The hand washing is done at the start of the ceremony. A pitcher of water, a bowl, and two hand towels sit on a unity table. The officiant starts with saying this ceremony will begin a little differently, "with a hand washing". The couple places their hands over the bowl and the officiant pours the water onto them. It is explained that the hand washing signifies forgiveness and a new beginning. Symbolizing that the couple is entering into their union Forgiven. All past arguments, disagreements, woes and trial are pardoned. And they are starting on a new journey together. The couple is also reminded to remember to forgive throughout their journey, to not hold onto to grudges, to respect the others individuality and to start each day anew.
If you like the idea of a tree planting ceremony, how about planting a garden?
On a table up front, near the bride and groom, sit several pots full of soil, or one long container, a scattering of seeds and a watering can. During the opening of the ceremony the officiant will compare marriage to a garden. The seeds you plant and the plants you will want to bloom.
After the opening, the couple will each take up a seed and place it into the soil. The officiant will say this is the seed of love - let it grow. Another seed is taken up and planted by the couple, and the officiant may say this is the seed of understanding, and so on and so on. So that the seeds of kindness, respect, forgiveness, patience and passion are all planted by the couple.
The officiant will remind the couple that in all gardens weeds may grow. You must tend your garden. Yes, gardens and marriage require work and cultivating. They must be nourished. It is at this time the couple can pick up the watering can and begin to water their garden. The officiant may say, just as this garden needs sun, soil and water to flourish, you two must nurture each other in order to grow. In doing so, your seeds will blossom and your garden of love will grow in abundance, giving you a lush life, full of amazing things.
I believe in the ceremony of things. I believe in making personal occasions PERSONAL.