Breaking the Glass – A Wonderful Tradition

There a certain wedding rituals and customs that come right at the end of the ceremony. There is something so appealing about that! Anything from blowing bubbles or confetti cannons, to Jumping the Broom, or the ringing of bells. Breaking the Glass is one of them, and it’s a great way to end a wedding. It is a Jewish custom that people of all faiths have come to admire and love, because it’s so memorable!

The groom getting into it! (Jeff Anderson Photography)

Many couples I speak with are surprised to learn that this Jewish ritual is not a religious rite at all. It is not required by the faith, nor is it an important part of the faith. Like Unity Candles in the church, it is merely a custom. The exact origins are unknown.

There are many stories about Breaking the Glass, the most prevalent and perhaps most important one say that it is to commemorates the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago. What does this have to do with a wedding? Well, its important to know one’s history, and even in times of joy, we might wish to reserve a moment for sadness. Some even say that joy must be tempered, but I don’t see why it should be.

Another interpretation of the destruction of the Temple story is to compare the Holy Temple to your own temple, your soul, and the life-changing event that has just taken place – your marriage. But I simply like to reference this historic explanation by saying that without our history we are incomplete.

There are several other strange and even silly stories about this custom. I’ve heard it said that the sound scares away evil spirits that threaten to steal the souls of the newlyweds. And others say the sound carries the couple’s love through time and space, to those who have moved beyond this earth. Neither of these appeal to me. Then there’s a great joke that it’s the last time the groom gets to put his foot down!

I prefer the idea that it symbolizes the irrevocable experience of the marriage commitment, and that the marriage should be as difficult to break apart, as it would be to put together the pieces of the glass once they are shattered. Ah ha! This I like!

Break, stomp or step... its all the same (Robert Burress Photography)

The custom requires that all the guests participate – by saying  (or joyously yelling) “Mozel Tov” which means congratulations – after the groom stomps on the glass. Today some brides also step on the glass, and really there is no reason why anyone getting married cannot do so if they wish. After all, remember, it is not a religiously prescribed ritual. Why just the man? Women want in on this great experience!

Another thing I love about this is that it as an end of the ceremony ritual and sends the couple off with a bang … literally! It’s frequently asked: kiss first, then break the glass, or break the glass and kiss? The answer is: it doesn’t really matter.

The glass should be wrapped in a cloth napkin or put in a little drawstring cloth pouch, for safety purposes. The bag also provides a great way to save the broken pieces.

A little pouch for the glass.

Sometimes a light bulb is used, because it makes a louder popping sound, but I’m a purist. Go for the glass! Some people even make a keepsake out of the pieces of glass through sculpture or other crafty ideas. Customs evolve and that’s as it should be. If you decide to Break the Glass, to that I say: ‘Mozel Tov!’


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Thank you Jeff Anderson and Robert Burress for the great photos! 

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Be Prepared for Outdoor Weddings

The Scout Motto is ‘be prepared,’ and that’s exactly what I advocate for outdoor weddings. I am often amazed at how unprepared couples, especially brides, and wedding guests are for an outdoor wedding.

Threatening weather is the most confusing.

Weather is always an important factor in how you will enjoy the outdoor celebration. Too hot, too cold, too much sun in your eyes… it all adds up to either a wonderful experience, or something to endure.

Here are some tips on how to be sure your outdoor wedding experience is fantastic.

One of the best things you can do is alert you guests in a very obvious way to dress appropriately, and be prepared. Include clear suggestions on your invitation or perhaps use an insert into your invitation.  Language such as: ‘Please know that our ceremony will be outdoors, and come prepared for the weather, from head to toe!’  Or how about ‘don’t forget your hats and gloves for our outdoor ceremony.’

Proper footwear (or none) is important.

For fall or even winter weddings (yes, people do still stay outdoors for the ceremony even in the cold) place blankets on the chairs, every other chair works well; or place them, tied with ribbons in a basket or box at the entrance. Like many good ideas it isn’t necessary about money, you can simply round up blankets from family and friends. Or if you’d like to splurge, order lap blankets as favors to give them to your guests.

You are also doing your guests a big favor by advising them on footwear! I suggest women bring a change of shoes – something right for outdoors, and then to put on if the reception moves inside.

A basket of sunglasses in the summer would be awesome and useful, or perhaps visors or sun hats! I officiated several times this past year where the sun was glaring in the guests’ eyes. It was not comfortable for them. Most spent the entire time with their hands up over their eyes for shade. Having a few large fans to create a nice breeze would really make a big difference. Doesn’t seem too difficult to me, but I’ve yet to see anyone do that.

A charming wedding even with rain!

You may be wishing for a charming spring wedding, but often it’s still a bit chilly. Those gorgeous strappy sandals and summery dresses looked great in the store but now your bridesmaids are shivering. Be prepared with a gift of a pashmina wrap, to match their dresses, of course! Bring stockings for the bridesmaids as well.

The most difficult decision at ‘go time’ is when the weather is threatening. Do you go ahead outdoors if it might rain? It would be great to have a basket of umbrellas available in case of a light sprinkle, something not heavy enough to force you indoors.

These are just a few practical ideas, I encourage everyone to think through all scenarios for your wedding planning – not just your ideal vision.

Beautiful under the umbrella.


Thank you Lisa Rhinehart - as always – for your beautiful photography!

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The Recessional Toss – Make it Big and Make it Count

Blowing bubbles or throwing things at the couple as they recess is an ancient tradition that dates all the back to Roman and Egyptian times. It was originally intended (not surprisingly) as a fertility ritual, or simply a symbol of abundance and harvest, rice especially relates to the harvest.

Look how gorgeous! photo: Rob Lettieri.

Today, people often pick up their tiny little bottles of bubbles just a tad too late. The couple has already headed down the aisle and the moment is gone.

Let’s not let that happen. Here are a few ideas about how to, and what to toss, and make your recessional the best it can be.

Outside the church.

There are many different items to throw or toss at the newlyweds. But to really make it work, your guests need to be reminded. Of course this is for outdoor ceremonies. If you are indoors – you’ll most likely do this on the church steps, and in some cases you may not have the opportunity at all. But then again, a few indoor spots might let you – perhaps they’ll just sweep it all up later. Asking permission is always a good idea.

I’ve developed some great language around this. I remind everyone just before the pronouncement; I even put it in my script so I don’t forget either! Go ahead and ask your officiant to do this as well. A simple, ‘get ready with your bubbles’ will work.

A beautiful reason to do it right.

But taking it a step further, I’ve even created a short script about blowing bubbles, calling it a ‘bubble blessing’ and describing how, with a deep breath, the guests will blow the bubbles out into the Universe with their best wishes, blessings and good vibes! This idea can take on a variety of styles, from serious to whimsical – I sometimes talk about it being magic. A bubble blessing can be customized to just about anything you choose to throw, and there are certainly many choices. Here are a few:

  • Bubbles
  • Paper confetti (make it bio-degradable)
  • Confetti Cannons (or poppers)
  • Lavender
  • Eucalyptus Leaves
  • Rose Petals
  • Birdseed
  • Paper Airplanes
  • Rice (it’s a myth that uncooked rice is bad for birds – its perfectly ok)
  • Pom-poms
  • Tiny Beach Balls

You can place items in paper cones or bags of some kind.


Tossing petals - make it count. Photo by DeLorenzo Photography

For streamers – the guests have to get fairly close for the best effect, and the same is true for ribbon wands. These are really more about the crowd waving them, rather than showering the couple. Streamers tend to shower the guests as much as the couple.

If the couple comes from different countries it could be really fun to have tiny flags from their countries of origin

For tossing item, use about one cup per guest.  I’ve seen people use glitter and other items that stick to your clothes, and I don’t recommend that. For evening weddings those biodegradable sky lanterns are fabulous, but not practical for a recessional – this can be an activity in-and-of itself, later in the evening.

Photographers love a good recessional toss and for good reason – it creates a wonderful photograph.

There are other ‘end of ceremony’ rituals, Breaking the Glass, Jumping the Broom, and more, but that’s a different story, and I’ll talk about that another day.

The guests enjoy it, too.

Thank you to the wonderful photographers: Lisa Rhinehart Rob Lettieri  and DeLorenzo Photography for these wonderful pix!

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Adding Value to Your Wedding Program

When I’m creating a wedding ceremony for a couple, if they haven’t seen the script yet (it’s not ready yet) I’m sometimes asked for the ‘order of service.’ I know immediately why. They are creating a program of some kind and want to include an outline of what will take place.

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 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?

An awesome program by one of my couples!

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

Why not approach the booklet as a chance to expand and enhance the ceremony experience for your guests?

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

And the other side - also awesome!

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!
  • 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. I’m referring to the Unity Candle, Handfasting, Breaking the Glass, Sharing of Wine, Bread and Salt, Jumping the Broom, or any number of rituals that are performed in weddings. 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.
  • Anecdotes, such as how you first met, the proposal, or any story you feel you guests would enjoy, are fun to read.
  • Honor departed family members with a tribute to them by using a meaningful quote with their name – explaining that they are missed today.
  • For multicultural or multilingual families, have translations of the entire ceremony or selected readings.
  • 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.

A chalk board instead of paper for the program.

  • Other thanks can be listed, so everyone will be sure to see who helped you make your wedding day special.

If you 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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All About Literally Tying the Knot

Most people have heard the expression ‘tying the knot,’ but may not be familiar with the origins of this phrase. Also known as Handfasting, tying the knot is one of the oldest wedding rituals we know. There are many variations and stories about this symbolic act. Here are a few of them:

The ancient Celtic custom called Handfasting, or sometimes Celtic Knot, dates back to pre-Christian times, and was how couples became engaged. It was not originally a marriage ritual, but has evolved into one. The Handfasting ritual has come into the modern wedding world through our fascination with Celtic traditions, and it’s a great way to honor that heritage. It resurfaced most recently in Neo-pagan and Wiccan ceremonies, and now it is quite mainstream!

Ribbons used for the handfasting

But for some it never went away. It has been performed for hundreds of years, even at royal weddings. Prince William and Kate Middleton were handfasted in their wedding ceremony. The minister wrapped the cloth and used the traditional words: ‘What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.’

BBC image of Kate & William tying the knot.

There are other similar rituals involving tying of knots. There is the God’s Knot, the Love Knot or True Lover’s Knot, and the Sailors Knot or Fisherman’s Knot.

The God Knot, also called the Cord of Three Strands, is a Christian ritual that symbolizes the bride, the groom, and God, illustrating that it takes all three for a marriage relationship. A white cord presents the bride, purple represents the groom and gold represents God. A metal ring has the three strands attached, the groom holds the ring and the bride braids them together symbolizing the union.

The Love Knot or True Lover’s Knot relates to many stories and legends in which knots symbolize the connection between two people in love. Two ropes are used, with two interlocking knots that are then tied together. The couple then pulls from each end and the knot tightens, showing the strength of their union.

The "God's Knot"

The Fishermans’ Knot is basically the same thing. You might want to call it that in your wedding if you have a connection to the sea and fishing, but calling it a Lover’s Knot seems like a more appropriate name.

The knot is said to be the easiest knot to tie yet the hardest knot to come undone and in fact it is said to only get tighter over time and with pressure. One of the stories associated with it is that in the early 19th century sailors used rope to create knots – some of them being very elaborate.  The knots were used for work, or just decorative and some knots contained meaning and symbolism. A sailor would loosely tie this knot and give it to his girl, if she tightened the knot it meant that she would be waiting for his return and that their hearts were intertwined. The knot is formed by two over hand knots linked together – representing the hearts of true lovers.

Today we can interpret these rituals in many ways, with various materials, words and meaning.

Another variations of tying the knot.

You may use a cloth, ribbons, or rope to do the ritual. I officiated for a groom who made his own long, beautiful knotted rope for the ritual.

The couple can cross their wrists and hold hands, making the sign of infinity, just hold hands, or only tie one single hand to the others. Most often the officiant wraps the cloth around their joined hands, but you can also ask a guest to do it as a special honor.

A couple I married came from two different Irish clans. They were joined together using long pieces of their family tartans – and their mothers brought the cloth forward, and wrapped their wrists as part of the ritual, joining not only the their children but the families. It was quite wonderful!

What words are said? Of all things this can vary the most.  There are specific pagan blessings, sometimes people use the “Blessing of the Hands,” a well-known and beloved wedding reading, but anything that resonates for the couple will work. I have done it many ways and with many different words. Sometimes I combine it with the ‘asking,’ or Declaration of Intent, you know, the part where they reply with their ‘I do.’ Sometimes I talk about not wrapping the cloth too tightly, because we don’t give up our individuality in marriage, but we become stronger when we are united. That is the exact opposite of the tightening of the knot. With the Love Knot – you do want it tight – so, again, it all depends.

If you choose to be Handfasted for your wedding you are choosing a rich and ancient tradition that can be infused with contemporary meaning.

Using a scarf to do the job!

Ribbon and Rope photos by Lisa Rhinehart Photography

God’s Knot photo by:  Kiwi Photography

Lois tying the knot by: Garth Woods

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As you walk your new path, let’s talk about shoes…

I’m a Celebrant, not a wedding planner, and I try to keep this column focused on the big stuff – what’s important in a wedding, and first and foremost that is the couple’s commitment. The union of two people in marriage is expressed through their ceremony. I do, however, stray off-topic from time to time and its fun to think about all the details, large and small.

Comfort has a role to play!

Today I’m going to talk about shoes. Yes, shoes. Most women love them and so do many men.

Sparkle and comfort.

For brides picking the perfect shoes for the wedding can be very important. It represents beauty, glamour and sexiness, too. And men often show a bit of creativity by wearing a pair of sneakers with a suit, or putting some colored laces into their dress shoes. As you walk down the aisle in those shoes you are beginning to walk your new path – that of marriage.

Even shoes have history and meaning, and I recently visited a shoe museum in Barcelona. I learned that in Biblical times a sandal was given as a sign of an oath.

From the shoe museum

In the Middle Ages a father passed his authority over his daughter to her husband in a shoe ceremony. At the wedding, the groom handed the bride a shoe, which she put on to show she was then his subject. (Sound like a famous Disney story)

What a beautiful very old shoe!

In China one of the bride’s red shoes is tossed from the roof to ensure happiness for the bridal couple, and in Hungary the groom drinks a toast to his bride out of her wedding slipper.

There’s an old Victorian tradition of putting a penny in your shoe for good luck (something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence in your shoe).

And let’s not forget the tradition of tying shoes to the bumper of the newly wed’s car.

When selecting shoes, besides choosing something that makes you look great, make sure they feel great – literally. Comfort really does have a part to play. Even those crazy super high heels, that I hope are going out of style, can at least be ‘broken in’ before walking down the aisle in them. I have seen more than one bride struggle in uncomfortable shoes. Remember, you’ll not only walk in them – but most likely have to stand in them for quite a while. Stretch the shoes if necessary and consider buying cushy insoles to put into them. Even strappy sandals can have a comfort cushion on the insole. And, by the way, all of the above goes for bridesmaids too.

A great selection from the bridesmaids!

Today its not surprising that anything goes. Cowboy boots are popular for weddings. Toms, a shoe company that makes relaxed flats and gives a pair of shoes to the developing world for every pair purchased, makes a wedding shoe. From the ridiculous to the sublime – all options are on the table (or should I say floor?)

One of my favorite trends is the shoe of a different color – pairing a deliciously bright and fun shoe with the white gown. Some brides like to write little messages on the bottom of their shoes. Men too, are adding pizzazz via their shoe choices or with a really fun pair of socks.

The men get in the act.

While I’m sure to get back to ritual, spirituality, traditions and cultural here in Pocono Wedding Talk, have fun choosing your shoes.

A message on the bottom of the shoe for the 'I do.'

Follow Me on Pinterest Photo by Lisa Rhinehart - gorgeous as always!!

(shoe museum photos from me)

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Nervous is Natural, Obsessed is Not

I’m not a psychologist nor do I play one on television, but I do have some thoughts about anxiety. Last year I worked with just a few frazzled brides and it got me thinking about the connections between anxiety, anticipation, nervousness and flat out unbecoming behavior.

A thoughtful bride.

True anxiety is defined as the over-reaction to a situation that is subjectively menacing. Anticipation is the excitement of waiting. Nervousness is the general feeling of extreme uneasiness or apprehension. There is a difference between being nervous or anxious about what’s about to happen. And then there is being obsessed with details and missing the big picture.

Giving yourself permission to feel everything you are feeling will, in itself, help. There are many things to anticipate, and the things we know the least about are the things that hang us up the most. For example: there may be people attending who you don’t know, or you may be worried that you won’t recognize a distant relative. There is also legitimate concern about how certain rituals will proceed.

One of the many great things about celebrant weddings is that our couples have an active role in their own ceremony. This alleviates a lot of anxiety because they already know what will be said, and better still, really love what will be said, because those words are based on their words. The message spoken by your officiant ia pretty darn important, its great to know what they will be, and that they truly reflect who you are and what you believe. Meet with your pastor, rabbi, priest or other officiant to be clear about what will happen in your ceremony.

Another cause for discomfort is that some people are simply not comfortable being the center of attention. You can soften that fear by standing with your partner, even holding hands through the ceremony (if permitted). Having both parents escort you in may help as well.

Spend time with the people you love.

A wedding day freak out might be the result of taking on too many tasks, especially things like décor or any number of little details. Most of these details are insignificant but they nevertheless become larger than life. With these concerns at the forefront you are unable to fully enjoy and feel the deeper meaning of the day.

I’m sorry to say that I’ve witnessed brides running around obsessed with flower arrangements when they could have been spending time with their mother, bridesmaids or other important people as they prepare to walk down the aisle.

I suggest bringing soothing music to play while you get dressed and prep before it all begins. Perhaps have a massage, or even do some physical activity to burn off the extra energy the morning of your wedding.

Most importantly talk to your partner about all your hopes and dreams for the future. And then, as the big day approaches if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the plans, think about your life together in a year, five years, or ten years.

It is perfectly normal to be nervous. It’s an important day, if you weren’t feeling a wide range of emotions, frankly, I’d be worried about you!

Ready for the ceremony.


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Enhancing the wedding ceremony with a few easy tips

Today I focus on the ceremony in general. This is the part, you may recall, where two people actual get married. Too often you cannot choose what is said for your ceremony, although this varies greatly depending on the religion, tradition or officiant.  For a ceremony created by a celebrant like myself, of course, the entire ceremony is flexible, personal and customized. But even with limitations, there are ways to personalize your commitment, and here are a few suggestions.

The CEREMONY - the part where you get married!

Here are a few little tips that might help enhance any ceremony experience, no matter who officiates, or what the limitations.

Your program. If you choose to have one, try not to follow the outline of the service. This only encourages people to simply follow along and mentally check-off what has happened. Instead use a program to enhance the event, with information and tidbits you may not have been able to include in the ceremony itself. This can really add a lot of meaning, inspiration and even some humor when appropriate. It’s a great way to put your stamp on the ceremony when there is no varying from the liturgy.

A program booklet is a great opportunity.

If you are having something special at the end of the ceremony, such as bubbles, petals, birdseed, bells or anything the guests are supposed to do – have your officiant remind everyone just before the pronouncement. I’ve noticed that when I do that the couple gets to recess showered in those bubbles as intended. It’s exciting and beautiful, and makes a great photo op.   At weddings where they are not reminded, the moment often passes, and it’s too late, and unused bubbles are simply left behind. At a house of worship this is usually done on the steps outside, but at an outdoor site its done directly from the guests’ chairs.

You want the full BUBBLE experience!

Readings. If you are including them in your ceremony please remember to choose people who are good at this and have the personality and ability to do a great job. If you don’t have the right person don’t feel you must do this. Select readings from sources that inspire you. There is so much to choose from, it can be overwhelming, however!

Vows. If you are writing your own, remember that your vow is your promise, not your entire life story. Keep it to a few lines or so, and take a look at some classic models for inspiration. Don’t wait too long to undertake this task. If you are keeping your vows secret from one another make sure someone will compare them for length and tone. I always take on this task for my couples, and I find it rewarding and fun.

Honor loved ones. Find ways to honor those who are most important to you – whether they are parents, other relatives or friends, present or past.

Again, I remind you all that the ceremony is the time when you are getting married, and the rest of it is just a party. I’m sad when I encounter couples who don’t seem to care at all about their ceremony. But perhaps that is because they have never experienced a truly great ceremony, and therefore do not understand the value of having a wonderful ceremony. This rite of passage is one of life’s most important milestones. Do all you can to make it just that!
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Breaking and remaking the rules

When discussing weddings, I say it all the time: ‘do what’s right for you.’ There are certainly a lot of traditions and rules for weddings, and I do love history, culture, customs and most everything about weddings. But I don’t subscribe to the idea of doing something just because that’s ‘how it’s done.’  From the smallest detail to the grandest of gestures, couples today crave authenticity and are looking for meaningful ways to express themselves at this important moment in their lives.

Women welcome the bride!

Before it occurred to me it could be otherwise, I thought only a best man could hold the couples’ wedding rings. I now see all kinds of possibilities for that task. One of the truly fun things about being a wedding celebrant is presenting people with choices they never even knew they had.

It all comes down to ‘why’. Why are you doing or saying something? Is it honest? Does it represent your beliefs and ideals? And does it accurately express or symbolize what your wedding means to you?

Taking the example of the rings, you may be perfectly happy to have your best man hold both rings for the ceremony, and that’s fine… but then again, have you considered having your maid or matron of honor (I like to call them best women) hold one as well? Think of it: the best woman hands the bride her ring to put on the groom’s finger, and the best man holds the ring to hand to the groom to put on his bride. Balanced. Now, if you remove the gender identities from the equation, it becomes even clearer.  Simply have your best person hand you your ring for your partner! It really just makes sense. Or take it in different direction; how about having a parent or child hold the rings?

An origami bouquet breaks the rules

A great example of the evolving and changing language of weddings can readily be found in the old phrase: ‘to love, honor, and obey.’ Most officiants no longer say this, and I’ve never said it ever, not once! Women no longer promise to obey their husbands. Marriage is now seen as a mutually shared undertaking based on equality.

Consider the words ‘I now pronounce you man and wife.’ I never say this either, because the equivalent of man is woman, and the equivalent of wife is husband. I prefer ‘I now pronounce you husband and wife.’ Of course I had to come up with something wonderful for same sex couples now that we have marriage equality, and for those couples I like to say: ‘I now pronounce you good and truly married,’ which, come to think of it, I could say for opposite sex couples too!

Personal style matters today!

Here are a few less serious examples of reinvented traditions. Couples who have mixed gender attendants (bridesmaids/groomsmen) standing with them – women and men on both sides. I love that – have the people who matter the most stand with you. Adult flower girls (or perhaps flower women?) The couple walking down the aisle together.

The point is – change is a good thing, re-examining traditions is a good thing, keep what you like, and let go of the rest. As the old saying goes: rules are made to be broken. So break or reinvent when necessary. There are still many beautiful traditions to follow as well. It all comes down to ‘why.’

Let your imagination fly!


Thank you Sabrina Schantzen and Lisa Rhinehart for the use of your beautiful photography.

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How to add spice to your ceremony

I’m always inventing, reinventing or rewriting words and rituals to use in wedding ceremonies. It’s kind of my passion! So when I met with a couple who had an idea of their own, I was excited to learn all about it. Having children from previous marriages, they were looking for a family unity ritual, and they found something that was new to me.

I’ve always been a big fan of the Sand Ceremony, but this bride discovered a similar ritual using spices. She shared the gist of the idea, and I immediately loved it. In fact, I wondered why didn’t I already know about this? It seemed so obvious as things sometimes do once you know about them!

Pouring the spices.

When I read up on it I knew I could give it my own twist. I never just take something verbatim, I always need to think through it and give me my own interpretation.  And perhaps more importantly strive to infuse it with the meaning that reflects the couple’s worldview. After more than ten years, I’ve found my voice as a celebrant, but I have to be mindful that I speak for the couple.

The spice ritual is pretty easy to understand – you simply choose different spices to represent the different people participating – in this case the bride and groom and their children. Learning something about each person and finding the herb or spice that related those traits is the key. Poetic license is required, of course.

As with any ritualistic act in a ceremony, I explain it to the guests and also want to be sure the participants are focused on it as well. They need to feel it as in unfolds so it can be a transformative experience, or at least meaningful or just fun.

Examples of spices and their symbolism would be paprika or chile for a person who is passionate and energetic. Lavender is known for it’s fragrance and calming quality and would be perfect for someone who is calm in the face of difficulty.  You could also delve into herbal medicine, historic context, or any way that connects the spice or herb. And this ritual ties in beautifully for a gardener or a cook!

The keepsake!

Expanding upon layering the spices this couple used not only a spice for each of them, but incorporated salt, evoking the Salt Covenant of the bible and the rich history and symbolism of salt. The salt was poured first and last – to seal the layers, and perhaps to seal the deal.

Together they created a beautiful experience and a keepsake jar of spices to be displayed as a remembrance of their wedding day showing the importance of blending their families.

Spices certainly bring out flavor and that is what we do in our own families by combining our personalities, our strengths and gifts. This family certainly had an abundance of taste!


Thank you David Coulter for the beautiful photos. I always enjoy working with David! 

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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. Follow her on Pinterest, ... Read Full
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