Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Special Observances and Specialty Ceremonies

A quick trip to the Internet will yield many suggestions for special observances within a wedding or unity ceremony. They range from the beautiful to the “are you kidding me?” and from the sacred to the silly. Here are a few that I have incorporated many times into weddings and celebrations.

The unity candle is one of most well know side ceremonies in the wedding. It is usually done with two taper candles and one large candle. The tapers are lit before the ceremony, sometimes by the mothers of the bride and groom. During the ceremony the bride and groom take the tapers and light the middle candle signifying two people becoming one family unit. Sometimes other candles can be lit in honor of children in the family. A unity candle in an outdoor ceremony can sometimes be a challenge. I recommend that a tea light in a votive holder to be lit and placed on the table in case the wind blows out the tapers and it is needed to ignite the wicks.

A blown-out candle is only a minor inconvenience, and not an omen. It in no way reflects on the future prospects of the marriage.

The sand ceremony can be an alternative to a unity candle for some couples. Containers are needed -- one container to pour the sand into, and smaller containers that the sand is poured from. Plain or colored sand can be found at craft stores, or sand can be collected from beaches from prior vacation destinations, from the desert, etc. This ceremony can be created for just the couple or can include as many people as they desire. The bride and groom pour their two containers of sand into the vessel simultaneously. A small amount of sand can be left in each container to symbolize that although the couple is joined, both people remain individuals. If desired, other family members can be asked to pour a container of sand into the vessel. I have created a passage that is read while the sand is poured.

Hand-binding is also called hand-fasting. It appears in most cultures in one form or the other, and in many major religions. Its meaning is essentially the same from culture to culture and religion to religion, in that it is symbolic of the couple’s “oneness” and unity. The form I use is basically Celtic. I ask the bride and groom place their hands on top of each other, and then drape a decorated cord around them to symbolize that the couple has bound their lives together. We can also make a “sandwich” of hands when a couple has children they want to include in the ceremony as a symbol that everybody is now tied together as a family.

The rose ceremony is used to thank or honor guests or family members. A rose or other flower is handed to the honored person in the gathering. I usually write the reason for the rose presentation into the ceremony. In one ceremony, the roses were given to the co-workers in honor of a co-worker who had just passed away. Often the ceremony is used to thank parents and grandparents for being there for the couple throughout their lives.

Another unity ceremony is a wine ceremony. Three glasses -- one empty, one with white wine, and one with red wine -- are placed on a table. The bride pours the white wine, while the groom pours the red wine into the empty glass. They then sip from the glass of the combined wines. The desired effect is a pink wine, and often the color is much better than the actual taste. However, since the ceremony is symbolic, most couples don’t worry too much about how the blend actually works together except for the hue.

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