- the possibilities are endless!
Traditional wedding ceremonies are rich in ritual – exchanging rings, saying vows, having a father give the bride away, wearing a white dress and so on. Symbolic rituals and actions such as these can be powerful and significant when done with authenticity, but for each element, I'll encourage you to ask if it's right for you. And by extension, you have the freedom to create your own rituals in your wedding ceremony to make it all the more personal and meaningful, and really say something about your relationship. Whilst many people don’t want to detract from the words being spoken, you may find that some of the following rituals resonate with you, your relationship, and your guests - or you might come up with your own!
A hand-fasting is an old Celtic custom. It used to signify a betrothal, but is now growing in popularity during the wedding. The couple hold hands and ribbons are tied around the hands as the couple make promises. It can be tied in such a way that when you withdraw your hands, a knot is formed in the ribbon, hence ‘tying the knot’. They tying can be done by myself or family and friends. We've even hidden the ribbons under chairs so the 'tyers' are chosen at random!
A ring warming is a very tactile way of involving your friends and family in your ceremony. The idea behind ring warming is that your loved ones offer a blessing or well-wishing over your wedding rings, before you exchange them as part of your ceremony. The rings are taken to the back and then passed between each guest, making their way up to the front as the ceremony goes on. That way everyone is given the role of ring-bearer at your wedding.
If it's not your entire guest list, who will bring the rings to the front? Traditionally you might rely on the best man, but there are other options to consider. How about asking a grandparent, your mothers, or a child. For those with furry family members, I've coordinated lots of doggy ring-bearers, and even have a GoPro and harness so you can capture the whole thing on video!
Again, this can show unity and blending, especially of two families into one.
Sand blending is most commonly chosen when couples come from different parts of the world, and blend sand collected from their respective homelands. Each of you has a vessel filled with different sand. The sand is then poured simultaneously into a larger container so it is mixed together. Of course, family members might like to get involved too.
If you don't hail from somewhere tropical and balmy, the same sentiment can be demonstrated by mixing soils from different places, perhaps in re-planting a tree (a favourite ritual for horticultural couples, or those moving into a new home).
This can have several meanings - the unity of the two of you, the blending of a family, or remembrance.
As a couple you can hold a lit taper each, and use them to light a third candle together, symbolizing your unity. This could be kept and re-lit at anniversaries.
If you want to involve other family members, or unite existing children into the new family, they could also light a central candle with you.
Candles can also be lit to remember loved ones not present.
Yep, a lot of couples seem to like the inclusion of alcohol in their ceremonies.
Whether it's the Scottish tradition of sharing a ‘quaich’ of whiskey, the Jewish tradition of sharing a glass of wine, or the Polish tradition of selecting a shot glass at random - filled with either water or vodka!
I've started ceremonies by inviting every guest to down a shot of Jager, and ended ceremonies with the couple - and their bridal party - giving each other a toast.
Well, your ceremony is a celebration after all!
I'm sure you'll know by now how important I think your wedding vows are. But you don't have to say everything on the day. You might have statements or intentions you want to keep secret until your honeymoon, first anniversary, or tenth anniversary - or to be read during your first big argument.
You'll also be given the chance to write an anniversary letter as part of our planning. These could be sealed in a box or bottle during your ceremony.
Again, this is a lovely way to involve friends and family. Why not get your stationery designer or creative friend to make a large copy of a marriage certificate, or even your simplified vows - or you could use the display vows I supply you with, if you're doing a vow workshop - and ask guests to autograph it too, or add thumbprints. Best done after the ceremony, but it can be explained as part of the script.
For those who are realistic about marriage! Why not introduce a conflict diffuser as part of your commitments. A bell that can be rung to call a truce. A reminder that opening a bottle of champagne is more fun than arguing. A reconnecting ritual like creating a gin cocktail together. Even swapping a childhood photo of each other, a gentle reminder that when we're sulky or mad, it's often the small child in us struggling to be understood.
Jumping the Broom
Jumping the broom is a fun way to end a ceremony. It originated as a way for African-American slaves, unable to legally marry, to celebrate their own marriage custom. It's most often seen in neo-pagan ceremonies representing overcoming obstacles together, or a clean sweep for the future.
There are endless other cultural traditions, both ancient and modern; Jewish glass smashing, the Hindu seven steps, the German practice of sawing through a log! I'm always interested to learn about unfamiliar customs and blend different heritages into your ceremony.
Anyone fancy performing the Haka?
Perhaps you're actually after a surprise? I can work behind your backs to plan a flash mob or surprise, sometimes with the help of your wedding party. Group photo signs arranged as guests arrive. Granddad playing a surprise song on piano. Getting the children involved.
Or maybe your story has a bit of a theme. For one theatrical duo I gave the front rows roses to throw on stage at the end of the performance (I mean ceremony) to initiate a standing ovation.
The best ideas are often uniquely your own.
Feeling inspired? Jot down your ideas ready for our consultation - or drop me a message immediately before you forget!