Rituals add fun, romance and even sophistication to your ceremony.
When we look forward to a wedding we look forward to those big moments which are all rituals. The bride’s entrance, the giving away of the bride and the exit of the couple to name just three. These rituals are full of drama and they mark and symbolise key events. Today couples can choose from a wide selection of other rituals which can be used within the ceremony to symbolise joining, coming together or the start of a new life together. Below we consider some of the options.
This is an ancient ritual and is the origin of the phrase 'tying the knot'. Most of you will be familiar with this ritual where the couple have their hands bound together as they make their vows. It is full of symbolism as the couple are joined together making a life bond. Handfasting is full of theatre with colourful ribbons plaited or added individually which are beautifully arranged and tied as the meaning of the ritual is explained by the celebrant. You can choose to involve your guests in the handfasting by inviting your friends and family to add their own pre cut ribbons to the handfasting cord and so entwine their own blessings and good wishes within the handfasting cord. For more information on handfasting read our blogs, A year and a day and Handfasting Ribbon
The exchange of rings is the joining ritual most asscociated with weddings but even this standard is having a make over with the introduction of ring bearers and ring warmings. If an owl can deliver a letter in Harry Potter surely it can deliver a ring to bring magic and spectacle to this central tradition?! The options for alternative ring bearers is limited only by the imagination, the location of your ceremony - and fear of what could go wrong! Ring warming gives your guests an opportunity to hold the rings before you place them lovingly on each others 3rd finger. To avoid mishap and to manage the passage of the ring through all the guests they are usually tied to a long ribbon which weaves its way through the rows of guests. Guests warm the rings with their hands and hearts as they hold and bless them and impart their love and good wishes for your future together.
'Love' or 'Oath' Stones are the new kid on the block which can be used in joining rituals. Before the ceremony you would together find or choose a stone which has some meaning for you both. You might make a trip to a special beach or find one in the garden of your first home together. Some couples choose to paint and decorate their stone (acrylic paints work best!) whilst others prefer to keep their stone in its natural state. During your ceremony when you are making your promises to each other for your lives together you both hold your special stone - metaphorically setting your promises to each other in stone. The belief in the power of stone is embedded in our culture, did you know that every British monarch since James I has been crowned sitting on or above the Stone of Scone? For more information on this ritual and how your family and friends can join in, see our Love Stones blog.
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
Candles have lots of meaningful associations; romantic dinners, an offering or birthday cakes and wishes! It is not surprising therefore that they are increasingly being used in ceremonies to create atomosphere, symbolism and theatre (not to mention beautiful photographs!). A unity candle ceremony typically has a principal candle to represent the couple's future life together. Two (usually) smaller candles are used to represent their families and premarried self. Some couples choose to also involve their children in this aspect of the ceremony and may have other candles which their children have decorated and chosen. Another option is for the family candles to be lit during the ceremony by the mother's of the couple. The celebrant will explain the meaning and significance of the ritual and invite the couple to use a taper to take a light from their family candle and together to light the unity candle. The light, the fragility of that light, it's ability to help navigate through the dark, to throw light on the new and unknown can all be used to illuminate the significance of ritual and the commitments being made. The flame of the unity candle cannot be separated into the flames of its parents the flame, like the couple, go forward as one and are inseperable. If tradition has been followed and the father of the bride has a significant role in the ceremony this is a beauitiful way to recognise the significance of the mother. As we become increasingly aware of inequality in our traditions we need to add new elements to create balance and recognise those who make us dance in candle light.
The idea that you can bring together two separate elements which have their own distinct character and join them to represent your union and inseperable future together has led to many new rituals being developed. For example sand ceremonies are very popular. If you choose to have a sand ceremony you and other family members if you wish, can take sand from beaches of significance to you both or choose colours that resonate because of their symbolic meaning. The different sands are then poured together during the ceremony and once merged they are of course inseperable and provide a gorgeous lasting keepsake of your special day. Children partiiculalry love being part of this ritual and it can be a great way of involving them and of symbolising the union of two families - not just two people. Sand ceremonies also provide great photographic opportunties! Other variations on Unity rituals include whisky blending, cocktail making or tea blending - you can choose something that is personal to you both.
Jumping the broom to symbolise marriage is an ancient tradition that is now being incorporated into more modern ceremonies. You take a leap into your new life together as you successfully jump over that first obstacle of a broom! This ritual fits best at the end of the ceremony. It is great fun to be part of, lovely to watch and - of course - makes great photographic opportunities! As with many of the other rituals you can also ask your guests to get involved counting down and cheering your success! For more information see our Jumping the broomstick blog.
Everyone associates popping a cork with celebrations and it is common for quests to be given a glass of fizz once the ceremony is over. With a celebrant led ceremony, there is no reason why you can't toast each other during the ceremony if you wish, perhaps literally sharing a glass together. A less well known association with a wedding ceremony is the drinking of mead. Mead is made from honey and is reputed to have aphrodisiac properties! The term 'honeymoon' comes from the traddition of a couple going off together for a lunar month with enough mead to reduce inhibitions so that their marriage would be blessed with a child. The Father of the Bride was responsible for supplying enough mead.
Unlike the other rituals discussed which focus on unity and inseperability, this ritual helps you prepare for times when things are not going to plan. You should both write about why you love your partner and put it in your chosen box, along with anything else you want to include - perhaps a set of rules to help you manage any disagreements etc. You then seal your box together ready for it to be opened should first aid be needed in the future!
A time capsule containing images and momentos of your life together can be sealed to be opened on an agreed anniversary. Alternatively a fine bottle of wine or something else, meaningful to you both, may be presented to the couple with instructions about when it can be opened!
A great way to get your guests involved would be to invite them to write their good wishes and perhaps pieces of advice for you both on a slip of paper which they can place in a jar or other suitable container. On your anniversary you can relive your ceremony by reading the messages of love that you received.
There are so many rituals to choose from and each one can be carried out in a number of different ways. When deciding what you want to include in your ceremony, the best place to start is to think about what is important to you both within the ceremony - what do you want to symbolise? It might be your everlasting love or perhaps the start of a great adventure together? Next find a ritual that will help you both to capture its essence. If you are spoilt for choice, you might decide to pick the one that will have the greatest theatre and spectacle, or perhaps one that helps you to involve your friends and family - you want to cherish this memory so make it stand out. As Celebrants we will of course help you choose, discuss various options and give advice - but remember it's your ceremony so it's your choice. Enjoy!