Remarriage – How to handle 2nd or 3rd Weddings

People often ask what’s appropriate for a second or even third wedding. The short answer is: anything you want.  At least 40% of today’s weddings involve at least one partner who has been married before.* The stigma of divorce is, thankfully, long past. And the hope of what is to come is always cause for celebration. So, while anything goes, there are a few things you might want to keep in mind.

One of the best parts about remarriage is you get to do it your way. With young couples and first weddings compromises are often made, with couples giving over decision-making to parents, especially when they are paying for the whole affair. Now you have control and that means creative control as well – the chance to have the ceremony and celebration in a style and with meaning that reflects where you are in your lives.

Involve the children.

Consider a theme wedding, such as a beach or a bar-b-q.  Destination weddings are great for remarriages – but please be considerate of the expense involved for those invited. Ideas that may not have gone over the first time around now cam be a reality. You may want to have the lavish affair you can now afford. Or conversely – just keep it extremely simple. You’re older now – remember, to provide some childcare for your guests, if appropriate. And most importantly, if you or your partner have children, you have the opportunity to include them in your ceremony and celebration.

Some couples tying the knot for the second or third time choose elopement. And in Pennsylvania elopement is especially easy as no witnesses are required for the legal part. I love a romantic elopement and perform them often. After the turmoil life can bring, sometimes all you need is love and one another.

Everyone deserves happiness.

If a friend or family member wants to throw you a shower – you may gracefully decline. Showers come from the tradition of helping a new family set up house. You probably already have all the toasters you need. However, maybe you never had a shower, or just want to have one for the fun of it. If you do have a shower, make it non-traditional, such as have a wine tasting, cook-off, or garden plant exchange. Or collect items for your local shelter (check first to see what the really need.)

There is no real reason to forgo an engagement party – but remember that many of your family and friends already attended your other engagement party and wedding. So it’s probably a good idea, like a shower, to make it a ‘no gifts’ affair. If you know there are people who simply will not abide by that – again, suggest a charity donation, and guide everyone to your favorites.

Whether you are approaching marriage after a divorce, or you are a widow or widower, taking that new chance at love and remarrying is always a ‘leap of faith.’  It is also an opportunity to bring families together and celebrate once more! Congratulations. Whatever our circumstances, we all deserve happiness. Give yourself permission for that and all will be well.


* U.S. Census Bureau


Photos: Garth Woods






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Puzzles, Pretzel and Pebbles… what could they possibly have in common?

Ritual: A sequence of activities involving gestures, words, and objects, performed in a special place, and performed in a specific sequence. Rituals exist across cultures, time, traditions and religions. Rituals are a feature known to all human societies.

Readers of this column know how much I love ritual and how important I feel it is to have the ritual match the couple. If the ritual doesn’t make sense for someone’s world view it is hollow and meaningless. Rituals are important as a rite of passage, especially for birth, death and weddings.

This is why, sometimes, I invent or reimagine rituals. Here are three unusual wedding rituals where I have done just that; they involve puzzles, pretzels and pebbles.

Tossing Pebbles (photo: Garth Woods)

Over the years I have had a few couples who were puzzle fans – whether old-fashioned jigsaw puzzles, crossword, cyphers, and of course computer games. Puzzles challenge the mind and when undertaken with others, create memorable shared experiences. For one particular couple here’s what we came up with for their wedding ceremony. They took an almost completed puzzle they’d put together in advance and glued the pieces in place so it could stand up up to be seen at the ceremony. For their ritual they placed the final pieces into the puzzle. The meaning was clear. I spoke of how they enjoyed spending time together working on puzzles and how they were like a puzzle whose pieces fit, each contributing to something larger than themselves. And let’s not forget that puzzles teach patience, something much needed in marriage!

Special puzzle for ritual.

For a couple who loved baking and had learned to bake wonderful pretzels, we created something unique. They baked one of their very delicious pretzels (the large soft kind) and shared it as a wedding ritual. I talked about the historic and cultural significance and how sharing food represents their commitment to nourish one another. It tied in with their own backgrounds of German and Italian, and I learned in my research that pretzels had at one time actually been used in religious rituals. A twisted bread was used with the knot representing the trinity. (Bread is always a strong symbol.)

Even a pretzel can be used for a ritual.

And for a kayaking couple who loved spending time on the river – they collected river rocks which we gave out to everyone in attendance. The guests were instructed to hold them throughout the ceremony. I asked them to think of infusing their love, blessings, good thoughts, along with the energy of the moment, into those pebbles. After the ceremony we walked down to the riverbank and tossed them back where they belong. We were sending our wishes for the couple into the universe. It was a group participation thing, which is always a fun and a bonding experience as well.

I share these these three rituals to give you the idea of how even everyday objects, the little things in our daily lives, can hold meaning. Puzzles, pretzels, pebbles. If we stop and look around, look a little deeper, we find symbolism and a sense of wonder. Ritual works, whether religious or not, and science has proven this. Performing rituals helps insure a better outcome according to Francesca Gino, and Michael I. Norton in their Scientific American article in 2013. And that’s exactly why I love using them in the wedding ceremonies I create.








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A beautiful Indian tradition…

I recently had a bride of Indian heritage ask me about using the ‘dot’ on the forehead for her wedding ceremony. I knew a bit about this but realized it was time to learn more and, of course, share it in this column.

The dot, popular in India, is called a ‘bindi’ coming from the Sanskrit word ‘bindu’ meaning point or dot. It is also known as a ‘tilka,’ ‘tilaka’ or ‘tika’ in Hinduism. I will use the term tika here, as that is the term the bride used and because I wanted to stay consistent. This felt confusing enough – at least at first.

Beautiful tika

The tika can be more than a dot, sometimes it can be a line or other shape, and signifies a deeper meaning than a bindi. The tika is a sign of blessings or greetings, while the bindi can simply be decorative. Another small difference is the tika is applied with paste or power, but a bindi may be a paste as well as a jewel. I find them both to be very attractive. The bindi is worn only by women, but a tika is worn by both men and women

Not only Hindus, but Sikhs and Jains apply the red tika, and even Christians in India use them for special occasions.

Both bindi and tika are applied between the eyebrows because this spot symbolizes wisdom and concentration (the third eye) but a tika can be applied to other parts of the body.

A red bindi is worn by most young girls and women in India, but different colors can represent different stages in one’s life. Men wear the tika for various reasons but mostly as a cultural symbol to mark that the wearer is Hindu.


So clearly there are lots of variations on this. That’s what you get when four thousand years of culture and traditions are passed down. What began as a sign of marital status has evolved into a fashion statement, but that critical location on the forehead is still highly significant.

The groom receives the tika

Back to my bride – because the red tika represents marriage, love and prosperity, this would be great to incorporate into their wedding ceremony.  Traditionally a tika was used specifically for weddings when the father of the bride puts in on the groom’s forehead to show he accepts him as his son-in-law. This ritual would take place about a month before the actual wedding day, and that’s not surprising, because in India wedding celebrations take place over a longer time period and are quite elaborate.  With changing times people have become more flexible, and now it can be done at any time and is used for women in weddings as well.


There are many other customs to honor Indian heritage, such as bangle bracelets, mehndi, flower garlands, and who wouldn’t want to see the groom enter on a horse or elephant? There are the Seven Steps, which I love, and many more. But my brides (yes, two brides) wanted the tika, so together we came up with the idea to have each of them mark the other with the dot at the end of the ceremony, after I pronounce them, but before they kiss. Of course I will explain a little history ahead of time, so everyone can better enjoy this special moment. I think it will be wonderful!

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Do you need a wedding program?

About every year or so I tweak and repost this column. Why? Because everyone planning a wedding eventually comes to this question: should I have a ceremony program?

As the big day approaches I sometimes hear from ‘my’ couples, asking for the ‘order of service.’ I know immediately why. They are creating a program and want to include an outline of what will take place.

A great program booklet from one of my couples

This is a common practice, and in a religious ceremony it can help people get ready to find the page for a scriptural passage or which hymn will be up next. That’s ok – to a point. But a program for your ceremony it isn’t always necessary or even desirable. Do I really need to read ‘lighting of candles’ to know that the candles are being lit?

When you think about it, the ‘order of service’ simply encourages people to anticipate what is happening next, distracting them from what is happening in the present. It becomes a checklist to be completed. I believe it is more enjoyable to allow the words and actions to unfold.

Instead, why not approach the booklet as a chance to expand and enhance the ceremony experience for your guests, rather than distract them?

Traditional but still unique.

If you have the time and inclination, a wedding program can provide ‘added value.’ For more creative couples it can even become quite the artistic project!  And it can serve multiple functions.

Here are some suggestions to add content and value to a program:

When listing the bridal party – explain who they are, your relationship with them, or even where they live. People travel far to attend weddings. You can show your appreciation of their time and effort by making mention of it.

Use photos – of yourself, your family and friends. Even your pet who unfortunately, was unable to attend, but sends best wishes!

Share interesting information about your attendants.

Get creative – the program can be made to look like a theater playbill, a menu, a newspaper, a fan, a passport, a map, a chalkboard, anything goes!

Explain rituals that are being performed. Give historical, cultural or religious background, and why it is being used. This is true for religious or secular ceremonies. Remember not everyone is versed in your traditions and will appreciate learning about them.

Give music credits – details on what songs or selections were played and what they mean to you.

If your ceremony is in a unique location – explain why you chose it.

Readings, poems, lyrics – just as with rituals – explain why you are using them in your ceremony, especially if there is particular story to accompany it. Or, include a poem, song lyric, or other writing that you could not fit into the ceremony. But don’t include the work itself if someone is reading it.

Honor family members with a tribute to them by using a meaningful quote with their name – especially poignant for those who couldn’t attend or those deceased.

For multicultural or multilingual families, have translations of some or the entire ceremony.

If children are involved in the wedding party, they can create the cover or write something special. They might also help by assembling or distributing the booklet. Don’t forget to credit children for any role they play in the wedding, and thank them for their support of the marriage. They will appreciate the sentiment, and love seeing their names in print.

If you do decide to create program booklet, I hope you’ll make it special, but if you are stressed, too busy, or simply cannot take on one more task – don’t do it! While your guests may be delighted to find a program full of surprises, truly, no one will be disappointed that there is none at all.


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Planning an engagement or wedding? Ask yourself this…

I adore weddings, but I do take all of the hoopla of both engagements and weddings with a healthy grain of salt. Becoming engaged is a special time in one’s life. Enjoy it to the max, because making a serious commitment to another person is truly profound. Savor these moments.

But (you knew there would be a ‘but’) there seems to be more and more pressure on the person making the proposal to do something spectacular. This is not necessary. Neither a marriage proposal, nor a wedding needs to be a spectacle. Sometimes the quietest moment is the most intense. If you have a flare for the dramatic, ok, go for it – but no one should feel pressured to create something that isn’t right for them.

A quiet moment can be the way to propose.

Often couples get caught up in these trappings while forgetting the deeper meaning of what is happening. So while you’re asking about flowers and cakes and dresses and shoes – ask yourself this:

- If you didn’t have to please anyone else, would this be the choice you’d be making?

- If you didn’t worry about what other people might think, would you do something differently?

When the guest list feels like it’s getting out of control, ask yourself: are these the people I really care about?

Congratulations for doing it your own way!

The answers to these questions will be a useful guide in your decision-making. I’m not saying other people shouldn’t be taken in account. After all, a marriage is about much more than just the two people getting married. Compromise is one of the keys to a successful wedding plan, as well as a successful marriage.

However, you need to balance others needs with your own. The clothes you choose to wear should feel like you. The way you present yourself should be authentic. Magazines are fun, but they often don’t really reflect reality.

Casual fits this couple.

There are some sources of information that do emphasize more realistic approaches, and I hope my tiny piece of the media world is one of them. A few site I like are: Off Beat Bride, Broke-Ass Bride, A Practical Wedding, A Realistic Wedding and the Huffington Post has a great wedding section as well.

I agree with blogger Marta Segal Block when she writes: ‘how do you know if blogs are helping or hurting you? Ask yourself:

1. How do I feel after I look at this blog; energized to start planning or depressed?

2. Is this blog trying to help me or sell me something?

3. Are there a variety of budgets and ethnicities represented on this blog? Do they show anything that resembles what I want, what I can afford, or what I look like?

4. Am I starting to think more about the “things” associated with my wedding and less about the people?

5. Am I ignoring the advice of my wedding vendors in favor of wedding advice given by an anonymous blogger?’

Don’t let wedding planning divide you and your partner. Take the time to do the normal things you do together and don’t let the big event overtake everything.

The right moment.

So while all those little details are great, don’t get me wrong, I adore flowers and photography, I’m just saying don’t lose your perspective.

The perfect wedding is a myth. You’re getting married, you’re an adult and you don’t believe in fairy tales any more. Enjoy all the little details and remember the big picture stuff. Most of all keep your sense of perspective. There, that’s wasn’t cynical of me, was it? Please pass the salt.



Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for your fantastic photography!

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The Strong Symbolism of Water

Recently I wrote about the symbolism of the circle, noting how such a basic and simple thing – a circle – can express so much meaning. I also wrote about the box ritual – again, simple idea, but with great significance. The same, and more, can be said about water.

All cultures, religions and traditions have rituals using water. Holy water. We find symbolism and references everywhere.

A water sharing ritual for the wedding ceremony. (Garth Woods)

Almost all Christian churches or sects have initiation rituals involving water: baptism. Its origins are in the flight of the Israelites out of slavery, and then the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan.

In Judaism purification rituals include washing hands, feet, or total immersion which must done in ‘living water’, meaning the sea, a river, a spring, or in a mikveh (Hebrew for the ritual bath).
To Hindus all water is sacred, especially rivers, and there are seven sacred rivers, most of us know the Ganges, but also: Yamuna, Godavari, Sarasvati, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri.

In Islam water is also very important for cleansing and purifying, and in Taoism water is considered an aspect of wisdom. These are just some of the many religious traditions that incorporate water as profoundly symbolic.


By the water (Bayshore Photography)

Moving from religion to culture, history, and science – we know that all life started in water, where it began to take its many amazing forms. Everything that lives needs water, from the smallest plants to the largest whale. And from the beginning of history, humans have built their homes and their lives around water.

On a global scale the need for access to clean water is one of the upmost importance for the survival of our planet and everything living on it.

And on a micro scale, day-to-day, even including our own hobbies or passions, water plays a big part in our lives. Maybe you simply love sitting by an ocean, lake or stream. Perhaps you love to kayak, swim or fish. The uses, symbols and meanings we human attach to water are endless, because water is itself so vast and remarkable. Even our own bodies are 60% water.

Pope Frances washes in ritual.

Water literally and metaphorically cleanses and soothes, it also lifts and refreshes, it can transport, cool and certainly quenches our thirst. Water supports all life.

What a strong symbol, especially for marriage; and that is why a ‘water sharing’ ritual is one of my favorites. It’s quite simple but yet powerful. The words I choose to go along with it might vary greatly depending on the couple.  The action itself is simple, too: you simply pour and share some water. It is a symbol of your promise to nourish and sustain one another. And may you never thirst for love!


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Stories are the Heart of Ceremony

Life is a series of stories, and stories are a way we learn, remember and connect with one another. They are how we teach our children and how we grow as adults. In an earlier time, Grimm’s fairytales scared children to make them behave, today we read our kids stories to help them develop empathy, and sometimes just to laugh and enjoy life. Isn’t the best part of any funeral service when someone gets up and tells a good story about the deceased? Yes, stories matter.

Scary stories.

I am often amazed at the stories that couples I’m working with share with me. We celebrants are all about storytelling. Learning about the folks we work with is at the heart of what we do. Whether for their wedding ceremony, a renewal of vows, as well as for funerals, memorials, or to welcome a new baby, the journey is the point! Stories are everywhere, and everyone has a story to tell.

Stories are often told for toasts at a wedding reception. A walk down memory lane brings all your guests together, sometimes with laughter and sometimes with tears. And your photographer is there to tell the story of your wedding day in photographs. And your ceremony is the perfect time to share stories as well. Speaking the couples’ truth is my job. I want their ceremony to be infused with meaning and honesty. How did they get here, what brings them together, and where they are going?

The bible is composed of countless stories that have various messages to impart – forgiveness, sharing, faith, overcoming, suffering, salvation, life, death, hope, and more. A good story demonstrates what is important in life, and even inspires us to be better people.

The stories I share about the couple gives insight into the life and love of a couple. And that is why we are gathered together for their wedding.

I am often telling the couples story. (photo: ajohnson)

When I meet with engaged couples I’m always interested to hear how they met, the particular circumstances, and often hear some very unique and colorful anecdotes.

There’s the couple who almost crossed paths many times, over many years. They attended the same schools, worked at the same company, had mutual friends, and were at the same concerts, they grew up around the corner from each other, all are many ways they could have met, should have met – yet they hadn’t. Until they did. Truth can be stranger than fiction. Now that is a good story!

Then there are the childhood sweethearts who reunite, which is more common than you might imagine, and those stories are charming and worthy of celebration. Good things come to those who wait.

What's YOUR story? (Rhinehart Photography)

I recently worked with a couple with an adorable engagement story. The groom proposed three times, because he wasn’t satisfied with how he went about it, even though the bride said yes each time. The first time was on a bus, and he didn’t have a ring; they were discussing a fiancé visa, and it seemed just too practical. That, he said, was definitely not ‘up to snuff’. The second time was when he felt a very romantic moment happening, on a bridge in London, with the London Eye behind them and guitar music in the air. He got down on one knee and proposed (again) right there. And (again) she said yes! But he still didn’t have a ring. So he went for a third round, with the ring this time. He had everything planned out this time, so while on vacation at a resort – he asked again, but this time he slipped on the ring, finally!

Interestingly, when I shared this story at the wedding, the mother of the groom told me she only had heard about two of the proposals and wasn’t aware of the third.

There are so many tales to tell, and it is my joy and pleasure to tell them – with the couple’s complete permission and approval, of course!

Storytelling is a part of every culture and predates the written word. It is essential to being human and it is one of the ways we share and deepen our experiences. What stories do you have to share with your loved ones? Don’t wait.






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A wedding ritual for your future

Looking for the perfect ritual for your wedding ceremony? There are those candles, the sand ceremony, hand-fasting, and many, many religious, spiritual and secular ways to symbolize your joining up together. But there is one in particular that moves with you into your future. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best – this one of them, and it’s all about a box.

You may be familiar with the ‘Wine Box Ceremony’, and it is certainly directly related to that, or you may have heard about the ‘Love Letters Ritual’, another good variation. For now, let’s just call it a ‘Box Ritual’ or perhaps ‘Time Capsule.’ But whatever you call it, it is meaningful, personal and often quite fun. It is such a simple idea, yet so perfect – as good ideas often are!

There are many variations on this ritual (and that’s wonderful in itself) but the overarching idea is to put things into a box and open the box at a later date. That’s it! Brilliant.

The items you choose to include can be letters you write to each other the night before the wedding, keepsakes from the ceremony, a bottle of wine (or other favorite beverage), copies of your vows, or just about anything that captures the meaning of your wedding day.

I took this pic from a recent wedding ceremony.

There are even more cool variations and this is where it gets really good. You can plan to open the box every year on your anniversary. Another twist is to open the box if you hit a rough patch in your marriage. While some couples would rather not reference that, if we are honest we understand every relationship has ups and downs. It’s how you navigate those bumps in the road that make all the difference. When you look through the contents of your keepsake box, read the vows or letters you included, it will remind you of the love that brought you together and help you on your journey. If there’s a bottle of wine to share, all the better!

What sets it apart from just having a keepsake box is having the ritual as a part of the ceremony itself. When I do this I speak about how a marriage begins like an empty box, that you fill with love and meaning throughout the years. You must put something into it, before you can take anything out. There is no love in marriage – love is in people, and people put the love into marriage. There is no romance in marriage, you have to infuse it into your marriage. I may add that the couple is committed to cultivating the art of marriage and forming the habits of giving, loving, and remaining mindful, to keep the box full, and how they begin that process with this ritual that is both literal and metaphorical.

I talk about the specifics – the items they include. I have even had parents add letters to the box. One of the many great things about this is how completely personal it becomes, as each couple brings their own style and flair to it.

The groom made this box! Photo: Wesley Works

Best of all – it truly is something to enjoy again and again throughout the years.  I recently heard from couples five years after their wedding who let me know they opened their ceremony box and how much they enjoyed it.

I have had couples who built their own box, and others who went on a great antique hunt to find the perfect box, and others who used a family heirloom. You can also get something cool on sites like Etsy. Big or small, old or new, inscribed or simple, it is yours!

The idea of the box works for many occasions, anniversaries, the birth of a baby. It’s an ancient idea really. A time capsule is classic. Incorporating it into your actual wedding ceremony, however, brings new life to it.



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Realistic Expectations for Your Wedding Day

Many engaged couples dream of a perfect wedding. For some women it’s a fairy-tale come true based on childhood fantasies and desires mixed in with lots of media hype.

And while there’s nothing wrong with planning your dream-come-true wedding event, it is important to temper your expectations with some realism. Imagining a day that is perfect is a set-up for disappointment.  There is no such thing as perfection, in an event or in a marriage. So let’s talk about what to expect and what not to expect.

A gorgeous moment, just as you'd imagined!

The stress leading up to the big day is much greater than many people anticipate. From the very start it helps if you acknowledge that it can become overwhelming. You may as well know now that it will probably be more work and planning than you expected, so be determined to keep your sense of humor and proportion.

Decide what really matters to you. There are really only a few things you need – a date and a location, and someone to officiate. Music, food, flowers, photography, videography, special clothing and so much more are all choices you make. But let’s be honest – most people do choose to have most or all of those things. And that’s great – just keep it in perspective.

Once you have decided on your vendors, expect that a few details may turn out differently than you imaged them, either by mistake or miscommunication.

Here are a few things that could easily not meet your expectations.

Your attendants (bridesmaids and groomsmen) are a lot less interested in your wedding that you thought they would be.

You thought your partner would be equally involved. Turns out only one of you is into all the little details.

You think it’s ‘your’ day, but it turns out it is also your mother’s day.

The flowers don’t look like what you ordered, the cake didn’t show up in time and the song list isn’t what you chose. Any one of those types of mistakes could occur. Don’t sweat it! It’s not as big a deal as you think.

Food didn't work out? Order pizza.

The first dance is embarrassing instead of blissful.

You agreed to no cake in the face, but it happens anyway.

And of course the big one: it rains (snows, hails, sleets or there is a hurricane).

How you respond to mistakes and mishaps is up to you.

So, fairy tale wedding? Well, when look closely at fairy tales, you will find them pretty depressing anyway, not to mention for the most part extremely sexist, although Snow White does go off to live with Seven Dwarves, so kudos to her!

And while I love Pinterest, blogs, and magazines, they are also a big part of creating unrealistic expectations. If you choose to do all of those cute little details yourself, you might wind up running around like a maniac on your wedding day, instead of savoring the moments.

Remember your place in the universe, and that this is only one day. Big picture thinking is always helpful.

I guess what I’m trying to say is setting yourself up for unrealistic expectations for your wedding day is as problematic as setting yourself up for unrealistic expectations for your marriage. Please don’t do either of those things.

So what if it rains?


Thank you Lisa Rhinehart Photography  for the gorgeous photos.


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Jumping the Broom

There are many interesting historic and symbolic ideas connected to the ritual known as ‘Jumping the Broom.’

The story that slaves invented this ritual is common, but we now understand that it was actually a custom brought here by enslaved Africans. Historians are not in complete agreement, but most agree that Jumping the Broom dates back to before the first Europeans visited West Africa. According to the African-American Registry the broom, as a wedding symbol, originated in Ghana.

The questions is – for slaves was it used because they were not legally allowed to marry, or were they simply following their traditional customs? I’m not a historian but I’m thinking it could be a combination of these ideas. Either way it is both an act of defiance and cultural identity. I like that!

Painting by Christy Keeler

Jumping the Broom was given a big pop culture boost when it was included in Alex Haley’s “Roots,” the popular book and TV series in the late 1970’s.

What do you need to know about incorporating this custom today?

Jumping the Broom at Harmony Gardens (Garth Woods photo)

In jumping over the broom the couple physically and spiritually crosses a threshold into the land of matrimony. It marks the beginning of making a home together. It symbolizes the sweeping away of the old and the welcoming of the new; the sweeping away of all negative energy, making way for all things that are good to come into your lives. It is also a call of support for the marriage from the entire community of family and friends. You might say they begin their new life together with a clean sweep! It does not, in our modern world, represent the woman’s agreement to clean the house!

Sometimes couples create their own brooms, or you can purchase a decorated broom ready-made. The brooms are usually outfitted with silk ribbons, fresh or silk flowers, bows, beads and more.

The couple brought this broom for their ceremony!

You don’t have to be African-American – you might be Caribbean, or from other countries where people of color wound up after the African diaspora and Middle Passage when Africans were stolen and taken to many places

I recently officiated for a bride and groom from Jamaica and Barbados where Christian traditions and ancestral rites from Africa blended a bit more harmoniously and they were excited to jump the broom.

If you are not African or African-American, can you Jump the Broom? Some people feel it is offense and that cultural appropriation – the borrowing customs from another culture and using them – is disrespectful. Others disagree and feel it is a way to honor and respect another culture, by sharing their rituals, symbols or styles. I can’t answer that question for you, but I do feel when something is done with a spirit of love and respect it can’t be too bad.

Who can jump? Photo courtesy of ""

Interestingly broom jumping is also practiced by other groups and in different religions around the world with variations. Wiccans and Gypsies are among some of the groups who developed their own broom-jumping tradition. I love how diverse groups have come up with similar symbols, whether they borrowed from another culture, or come up with them on their own. The Irish have a tradition of jumping over an oak branch. There are many shared and universal symbols. Rings, for example, are used in almost every culture, religion and tradition. I recently wrote about the universality of circles.

Before marriage equality became the law of the land, giving marriage rights to all couples, I had a straight couple who chose to Jump the Broom as a statement of support for same-sex couples. It was a powerful part of their ceremony, and as in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere!”

Jumping the Broom is a joyous ritual and I love putting it at the end of the ceremony and seeing the couple jump into their new life together as a married couple!

   Thank you  Garth Woods and


Posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Pocono Weddings, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
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    Lois Heckman

    Lois Heckman is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant who officiates at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies in the Poconos and beyond. She has performed hundreds of ceremonies and brings a wealth of knowledge to her work. Visit her website: ... Read Full
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