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What Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know


Community, weddings, and baby animals

Christy, Social Justice Activist and Yoga Teacher & Dan, Teacher, Author, Start-up Founder, Activist

What Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical Wedding

In social justice communities, there are the concepts of mutual aid and solidarity. In Buddhist thought, we have metta, or loving-kindness. Each springs from a world-view that holds community as sacred, interconnection as divine. A belief, on both the cosmic and worldly planes, that we are all in this together.

What Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical Wedding

My partner and I are both devout social justice activists, and I am a dedicated practitioner and teacher of yogic arts. And because this is the intention for our lives together, these concepts—community, solidarity, loving-kindness—instantly became the theme for our wedding.

(Believe me, I tried to find “my colors” or pick a theme. No dice.)

What Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical WeddingWhat Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical Wedding

Our love does not exist in a vacuum. We are not castaways on Couple Island. We exist in the context of family and culture and our amazing community of friends and chosen family. We have explicitly designed connection into our relationship, and know that we never walk alone. Our love thrives because of people who have shaped us individually and as a couple, helped us along the way, and guided us toward the magic life we have made together.

What Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical WeddingWhat Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical Wedding

At our engagement party, about a month after a dear friend passed away very suddenly, a member of our wedding party said, “It’s been a really hard time for a lot of us recently. Thank you for giving us something to celebrate and be happy for.” I think that’s an important part of weddings—the ritual of allowing community to gather and participate in the happiness of members of that community.

What Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical Wedding

From the beginning, we knew this wedding couldn’t be all about us. It was also about the people who have made, “Us,” possible. Offering them our gratitude, celebrating not just the union of my husband and me, but of all of us. Don’t get me wrong: I love my husband. But that love is not the only love. And the love we have in our friends, colleagues, teachers, and neighborhood—it doesn’t diminish the love that I have for Dan. It makes it stronger.

What Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical Wedding

Walking down the aisle, my thought was, “Holy cow! Look at all these people I know!” It was magic and amazing to see all of the sweetness and love from so many people I love and respect in return. They were so present for us. And that feeling of so many people we love being present is still palpable to me.

What Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical Wedding

So, as part of our ceremony, we made vows not just to each other, but also to our community. And we asked them to make vows to us. It was solemn and beautiful and necessary. Our marriage has a mission. And it was just appropriate for us to acknowledge each of our friends and family members as being a part of that.

What Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical WeddingWhat Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical Wedding

After our ceremony, a couple of friends said to me, “You know, you just married all of us. And I love that.”

Our ceremony was not sanctified by a church or a state, but by the love that surrounded us, by the people who had supported our relationship along the way. (Christy’s yoga teacher married us, and it was awesome.)

What Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical WeddingWhat Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical Wedding

In the struggle toward justice and freedom, there are not many victories. There is struggle and grief and inspiration and joy. But not as many victories as we would like. On our wedding day, we declared victory. We declared our love, and that love can win. And for a moment, it vanquished fear and pettiness and doubt and ugliness. And by allowing our friends and family to love us, to celebrate, to unite, we all win.

What Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical WeddingWhat Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical WeddingWhat Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical Wedding

Grounded in our chosen home, the Bay Area, what unfolded was laughter and dancing and non-stop joy. It would have meant much less without the presence of our community. And we certainly couldn’t have done this without them. Luckily for us, we never have to.

What Happens When You Marry Everyone You Know | A Practical Wedding


The Info:

Photographer: Emily Takes Photos (APW Sponsor) | Planner: Lowe House Events (APW Sponsor) | Location: Oakland, CA | Venue: Montclair Women’s Cultural Arts Club | Videographer: LeahAndMark & Co. | Makeup: Fox & Doll Makeup & Hair | Christy’s Dress: Jenny Packham | Dan’s Suit: Duchess | Bridesmaids Dresses: Little Borrowed Dress (APW Sponsor) | Flowers: DIT (Christy, her family and friends)

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  • Fiona

    Completely gorgeous wedding! The joy and community evident in these pictures make my heart sing.

  • Guest

    Completely gorgeous wedding. The joy and community evident in these photos make my heart sing.

  • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

    THAT DRESS. AND THE ANIMALS.

  • Nikki

    Beautiful philosophy. The animals are such a fun idea. But also, OMG, I am LIVING for that dress.

  • L

    That dress. Wow. Amazing. Ok, now back to read the rest of the post.

  • Emma Klues

    This is the most beautiful dress I have ever seen in my whole life.

    • Emma Klues

      And I also really love your words and smiles. We very much felt like we married everyone too :)

    • EF

      This is the first time in five months of looking at wedding dresses that I’ve truly though: my god, THAT ONE.
      out of my budget but I’m glad it exists!!

  • APracticalLaura

    “Walking down the aisle, my thought was, “Holy cow! Look at all these people I know!” It was magic and amazing to see all of the sweetness and love from so many people I love and respect in return. They were so present for us. And that feeling of so many people we love being present is still palpable to me.”
    THIS! beautifully stated and totally resonated with me :) Congratulations!

  • Winny the Elephant

    A PETTING ZOO WEDDING?? AWESOME!!!

  • clairekfromtheuk

    Ummm WOW

    One of the best wedding write ups I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading

    Also, llamas FTW

  • Cat

    This- “Our love does not exist in a vacuum. We are not castaways on Couple Island. We exist in the context of family and culture and our amazing community of friends and chosen family. We have explicitly designed connection into our relationship, and know that we never walk alone. Our love thrives because of people who have shaped us individually and as a couple, helped us along the way, and guided us toward the magic life we have made together.” Exactly this.

    • http://thevanillabride.blogspot.com/ Sonarisa

      I really love this quote. I’ve been trying for the past 9 months to explain this concept to people when they ask why I don’t think the wedding is about me, or vendors when they want to know why we don’t want monogrammed everything- Now I have a nice concise way to say it.

    • meeliebee

      So beautiful! I started tearing up a little when I read that. It’s definitely going into my ideas for the ceremony document!

      • Julia27

        Same here!

  • Claire

    “From the beginning, we knew this wedding couldn’t be all about us. It was also about the people who have made, “Us,” possible. Offering them our gratitude, celebrating not just the union of my husband and me, but of all of us.”

    This is what we strived for with our wedding also! YAY! :)

  • InTheBurbs

    This!, “I think that’s an important part of weddings—the ritual of allowing community to gather and participate in the happiness of members of that community.”

    Thank you for putting into words!

  • KC

    Yes on the “Holy cow! Look at all these people I know!” moment. It was an amazing feeling knowing that they were all together in one place (those that could be there; some of our community couldn’t; but those that could!), and that they were there for *us*. Just flabbergasting, in a good way.

  • LeahAndMark

    Beautiful photos Emily!

  • Helen

    This is totally how we feel about our wedding – we’re kind of already married to each other, so this is about is marrying our community. Would you mind sharing some or all of your ceremony? I’d love some inspiration

    • Christy

      Hi! This is Christy. I’m hesitant to share my ceremony verbatim. We wrote it from scratch with our officiant, and it is so dear to me.

      *But*, I can speak a bit to the structure that we used. In addition to our vows, we made vows to our community. We took turns saying what we promised, and our officiant asked if we both promised and we said, “We will!”. We also asked those present to make commitments to us. We took turns saying what we were asking of folks, and our officiant asked everyone if they agreed, and they said, “We will!”

      It was beautiful. And really hard to drill down exactly what we were promising our community–who we want to be for them within our family. Writing it was a challenge (though, in retrospect, it should be kind of hard. Hard is okay.)

      But some of the best advice I got from our officiant was to think about the dark times. We often think about the joy and the mirth and the goodness. But think carefully about the dark times that might arise. How do you want your community to be there for you when the shit hits the fan? How do you want to show up for them?

      I’m part of a remarkable partnership–we have a mission statement and a clear intention of how we want to show up in the world individually and together–and part of a powerfully loving community. And part of the ceremony was feeling how powerful we all are when we’re connecting and being in our hearts. Give into the power that arises from being bigger than the sum of our parts.

      • http://cafeaubride.blogspot.com/ Catherine

        that’s beautiful and inspiring :)

      • Helen

        Thanks heaps for taking the time to outline this – awesome.

  • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com/ Rachel Wilkerson

    Love!

  • Christy

    Thank you all so much for your kind words. I had such fun writing this, and it’s such a giant blessing to share with you all.

    • meeliebee

      This is such a beautiful glimpse into your wedding both though photos and words! Thank you for sharing and congrats!

  • Guest

    So much awesome in this story

  • Sarah

    Absolutely beautiful sentiments about wedding & marriage…and exactly how I feel!

    Would love to read the ceremony & vows of the community. Sounds gorgeous!

  • Clippingimages Outsourcing

    the lighting, decorations, and the well organized wedding is really wonderfully executed in the photographs.brilliant job

  • Dresswayshop

    Love the dress! And the location with the animals is a very unique idea.

  • http://www.clairestelle.com/ clair estelle

    I love this wedding, the photography is lovely and the blog post heading is really cool!