“Speak now or forever hold your peace…”
We don’t say that in Australian wedding ceremonies – the statutory declaration that you sign before you can be married takes care of this clause! However, hearing the words from the Marriage Act clears the way for the ceremony to proceed, as does the
“Giving Away”, which albeit optional and archaic serves as a precursor to the next, more pertinent question, “ Do you take…?”
The “ Giving Away” is sometimes called the “Presentation” and doesn’t have to be conferred by the bride’s father – rather it is an opportunity for anybody, friend or family, to speak on behalf of everyone in support of the marriage. It is a kind of blessing then – in fact all the guests can answer “We do!”.
A bride can be “ given away” by both parents, mother, brother, son, children…or not ‘”given away” at all. This step is entirely optional. But before discounting it, consider what it adds to the ceremony to include this stage in the sequence leading up to the vows.
The “Giving Away” leads into the next optional question – this one is arresting, spine-tingling, the crux of the matter… in my material there are many variations of the “Asking”. It is the “Do you take…?” or the “Will you …?” question – and the answer must be affirmative. You do. You will. That’s why you are here. As if the answer could be “ No”.
Excerpts from Sharon Old’s poem “ The Wedding Vow” sums up the significance of the “ Asking”. The “ Asking” makes your heart stand still.
holding each other by the hand…..
……..I felt as if I had come
to claim a promise……
…..I had been working toward this love
all my life. And then it was time
to speak – he was offering me, no matter
what, his life. That is all I had to
do there, to accept that gift
I had longed for – to say I had accepted it,
as if being asked if I breathe. Do I take?
I do. I take as he takes – we have been
practising this. Do you bear this pleasure? I do.”