The Van Epps Wedding Toast: The Songbird and the Tree

On Thursday we got to celebrate with my sister as she declared her love and became Mrs. Van Epps. Her new husband is one of the most thoughtful and considerate men I’ve ever met and we are so happy for them.

The wedding was small, intimate, and beautiful. My sister’s children stood up with them as best man, maid of honor and “wedding princess”. It was very sweet.

And, of course, I had to give a toast. I wish I could find a way to get paid to write individualized wedding toasts for people, cause I really love it. It’s like my secret skill that I only get to utilize once every few years.

So, here’s my toast for my sister and her new husband.


The Songbird and the Tree

Once upon a time there was a little song bird. She was beautiful and her song attracted people from far and wide. She had dramatic golden feathers and eyes that glistened like starlight. Her song was lively and vivacious, full of zest for life.

She had been caged. She had been wounded, but she was strong.

In another part of the forest there was a tree. Full of hope for the future, it’s branches stretched towards a sky full of dreams, and yet the little tree was grounded and rooted at the same time.

Sometimes various birds perched in the tree to rest, but none captured the heart of the tree. The tree was looking for something different, something unique, someone special.

One day the little song bird flew by the tree and landed nearby. The tree saw that she had been a caged bird and decided she wasn’t his type. But, then she began to sing. Her song was strong and fierce with conviction and the tree leaned in to hear more. Soon he was lost in the songbirds starlight eyes. And she in his strong stable branches. And before long the strong tree had become the safe place, the open haven, the little bird had been searching for.

He supported her when she felt weak, cheered her on when she wanted to fly. And gave her a safe place. He was thoughtful, considerate and kind. When the sun beat down he moved his branches to give her shade. When the winds blew he stretched big to protect her. And when her babies cried in their nest he softly rocked them to sleep on his branches.

The beautiful little songbird had found her home. And the strong tree had found his someone special.

Brie and Eric, may you both always be a safe home for each other.

May you recognize all that is unique and beautiful in one another and celebrate, and cheer on those things.

May you fly together into new dreams, touching the sky while also keeping your feet rooted to the ground.

May you have a relationship built on mutual trust, understanding and freedom.

May you speak truthfully and kindly to each other.

May you fight rarely and when you do fight may those battles be fair and productive.

May your life together be filled with joy.

And when you find yourselves in the twilight of your life may you still be holding hands tightly and finding joy in making one another smile.

And now, would you all raise your glasses with me and toast to Eric and Brie.

Cheers! And God bless!


Rejoicing in the journey,

Bethany Stedman

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Wedding Toast for Raul and Tamara

This past weekend my dear sister-in-law, Tamara, married the wonderful Raul Fernandez. Bryan and I were hoping for them to get together before the two of them even took notice of each other. They are a wonderful couple and it’s been so fun to watch there relationship develop and now to celebrate their marriage with them. Bryan and I both had the honor of standing up with them as they pledged their lives to one another and I had the extra honor of being asked to give a toast. As I’ve posted all my other wedding toasts here I thought would share this one with you all as well. Here it is:

In a quiet forest a beautiful girl walked a path alone. She loved her path, loved the quiet woods around her, loved where she had been and the unknown that stretched before her.

But, she was lonely. Sometimes she thought about going off the path, venturing out on her own, to find a friend, a partner – someone who she could walk with, someone who could help her up when she tripped, someone who would make the dark valleys a little brighter, and the high peaks a little less daunting. But, in the end she never wandered, she always came back to Trusting that the maker of the path knew what lay ahead and knew what was best for her. 

One day her path crossed with the path of a boy. It wasn’t the first time her path had crossed paths with a boy, but nothing ever really clicked with those other boys and their paths soon diverged. To all outward appearances, and even to the girl herself, this time seemed basically the same… at least at first.
The day the boy met the girl the boy said “hi” and the girl said “hello”. And they pretty much continued on their way. But, the girl knew that the boy’s path had not wondered far from her own. Sometimes she could hear him singing, sometimes she would sing back to him. They were sweet songs, but short and really not much to mention.
Then one day their paths crossed again. This time they took notice of one another. This time they stood a while and talked. This time they shared a simple first kiss. They looked out on each path which stretched before them and they could see that their paths would remain close and crossing for at least some time to come.

The boy reached out for the girls hand. The girl drew close and smiled. And on they continued along their paths, each holding the others hand. Sometimes their paths stretched further apart and they had to reach out to keep holding hands. Other times their paths crossed very close and they could whisper to one another in tones only young lovers use. 

One day the boy said, “will you?” and the girl said “yes”. Now their paths were so close they were almost indistinguishable…almost.
A short time past and then the boy said, “I do” and the girl said “I do”. On that day their separate paths became one path. And they walked on holding hands.
Now the boy would always have someone to help him up when he fell, and the girl would always have someone to help her over the boulders that they might sometimes find in their way. The boy and the girl would have each other to brighten the dark valleys, and make the high peaks seem less daunting. They could walk forward into the unknown trusting that the maker of the path, the one who brought them together, would guide them each step of the way ahead. 

Tamara and Raul, may you walk hand in hand wherever the future takes you. May you lift each other up without judgement when you fall. May you help each other over the hurdles that may stand in your way. May you make the dark valleys brighter for each other and the high peaks less challenging to climb. When the path before you twists and turns out of view, and fog covers each step of the way, may you hold each others hands a little tighter and walk forward bravely, trusting that God walks beside you and will lead you safely onward. 

And now, would you all raise your glasses with me in celebration of a boy finding a girl, in joy of God leading two people together, and in expectation of a love that will reach far into the future. To Tamara and Raul! We love you! 

Rejoicing in the journey –

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The Dixon Wedding

Sarah & Matt DixonOn Friday my good friend Sarah Mills became Mrs. Mathew Dixon. I love weddings and it made me especially happy to be at Matt and Sarah’s wedding. It was such a joy to stand up with her on her big day. They are a wonderful couple and I am so excited to see where God will take them from here.

This is the toast/blessing I gave at their wedding:

I have known Sarah for about 10 years now – you can make a lot of memories in 10 years and I have many wonderful ones of Sarah and I hanging out – some of which include dreaming about this day – getting married. But, one memory that stands out to me is that we used dance around the kitchen singing and pretending wooden spoons were microphones. Some of the songs we used to sing regularly were songs from the Sound of Music, so in honor of those memories and in honor of both Sarah and Matt’s love for music I wrote this blessing:

Do – a deer a female deer – Sarah, may you be like a gentle and tender deer. May you be a kind and loving support  – a place of comfort and rest for Matt. And, Matt, may you be gentle with Sarah, may you treat her like a tender deer, even when she’s not acting like one. Remember that Sarah is God’s gift to you, remember that no matter how strong she may seem and how assertive she can be at times she is fragile and God has given you the charge to care for her and provide for her.

Ray – a drop of Golden sun – May your marriage be a ray of light that brings God’s precious Son to all who know you . Remember that your relationship with each other is not just about your relationship with one another it is a symbol and example to the world of Christ’s love for the Church.

Me – a name I call myself. My prayer for you is that me, my and I be quickly replaced with us, ours, and we – may you quickly learn to think in terms of what will be best for your relationship instead of simply what would be best for you as an individual.

Fa – A long long way to run. May you have a long life together, a long way to run together and may you journey through each twist and turn in the road laid out for you continually clinging to God and one another.

So – a needle pulling thread. May you be sown together in an unbreakable bond that would stand all the tests of time and trails of fortune. The sowing may not be comfortable at times, it demands a needle piercing your very being, but I pray that in moments when unity is painful you would remember that God is making you one and the outcome will be a deeper and more beautiful connection to one another.

La – a note to follow so. After the sowing may you find the joyful music of unity – may your heart sing together and your souls praise God in joyful song.

Te – I drink with Jam and bread. I pray that in your life together you would always have bread (the necessities of life) – no matter what may befall you may you always have what you need and in those times of lack and little may you rejoice together.  I also pray that your life together would have tea and jam as well – may you know more than just the necessities of life – may there be times when you would also know the joys of plenty. May you together praise God in the times of abundance as well as the times of scarcity. And in both may you cling to Him and to one another and rejoice that you can face it all together.

That would bring us back to do. May you both be like soft dough in each other’s hands and in God’s hands – allowing God through each other to shape you into the people that he desires and designed you to be – until you become so intertwined and mashed together that you are no longer two but one.

Raise your glasses with me now in toast and celebration of Matt and Sarah Dixon and the new life and unity that they are beginning today. Congratulations to both of you and God bless!


Rejoicing in the journey –
Beth Stedman

Photograph by Beth Stedman

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