A Brief History of Weddings

As far as I can tell there is no country, culture, religion or tradition that does not celebrate marriage. In this column I’d like to explore the history of weddings, but I’ll confine it to our roots in Western civilization – I couldn’t possibly explore the entire planet, this topic is big enough already!  Here are some highlights.

The earliest evidence of weddings is found to be about 4,350 years ago. Before that anthropologists believe that families were loose groups of about 30 people, with multiple leaders and shared partners. There is good evidence showing a marriage ceremony from about 2350 BC in Mesopotamia. And it spread from there, being embraced by the ancient Hebrews, Greeks and Romans.

The earliest known examples of wedding rings are from ancient Egypt. This tradition, traced back to these ancient Romans and Greeks, was adopted by Christians in Europe in the Middle Ages. The earliest rings were braided or woven out of reeds or leather, but for the rich and powerful, beautiful metal rings have been unearthed, often made of gold. Many museums display them.

Beautiful ancient rings

Tossing rice and carrying bouquets have deep roots as well. Because growing food and producing children was central to survival, rituals involving grains developed.  You can be sure anything involving grains was used to petition the gods for successful crops and successful births. A bride’s bouquet was made of various herbs also meant to promote fertility, but also ward off evil spirits, and ward off the smell of the unwashed. Today fragrant flowers are still used, so take a deep breath and toss the rice!

Contrary to what we see in the movies and television, ancient unions had little or nothing to do with love, or even religion. They were a way to guarantee that the man’s children were truly his, biologically, and thus his property. Marriage also had to do with power and the alliances of families, as well as expanding that all important labor force: the family.

Monogamy is seen as central to marriage, but historically polygamy was very common, especially in Biblical times. But the man with many wives was probably a man of high status, most men had just one. That makes sense statistically, because otherwise there wouldn’t be enough women to go around. Monogamy became the standard somewhere between the sixth and ninth centuries, as the kings and nobility battled it out on this principle with Catholic Church. Guess who won?

Speaking of the church, the next big step in the history of marriage was the rise of Roman Catholicism in Europe. By the eighth century marriage became a church sacrament. In 1563 it was written into canon law.

In an interesting contrast, ancient Judaism also negotiated marriage for alliances and property, but women did have some rights and could actually even get a divorce. The marriage agreement, call the Ketubah, spelled out those rights and is still used today. The belief that men ‘owned’ their wives persisted for centuries in almost every religious sect. Only about 250 years ago did the idea of love in marriage gain traction.

Elizabethan weddings mark the start of most of our modern traditions. Between 1558 and 1603 marriages were mostly still arranged and women could consent at age 12, and men at 14, but some of the customs we are familiar with began then, including the bridesmaids and groomsmen, the processional, a religious officiant, and an extravagant feast.

Orthodox betrothal depicted by Vasily Vladimirovich Pukirev 1862

During our Colonial Era marriage licenses appeared, invitations were sent and the ceremony now took place in the home, although a minister presided, and they held a nice party afterwards.

The Victorian area (1800’s) brought us the famous white wedding dress, along with veils and flowers, and back to church for the ceremony. A small dinner followed the ceremony but a larger breakfast party was given the following day.

Victorian Wedding, 1918, Chicago

The modern wedding as we know it today really took its form after World War II. In an era of prosperity and peace, impressing your friends became important not only for the rich, but for the growing new middle class. A crucial influence was the new mass communication – newspapers and magazines, and eventually television – so that modern couples developed a shared vision of what a wedding should look like, or at least what they were told it should look like.

Modern Bride Magazine

This brief review simply illustrates that we can be quite sure many of our customs and rituals for weddings can be traced way, way back in time. I find that amazing, and strangely wonderful. Human beings – aren’t we something else? Guess we always have been.


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

A Case for a Casual Wedding

As more and more couples are looking for authentic ways to celebrate their unions, the variations on weddings grow. A wedding can be anything from a black-tie affair with hundreds of guests, to a simple backyard party, to elopement. Keeping it casual, relaxed, laid-back, and informal, is great, and a real option today. But what exactly does this mean?

These guys look cool and casual.

Here in the Poconos a casual wedding can be a very good fit. Our community tends to be relaxed, and the mountains as a destination, reflect an outdoorsy vibe. If that’s what you’re looking for, have what I call ‘a casual wedding.’

This also works for weddings on a beach, in a garden, a backyard, or park, but I have also seen very elegant and up-scale weddings in all of those settings. For any of these locations be sure to have an excellent rain plan! (I’ve written about that extensively, so I’ll skip it this time)

To have your casual wedding make sense, consider the formality of the ceremony, the style of the décor, type of meal, and most importantly, your expectations. Anything that leaves out a lot of pomp and circumstance, no Here Comes the Bride, or Pachelbel’s Canon could be a casual wedding.

A wedding with children running around is most likely a casual wedding. But don’t misunderstand – this relaxed style can still be very beautiful, even with kids making lots of noise.

How do your guests know what to expect? A clear signal is important –  most people do not feel good if they show up over-dressed or under-dressed. (I know it bothers me when that happens.) You simply have to tell them. Indicating this on the invitation is the first and best step; for example: casual attire, jackets and ties optional – would be a good indicator; or perhaps: ‘join us for our picnic style wedding.’

Simple flowers work for a casual wedding (Photo credit: Susie Forrester)

Invitations themselves speak volumes – the look, and choice of words sets a tone. ‘Come join us as we tie the knot,’ gives a different impression from requesting ‘the pleasure of your company.’  Recycled natural paper presents differently than white card stock trimmed in gold. Also spread the word to family and friends and be specific.

If guests go casual, can a bride still wear a gown? Of course, but probably something more simple and flowy instead of beaded and big. If you love vintage, this is the time to go for it. A wedding dress with cowboy boots is also great for a casual wedding. But whatever the style of the wedding, a bride can always be a bride. She can and should be more dressed up than the guests.

A casual wedding might also involve activities. Have lawn games, or a live band, but instead of the usual wedding band – why not hire a bluegrass group, country band, or something different? Have some food based activities, such as: build your own burger, or a taco bar; have a bonfire, make smores, build your own ice cream sundaes.

A self-serve beverage bar is easy, too, and fits a casual wedding. Just have a few nice big buckets of ice filled with soft drinks and clearly labeled hard stuff.

Flowers have a way of expressing one’s style, so wild bouquets of local blooms would fit better than formally arranged roses.

The best thing about a casual wedding is that you have the choice to have one. Not everyone is cut out for the super fancy stuff. Your wedding is one of the most important milestones in your life, it is important that you feel comfortable with your plans. But however you interpret casual, be sure to communicate that to your guests, so they will feel right at home as well.

Thank you Susie Forrester and Lisa Rhinehart for the fabulous photos!



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

The story of Gretna Green

The story of the blacksmith is charming.

I love wedding traditions from around the world and only recently learned about the town of Gretna Green in Scotland and how it is a mecca for elopement. Of course there is a reason and it is steeped in history.

In the mid 18th Century, the English tightened their laws about who could marry, raising the age to 21, if they didn’t have their parent’s consent, that is. I’m sure many married younger, but now it was illegal without daddy’s approval. Additionally, the wedding had to take place in a church.

But Scottish law was different – in Scotland you could marry quite easily, by the ‘handfasting’ ritual, which we still love today, or simply by declaring your intent, along with two witnesses, both bride and groom being over 16 years of age, and voila! They were married.

Location, location, location: Here in the Poconos we’re not only a beautiful area, but our proximity to New York City and Philadelphia makes us a great elopement destination. And if you are travelling from London, Gretna Green is the first village in Scotland just over the border, conveniently off the main road.  And so it became the place where a couple could easily run to and get married.

Photo credit: Captured by Carrie

The story of Gretna Green has even more charm and here’s the best part: the village blacksmith doubled as the local minister.  Over time he was officiating so many wedding he grew tired of continually changing his clothes and going from his workshop to his church and finally just married couples right there in his shop over the anvil. With a great flourish (and I love a good ending) the blacksmith/minister would bring down his hammer on the anvil, creating a ringing sound heard through the village, to signify the couple’s marriage. This custom grew in fame, of course, as these stories do, and the anvil became known as the ‘marriage anvil.’

Here in the Poconos we have some history, too. I’m thinking of our: heart-shaped tubs, which had a shorter life span and have not passed the test of time.  Those tubs and ‘champagne towers’ were popular in the 50’s and 60’s – not the 1750s and 60s. But our local history goes back at least a little further – to the WWII era when GI’s brought families and girlfriends to our mountains and after the war returned for honeymoons. The first true honeymoon resort opened in in Poconos in 1945.

The Poconos were once known for these.


Meanwhile, back in Scotland, the laws have changed over the years, with age of consent, waiting periods, and other details varying, but ultimately Scottish law has been a boon to elopement. In fact, a ‘Gretna Green marriage’ came to mean a ‘common law’ marriage in England.

Gretna Green has been the elopement destination for English couples all this time, over 250 years, but I’m just finding out about it.  Today it is still popular and it’s the history that adds the romance. I think I need to buy an anvil.

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

Go out with a bang!

A good ending is important. Does anyone remember the finale of the renowned TV show, The Sopranos? There was a lot of disappointment and confusion. Endings are often what we remember the most.

When a wedding ceremony concludes it is most often with a kiss. Sometimes couples even practice a little dip or have a special twist ready for that moment. That is because it’s the ending and they want something memorable! If that’s not your style, however, of course just a nice little kiss will do.

This kiss!!! (Lisa Rhinehart Photography)

The words used for that moment are important, as well. As a person who actually writes ceremonies, I prefer to say ‘you may kiss,’ rather than ‘you may kiss the bride,’ because really, when two people kiss, aren’t they both kissing? One isn’t just on the passive receiving end, at least I hope not.  It doesn’t take much thought to realize the origins of that language, though. It comes from an era when a man may have never kissed the woman he’s marrying (heck, in some cultures he may never have even seen her face). So at the end of the ceremony he finally had ‘permission’ to do so. We don’t quite think that way anymore. But let me add that if a couple I’m working with wants those specific words, of course I will say them. It is usually because it feels sweet, sentimental and traditional, in an old-fashioned kind of way, something they may have always imagined for their wedding. You May Kiss The Bride! I’m good with it.

But here are some alternatives. How about: You may seal your promise with a kiss? Or: Please share your first kiss as a married couple!  There are many ways to say something, each with its own nuance.

To conclude a wedding ceremony there are other elements that might add to the excitement of that very special moment when it’s now official – you are married!!!

We all know about tossing rice, birdseed, petals and such, and there are bubbles to blow, bells to ring and wands to wave. These all add pizzazz. It can be more than just fun, it can be meaningful as well, with rituals such as: Breaking the Glass in honor of Jewish tradition. There are many stories about this custom, but my favorite interpretation is that it represents the fragility of life and love, reminding us all to care for our relationship and one another. It’s a great ending to a wedding ceremony.

Confetti Cannons - my new favorite thing! (photo: Nereida Castillo)

Over time I’ve written about many other rituals. Some that are perfect for the end of a ceremony are:  Jumping the Oak Branch, an ancient Celtic ritual, and Jumping the Broom, and African American custom – both provide a fabulous finales.  Another favorite of mine is the Irish Bell, also known as The Truce Bell, or St Patrick’s Bell of Will. Ring it for the final kiss!

Have some fun with a confetti cannon – I have fallen in love with confetti cannons. As long as you have permission from the venue (do ask) – these little babies add a bang, and send confetti and good vibes flying. What a great photo and exciting surprise.

You can even invent your own end ritual. Bang on a big gong, work up a cheer for your guests, dance down the aisle… anything is possible It’s just wonderful when the ceremony ends, it ends on a high note. Recess down the aisle with a bang.


Thank you Nereida Castillo and Lisa Rhinehart for the great photos!


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

‘I do’ it again.

Why would a couple who are already married want to have a wedding ceremony? This happens more often than you might think.

Because marriage provides so many important rights there are times when folks will get hitched legally, with little to no fanfare, to insure they have those benefits. Two of the most frequent reasons I’ve encountered are health care issues and military deployment.

Being allowed to visit your partner in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours is a big deal. But that partner has to be your legal spouse. Making medical decisions if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment is another important reason to make it legal.

For military partners there are similar issues as well as being able to live on base, and if your partner is being deployed that may become quite urgent.

Wanting the opportunity for a 'real' wedding.

I have worked with many who, for these and other reasons, married quickly and quietly and missed the opportunity to have a ceremony of any substance.
I don’t consider those quick nuptials to be elopements. Elopement is a more conscious choice and can be a beautiful and even intricate ceremony and experience. I’m talking about couples just getting that paperwork done – a quick ‘I do’ in a town hall or judge’s chambers.
My perspective on all this is that the legal paperwork is one part of getting married, and standing before your community and declaring your commitment is another.  It helps complete the transition into this new phrase in your life.

When you send your intentions out into the universe, when the people you love and the people who love you, witness that declaration, something more profound occurs. It is a testament to the power of honest words, meaningful ritual, and understanding your place in the world. A wedding ceremony speaks to the love and appreciation you share not only with each other but your extended community. And so when I’m asked if I will ‘marry’ a couple who are already married – I’m always enthusiastic. It tells me they, too, understand the power of ceremony.

Traditions such as a beautiful bouquet.

Another way to look at a ceremony such as this is to think of it as a renewal of vows. One of the first questions I ask is: who, if anyone, knows you are already married? This will help guide me in finding the right words and rituals. Do they already wear rings, and if so, do they want to rededicate those rings? Do they want to say the same vows they used before? Maybe they didn’t have any choice the first time, now they get to express themselves more fully.

As long a couple provides a copy of their marriage license for my records there is no problem with pronouncing them as married, because they are, but you can be sure I must have that paperwork!

The dress you always dreamed of.

Think of just some of the things a bride or groom may have missed out on with a small quick ceremony such as: walking down the aisle, having your best friends or siblings standing with you as attendants, the opportunity to wear that wedding dress you always dreamed of, cutting the cake or having those beautiful flowers, and especially being with those you love. As long as you are together it’s never too late to have that wedding – call it what you want – but let it meaningful.




Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the use of your gorgeous photogrpahy



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

Something Borrowed

Take inspiration from these international customs to add a touch of the old-country to your celebration.

I’m always in search of something new for a wedding ritual. I find a lot of inspiration around the world; there is so much to draw from, whether from different countries, cultures or religions.

I’ve used the ‘sawing the log’ ritual for a real German experience in a wedding but I recently learned about another tradition for couples with Germanic roots. In their first bit of housekeeping together, German brides and grooms clean up a pile of porcelain dishes that their guests throw on the ground. The smashing is supposed to ward off any evil spirits. Those evil spirits come into play a lot with old wedding traditions! But the lesson for the couple is that working together, they can face any challenge thrown their way (even evil spirits I suppose). I would love to find a way to work this one into a ceremony, it would be tricky, but I’d like to try!

Breaking and sweeping up the plates!

Speaking of breaking things in Guatemala apparently grooms like to smash things. When the newlyweds arrive at their reception, it’s customary (or used to be customary) for the groom’s mother to break a white ceramic bell which filled with grains like rice and flour. Traditionally the bell is placed at the door of the reception venue. When the newlyweds arrive, the groom’s mother ceremonially breaks the bell to welcome the pair to the party. This symbolizes that the couple will prosper. I think I can work with this one, too, but my twist would be to have the mothers present a bowl (or bell?) full of grains to the couple, and maybe just forget about the smashing part. I’m not sure why a bell and not a bowl, but I do know there are lots of traditions involving bells, which ring out the old and ring in the new. Oh, and bells can also scare away those evil spirits!

Beautiful traditional couple from Guatemala.

There are many traditions specifically for women, such as coins in the shoe, carrying specific things in her bouquet, wearing something borrowed, something blue, etc.  – but not that many for men. Well, in Greece they take the term “groomsman” literally, so on his wedding day, the groom’s men become his barber when they shave his face. There is a sweet side for the groom, as well, because his new mother-in-law will feed him honey and almonds.

Groom's men shave the groom (Tobiah Tayo Photo)

 Fertility symbolism has long and deep roots in almost every culture. That is because infant and maternal mortality was high before our modern era, so the hopes of successfully having children was important for the continuation of the social group. Children were needed to help with survival of the family and community. That’s why in Czechoslovakia, before the ceremony, an infant is placed on the couple’s bed to bless and enhance their fertility. Once they’ve wed, guests shower them with rice, peas or lentils to also promote fertility.

All of these customs sound intriguing to me, although a little extreme for modern American weddings. But you never know where exploring cultural traditions will lead and learning about them is fun. Should you decide to incorporate one of them I’m sure your guests will be talking about it for years to come.

The white bell.




thanks to Tobiah Tayo Photography

#LoisHeckmanCelebrant #PoconoWeddingTalk  #WeddingAdvice


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

How to have the world’s best wedding

When it comes to weddings, one size definitely does not fit all. Every couple is different and so is every wedding. If you want to have the world’s best wedding, maybe I can help, because I read all about it on the internet, so it must be true!

I actually read an article entitled the ‘world’s best wedding,’ but what they really meant was the world’s costliest spectacle, a showy over-the-top wedding.

What does ‘best’ mean to you?

I’m not opposed to large expensive weddings, in fact, I have been a part of many that were wonderful. But your wedding can be intimate, casual, low-cost and low-stress, and still be the best wedding.

Enjoying your own wedding!

Marriage is one of the most important milestones in life and deserves close attention. Couples should never feel social pressure to have a celebration they neither want nor can afford. There are many ways to have the best wedding without breaking the bank, a wedding that reflects who you are in meaningful ways. A wedding you truly enjoy will make it so.  ‘Heartfelt’ and ‘real’ are qualities that do not have any relation to size or cost.

But I caution you that keeping it small isn’t always keeping it simple. And a DIY wedding can turn into much more work and expense than you might think! If that’s your style, go for it, just remember I told you so. Or you might consider a top-end location but keeping the guest list smaller.

All the planning can become quite stressful. A wedding at one of our beautiful local Pocono venues can be the solution, where an experienced resort or hotel takes care of most of the details. And these wedding venues are not one-size-fits-all, either. They have a wide range of choices. You cannot have the best wedding if you’re completely stressed out, so put your trust in experience, and then relax.

You don't have to spend big bucks!!!

Maybe you have a large family and lots of friends and want them all there to celebrate with you.  If you can’t afford to go high-end for so many guests, consider a picnic style event, brunch or luncheon instead of a dinner.

Being eco-conscious can also be cost-conscious. I am totally serious when I advocate vintage or pre-worn (used) clothes for the bride and bridesmaids. A gown or dress that was worn once and then dry-cleaned is really pretty much new – and the savings are formidable. A white dress does not necessary have to be a wedding gown, and your wedding dress does not necessarily have to be white.

Enjoying the moment.

Remember: a lavish event not only costs whoever is throwing the party, but also costs guests, in clothing, travel, gifts and sometimes accommodations. Why not forgo the entire bridesmaids matching outfits route, and give the girls a color scheme and let them wear what they want?

Remember to consider your needs and your guests as well, when planning the best wedding ever – YOURS!


Thank you Lisa Rhinehart and Brooke Aliceon for the gorgeous photos

#LoisHeckmanCelebrant #PoconoWeddingTalk  #WeddingAdvice


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

Those Sizzling Summertime Weddings… are you prepared?

Here in the Poconos we don’t expect it to be as hot and muggy as it’s been this summer -  it’s been quite the sizzler – just about the hottest summer we can recall.

After officiating several weddings in the blazing heat I thought I’d remind us all about how to deal with such extreme temperatures. I have some old tips and some new ones as well.

Its ok not to wear a jacket.

But before you even arrive at such a state of affairs, remember an overarching principle – that both the time of year and the time of day are very important when choosing a wedding date. You’ll be better prepared when you understand there is an important relationship between the calendar and the style you envision for your big day.  Just as a love of a roaring fire and candlelight means you’re a good fit for a late fall or winter wedding, conversely a casual, shirt-sleeves kind of wedding certainly feels like summer. A formal wedding (black tie) isn’t a good fit a mid-summer’s day.

I hope these tips will be helpful if you’re planning a summer celebration.

When scheduling outdoors be very mindful of the exact time of day. Note where the sun will be the sky, and where shade might be found! If a morning wedding doesn’t suit you, think: sunset! Those long shadows are heavenly.

Be aware of sun shining directly into guests’ eyes, or right at the couple and their attendants as well. Either way it’s not fun. When you are looking at the ceremony venue discuss with the staff where the sun will be for your date and time of day. They should know. Adjust the seating and altar area to compensate if necessary. If you can -move chairs – do it – even if your venue is a bit shocked by this change from their normal setup. You’ll be glad you did. Look around – is there a shadier spot than the one where they always set up? Just because ‘that’s how it’s done,’ doesn’t mean it can’t be done differently. ‘Think out of the box’ as they say!

Just the other day I created a lopsided set-up – with all the chairs together on the shady side of the ceremony site. It was really worthwhile.

Which side would you choose ?

If there’s no natural shade to be found, create some. Consider renting a tent. Umbrellas large or small will also really help, in fact, a few of those large patio umbrellas strategically placed, could look really cool. Find a way to provide your guests with shade any way you can.

Hand held fans are ok, but consider bringing large electric fans to create a big breeze.

I’ve seen many brides and grooms with sweat running down their faces during the ceremony, which is especially awkward during vows or anytime they may be holding hands. Have a hankie (who remembers hankies?) – a handkerchief – folded in your pocket or tucked into your dress. It’s perfectly fine to pull it out and wipe your brow or the brow of your partner. In fact, I find it quite charming when one partner dabs the other’s forehead.

Have a water station set up for easy access at your ceremony site, and make sure everyone, especially the bridal party, is properly hydrated. I’ve seen men and women faint during a ceremony. Usually it’s a combination of alcohol intake, lack of water, and that blazing sun.

Women – remember your hair – this is the perfect time for an ‘up-do’ or pony-tail. Guys, consider a look that doesn’t include a jacket. A suit can be tough in extreme heat. There’s nothing wrong with shirt and tie, especially if you dress it up with suspenders, perhaps hats, and bow ties are cool, especially if you’re going for a funkier look.

The sun is wonderful, just be prepared

Some of my favorite Pocono venues have wonderful shady locations, by the river, by a lake, and in wooded areas. Embrace those choices. Don’t be afraid of a summer wedding, just be prepared!



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

When Life Gives you Lemons …Making Wedding Lemonade

I’d checked in with the bride and groom, signed the marriage license, reviewed all the ceremony details and all systems were ‘go.’ But there were still some guests who hadn’t arrived. These were close family members who were supposed to be picked up at their hotel by a bus service. It was all worked out in advance, complete with a clear, specific timeline. Weddings can be very detailed. But for some reason the service let them down. Was the driver lost? What was going on? As information trickled out, it was obvious that they wouldn’t arrive, through no fault of their own, for at least another 45 minutes. The couple, understandably upset, didn’t want to go forward without these special family members, who’d travelled so far to be with them. They wanted them there to witness and support them on this important day. But the other guests were all seated at the ceremony site. What to do?

Scheduling and timing mishaps are probably the most common wedding calamities. When this one happened I remember a few weddings where cocktails were served before the ceremony. This gave me an idea. I suggested the venue send some wait staff to the ceremony site with water, lemonade or drinks of some sort. They quickly agreed, even taking drink orders!

Cool down and relax.

Once everyone had a drink in hand, and adjusted to the idea that we were waiting, the guests relaxed and started having a great time.  The minutes passed quickly. When the missing family finally arrived we proceeded – a full hour after the scheduled start time. I thanked everyone for the patience and made a few light-hearted remarks about it – and it was all smiles and a beautiful wedding ceremony ensued.

Voila! You have to roll with it. Fortunately, the venue was relaxed about it, even though it certainly messed up the food preparation timeline.

Have a tasty beverage.

When calmness is projected, people respond in the same. It’s human nature. Even if I’m upset or nervous inside, I never let my clients see me sweat. They depend on me to keep it together.

It’s not always possible for your wedding plans to go perfectly. That’s life. Stuff happens. It may rain, the cake may not show up, the bus might get lost. But how you handle it is what really matters.

Another common, but small glitch, is the swollen finger on a hot day, making the ring exchange a little difficult. I always anticipate this outdoors and am ready to calm the couple’s anxiety. In a heightened emotional moment a few seconds fumbling with the ring feels like an eternity. As Einstein once famously said: ‘Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT’S relativity.’


Enjoy the ride.

Another frequent occurrence is lost guests. Please be sure every single guest has clear directions, even if you have to print out a map with details and send it to them. Never rely entirely on a GPS, they are not perfect and there are places where you can’t get cell signal.

Marriage is about the long haul. It takes patience and flexibility, and learning to let go of anger and not sweat the small stuff. If you can handle your wedding that way, you’re off to a great start.

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart Photography  for the gorgeous photos.


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

Superstitions and Customs

There is a difference between superstition and custom, although superstitions can evolve into customs and traditions over time. Because we sometimes don’t know where our practices originated, or what they mean, when we understand them they can become less or more appealing. Today’s column highlights some wedding superstitions that I think are interesting, strange, or just plain fun.

By superstition we generally mean a belief in supernatural causes, beliefs that link events together without proof or reason, especially when these ideas are outside conventional thought. A black cat walks in front of you – it means bad luck – that is a typical superstition. Walking down the aisle – that is a custom. Mainstream religious practices may have started entangled in superstitions, but are no longer considered such because they have entered the realm of acceptance. Superstitions, on the other hand, are not considered truth. Superstitions are sometimes called ‘old wives tales,’ but perhaps old women, long ago, knew something others didn’t? Or is it all just luck, or manipulation? Do you see omens or just coincidence? You be the judge, of course, but Stevie Wonder did sing: ‘Superstition ain’t the way.’


What's in your bouquet?

Here’s a good one. We’ve all heard of the groom carrying the bride across the threshold – this comes from the idea that he is protecting her from evil spirits lurking below that could come up through the soles of her feet. Now that you know the origin, I think we can file that under strange!

People often say that the ‘rain is good luck on your wedding day.’ Is this just a way to rationalize? In the Hindu tradition this is taken more seriously, and remember, rain is important for crops and growth so I’d call it symbolism, not superstition.

A very silly superstition comes from old England where a spider found in a wedding dress means good luck. Why? No clue on this one.


Groom carrying his bride... why??

A Swedish bride puts a silver coin from her father and a gold coin from her mother in each shoe to ensure that she’ll never do without. This is a good message for all women, to remind them they shouldn’t have to be completely dependent on a husband, and perhaps speaks to the progressive view of women in Scandinavian culture. Gotta love those Vikings. The tradition has spread and now many women here do this for good luck, too.

Did you ever hear of a sugar cube being included in a bouquet? Me neither, but its meaning is quite clear. I just learned about this is Greek and Canadian superstition to sweeten the marriage. And by the way: Greek and Canadian?

Here’s one I frequently incorporate in several different ways – bells!! Bells are thought to keep evil spirits away, and are also a symbol of ringing out the old and ringing in the new. I don’t believe in evil spirits, but I do love bells.

You’re probably familiar with the Jewish custom of ‘breaking the glass’ – but did you know it is also done in Italy at the reception?  The symbolism is quite similar. In the Italian custom (superstition?) the number of pieces of glass represents the number of years of marriage. The Jewish custom has several other explanations – my favorite being that the broken glass reminds us of the fragility of life and love.

Its good luck to have some money.

A new one on me is a Southern one – that of burying a bottle of bourbon for your wedding day. I love the idea of any kind of time capsule and this could fall into that category. Bury the bottle upside down at the wedding site one month before the big day, and dig it up after the ceremony to enjoy. Not especially deep in meaning, but totally fun.

Customs, symbols, superstitions and traditions – they are all a part of weddings and learning more about them makes your day all the sweeter – now go get a sugar cube to prove it.

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart Photography  for the gorgeous photos.


Posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Pocono Weddings, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment
  • Blog Authors

    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
  • Categories

  • Archives