Having grown up in the Episcopal traditions sometimes it’s hard for me to address the question, “do we need witnesses?”,  which I receive quite a bit as a justice of the peace.  Silly–I know–but, let me explain.

We all have seen the movies where the love-sick couple runs off to be married at city hall or a Las Vegas roadside chapel–bringing along their best pals.  In Connecticut, for a civil marriage, witnesses are not required.  The license is signed by the couple, the town clerk, and then, eventually, the justice of the peace.  Basically, the couple has committed themselves to each other and it is my honor to, on behalf of the State of Connecticut, witness the act.  Done!  Of course, we all recall the part about “the power vested in me”; well, truth be told, it really has very little to do with me–it’s about the couple.

However, I do encourage couples who have folks attending their ceremony to have me ask a question (borrowed from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer) that asks, “Will all of you witnessing these vows do all in your power to uphold the couple in their life together?”  This question brings the crowd into the dialogue and can reassure the couple they are not alone in the world.

That brings me to another thought: When Beth and I were married–twenty-one years ago–we chose scripture from the Gospel According to Matthew to be read during the church ceremony–the one about the wise man building his house on a foundation of stone rather than sand.  When the storms came and the winds blew and beat upon the house, it stood firm–unlike the home of the foolish man–built on sand–which fell to pieces.

So, what’s my point?  My point is that when two people decide to be married–it’s between them.  Along the way there will likely be folks they can turn to for guidance–they should do that.  If the couple chooses to build on stone, and they just so happen to believe in have a higher power–they are probably in good shape.

Published in: on 05.29.2010 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment