I met Carol Ann when she was a student at UGA and my husband, Jared, was the interim campus minister for RUF. She would come to our house for leadership meetings and sit at the table afterwards and talk about life. It turns out Carol Ann and I had mutual friends and got to keep up with each other after Jared was no longer the campus minister, and I still remember the time she told me about this guy, Steven Peake. Carol Ann and I were at a wedding and she told there was someone from the camp she worked at who she really liked. I was excited to meet him, knowing he must be quality if Carol Ann was interested in him. I got to meet him a few months later and hear more about him when Carol Ann babysat my kiddos. Fast forward to a few months ago when I got an exciting phone call that Steven had proposed and Carol Ann wanted me to photograph their wedding ... OF COURSE I wanted to!!
The wedding was wonderfully personal and meaningful, and of course beautiful. What sticks out to me most about the day was the rock ceremony they had. When guests came in there were smooth rocks on a table with a note about the covenant of marriage that was about to be entered into. Covenants are binding agreements, promises made to be fulfilled. The covenant of marriage is this amazing way of one person saying to another, "I bind myself to you in the best way possible." Carol Ann and Steven decided to have their guests each take a rock, use it as a reminder to pray for the couple, and then once the covenant was made each guest placed the rock in a bowl. This was a picture of what took place in one of the covenants made in the Old Testament (Genesis 31). They gathered stones into a heap and it was to be a reminder of the promise or covenant that was made. Steven and Carol Ann now have this physical "monument" of sorts to remind them of the all the people who witnessed the sacred covenant they entered into with each other, to love one and serve one another until death parts them.
The reason I love this idea is because I think in marriage there is a desperate need to remember the vows made to your spouse. Jared and I are going to celebrate our 10th anniversary in a few months, and we know that marriage is more about persevering in love than just going with the flow hoping the love boat will continually coast on autopilot. We need reminders of the promises we made to each other, and to let those words mean something everyday. The days, weeks, or months when you feel like you have nothing left to give, even those days, we have vowed ourselves to each other. Seeing the pile of rocks grow as each person who witnessed Steven and Carol Ann say, "I do, and I will" is a reminder that this really happened. At one point, you really committed your life and heart to this person and it was done in a great company of friends and family to remind you of it. And it's a ceremony that has a strong underlying belief: words really matter. Like a contract that is made to buy a house and lawyers who are present to witness the agreement, Carol Ann and Steven's guests are the witnesses to the beautiful binding of two people that is created to be kept and not undone. I loved the rock ceremony and thought it was a perfect detail added to the wedding.
There was this funny moment where guests had begun to arrive and yet Carol Ann needed to get to the bridal room without being seen, so her bridesmaids grabbed every umbrella and surrounded her in a circle while walking to the room. It was a funny sight and not noticeable at all:)
Carol Ann and Steven, you guys are such a good couple together. I'm so happy for you and encouraged to see the importance you placed on entering into a covenant with each other. I hope that heap of rocks you collected always has a special place in your home:) Much love!!!