Now, before any traditionalists reading start wagging their heads, relax. These two didn't get married in a Church, so I didn't set off any atom bombs by making my way to the pulpit.
However, when I was trying to write out the blessing, my friend poked over my shoulder and said, "Are you even allowed to do that?"
I laughed and said, "I'm not trying to preside over the marriage, if that's what you're asking. I was asked to lead prayer before lunch. You say grace before meals, right? This is exactly the same, only it's in front of a bunch of people there to tie one on in honor of the marriage."
He laughed and shrugged his shoulders. I think he was somewhat scandalized that anyone but a minister would be asked to do such a thing. The fact that I - someone he related to as a "super traditionalist" - would consent to do something so "modern" threw him for a loop. So I explained it again.
"Mothers are called upon to bless their children. Friends bless one another through prayers and works of charity. Wives can bless their husbands. Priests aren't the only ones capable of speaking words of blessing. I mean, when someone sneezes, should I keep my mouth shut because I don't have the proper anatomy?"
There is a difference between attempting to play priest by offering the words of consecration (or even the blessing of the Church) and being a loving friend who offers words of blessing before their wedding luncheon.
In that analogy, he finally understood. I wasn't doing anything improper because I wasn't attempting to inflate my position. It was a simple leading of prayer - and I say "leading" because my words were likely those that were on the hearts of many present (my atheist husband not included - ha).
So while composing this prayer, I felt I should keep two things in mind: the Truth of Marriage (it being a sacramental gift that calls us to emulate God) and gratitude for both the meal and the couple, themselves. This is what I came up with:
Let us begin as we should all things...
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Lord, we thank You for this feast. Moreso, we thank You for the couple that this feast celebrates. Their sacramental marriage is a reflection of You - unifying, creative, self-sacrificing and unconditional. Thus, we thank You for joining together S** and B**** so that their love can forever be a beacon of Your Love.
We ask that you bless this meal, for it is through this meal that we all partake of their joy. Bless our drinks which we raise in their honor. Finally, bless all of us present here today - expectant witnesses of the multiplication of love their marriage has already brought forth and will continue to bring forth for years to come. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord.
Pretty non-heretical, right? So yes - a woman can most certainly bless. We are called to. A blessing is not simply the words of Consecration. A blessing can be listening to an upset friend, offering a ride to your coworker who just missed her bus, or even leading Grace before a wedding feast.