Jak & Karawynn’s Wedding Vows
In 2013, during our thirteenth year together, my partner Jak and I chose to become legally married. We wanted to hold a ceremony for the occasion but had no desire to spend large sums of money to do so.
Instead we held a ‘guerrilla wedding’: we wrote our own ceremony, asked a friend to officiate, and spoke our vows in a public venue (Seattle’s Japanese Gardens) witnessed by just eight people. I wore a hand-me-down dress; Jak bought a shirt at Goodwill and borrowed cufflinks. Two of our friends took photographs.
In the spirit of openness and sharing which has characterized our relationship, we are releasing our original vows here into the public domain. Anyone who wishes to use any part of them in their own ceremony is welcome to do so … for free and with no strings attached.
(It may help to know that Jak and I are both polyamorous; neither romantic nor sexual exclusivity has ever been part of our relationship, and our vows reflect that.)
(welcome and introduction)
Wedding vows are traditionally about ‘only’ and ‘forever’, ‘forsaking all others’ and ‘’til death do us part’. Well, I’ve never agreed with ‘only’ and I don’t believe in ‘forever’.
But I do believe in us.
We’ve spent more than four thousand days together. No one else has ever known us as well as we know each other. Over the years we’ve wrestled with nearly all of the big issues that usually break relationships up —money, children, sex … boyfriends, girlfriends, exes — and with each difficulty, our relationship has grown stronger.
Twelve years ago my commitment to be your partner, though sincere, was merely a hope. Today it’s the certainty of long experience. I have chosen to be with you — not just once, but many times over the years. That choice has not always been easy, but you have always, always been worth it. Miraculously, you have continued to choose me as well, and together we are building a better life than either of us could create alone.
We are different people than we were twelve years ago, when we began our life together. Even our love for each other has evolved, from the sparkling intensity of limerence to the deep bedrock of companionship.
But some things are constant. We talk about everything; we listen always; we keep no secrets. We encourage each other’s passions and give each other the freedom to pursue them.
Because we are honest, I know that the woman I love is the real you. And I know that when you choose to be with me, I can trust in that choice.
(clasps ring hands with Karawynn)
Two years ago we chose these rings as a symbol of our lives together: one gold, one silver, each with a thread of the other’s color woven through the center. Like our rings, we are unique but inseparably intertwined.
Jak and Karawynn have chosen to share two readings that speak to their joint beliefs about love and relationships. First, Karawynn will read a quote from Tom Robbins.
Woven throughout the novel Still Life with Woodpecker is the recurring question, “How do you make love stay?” One character gives this answer:
“Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words ‘make’ and ‘stay’ become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.”
And Jak will read a quote from Gift From the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
“When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand.
“We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity — in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.
“The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now.”
(introduces friendship circle)
(asks people to sit for the vows)
Karawynn, I pledge to you today what has already been yours for so long: my love, friendship, and committed partnership.
In the years ahead, I promise to be honest with you, kind to you, and trusting of you. I vow to never hold you tighter than you wish, to release you when you want to be free, and to welcome you into my arms when you need comfort or care.
Each day with you is a day that my life is richer, my challenges easier. You help me to be my best self. And as we continue on our journey together, I remain deeply grateful to be your partner.
Jak, I will continue to be your dearest friend and your partner and your confidante. I will care for you when you are sad or ill, and cheer for your happiness and success. I will allow you the freedom to seek your own fulfillment, and support your dreams however I can. I will encourage you to grow and change, and I will strive always to be a person worthy of your love.
And finally, I will always remember that you are a miracle in my life, that your presence is a continuing gift.
My love for you has no strings attached.
I love you for free.
I now pronounce you legally wed. Kiss!