Friday, November 7, 2008

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"A Stress Free Ceremony!"
That's what I offer you.  I "bring to the altar" the experience of having officiated close to 800 wedding ceremonies.   I also love helping brides and grooms experience those perfect moments that will last for a life time.  Like someone said, "No brag.  Just fact."  Take a look at some of the referrals below from other brides and see what they experienced.  After our initial meeting, many brides have said to me, "I didn't know it could be so easy to plan my ceremony.  Now I can relax on that."

I am a non-denominational pastor that can perform your ceremony on both sides of the IA/IL Quad Cities and the rest of the country for that matter.

I do not require any special classes but am willing to make arragements to do pre-marriage counseling if that is desired.  I am also bi-lingual and can perform your ceremony including Spanish to give honor to hispanic relatives in this blending of two cultures. 

One of the stresses that concerns many brides is not offending observant Catholic family members.  I have performed many, many ceremonies where this was the concern.  Let me encourage you that there are things we can do that will ease the hearts and minds of observant family members.  I have even had many of them compliment our ceremonies after they attended. 

I can also suggest several ways we can include children in blended family ceremonies. 

As a help, before we meet, I have included several possible ceremony elements.  Click on the various areas listed in the right hand column or simply scroll down:

Give me a call or send me an email inquiry.  Let's plan you "Perfect Moment."

Pastor Gary Ellis

A Few Referrals

Gary- thank you so very much for performing such a beautiful ceremony for us last night!! We received so many compliments how thoroughly impressed people were with the ceremony & how well-versed you are you are so talented & im so thankful jameson & I found you!!!

Kimberly and Jamison

Pastor Gary,
You made our special time more than perfect.  Everyone commented on how personal it seemed for knowing us such a short time.  We would recommend you to anyone looking for the special care that you provided!
Thank you soooo much!

Eric and Sara

Dear Gary,
Thank you so much for being the officiant of our wedding!  It was such a perfect ceremony thanks to you!  Everyone is still talking about how much they loved the wine box ceremony.  Thank you for all of your help and advice that contributed to our special day!

Kiley and Shawn 

Hi Gary,
Travis and I just wanted to say thank you again for performing our wedding ceremony. You did an awesome job and it couldn't have went any better! We have heard nothing but compliments from everyone. We can't thank you enough! We will definitely be recommending you to anyone that asks. Thank you so much again!!

Travis and Keera Cone - 

 Gary, Thank you so much for marrying us and for saying such a beautiful wedding ceremony. Everyone loved the ceremony and commented on their favorite parts from you. Thank you for being there for us throughout the entire process and planning and for answering all our questions along the way. You were so nice to work with and we felt at ease after meeting you. Thanks again for everything!

Ben and Jaci DeRoo - 

 Gary , the wedding was so perfect! We were so very pleased with your sermon, it was amazing, thank you. The complements just keep coming! Paula Cone - Mother of the Groom

Will and I would just like to thank you for your wonderful job at our wedding!  Everything turned out great!  Thank you so much!
Heather and Will Wimmer - 

Thank you for doing such a great job with our wedding ceremony, yesterday!  It was absolutely beautiful :)  Everyone was so touched!  We really appreciate your hard work in planning and conducting our ceremony.
Emily and Nathan Knorrek - 

Thank you so very, very much for the wonderful ceremony Saturday afternoon.  Both sides of our families thought it was absolutely beautiful!
Cara and Tad Taylor - 

 Pastor Gary gave us the perfect ceremony. It was personal and had actual meaning. The amazing thing is that he had only met me once when I booked him over a year ago and he met my husband at the rehearsal! I heard over and over how wonderful our ceremony was from guests. They said it was one of the best and most meaningful ceremonies they had ever been to. There were very few dry eyes in the house.  Thank you Pastor Gary!
Sara & Chris Zentic

Absolutely one of the best choices we made in the planning process.  Pastor Gary makes the entire process easy and is willing to help create the wedding ceremony you desire.  He is very sincere and made the ceremony humorous.  We received many compliments from friends and family about what a great job he did and that our ceremony was very personal.
Anne & Chris Edmonds

Our wedding was truly blessed with Gary’s warmth and kindness. He was very professional and down to earth. We are still receiving compliments on the wedding ceremony, especially Gary’s great sense of humor.
Thanks Pastor Ellis

Justin and Lindsay Hoggard

We had so many compliments on our ceremony and Pastor Ellis. We are so glad we chose him for our big day! I had a few specific details I wanted to incorporate into our ceremony that were a little tricky to time with the music and he helped make it work flawlessly. :-)

Many thanks,

Laura & Andy Meckley

Gary what can I say but wonderful.  He is the most down to earth pastor and we are truly blessed to have him unite us in marriage.  He tolerated my bridal party without hesitation.  He has alot of different ideas so you can have a different ceremony.  We had my daughter do the sand ceremony with us and the words he used to incorporate her was perfect.  Gary I can't thank you enough. 
Ashley and Robert Bridgman

Pastor Ellis is a joy to work with and made our ceremony perfect.  He let us give so much input into the vows and special touches, which made the ceremony much more meaningful to us and our guests.  He also helped us remember our loved ones that have passed on in a special butterfly release, which was especially touching.  All of our guests commented that they have never been to a wedding as beautifully done, which we give Pastor Ellis all the credit.  We would recommend him to anyone and everyone. 
Thanks Again Pastor Ellis! 

Kimberly Kampner and David Marsho

Pastor Gary was very easy to work with and we were very happy with his services.  If you'd like to be creative with your ceremony, while keeping it very spiritual--give Pastor Gary a call. 
Thank you, Pastor Gary.

Katie & Chris Minkalis

Pastor Gary Ellis made our  wedding so wonderful.  Coming from a couple who aren't really religious, he was willing to take the extra step to make us comfortable and perform the ceremony to meet our needs.  I couldn't have made a better choice on who performed our ceremony.  He is very down to earth and after meeting him, you feel like you've known him for years!  I highly recommend him.

Pastor Ellis was a joy to work with.  Steve and I knew from the first meeting that we were in good company.  He was very easy to work with and was a great help in making my ceremony just the way we wanted.  Thank you very much Pastor Ellis! 
Steven and Melissa Knepp 

Ceremony Readings

Here are a few of the more popular ceremony readings you may want to consider for your wedding:

A Bridge Across Forever "Soul Mates"

by Richard Bock

“A soul mate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are;

We can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us - with that one person - we’re safe in our own paradise.  Our soul mate is someone who shares our deepest longings, and our sense of direction.  Our soul mate is the one who makes life come to life.”  

The Marriage Box - Anonymous

Most people get married believing a myth that marriage is beautiful box full of all the things they have longed for; Companionship, intimacy, friendship etc ... The truth is, that marriage at the start is an empty box, you must put something in before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage, love is in people, and people put love in marriage. There is no romance in marriage, you have to infuse it into your marriage. A couple must learn the art, and form the habit of giving, loving, serving, praising, of keeping the box full. If you take out more than you put in, the box will be empty.

Beyond Words - anonymous

They say they will love, comfort, honor each other to the end of their days.  They say they will cherish each other and be faithful to each other always.  They say they will do these things not just when they feel like it, but even- for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health – when they don’t feel like it at all.

 In other words, the vows they make could hardly be more extravagant.  They give away their freedom. They take on
themselves each others burdens. They bind their lives together…

The question is, what do they get in return?

They get each other in return… There will always be the other to talk to, to listen to… There is still someone to get through the night with, to wake into the new day beside.

If they  have children, they can give them, as well as each other, roots and wings.  If they don’t have children, they each become the other’s child.

They both still have their lives apart as well as a life together.  They both still have their separate ways to find.

But a marriage made in heaven is one where a man and a woman become more richly themselves together than the chances are either of them could ever have managed to become alone.


 Union by Robert Fulghum

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.
The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”
Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.
For after today you shall say to the world – This is my husband. This is my wife.

 Have You Ever Been In Love

by Neil Gaiman

Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life … You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you.

The Art of a Good Marriage

Wilferd Arlan Peterson

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.
A good marriage must be created.
In marriage the little things are the big things.
It is never being too old to hold hands.
It is remembering to say "I love you" at least once a day.
It is never going to sleep angry.
It is at no time taking the other for granted;
the courtship should not end
with the honeymoon, it should continue through the years.
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives.
It is standing together facing the world.
It is forming a circle of love that gathers the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice,
but in the spirit of joy. It is speaking words of appreciation
and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not looking for perfection in each other.
It is cultivating flexibility, patience,
understanding and a sense of humor.
It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
It is giving each other an atmosphere in which each can grow old.
It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.
It is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal,
dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.
It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.

All My Happiness

by Nicholas Gordon

All my happiness goes out to you:
Pride and pleasure, joy, sweet tears, and love!
Reason, hope, and faith together move
In harmony to bless all that you do.
Let this beginning be the golden dawn
At which all dew-drenched nature sings its glory!
Nor should the darkness shrouding every story
Dim the blue-eyed beauty of this morn.
More of life will come than you can hold:
A flood no mortal witness can withstand.
Rest, then, within a quiet, gentle hand,
Knowing where love is as you grow old.

Blessing For A Marriage

by James Dillet Freeman

“May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring, and may life grant you also patience, tolerance, and understanding. May you always need one another -- not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you to know your fullness. A mountain needs a valley to be complete. The valley does not make the mountain less, but more. And the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it. So let it be with you and you. May you need one another, but not out of weakness. May you want one another, but not out of lack. May you entice one another, but not compel one another. May you embrace one another, but not out encircle one another. May you succeed in all-important ways with one another, and not fail in the little graces. May you look for things to praise, often say, "I love you!" and take no notice of small faults. If you have quarrels that push you apart, may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back. May you enter into the mystery that is the awareness of one another's presence -- no more physical than spiritual, warm and near when you are side by side, and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distant cities. May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy. May you have love, and may you find it loving one another.”

I Promise

by Dorothy R. Colgan

I promise to give you the best of myself and ask of you no more than I can give.
I promise to respect you as your own person and to realize that your interests, desires and needs are no less important than my own.
I promise to share with you my time and attention and to bring you joy, strength and imagination to our relationship.
I promise to keep myself open to you, to let you see through the window of my world into my innermost fears and feelings, secrets and dreams.
I promise to grow along with you, to be willing to face changes in order to keep our relationship alive and exciting.
I promise to love you in good times and in bad, with all I have to give and all I feel inside the only way I know how. Completely and forever.

Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Louis de Bernieres

Love is a temporary madness,
it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness,
it is not excitement,
it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
That is just being "in love" which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and when all the pretty blossom have fallen from their branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vow Exchange

Some couples choose to write their own vows to each other.  Others choose prewritten vows that express their feelings to each other.  Here are some examples of those most chosen in the ceremonies I have officiated:

1.  ___, I take you to be my (wife/husband).  I love you .  Today is a very special day.  Long ago you were just a dream and a prayer.  Thank you for being what you are to me.  With our future as bright as the promises of God, I will care for you, honor and protect you.  I lay down my life for you my friend and my love.

2. I, ____ take you to be my (wife/husband), my partner in life, and my one true love. I will cherish our friendship, and love you today, tomorrow, and forever.  I will trust you and honor you.  I will laugh with you and cry with you. I will love you faithfully through the best and the worst, through the difficult and the easy.  What may come I will always be there.  As I have give you my hand to hold, so I give you my life for as long as we both shall live.

3. I, ___ take you ____ to be my (wife/husband), my constant friend, my faithful partner, and my love from this day forward.  In the presence of these witnesses, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow.  I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.

4. I, ____, take you, ____ to be my (wife/husband), my partner in life, and my one true love.  I will cherish our union and love you more each day than I did the day before.  I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad regardless of the obstacles we may face together.  I give you may hand, my heart, and my life from this day forward as long as we both shall live.

5. I,____, take you, ____ to be my lawfully wedded (wife/husband).  To have and to hold from this day forward.  For better or worse, for richer or poorer.  In sickness and in health.  To love and to cherishFor as long as we both shall live.

6. _____, I take you to be my best friend, my faithful partner, and my one true love.  I promise to encourage you and inspire you, and to love you truly through good times and bad.  I will forever be there to laugh with you, to lift you up when you are down, and to love you unconditionally through all of our adventures in life together.

You may mix and match phrases of these vows.  Both bride and groom can use different vows.
Vows for "Later In Life:"
7.  ___, I offer you the autumn of my life. brisk and vibrant.  I promise to be a companion worthy of your precious friendship.  I pledge you compassion both in good times and bad; encouragement in sickness and in health.  It is my intent that our life together include our circles of friends and loving families.  We'll cherish the memories of our individual pasts; and create our new life together as husband and wife.

Sand Ceremony (Optional to Unity Candle)

If your wedding is in an outdoor setting, the Unity Candle isn't possible due to wind factors.  An excellent option is the Sand Ceremony.  In fact, I have had many couples even do the Sand Ceremony instead of the Unity Candle indoors.  They prefer to be able to keep the blended sand container as a visible momento.

Two outer smaller containers are filled with two different colors of sand.  In the center is a larger, more decorative, container into which the bride and groom blend the colored sand.

The minister states that the individual smaller containers of sand represent everything you were as individuals before you were married.  Individual dreams, goals, strengths, weaknesses, and experiences.  The blending of the sand is a visual representation of the bride and groom now blending their lives together in such a way that it is nearly impossible to separate again.  Since every bride and groom pour their sand differently, the unique design from all other couples represents the unique individuality of their marriage that is to come.

Hand Ceremony

Following the exchange of wedding rings, you may want to celebrate the optional "Hand Ceremony." 

[Groom] and [Bride] please take each other's hands and consider these thoughts:

"These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you that are holding yours on your wedding day as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.  These are the hands that will work along side yours as together you build your future.  These are the hands that will love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other.  These are the hands that will hold you when fear and grief may temporarily come your way.  These are the hands that will hold each child in tender love, soothing them through illness and hurts, supporting and encouraging them along the way, and knowing when it's time to let go.  These are the hands that will give you support and encouragement to achieve your dreams.  These are the hands that will hold you tight if you may struggle through difficult times.  These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.  And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.  Our prayer for you today is that both of you will use these hands to build a marriage where all your dreams come true."

Rose Gift Exchange

In the elegant language of flowers, red roses are a symbol of love, the giving of a single red rose is a clear and unmistakable way of saying the words "I love you." For this reason it is fitting that the first gift you exchange as husband and wife would be the gift of a single red rose. Please exchange your first gift as husband and wife.  (Exchange)  The second symbol of this exchange is to purpose that on each wedding anniversary, you will again exchange single red roses.  This is an anniversary tradition that is saying, "I love you as much or more today than I did on our wedding day."