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Tessa and Daniel's Ceremony
(adapted from "Till Derrida do us part")

We gather here together for the joining of Tessa and Daniel in marriage.

To marry, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is "to join for life as husband and wife according to the laws and customs of a nation". To the philosopher J. L. Austin, "the act of marrying... is to be described as saying certain words, rather than performing a different, inward and spiritual, action of which these words are merely the outward and audible sign".

It is not as if the more heartfelt and confessional your ceremony is, the more married you are. It is misguided to think that what validates a wedding ceremony is the making public of innermost feelings, and the sincerity or earnestness thereof. A performative speech act, which a wedding vow within a marriage ceremony is a prime example, does not describe a state of affairs; it possesses the crucial feature of accomplishing the very act to which it refers. The power of the wedding vow derives not from its external registration of the bride and groom's intimate, spiritual feelings but rather from the external, conventional nature of the act itself.

It is not enough just to think the words of the wedding vow, no matter how sincerely thought. And it is not enough just to say them. But, within your presence and in the serious setting of this ceremony, it is. To be married, now, it is enough to ask Tessa, "Do you take Daniel to be your lawfully wedded husband?"

[Tessa says I do]

And Daniel, "Do you take Tessa to be your lawfully wedded wife?"

[Daniel says I do]

So by the power vested in me -- by Tessa and Daniel, by those gathered here today, and by the state and nation -- Tessa and Daniel are now lawfully married. They have chosen to symbolize their love and this union through the exchange of rings.

[Tessa and Daniel exchange rings]

It takes a lifetime, not the brief minutes of this ceremony nor the time spent developing these vows, for two people to define for themselves what the word "marriage" means. Your presence here is to witness their commitment to undertake such a definition.

Daniel and Tessa, you are now husband and wife. Let us conclude this ceremony traditionally. Tessa, you may now kiss your groom.