CEREMONY PHOTOGRAPHY FLAGS

The wedding takes place at the beautiful Trois Estate in Austin, Texas on April 16th, 2005 (The landscape and architecture at The Trois Estate inspire the design of the wedding invitation). About 130 guests from all over North America arrive between noon and 3:00 PM, and MANY stay until the very end of the celebration at 11:00 PM.

The ceremony takes place along a broad path which split into a three-way fork where the audience sits. Two trees on either side of the path arch overhead to meet each other in the middle directly over Chris, Jeff, and Roy. The archway and two flower arrangements create a natural altar.

In the following text, everything is said by Roy unless it describes some action or has someone else's name by it.

BRINGING IN THE PARENTS AND THE GROOMS

Everyone stands

Theme from Braveheart begins to play (click to listen)

Meet the parents: Richard and Susan Graefe are Chris' parents. Jeff's late father, Solomon Jacobson, is represented by Jeff's stepmother, Sumiko Williams. Jeff's late mother, Barbara Singer is represented by one of her closest friends, Barbara Simons. Jeff's stepfather, Clifford Kiser is in the audience.

The fathers bring the mothers from Trois' main building to the front row of the seating. They are preceded by some of the flower children, throwing rose petals. Chris's family moves along the aisle along the left and Jeff's family moves down the center aisle. (We originally wanted Jeff's family to move along he right side, but that would have taken too long, given the layout of the space.

The Fathers then return to the main building and bring Chris and jeff to the "altar", then seat themselves on the front row.

GREETINGS

Roy: Everyone may now be seated.

Roy introduces himself to the group, informing everyone of whom he is and why he is an honored authority in the ceremony.

Friends, we are gathered together in the sight of God and these witnesses to bless the joining together of Christopher and Jeffrey in marriage. We express our gratitude and thanks to all of you who have come to witness this marriage, as some of you have traveled great distances to show your support. We are honored by your presence. The covenant of marriage is an ancient and honorable state established by God who created us in the desire to live one for the other. This couple has come to give themselves to one another and join the other couples who desire to live together in marriage. The marriage ceremony you are witness to today was requested by Christopher and Jeffrey to celebrate their love and respect for each other, and to proclaim their commitment to each other. It is intended to bind one to the other as strongly as a civil contract or religious vows.

THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE

Everyone present here today has a stake in the preservation of marriage.

Marriage is a tool with which a couple can make a lifelong commitment. The ritual of marriage makes them mindful of the importance of what they are about to undertake, and it requires them to negotiate what that commitment means. By witnessing the marriage, the community strengthens it though their affirmation and support of the couple in their married role.

The lifelong commitment of marriage provides security for both partners as they face the challenges, misfortunes and triumphs of life...together.

Marriage is a service provided by the couple to the individuals in their community. It gives the couple's friends and family a clear statement of what the couple's relationship means. Here, it provides them with the knowledge that their beloved son/brother/friend has a strong protector and advocate, someone who will care for him, come what may. Marriage is a service to the society as a whole. Truly married couples are more healthy and stable and a stronger economic unit. Their commitment and sharing make them better able to weather hardship and do great things, be it raising children, caring for the aged, or doing good works in the world.

WE THE WITNESSES

Roy: Please join in the following reading and response: Members of the audience had been given a flier from which to read these responses to Roy's statements.

We are assembled here to bear witness to this marriage, and we give thanks for the blessing this marriage brings to this couple.

Audience: We are in one sense experiencing a union of our own as we gather here today, united and bound to one another by the honorable request to support this union.

Roy: We affirm the love and affection of this union.

Audience: We wish them a long and happily married life.

Roy: We give thanks for the privilege of giving witness to this marriage today

Audience: We recognize our responsibility to love and protect this new household formed today.

TO THE WITNESSES

Today's gathering is a union of our families. It is a union of our friends. Together, we form a new community for the present moment, and one with a responsibility to the future. To honor this, we invite their mothers to give us their thoughts. Barbara Simons, close friend of Jeff's mother Barbara, and Christopher's mother Susan.

Barbara Simons Speaks:

I am honored and humbled to be here today, especially standing in for Jeff's Mother, Barbara. There is no-one she loved more than you, Jeff, and she would be so joyful for the two of you on this day of your commitment to each other. I want to talk today about bliss, a concept that was put for by Joseph Campbell in his book, The Power of Myth.

Myths, of course, are not untrue stories. Rather, myths are a way of talking about truths in such a way the each generation can continue to learn from them. Campbell refers often to the idea of following one's "bliss." Now, to follow your bliss does not mean you will never be uncomfortable or worried or discouraged. In fact, following one's bliss often means a quest with adventure, hardship, even danger. Nevertheless, Campbell is convinced that real happiness is only known by those who have the courage to follow their bliss.

Let me share some of Campbell's words with you. A person who has never done the things that they wanted to in their life is a person who has never followed their bliss. You may have success in life, but just think of it. What kind of life is it? What good is it, if you've never done the things you wanted to do in all your life. Go where your body and soul want to go. When you have he feeling, then stay with it, and don't let anyone throw you off.

We are having experiences all the time which may on occasion render some sense of this, a little intuition of where your bliss is. Grab it. No one can tell you what is going to be. You have to learn to recognize your own depth.

Poets are simply those who have made a profession and a lifestyle of being in touch with their bliss. Most people are concerned with other things. They get themselves involved in economic and political struggles, or get drafted into a war that isn't one they wanted to fight.

What happens when you follow your bliss? You come to bliss. In the middle ages, a favorite image that occurs in many, many contexts is the wheel off fortune. There's the hub of the wheel and there is the revolving rim of the wheel. For example, if you are attached to rim of the wheel of fortune, you will be either above going down or or at the bottom coming up. But if you are at the hub, you are in the same place all the time. That is the sense of the marriage vow - I take you in health or sickness, in wealth or poverty: going up or going down. But I take you as my center and your are my bliss, not the wealth that you might bring me, not the social prestige, but you. That is following your bliss.

I have an idea that has grown on me over time, namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.

And, so today we salute and celebrate Jeffrey and Christopher for continuing to follow their bliss.

Susan Graefe Speaks:

What a wonderful honor it is for me to be able to share some thoughts with you about my son Christopher as we celebrate his marriage to Jeff. They are each such gentle men in the truest sense of those words.

Christopher was born filled with 10lbs. 2oz. of love. He was a happy go lucky youngster who was always up for hugs and snuggles.

Early in his life Chris showed signs of his many gifts which he so generously shared with his family and friends. He was constantly creating with his watercolors, Lincoln Logs, his tape recorder and later his computer. At age four and five he won first prizes at the Newport Outdoor Art Festivals Children's Division. His watercolor paintings titled "A Lonely Tree" and "A Piano in a Tornado give you some idea of the diversity of Christopher's personality.

When one of Christopher's friends asked me last night if I had properly instructed him about the "birds and the bees" in preparation for his wedding night, I was reminded of Christopher's precociousness in gathering friends around him for support and sharing and educating. In the first grade he brought a book to school belongs to his older sister Karin. He was wise enough at age six to put Where Did I Come From? in a brown paper bag. His teacher called that evening to tell us about how he had gathered a group around him to read and explore the mystery of birth with a healthy curiosity. She was amused but a little concerned about possible reactions from other parents.

With the exception of forgetting birthdays, anniversaries, and Mother's Day and Father's Day, Christopher is very thoughtful. As a child his contribution to making the household work was in making the lunches. Each day we would find a little love note tucked in our sandwich wrapper with a supportive message.

Christopher's gifts of persistence, perseverance, and resilience have manifest themselves in his pursuit of swimming, running, biking, and music. I suspect that few of you knew that Christopher was an avid piano and saxophone player at one time.

His gift of loyal friendship and generosity of time and resources have contributed to him being willing helper and valued confident in his family, friendship, and business relationships. Christopher's compassion, flexibility, and genuine warmth bode well for weathering both the sunny and sunny and cloudy days ahead in the marriage to Jeff.

CELEBRATION OF LOVE

Love is the soul of marriage. To celebrate marriage is also to celebrate love, but what is love? Franklin P Jones gave us: "Love doesn't make the world go 'round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile. Anita Hodzic described love as friendship set on fire.

Robert C. Solomon says much about romantic love in his book, The Passions:

Much of what passes for love is not love at all; those passions of dependency and desperate bids for warmth and security the often resentful ties that bind us without elevating us and set us against each other rather than draw us together. Love is the ideal of all of us; intimacy and mutually elevating equality, complete trust and maximum esteem for both ourselves and others....Love is intimacy and trust, love is mutual independence and autonomy, free from possessiveness but charged with desire. Love is unqualified acceptance of the other's welfare and happiness as one's own. Nothing else deserves the name.

JB Phillip's The New Testament in Modern English describes love like this:

This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience. It looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive. It is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails. Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading to its hope; it can outlast anything. It is, in fact, the one thing that still stands when all else has fallen.

We are gathered here today to celebrate these mysteries and truths of love. Love does not discriminate. Love is what remains of us when we are gone.

HOMOSEXUAL MARRAIGE

Where heterosexual marriage also supports the social and psychological union of the sexes, essential for a human society, homosexual marriage helps to prevent the stagnation of gender roles. It inspires us to look more closely at the meaning of love, family and what it means to be a man or a woman. Homosexual couples provide a safe window into the their gender for the opposite sex to peer through.

Homosexual couples can provide an anchor for their own gender by keeping its traditions within their household.

In this culture, at this time, homosexual marriage puts the couple in a role more easily understood by the rest of society. The similarities between homosexual and heterosexual marriage can provide a bridge for understanding and mutual acceptance. By joining together on this day, Christopher and Jeffrey celebrate all marriage, so that the institution may prosper.

CELEBRATION OF MARRIAGE

Marriage is one of the many steps, but certainly not the final one, in sharing of the gift of love with another person. It is an important milestone on a long journey in love. It was said by Germain Greer that A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.

Marriage is a social institution between two human beings to share their love and their lives. Marriage is, also, a mystery, a gift from the creator of our universe.

Successful marriage requires a state of grace where the partners care about each other as much as they care about themselves.

The sacrifices required by marriage are no loss, because they are part of a choice freely entered into. Freedom is the ability to make choices, and only by making choices can we move along the path of life. Marriage a profound act of freedom of choice and taken so the couple may travel the path of life together, and in so doing open new possibilities for themselves and others.

We are celebrating the union of two people who ultimately must respect the right of the partner to be an individual as well as a partner in marriage.

We are gathered here today to declare and to celebrate this union between Christopher and Jeffrey.

WEDDING VOWS

A marriage is a contract, one with promises made by each individual to the other they swear to uphold every day of their union. With those vows, Christopher and Jeffrey will create the contract that will define the boundaries of their marriage, and what they wish to achieve through it.

Love You For Who You Are Vows

Chris: Its been said that you come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly. The love I have that has led me here today is for a man who has been, and continues to be, himself. It is that man to whom I commit my life as husband.

Jeff: Of my own free will, I commit be your loving husband and I accept you as mine. I accept as you are, with all your strengths and weakness, your quirks and charm. Be yourself for me.

Domestic Life Vows

Chris: I vow to take the rest of this journey through life at your side, in every home and with every family that surrounds us. May our homes be a symbol of our commitment to one another, and to the love that we extend to our families and friends.

Jeff: I vow to be a good roommate and friend. I will share the dishes, the laundry and the bills. On the Saturdays when our food is low, I will spend all day shopping with you and cooking four gallon pots of stew. With you, the burdens of life are suffused with joy and I will care for you to the end of our days.

Independence Vows

Chris: I swear to stand by you through your growth and change as an individual, just as you have stood by me in mine. My faith in the strength of our marriage is rooted in the fact that I like the "me" that I am with you in my life far more than the "me" I was before you showed up. No matter how much we grow and change, I vow to always treasure and honor that fact.

Jeff: Let our marriage the bedrock upon which we build our life together and our lives as individuals.

Jeff's best man, David, briefly gets up from the second row of seats and gives him the ring he will give to Chris.

Chris' best man, Justin, briefly gets up from the second row and gives him the ring he will give to Jeff

(Commitment, Love, and Trust Vows

Chris: I swear to stand by you though trouble and triumph, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse, forsaking all others, to care for you, come what may. I will be more careful with your soul than with anything else in my life, and I will continue to share my soul with you to the end, as I trust none other as much with its care. Chris places the ring on Jeff's hand.

Jeff: I swear to stand by you though trouble and triumph, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, for better or for worse, forsaking all others, to care for you, come what may. Let us journey on the road of this life together for as long as we live. I welcome the joyous beginning of our union, I commit for the full duration and I embrace the end that death will bring. Let our journey together be profound and joyous. It is only for a little while, so let this moment be eternal. Jeff places the ring on Chris' hand.

BENEDICTION

Roy: I now pronounce you Husbands

Chris and Jeff kiss.

Immediately after, Justin and David get up and move the large flower arrangements off the path, to the side.

The flower children had been waiting quietly off to one side of the ceremony. At that moment, unscripted, several of them jumped up and shrieked, "There's an INCHworm on your coat!!! At that time of year in Texas something related to the silkworm starts migrating to the ground, each dangling on a cord of silk all the way down. One of them had landed on the back of Chris' coat during the ceremony and had taken a few inchworm-like steps. The children had admirably contained themselves during the ceremony, watching it intently. So, they screamed, jumped up, knocked it off and obsessed over it for several seconds. Everyone laughed. It was one of the best moments.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow begins to play (click to listen)

Instead of recessing back through the audience, we process up the path which curves around the Trois main building. The flower children follow us in front and back running laughing and throwing more rose petals. After we are partway up the path, the audience gets up and follows us. The trail ends in a seating area and band shell where we do all the toasts before dinner.