Rituals are the language of ceremony

There are many kinds of rituals. (Photo: Garth Woods Photography)

Using meaningful, spiritual, or even fun or unusual rituals in your wedding is one good way to express what your commitment means to you. Religious ceremonies are full of rituals, which are specific to their faith traditions. The Stations of the Cross, Confession, Communion, Shabbat candles, as well as prayers or songs are all good examples.

There are secular rituals as well, such as raising the flag, pledging allegiance and even Thanksgiving. And almost every wedding has the rituals of exchanging rings and vows.

Then there are many specific cultural rituals, such as the Japanese tea ceremony, the eastern European bread and salt, the jumping the broom from African-American tradition and breaking the glass in the Jewish wedding.

I want to suggest a few ideas you may want to incorporate no matter what your faith or ethnic background, because, if chosen thoughtfully, rituals add beauty and character to any ceremony.

The Wishing Stone is a wonderfully inclusive ritual that is simple but lovely. Just have guests hold small smooth stones throughout the ceremony. They can write a wish, blessing or message on the stone itself, and then collect and keep them in a jar.

For the more adventurous this is taken directly from the Hindu tradition: The Seven Steps. Remember as modern people we may borrow from cultures everywhere and if this appeals to you perhaps you do this, even if you are not Hindu. The Seven Steps involves walking around a fire or in a circle while the officiant offers the following blessings of vows. These are loosely adapted from the Hindu Ceremony:

1. May this couple be blessed with an abundance of resources and comforts, and be helpful to one another in all ways.

2. May this couple be strong and complement one another.

3. May this couple be blessed with prosperity and riches on all levels.

4. May this couple be eternally happy.

5. May this couple be blessed with a happy family life.

6. May this couple live in perfect harmony… true to their personal values and their joint promises.

7. May this couple always be the best of friends.

If you able to walk around the fire, you will toss small bits of puffed rice into the fire to indicate you agree. You can vary a tradition in many ways. Perhaps just walk around a candle. Traditionally the bride’s sari is tied to the groom’s clothing, but you can simply hold hands!

And my final idea for today’s post is the Arras, or the tradition of the Thirteen Coins which comes from the Hispanic community. There are many variations on this but I have created a modern interpretation where the couple presents to one other the 13 coins. They are a symbol of care and your commitment to support one another. I’m sure you can understand that in earlier times the man gave the woman the coins to show he’d provide for her, but in our modern world we can pledge to care for one another. After all, its many a wife that support the family or puts her husband through school, and visa versa (of course!) Different explanations of the number 13 include that it represents Christ and his 12 apostles, or that thirteen represent the 12 lunar cycles of a year, and the thirteenth coin symbolizes the couple’s honeymoon. You can create many variations on this ceremony.

Let your creativity flow and borrow or invent traditions that work for you!

Thank you Garth Woods for the photo!

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