Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Faith and Micah's wedding

A few weeks ago, I went to Faith and Micah's Quaker wedding at Stillwater Meeting House.

I barely know Micah and Faith. I met Micah in August at Ohio Yearly Meeting, which is largely held on the Olney Friends School campus. The plain dressing Quakers in their bonnets and long, flowing dresses captured my attention far more than the "civilians" in ordinary clothes.

Red-haired Micah was a civilian. I shared a table with him and some others at dinner one night in the Olney dining hall. I was in particularly bad mood and off my "center." Maybe that's why he and I bonded over a discussion of the demonic. Really. We connected.

In September, my Quaker friend Jaya from Toronto came to town with her friend Quaker Rebecca to stay at our house so they could go to Micah and Faith's wedding. It was Quakers everywhere. This actually worked out well because Sophie had just moved to college and Will and Nick to the Olney Friends School dorm across the lake, leaving empty bedrooms. I hung blue curtains, spread a light blue blanket on the bed, and put a blue bowl on the dresser of one bedroom, creating the "blue" room! Just like the magazines say! Simply rearrange what you've got!

Anyway. Jaya invited me to a meeting for worship with Micah and Faith at the Georgian Pillars, our one and only Barnesville B&B. Given that we have no hotels or motels in "Pixieville" for miles and miles, it's actually the only place to stay. I jumped on the chance to have a meeting for worship there.

The brick Georgian Pillars looks Georgian on the outside in that it's brick, but inside it's a Victorian or early twentieth century house with high ceilings, art glass, stained glass, fireplaces and an amazing mammoth staircase that says "I am made of real, solid cherrywood and I am here to stay. Don't mess with me." So, with that staircase looming in the hallway, I sat in silent worship stared at by stuffed teddy bears and a large knickkack on the coffee table of a tuxedoed bear at a grand piano.

Even though they didn't know me, Micah and Faith couldn't have been warmer about encouraging me to attend their wedding. After the meeting for worship, we drifted into the Georgian Arms sunny dining room and Faith showed us the hand-calligraphed certificate of marriage that all the witnesses to the wedding would sign the next day, as no priest or minister validates a Quaker wedding. Quakers traditionally frame their certificates of marriage and hang them in their houses.

I was surprised at how calm Faith was the day before her wedding. Wasn't she supposed to be going crazy with last minute crises? Shouldn't she be, like, having a nervous breakdown? Well, one of the joys of a Quaker ceremony is its simplicity: Nothing could be a starker contrast to the bridezilla wedding industry.

Micah and Faith's wedding was true to form, truly beautiful in its austerity. No string of bouquet clutching satin clad bridesmaids preceded Faith to the front of the meeting house. It was simply her, in a simple strapless white dress, and Micah, saying their vows each to the other and exchanging rings. Afterwards, people rose as the spirit moved them and shared stories about the couple or about either Micah or Faith. At the end, we all signed the marriage certificate and poured out to the porch for cake and punch.

Some Quakers commented on how few, if any, Quaker weddings they had attended. It's sad there are so few young Quakers marrying in the Quaker tradition, but that could change. I do think the world would be less harried--and impoverished-- if more couples adopted the simplicity of the Quaker wedding. This is a place where less is more. Where simplicity is beautiful.


Ted M. Gossard said...

Interesting. Thanks for sharing that.

Jon Watts said...

Not to mention some of the amazing messages! I think back daily on the message about Jesus' questions... "Who do you say that I am?", "Will you stay?" (what was the third one?) and how they relate to the covenant of marriage. Very insightful.

Tom Smith said...

We feel extremely fortunate that we had a "Friends Meeting for Worship" in which we exchanged vows and that our three children all did the same. The first in the Meetinghouse at Earlham under the care of Clear Creek MM, the second at Fallsington Mtg, near Philadelphia, and the third at Flushing MM in Queens NY.

All gave rise to a simple very meaningful bonding that stretches across miles and several Meetings.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I was recently with my kids (who are 9 and 7 years old) and someone got to talking about weddings, and it became very clear that my children had attended very few weddings that WEREN'T Quaker...

I loved, loved, loved my Quaker wedding--best thing I ever did. But I still went a bit crazy a day or two before--not Bridezilla crazy, but just the "dealing with out of town family and guests, and having a big party and lots of details" crazy. Even with the oversight committee.


Faith said...

Jon, The third question was "Do you love me?" All ask by Jesus to Peter.

Diane said...


I'm glad to know Quaker wedding are alive and well somewhere ... I only report what I hear in my microcosm.