Tuesday, 22 February 2011

This Marriage

This Marriage

I am pleased to say that I am now married as of this past Saturday.

In this post, I will describe in some detail the events of my wedding. For two reasons, I will focus on the ceremony portion of the wedding, rather than the reception (although I will discuss some pertinent details from the reception):

  1. I was 'in charge' of organizing the ceremony, with some input from my then-fiancée (now my beautiful wife!), family, and the priest who was marrying us.
  2. The reception was a blur of talking to people, eating when we could, with a bit of speeches and dancing thrown in. So I don't have as clear a recollection of it.

What follows is a more-or-less chronological order of the wedding, starting with the ceremony.

The Ceremony

Our wedding ceremony took place at St. Thomas the Apostle Anglican Church in Ottawa, Ontario.

St. Thomas'

The music was provided by the Harmonia Choir of Ottawa, with the choir's accompanist playing piano for the ceremony. Members of St. Thomas' parish choir and some of my friends and family assisted as well.

The ceremony itself followed the standard liturgy from the Anglican Church of Canada Book of Alternative Services.

Since I was still getting ready for the ceremony, I did not get to hear these performed, but I am sure an excellent job was done by all involved:

(As an aside, I should mention that we had hoped to include a piano-only setting of Variation 18 from Rachmaninov's Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, but our pianist did not know the piece, so we ended up not able to include it. Ah, well.)

A typical church wedding includes two processions: the procession of bridal party, which in our case involved two ringbearers and flower girls, in mixed pairs, and two bridesmaides, and the big event, the procession of the bride.

The Bridal Party
The bridal party entered to the first "Promenade" from Modest Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition (for the well-funded, this is the Maurice Ravel orchestration).

The Bride
The bride's procession was the lovely "Prelude in C Major" from the first book of The Well-Tempered Clavier by J.S. Bach.

The Lectionary and the Marriage
After some introductory remarks and prayers, a lectionary that we selected was read (and in one case, sung) out:
  1. A reading from the New Testament, from St. Paul's letter to the Colossians (Colossians 3:12-17).
  2. A musical setting of Psalm 150, composed by C.V. Stanford. This was in the classic Anglican chant style.
  3. A Gospel reading, from the Gospel of John (John 15:9-12).

Then followed a homily, which concluded what I would consider the 'lectionary' portion of the ceremony.

After that came the vows and the exchange of rings. Once the marriage had been solemnized, the choir led us in the transition to the prayers with a wonderful song, called This Marriage, by American composer Eric Whitacre. His text comes from a Persian mystic and poet.

After this, we had some prayers and a final blessing performed by our officiant.

The Paperwork
The most important part of the ceremony, of course, is the signing of the register and the marriage license forms, the paperwork that makes the whole thing official.

While we went about this, the choir sang La Rose Complète by American composer Morten Lauridsen, setting a French text (translation linked) by Bohemian poet Ranier Maria Rilke. The song is part of a larger song cycle, Les Chansons Des Roses (see here for the song included in its part of the cycle).

The Triumphant Exit
With all that done, we were married, leaving just a stately stroll back down the aisle, to photos, well-wishes, and of course, good music. In this case, "The Great Gate of Kiev" from Pictures at an Exhibition (I had this version going on in my head at the time, if memory serves).

The Reception

Thanks to the work of our friends, we ended up having the reception at one of Ottawa's premier luxury hotels, the Fairmont Château Laurier. Because we had so many small children taking part who we wanted involved, and because we wanted time to ourselves after it was all over on the same day (we went out for dinner, just the two of us), we had an afternoon reception and served a tea-time menu.

The Château Laurier. It's a nice place.

We ended up spending two nights there as well (one night 'on the house').

Anyway, I did say I would share some pertinent details from the reception, so I will mention these:
  • One of our friends, as his wedding gift to us, made our cake, which was a big cupcake for cutting, and many regular-size cupcakes for serving. Each cupcake was adorned with a sugar daisy; it took him four hours to do all the flowers.
  • My unofficial brother-in-law organized the music for the reception. He brought in a record player and some records to play during the dining/schmoozing/opening part, and prepared a sequence of tracks for the dances.

Some choice dance tunes:
  • U2's cover of Unchained Melody was the opening dance. It's a long story why we used this version of the song, and I don't feel like sharing.
  • Pink's So What?, which is the favourite of one of our ringbearers (so my wife could have a special dance with him). Yes, it's not a very wedding-y song, but, well, so what? (Alas, I am not still, nor have I ever been, a rock star.)
  • Madonna's Material Girl, a special dance for my wife and one of our flower girls (who, while a fan of Madonna, had at that point decided to walk the perimeter of the dance floor rather than dance).
  • Abba's Mamma Mia, since the bridal party are all big fans of Abba in general, and the musical Mamma Mia in particular. I've been told that Abba Singstar nights are epic.

We since have had a wonderful, if sadly brief, honeymoon at the hotel and at home.

Final Word

The wedding may be several days over, but this marriage has only just begun.


  1. Marriage (in all seriousness) is the best thing EVER. The whole wedding thing just flies by, and then all of a sudden, there you are with your partner, hand in hand, hoping to maintain that link for the rest of your lives.

    It's pretty awe inspiring.

  2. This all sounds so wonderful, Christopher! Thanks for giving us a peek into what you wedding day was like. Warmest congratulations! Jeff and I wish you many years of loving companionship and grand adventures. Blessings.