On June 21, I had the honor of solemnizing the marriage of my former boss and forever friend, Doug Evans, and the love of his life, my new friend, Mikolaj Bauer. The evening ceremony took place at the Ritz Carlton in Battery Park, New York City, on the rooftop’s Rise Terrace. The guest included family and friends who had flown from Poland, Germany, and Spain, as well as New Yorkers and those who had traveled from Connecticut, Florida, and Indiana. Here’s how I began the ceremony :
“Before the sun sets, Mikolaj and Doug will marry each other. They will join not only their hearts and hands; but also their cultures. Both the Polish and the American traditions are rich in symbolism and ceremony, particularly for weddings. Both cultures urge their people to preserve and honor the past when creating the future. We live in a world where cultures can clash and anger can harden hearts. And yet here we are, in the welcoming embrace of Lady Liberty — because sometimes the longing for love is strong enough to cross cultural boundaries, to blend something old and honored from each into something new and treasured for both. So it is tonight.”
Because the guest list was small, I created a ritual in which each could participate. Before the ceremony began, I asked each guest to reach blindly into a drawstring bag and pull a stone. On each stone was carved a word that represented an intangible gift. During the ceremony, each guest presented that gift to the couple. Here’s an excerpt from the ceremony:
“For as long as couples have gotten married, friends and family have shown their support by giving gifts. Couples today might receive anything from a kitchen blender to a crystal bowl. In much earlier times, wedding gifts symbolized qualities desired in a marriage – fidelity, health, prosperity. Harkening back to those days, I invite each of you to come forward, one at a time, and bestow Doug and Mikolaj with a wedding gift written in stone. “
Before the ceremony, I had placed a tray lined with shell chips on the altar. The tray was copper colored, copper being the metal sacred to Venus, Goddess of Love. Venus in the form of Aphrodite rose from the ocean’s foam. The shell chips symbolized her presence. These small details echoed the energy brought from the far corners of the world on that particular night.