forced to remain hidden in the tent!

Since we had an uneven amount of bridesmaids and groomsmen, Theo and the best man, Josh, walked up front with the officiant. The rest of the girls were escorted by one groomsman each.


My sister in law played the piano for the ceremony. We were so thankful, as this was not an easy job! It turned out so beautiful!!!


My Daddy walked me down the aisle. I was not nervous at all, and had no trouble walking with a firm foot towards the man that was to be my husband. However, if I did not have my Dad by my side, I might have felt very different about my walk down the aisle.

When I was 16, my Dad gave me a purity ring. I signed a pledge that I would keep myself pure for my husband until our wedding day. Well, that wedding day was here and that husband was about to be really mine! Still, we wanted to do something meaningful that would symbolize that purity that I had saved for Theo. Theo and I had my purity ring made into the wedding band. This ended up being a little bit more pricey than we though, although not any more pricey that buying a fancy wedding band! I absolutely love the symbolism that it has, that I didn’t have to put one ring away for the other. Plus, I am still committed to purity within my marriage!

When my Dad walked me down the aisle, he gave Theo the ring and then pulled out a speech that made many (most!) people cry. It was so meaningful and one of the favorite parts of the whole day. So many people have asked me for a copy of it, and several Dads have said that they will do that for their daughters when they get married! I think that one of the best parts of this is that Theo had no idea what my Dad was going to say. It was all honestly, genuinely heard and received for the first time. This is his speech:

Presentation of Suzanne to Theo

At their wedding in Saginaw, MI

On 26 May 2012



            Your mother and I have been your providers and nurturers for the past 21 years.  As your father, I have borne the primary responsibility and authority for your care and up-bringing in our home, as the Bible prescribes.  Second to your mother, you will remain the number one girl in my heart, and I will continue to use the Songhai term ‘ce keyna’[1] as my affectionate term of endearment for you.



            The time has come to transfer the responsibility and authority for Suzanne that God entrusted to me into your hands.  Without knowing your name, I have often prayed for you and wondered how I would feel on this day.  I can’t say it is easy to give her to you, but I know that, in God’s strength, you are more than equal to the task.  I am confident that you will step up to the task of fulfilling your role as the spiritual head of your new home as God intended it to be.

            While the love of a father and the love of a husband are quite different in many ways, both loves go deep, and both must sacrifice for the sake of the beloved.  I have already seen such self-sacrificial love in you, Theo, and I believe Suzanne could not have chosen a better man to be her husband.

            As the sign of the transfer of responsibility, Theo, I now give you this ring, the ring you will shortly give Suzanne as the sign of your marriage covenant.  I first gave it to her on her 16th birthday as a purity ring, a pledge of her commitment to remain pure and holy until marriage.  It has been reforged into a wedding ring and will now act as a symbol of her commitment to remain pure and faithful to you within the bonds of marriage.

            As we give Suzanne, away, her mother and I pledge you our love and prayers.  We wish for you God’s wisdom and God’s best, whatever that may be.  May God richly bless your marriage, and we will sing for joy over your victory.  May His beauty and His holiness rest on you.

John R

[1] The term ‘ce keyna’ (the ‘c’ is pronounced like ‘ch’ in English) literally means ‘little foot’ and is a name I have used for my daughter from early in her childhood.  The term is not a real Songhai name, but is a Songhai term I created and has a long story behind it.  Ask me for the story if you’re interested.


2 thoughts on “Ceremony Part I

  1. Jean DeValve says:

    I wrote a message for Facebook but will write again since I am thrilled to have the messages that your Dad, John, gave to you and Theo at the wedding.

  2. Beth says:

    I’m such a sap…your Dad’s message has me crying! What a gift for him to love and affirm you in this way and to bless the committment that you and Theo made to one another. Fun to see how you dealt with the uneven number of girls & guys too! Keep celebrating the gift that God has given you and Theo in each other!

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