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.
In Asia the color red is sacred and signifies great joy. This idea, goes well with an old Cambodian Fable that states, couples who are fated to be together are attached to one another by an invisible, red cord. The fable is told, that as the years go by, the cord begins to shrink in length. Each passing year the cord gets smaller and smaller, so by the time the two soul mates have grown, and are ready to love, they are standing face to face.
In a cord ceremony, this fable is shared out loud. After the reading or sharing of this story, the officiant takes a long red cord and ties a knot into the center and speaks of a blessing or wish for the couples happiness. The cord is then handed off to the immediate family and they are asked to make a silent prayer for the couple and tie a knot in the cord. Mothers and Fathers make their silent prayers and tie their knots. Siblings then make their silent prayers and tie their knots. The cord can then be passed through the wedding attendants, bridesmaids and groomsmen, all make silent prayers and then tie a knot. The cord is then given back to the officiant who drapes the cord over the brides shoulder and blesses the couple.
The red cord is said to be a tangible reminder of the loving blessings and wishes made for the couple on their wedding day.
Blending waters is a tradition inspired by Buddhism and is deeply rooted with great meaning.
The bride and groom are each to bring, to the ceremony, a small jar of water from a place that holds special meaning to them. It should be from a place that brought them joy, that symbolizes their youth and growing up and becoming who they are today. This is very fitting for a couple who grew up or spent much time near a body of water ( a lake, a river, an ocean).
During the ceremony the waters are poured together. Blending the water symbolizes these two souls uniting their past to create their future. Creating a new life for both, a new water to be shared.
I have adopted this ceremonial thought and inspiration from the Middle East.
Eight wooden bowls are placed on a table near the bride and groom. Each bowl contains a spice. I call these "The Spices of Life" or rather "The Spices of Marriage". Each spice is a representation of a blessing that is to be bestowed upon the couple. During the ceremony, the couple is handed a pouch, and spice by spice, they spoon a bit of each into their sachet. As they scoop, the blessings are made. A spoon of Salt for the tears that will be shed during your marriage, may they mostly be tears of joy. A bit of Brown Sugar is a wish for sweet days ahead. A scoop of Garlic with a prayer for a safe home and good health. A pinch of Rosemary and a blessing to prosper, may you be rich in love and friendship as well as money. Some Nutmeg with a reminder to keep the romance and some Paprika for passion. Savory is needed for balance and stability and a Bay Leaf is added for extra flavor.
Blessing the rings, is a lovely way to involve your wedding guest and add a charming effect to your ceremony. Have the officiant announce to the seated guest (before the start of the ceremony) that everyone here is a very special person in the life of the bride or groom and they would like them all to place a blessing upon their rings. The rings are then handed to a guest who places their blessing and hands them off to the person seated next to them. The rings make their way around the room being infused with loving thoughts and positive energy.
This is a ceremony idea in which brightly colored marbles and pieces of smooth, colored glass are handed out to guest as they arrive. Up front near the bride and groom sits an oddly shaped, unique bottle. During the ceremony I talk about the "Mosaic of a Marriage"
A Mosaic is a beautiful and elaborate piece of art, created from bits of tile, broken glass or marbles. The materials are different colors, shapes, and sizes, placed side by side to create a masterpiece. No two mosaics are ever the same. Each one is an original. I believe the mosaic is a beautiful metaphor for life, a metaphor for marriage.
I tell the wedding guest to let the material they hold in their hand (glass or marble) represent to the couple the days that lie ahead. Each day, a new day that will make up their life's journey. Some of the days will be bright, brilliant, and smooth. Some days will be dark, bold, or jagged. Yet together, side by side, these days will create their masterpiece and life's art.
I then tell each guest to place a blessing, for the couple, on the bit of color that they hold. In doing so they will be blessing the many shades of the days ahead. Then row by row the guest come forth and drop their blessing into the bottle creating a collection of wishes for the couple to keep. When all the blessings have been delivered by the guest, the couple corks the bottle sealing in their good wishes. And a beautiful bottled mosaic has been created.
The apple has always held symbolic meaning. It is depicted as the forbidden fruit in reference to The Garden of Eden. It has been written in fairytales and has been made enchanted. However, my favorite stories of apples come from Greek Mythology. When Hera married Zeus, Gaia gave to them a tree that she magically made blossom golden apples to signify unity and long love. Dionysus, the God of Wine, gave apples to Aphrodite while trying to court her into loving him and in the poem the Odyssey written by Homer, the couple shared an apple on their wedding night.
In China, the written word for apple is "ping" which is also the word for "peace" . To the Chinese apples represent peace, while their blossoms represent beauty. The Celts highly praise the apple and their symbolic meaning includes love, truth, peace, beauty, honesty, romance, fertility and remembrance. All things that make up a marriage. The celts saw the apple as a treasure, especially for it's ability to stay ripe over a long period of time (when stored in a cool, dry place) . This was symbolic to a lasting love. Meaning, love is present even after the peak of ripeness and that long after the passion subsides, love is still there. Long past the honeymoon, when simple companionship is all that is needed, love lingers.
I would love to write a wedding with an apple twist. I would do so using these stories and symbolisms. At the altar table would be a beautiful vintage teapot full of hot, spiced, apple cider. Two vintage tea cups would sit by it's side (this is especially fitting for a autumn or winter ceremony). The couple would be reminded of celtic symbolism for apple and loving completely, through the passing of time. And then I would pour them their spiced cider and with a toast, bless them with a love everlasting, peace, honesty, truth, romance, remembrance and a beautiful life (all things that represent the apple, as well as marriage). The same idea could actually be done with a real apple, sitting deliciously on an altar table. The officiate speaks of the symbolic meanings of the apple and the couple each shares a bite.
Spiced apple cider can be served at the reception and apples could be used throughout the wedding decor.
Celtic knots are beautiful, mystic and intriguing. These knots have been engraved into crosses, and designed into pieces of jewelry, art and even tattoos. Although the symbolism of the celtic knots were never recorded, scholars and theologians believe they know what these knots mean.
They have been called eternity knots and are said to symbolize two souls intertwined and bound together in an everlasting love. The interlooping paths of the knots imply a theme of eternity. As you follow the strands of the knot you will find no beginning and no end suggesting a complete and endless love. Because of its beauty and symbolism the celtic knot has been twisted into wedding bands and would be an artistic addition to a wedding ceremony.
An idea to incorporate the celtic knot into your ceremony would be to create an eternity knot stencil before the wedding day. The stencil would be placed on a canvas or thick card stock at the altar. The couple could trace the stencil, brush stroke by brush stroke, using a dark colored paint pen. While the couple creates their eternity knot the officiant will elaborate on the meaning and metaphors surrounding the celtic knot.
The framed ceremony knot will always serve as a reminder of your special day and your endless love.
I'm not talking about a handfasting ceremony. I'm talking about "tying the knot" A triple fisherman's knot to be exact. It is said to be one of the simplest knots to tie. Yet, it is one of the strongest knots. In fact the rope will break before the knot comes undone. The knot only gets tighter with pressure.
A rope could sit at an altar table and be presented to the bride and groom during the ceremony. Together, the couple will tie the triple fisherman's knot into the rope. as they do this the officiant will explain to the guest the strength of the triple fisherman's knot as well as the significance. While tying the triple knot, the couple symbolizes three things. The past that joined them together and brought them to the altar, the present and the moment they are in, and the future they will share.
After the wedding day the fisherman's knot can be framed into a shadow box with the wedding date and displayed in the couples home.
I believe in the ceremony of things. I believe in making personal occasions PERSONAL.