Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Geoff and Alena's Wedding Ceremony

Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here celebrate...this little thing we call LOVE. (Geoff enters, Alena enters)

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my honor to welcome all of you -- men and women, boys and girls. Step right up! Gather round, Don’t be shy! Today it is my privilege to share with you one of the the most exotic and rare wonders of the world: true love in public. You who have come from near and far will be rewarded with an extraordinary sight. Right here in the center ring, Alena and Geoff come together. A two ring ceremony, in which Alena and Geoff will marry each other.

They asked me to say a few words to set the proper mood and tone for their wedding. When they asked, of course I was honored. And because of who they are, I immediately began to think about what I would say. I thought about finding some poetry, or songs of love. But someone else’s words don’t sound right when I say them. So, I decided to to talk today about Geoff, about Alena, and about the circus and about marriage.

Circus. The spectacle comes from a time and a place before iPhones, hybrid cars, or HDTV. The circus comes from a time and a place when you physically had to go to be there--to see--to wonder.

Marriage is like that too. It’s our ancient tradition. One where two people have to come together themselves. One where the rest of us physically have to go, to see, to witness, to wonder.

Marriage is just like the circus in so many ways. They’re both rare...maybe a bit seasonal. Both are festive events that we look forward to. The performers, clowns, acrobats, magicians, jugglers and contortionists at the circus wear special costumes just for their act. So do the bride and groom. There’s excitement and uncertainty. Some find the circus thrilling. For others it’s a little scary. It’s the same for marriage.

There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. There’s a lot of work and practice, and choice, and deliberation before the spectacle in circus or the marriage comes to the ring.

Geoff and Alena met about three years ago. The first time was brief...they were both working on an art car to take to burningman. (That art car has some special significance for me, because that’s where I met Allison, but that’s another story.) So one day they went to work on this art car for their camp, Geoff was there for the early shift, and as he was leaving, Alena was arriving. Geoff noticed Alena, and thought “She’s wearing all black...” Alena saw Geoff leaving with Bob, and thought “He’s super cute, but he’s with Bob. Is he “with” Bob??” Here’s the important thing: they both noticed each other, and both remember that brief moment.

A few months later...out at that other circus called Burningman, Geoff and Alena ended up camping with the same group of people. There are more parallels here to the circus. There is preparation behind everything...not just spectacle. Geoff and Alena are those people who are not only visible in front of the crowd, but behind the scenes setting up. Geoff arrived early to set up the camp.

Alena arrived in camp Sunday night. So, it wasn’t until Monday that they met. On Monday evening, they went out with some others from their camp on bicycles, looking for interesting art, adventures, and people. But they both got tired around the same time, and went back to camp together.

There were signs that tell us that the night they met was an auspicious night. That night, there was a full lunar eclipse. Also that night, the man (of burningman) burned early. 4 days early. But Alena and Geoff didn’t notice these things. They had their own signs and symbols to attend to. Geoff and Alena went to the circus, to the spectacle of Burningman, and found each other.

Remember when you were a little kid, and went to the circus, and got peanuts or snow-cones or hotdogs? Geoff and Alena shared sticky sweet cotton candy kisses. But like the treats you remember, too soon, that week was over. Haven’t we all felt the letdown when the circus leaves town?

After the show is over, there’s a lot of work. Everything needs to be packed up, and loaded onto vehicles, maybe to be put away, maybe to be moved to another town. Geoff packed up his stuff, Alena hers, and they both left burningman. Sad that it was over.

Then, for a year, They were apart during the week for work, but nearly every weekend they got together. In Santa Barbara or in Oakland.

A year after they met, nearly to the day, back once again at burningman, Geoff proposed, and Alena said yes. Geoff moved to Santa Barbara soon after they were engaged.

Some people dream about running away to join the circus -- or to marriage. It’s a dreamy fantasy to escape from everyday lives. Geoff and Alena are dreamers, too. But rather than run away, they’ve decided to get married. They’ve decided to formally, proudly, boldly, and publicly declare their connection to each other. And they’ve asked you here to celebrate.

Here’s another parallel between marriage and circus: for those who are in it, it’s a way of life. It’s they way they live every day.

How do they plan to live? They plan to bring out the fun in each other. They promise support rather than judgement. They’ll share the things they love...dressing up, food, travel, wine. They promise to live with close to no conflict, and not to depend on drama for excitement. They promise to remain sexy, fun, smart, and adventurous. And finally, Geoff promises he will learn to fish to become a part of Alena's clan.

The adventure they are about to embark on has all the magic of any circus. Out on the high wire, their hearts have no net. But the truest fact is, that as long as they stick together, connected to each other, their married life will be so much more than a circus.

Let’s get you married, shall we? Allison, will you please bring up the rings?

Alena says her vows, then Geoff says his vows.

Through this ceremony, I now declare that Alena and Geoff are married. You may seal your vows with a kiss.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my profound pleasure to present: Geoff and Alena Roland.


  1. Mark,
    I didn't know you had a blog. My google alert that is set up for my name pointed me to this today. Thank you so much for the wonderful ceremony that you wrote and performed for me and Alena. It could not possibly have been any better, more heartfelt or beautiful than it was. You surpassed my vision and made the night incredible.


  2. Hi Mark, Geoff, Alena,
    Looking for wedding pics and ran across your blog. Your delivery was actually better than the writing. In particular, my memory is that you said, "Geoff noticed Alena and said, 'she's wearing all black.' Alena noticed Geoff and said, 'he's going home with Bob.'" The oral delivery was perfect; the additional words would have blurred the edge.

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