Water the Plants

About once a week, I make a plan to see my husband’s grandmother. I call her Gran Nola. She’s 80 years old and lives in a separate flat next to the family house. She’s fiercely independent, but having a harder time getting normal chores done: taking out the trash, watering …

Our Nontraditional Wedding Ceremony

I never dreamed of my wedding as a little girl. Even after I found The One, I didn’t even want a ring when he proposed, which made it a challenge for my dear sweet now-husband. Even after we decided to move our tiny ceremony from the courthouse to his parents’ house, I hadn’t spent much time obsessing over flowers and seating and decorations.  Thank God my future mother-in-law and father-in-law were able to plan the entire event, from the catering to the invites.

Really, the only aspect I wanted complete control over was the ceremony script. There was no way I wanted a traditional ceremony with its antiquated vows and archaic wording. Not for me, anyways.

Wanting a nontraditional ceremony with our own added bits to show our personalities, I basically pieced together parts we wanted and formed a script for our readings, our officiant, and even the songs. So, after 3 months of marriage, I found the original script that took me a grueling 6 days to prepare.

Perhaps it can be useful for others or if you wanted to see what our ceremony was like, here you go! The only thing that is missing is the heavy Afrikaans accent of the Officiant. And my inability to stifle my laughter as he stumbled through some English words. Ah, to be married in South Africa!

Dane & Kimiko’s Wedding Ceremony

Introduction Song: “I Do” by Meiko

Dane and I chose to walk out to this song together holding our baby girl to show that we were beginning our lives together already as a little family. Also, my family was only present in spirit (and via Skype), so the whole Dad walking down the aisle tradition had to be refashioned.

Introduction – Words by Kimiko, Reading by Cheryl

If you were to ask me the best decision I made in the ceremony, it was this part: asking my future mother-in-law, Cheryl, to read the introduction in place of our officiant. She is very well-versed in public speaking and we definitely wanted someone who knew us to read the introduction I wrote. Thank goodness she did, especially with the Thai words thrown in and the length of the intro, it may have presented a challenge for our officiant.

Good morning! Or should I say “sawatdi”, seeing as how the love story we are celebrating today started in Thailand.

Sawatdi means hello, but its literal translation is “good blessing”. And what an appropriate way to introduce today’s celebration. For marriage is a good blessing. It’s a fortune to find a partner to embark on a life journey together.

Dane and Kimiko had that good fortune two years ago. Dane traveled from South Africa and Kimiko traveled from the United States. They were both looking for a new adventure and their wanderlust brought them to Thailand. They didn’t know each other. They didn’t know why the other decided to leave their home country. But when they met, they were inevitably drawn to each other.

Dane liked that Kimiko was fun, laidback, chilled. He liked that she could talk about anything. Though he would soon find out getting her to STOP talking would be the bigger issue. One day, Dane asked Kimiko for advice about a job interview in Bangkok. Her advice turned out to be really helpful since he did get the job, and that may have been the moment where their adventure started to take shape.

Kimiko and Dane traveled together to Bangkok. He needed to start his new job and she needed to catch a flight back home. Kimiko wasn’t supposed to stay in Thailand. But in that short time between meeting Dane and the day before her departure, she felt compelled to stay.

There’s a Thai expression: Mai Bpen Rai. It’s a philosophy that means go with the flow, it doesn’t matter, and it’s all okay. Perhaps this expression prompted the two to begin their Bangkok adventure, a journey that led us all here today, the day of their wedding.

It was a big gamble on both of your parts to move to Bangkok together. Neither of you knew the other well, but you both decided to embrace the journey together.

It’s been a fun, wild, sometimes rough time for you two. But through it all, you devoted yourselves to each other, supporting the other in happiness and hardship, through unemployment and long hours working two jobs, across borders and even spanning continents, and even through the hardest labor of all: unmedicated childbirth.

As new parents, you’ve both shared sleepless nights and frustrations. But you’ve also both changed Zora’s nappies and clothes sometimes more than twice in a row. You’ve both fed her and watched her smile and swat at her bottle because she wanted to play. You’ve both rocked her to sleep for hours, switching every 5 minutes so the other wouldn’t get too tired. The journey of parenthood has shown you what love is for you two.

It’s the determination to be partners. It’s the deliberate choice you make every day to devote yourselves to your partner. To not always be equal, but to always fill in where you are needed. And that ability to support each other in all times and in all ways is what will make your love grow no matter where you find yourselves in the world.

Dane and Kimiko’s love story is not traditional. It’s an adventure book waiting to be written. It doesn’t matter where their journey takes them, one thing is certain: their love and commitment will grow stronger as they journey towards their destination together.

We will now have a few of our guests share what it means to journey through life and marriage together.


Dane and I chose a motif of travel and adventure for the ceremony. This is reflected in a poem we chose read by Donna Champion, my only friend present in South Africa. We also chose a nontraditional style, which included letters and recordings from a few absent family members that were very close to us: his brother, my brother and sister, and my parents.

time travelers.jpgReading 1: Poem by Terah Cox – Reading by Donna Champion
Readings 2-6: Letters and recordings from absent family members: Dane’s brother and Kimiko’s siblings and parents


Reading 7: Poem by e.e. cummings, Reading by Dane and Kimikoeecummings


Cheryl read Jason’s letter and brought Dane to tears. I read my brother’s letter, which was hilarious as per Takeo’s style. My sister’s letter was read by a special guest, Sean Prawn, as a toast to an inside joke between them. And my parents had recordings they emailed to us. It was a bit of a technological twist to the traditional readings. Dane and I then read a poem together, alternating parts. It was my concession to reading vows aloud with a man who detests public speaking. For him to read this poem with me shows how much he loves me. 

Yes, we had several readings. We wanted to include our immediate family members who couldn’t make it on the big day, so that’s part of the reasoning. It also added a personal touch to our ceremony, one opportunity I am thankful I was given.

Our Wedding Vows

OFFICIANT: Marriage is about becoming a team. You’re going to spend the rest of your lives learning about each other, and every now and then, things blow up. But the beauty of marriage is that if you picked the right person and you both love each other, you’ll always figure out a way to get through it.

You’re about to make promises to each other that you intend to keep. You’re going to vow to take care of each other, to stand up for one another, and find happiness in the other. There’s a simple premise to each of these promises: you’re vowing to be there. You’re teaming up and saying to the other, “Every experience I am going to have, I want you to be a part of.”

Do you, Dane keep Kimiko as your favorite person — to laugh with her, go on adventures with her, support her through life’s tough moments, be proud of her, grow old with her, and find new reasons to love her every day?

DANE: I do.

Do you, Kimiko keep Dane as your favorite person — to laugh with him, go on adventures with him, support him through life’s tough moments, be proud of him, grow old with him, and find new reasons to love him every day?


OFFICIANT: Do you Dane and Kimiko commit to be each other’s partners from this day forward? Will you bring out the best in one another, share your happiest moments together, love each other without condition, and choose each other every day for the rest of your lives?

BOTH: We do.

We chose to do the separate, “I do” and the “We do” to signify not only our commitment to one another, but our promise to work together as a couple, choosing in unison this journey on which we were embarking.

This next part, we had Dane’s unofficial best man, Andrea, join us with our baby girl who was holding our ring boxes. We wanted to include her as much as possible in the ceremony, so this was a lovely little opportunity to do so.

** Andrea and Zora joined us at the front with the rings before the ring exchange.


Ring Exchange

OFFICIANT: You’ve both chosen to wear rings as a reminder of these promises. For thousands of years, couples have exchanged rings as a symbol of their love for each other. As Song of Solomon Chapter 6, Verse 3  says, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” As you give each other these rings, let them remind you of your love in the past, the present, and the future.

DANE: With this ring, carry me in your heart. Where you go, I’ll go. From this day on, you’ll never walk alone.

KIMIKO: With this ring, carry me in your heart. Where you stay, I’ll stay. From this day on, you’ll be my home.

The motif of travel and adventure, as well as the continuation of the nontraditional aspects, is reflected in the ring exchange. We chose the Song of Solomon verse for the officiant to explain the symbolism of the rings. And we were inspired by Ruth 1:16 as well as parts from e.e. cummings’ poem to incorporate into our exchange vows.

Hand Blessing

OFFICIANT: Dane and Kimiko, please take each other by the hands. You are holding the hands of your best friend. These are the hands that will work together to build the future and plan the next adventure. These are the hands that will comfort you when times are rough, hold you when you think the world is falling apart, and reassure you that even in the worst circumstances, you are not alone. These are the hands that will hold your children, give you strength through your marriage, and love you unconditionally for the rest of your lives.

The hand blessing was a bit superfluous, but I really wanted to include it because I felt much of the time in the wedding ceremony, we would probably be unfocused on each other. Half our attention would be on the guests, or making sure we didn’t stumble on our words, while the other half may be focused on trying not to laugh at the Officiant’s accent (for me anyways).

Final Toast

During the hand blessing, I believe drinks were passed out to guests. We did this to take some attention off of us during the kiss, which is a strange thing to do in front of people. Our hopes were that people would be busy raising their glasses, toasting, and drinking for us not to receive too much attention. I’m not sure it worked very well, but eh, our guests had drinks so there was that.

OFFICIANT: Dane and Kimiko would like to invite all of their guests to join them in a final toast. We all have ideas of what makes a happy marriage. So as the bride and groom seal the deal with a kiss, please raise your glasses and toast to what will bring them marital bliss.

I now pronounce you, husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.

Exit song: “My Heart For Your Number” by Yinglee

We chose this silly, Thai party song as a tribute to Thailand, where the “we” of our story began. We also instructed our gracious impromptu DJ Mikey to blare it as SOON as he heard the words “your bride” so that the kiss would be less awkward and more awesome. And also so guests wouldn’t break out into some weird rendition of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” like Cheryl said they might.

I Now Pronounce youbirthday!.jpg

Overall, our ceremony was a bit nontraditional with splashes of typical wedding day things involved. With our wedding planning lasting a short few days (8 days from decision to have a ceremony to the actual day), it was a nice project for me to work on.

Also, I had written surprise vows for my soon-to-be husband, which added a bit of fun and a bit of secrecy to the whole ceremony. Two things that I love. He admitted that he knew I was up to something, he just didn’t know what it was until the middle of the ceremony. He was a good sport about it, one of the many reasons why I love him.