ADD INS/ RITUALS/ TRADITIONS
Your ceremony will mean so much more to you if it celebrates your love in a way that suits your personalities and style. Perhaps you want to honor your parents or include your children and pets, you could also celebrate your cultural or religious traditions. There are no limits on creativity when it comes to weddings.
Tasting The Four Elements- In a ritual adapted from a Yoruba tradition, the bride and groom taste four flavors that represent different emotions within a relationship. The four flavors typically used are sour (lemon), bitter (vinegar), hot (cayenne), and sweet (honey). By tasting each of the flavors, the couple symbolically demonstrated that they will be able to get through the hard times in life, and in the end, enjoy sweetness of marriage.
Sometimes referred to as a blending of the sands ceremony, each person pours a small container of sand (often two different colors) into a larger vessel to symbolize their coming together as a married couple.
JUMPING THE BROOM
Jumping the Broom- “Jumping the broom” has its roots in African tribal marriage ritual where sticks were placed on the ground representing the couple’s new home. However, it became popular among African-American slaves who could not legally marry, so they created their own rituals to honor their unions. It has been said that the spray of the broom symbolizes the scattering of the African race, and the handle represents the Almighty, who holds them all together.
The tradition of “Jumping the Broom” symbolizes sweeping away the old and welcoming the new- a symbol of a new beginning. The ceremony begins (oftentimes to the sound of the beating of traditional African drums) with the guests forming a circle around the newlyweds as they stand in front of the broom on the floor. This custom may take place during the ceremony after the couple is pronounced married. Many couples choose to decorate their broom with ribbons, flowers, shells, feathers, beads or other mementos to make a special keepsake for their home.
The Garland/Lei exchange are common in Hindu and Hawaiian traditions where the bride and broom typically exchange leis. The family may also exchange leis with the couple. Leis represent the love and respect you have for the person you are giving it to and the unity of the new family.
A Rose to Mothers Ceremony is usually done at the beginning of the wedding ceremony. The couple can offer a rose to each mother after the presentation of the bride/groom, acknowledging the love and sacrifice each mother has made to make her children who they are today - - a man/woman who are ready to be in a committed, loving marriage of their own.
Singe Rose Ceremony (first gifts) is usually done after the wedding vows. Either the Officiant or the Maid of Honor and Best Man can offer the roses to the couple at the appropriate moment. After the exchanging of the rings, your first gift to each other, as newlyweds, is a single rose. The rose is a symbol of love so it is appropriate that is your first gift.
Unity Candle- Lighting the Unity Candle symbolizes the joining together or blending of separate lives. It is the coming together of two families and the merging of two individual into one married couple, a love that burns jointly. The unity candle is an arrangement of three candles (the center candle sometimes being larger than the other two). The two side candles are lit either before the wedding ceremony begins or just before the Unity Candle Ceremony.
These are usually, but not always, lit by the couples mothers on their respective sides of the altar. Lighting the Unity Candle normally takes place after the couple exchange vows and rings. The officiant will share a few thoughts about the unity that exists between newlyweds when they enter into marriage, after which the couple will take their respective candles and light the center candle. The couple then extinguishes their respective candles by gently blowing out the flame, symbolizing that they are now “one.” Sometimes the couple chooses not to blow out their candles symbolizing that even that they are now one, they continue to retain their individuality.
The family ceremony is meaningful way to include the children or stepchildren into the wedding of their parents. It is a simple ceremony that involves giving a token (a ring, necklace, or charm bracelet) to the children during the wedding, symbolizing the unity of the family. Officiant will offer a small statement about love and family and then ask the couple to promise their love and support for their children and/or stepchildren. They then bring the children forward and present each of them with the token. The children can then give a vow or blessing.
Lazo/lasso is a large rosary, a ribbon or a decorated cord that is symbolically draped around the necks or shoulders of the bride and groom, groom first. It is placed in horizontal figure eight while they are kneeling at the altar, to affirm their union and their commitment to always be together side-by-side. The lazo/lasso is associated with a wedding prayer and takes place during the ceremony, after the vow exchange. The couple wears the lazo/lasso throughout the remainder of the service. At the end of the ceremony, the lasso is removed and is given to the Bride as a keepsake.
The ancient Celtic practice of handfasting or tying of hands together involves the couple holding opposite hands ( so their arms make a figure eight-representing eternity or infinity). Then, their hands are tied together with ribbon to symbolize a union. You could even use heirloom fabric to make it even more meaningful.
The wine ceremony is usually performed with a white and red wine. The wine filled carafes can be on the table, the mothers can carry the wines to the table during the processional. Music can be played during the ceremony with the bride and groom pouring the wines into one cup, or the couple can speak some vows. Then they each take a drink of the mixed wine. Another variation, is to mix the wine into a large carafe, pour two glassed of the mixed wine after a toast to each other drink the mixed wine. This ceremony represents the two individual lives are now combined like the two wines into one single life. The drinking of the combined wine signifies the commitment you now make to live your lives as one family.
TASTING THE FOUR ELEMENTS
In a ritual adapted from a Yoruba tradition, the couple taste four flavors that represent different emotions within a relationship. The four flavors typically used are sour (lemon), bitter (vinegar), hot (cayenne), and sweet (honey). By tasting each of the flavors, the couple symbolically demonstrated that they will be able to get through the hard times in life, and in the end, enjoy sweetness of marriage.
TIE THE KNOT
In this old Irish tradition, the couple ties a fisherman's knot with ribbon or robe to symbolize a bond that, rather than break under pressure becomes stronger.
TREE PLANTING CEREMONY
If you're getting married outside, consider planting a sapling- it represents growth, something you and your new spouse will do a lot of together. During the ceremony the couple should place soil from two separate containers on top of the planting, representing two individuals coming together as one.
UNITY BEER CEREMONY
Beer ceremonies are a unity alternative. A black and tan is traditionally created by combining a pale ale with a dark stout. Create your own combination to represent the joining of two tastes that blend perfectly together.
UNITY TEA CEREMONY
Tea ceremonies are a unity alternative. Combining two blends of tea, steeping into a fully developed cup to share with one another.
This custom derives from Native American culture and involves wrapping a quilt around the newlyweds' shoulders to symbolize warmth and togetherness as they take on the future together. The ancient Cherokee tradition, however, is a bit more involved. First, both parties are wrapped (individually) in blue blankets, before the officiant blesses the union. Next, the couple is shrouded in a single white blanket. The blue represents the elements of the couple's respective past lives and the white symbolizes the couple's dedication to filling their new lives with peace.
PASS THE ROPE
Passing around a rope to each attendee allows them to take part in the matrimony and signals their commitment to supporting the marriage. After the last guest has held the rope, it should be returned back to the couple, who braid it together (this symbolizes their union to each other and, if they're religious, to God).
Place meaningful items—like a bottle of wine created during the year you first met, a favorite set of poems, or a poignant keepsake—into a box and help each other nail it shut. This modern ceremony is about togetherness, both at the time of the capsule's creation (take turns hammering!) and at it's opening, on your one year anniversary.
WASHING OF THE HANDS OR FEET
The act of washing your spouse's feet (or their hands, if you prefer) symbolizes the release of any past emotional blocks, so both parties can enter the marriage with open hearts. This cleansing ceremony works especially well in outdoor weddings where messiness is not a concern. Indoors, couples can hold their hands over a bowl or share a goblet of water to symbolize the purity of love.
As well as sweetness, honey also represents sustenance and all good things that couples would want for each other during their lives together. For the Honey Ceremony all you need is some honey and a glass. Before saying your vows to each other, your officiant will introduce the idea of the honey ritual and explain a little about what the meaning is behind it. Officiant will then instruct you to scoop up some honey on to your little finger (pinky finger) and feed honey to each other. Some couples feed the honey to each other at the same time (which can be hilarious) or others do it one by one (which can still be hilarious!).
Celebrate your scientific backgrounds by creating a wedding-safe chemical reaction during your vows. Surprise your guests by not telling them what to expect when the two liquids join together!
UNITY HEART/UNITY CROSS
Another unity alternative connecting a cross, heart , or any symbol of your faith to display in your home after the wedding.
TILE BREAKING/BREAKING OF GLASS
The tradition of tile breakin originates in Asia, but is similar to the Jewish ritual of "Mazel Tov', the breaking of a wrapped glass to conclude the marriage ceremony. The central concept, in both rituals, is that what is broken cannot be unbroken, just as the vows are made during the ceremony cannot be unspoken.
With its origins in Native American culture, a ritual that recognizes the four directions is an excellent way to show reverence for the natural world during a ceremony. Traditionally, the four directions ( North, South, East, West) are associated with the four classical elements of earth, fire, air, and water.
It is usual to start with the East, as this is associated with the sunrise and,therefore, the beginning of the day. One would then typically move clockwise through the other directions.
The officiant explains the importance understanding your relationship to the world and the directions you have traveled, as well as knowing your path ahead. The couple will then be guided to turn in the appropriate direction for each stage, and a corresponding text read each time they have done so.
Based in Hindu tradition, this ritual requires the couple to circle a fire, or another symbolic object, seven times. Each revolution is used to focus on a single hope for the future. Where a fire is used, a couple may choose to throw rice, or tea leaves, into the flames to begin each step.
A blank canvas represents a new beginning. During a painting ritual, the couple pours, or daubs, different colors onto the canvas. Doing so symbolizes the mingling of their ideas, expressions, and styles. This is an especially appropriate ceremony for couples with a strong artistic inclination or background. If a couple has children, or each bring children to the new family unit, this can be a fun way to include them.
UNITY SANDWICH MAKING
A fun, and truly modern, ritual that can make for excellent theater, is to put on a show of food preparation. A simple way of doing this is for a couple to share the process preparing a sandwich. Food preparation rituals might be particularly appropriate for a couple working in the catering industry, or whose first meeting took place in a restaurant, perhaps with one serving the on that fateful day.
A recipe can easily be made to symbolize marriage. Each of the couple brings their ingredients to the mix, and uses their particular skills and experience to adapt them to fit the whole. Out of many items and qualities, they then create a synergy of tastes and flavors that becomes far more than the sum of its parts.
During the reading and reciting of the wedding vows, a couple may choose to hold and Oathing Stone in their hands. It was traditionally believed that holding the stone at this time"casts the words into the stone."
In modern variations, the stone might be engraved with the couples initials, and possibly the date of the ceremony. The source of the stone, minerals it contains, its color,or other characteristics may be chosen because they have a special significance for the couple, or the stone may be natural to the region the couple comes from.
Many couples exchange books at some point in their courtship, often with inscription lovingly placed inside the covers. Many couples meet for the first time at college or bond discussing their favorite authors. Books are also symbols of the story of life, and the lessons we learn along the way.
A couple for whom books have a particular meaning might like to select a volume, and present this to each other as part of their ceremony. They may like to read the inscription they have written to aloud for all to hear, and could even incorporate this as part of their vows. They may like to choose a favorite passage from the selected book as a reading. This can also be interchanged with records.
The gift of chocolates in a box is of the most recognizable emblems of courtship. A box of chocolates may also be a symbol of life, which offers many flavors of experience, some of which are bitter and some sweet. There may also be times when we encounter unexpected nuts.
The chocolates can be placed on a table before the couple or presented by a junior relative acting in a role similar to that of a ring bearer. A couple may choose their favorites or those that made up a memorable gift during their time dating. They may choose chocolates that are traditional to their culture or region,or which have a particular significance to their families. Also, the couple may choose to add a small chocolate offering to their guests, so that they can share in the experience.
GERMAN CUP RITUAL
Cups have often been used in rituals to symbolize love, giving, and the taking of oaths. Several traditions link wedding ceremonies and cups. However, a couple may also wish to create their own drinking ritual, perhaps with accompanying vows, with a cup, glass, or container that has special meaning for their story.
As with so many rituals from Germany, The Nuernberg Bridal Cup Ceremony begins with a legend. Click here to read the legend. Many people choose to read the story of the bridal cup to their guests as it is an inspiring story of love. Others prefer to use their own toasts.
Fill the large skirt end with champagne. After the large skirt end of the bridal cup is filled, the smaller swiveling cup needs to be filled. The couple must stand closely together facing each other with just enough space for the cup between them. At the same time, the wedding couple raises the cup to their lips to drink.
SCOTTISH CUP RITUAL
A Quaich ceremony ( pronounced "quake") is a Scottish traditional two handled cup. The Quaich is often referred to as the love cup as you each take a handle to take a drink, showing you trust one another to share the cup. You can fill the cup with a drink of your choice,usually whiskey or you can combine two drinks symbolizing the two of you becoming one. They also use the Quaich at the reception for their first toast together.
Symbolic of the sharing between the couple, its an ancient vessel used by two families or clans, to celebrate a bond, with each leader partaking of the offered drink.
The tradition of "breaking bread during a wedding comes from Eastern Europe. Each of the couple takes a bite, or a chunk, from a loaf. The bread may be dipped in honey or sweet butter, and then offered to the other to taste. Doing so symbolizes the sweetness and nourishment each brings to the union.
Bread, broken and then offered, can symbolize many aspects of the wedding ceremony. It may represent the coming together of the different qualities, or ingredients, each partner brings to the marriage.
There re several ways a couple might customize a bread ritual. First, they might choose a type of bread particular to their culture or region, of birth. Second they may ask the mothers to share the cooking of the ritual loaf, and then present it during the ceremony.
COCKTAIL UNITY CEREMONY
The mixing of cocktails could be a fun and stylish unity ceremony, and there are a nearly endless number of recipes to choose from. The most meaningful selection will be one that has particular meaning and significance to a couple.
Particularly adventurous couples might like to invent a cocktail recipe to commemorate the day. This drink could also be the signature cocktail of the wedding.
Ribbons, Doves, Butterflies and Bubbles are a fun way of ending the wedding ceremony. This takes place just before the couple recess down the aisle as a newlyweds.