Clichés – for better or for worse

We are all familiar with clichés – defined as an overused expression that, while making a point, often gets so stale as to lose its power. One I like is ‘ignorance is bliss,’ which seems to resonate more and more for me today. I really don’t like the message of ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ I believe it can make you damaged too. I know people say it with the best intention, but I find it somewhat thoughtless – but hey, ignorance is bliss. How about ‘love is blind?’ – well that certainly can be true.

I’m getting to the wedding connection in a minute, because there are two clichés that I find myself over-using.  

Many of us have found ourselves in a situation where we are unfamiliar with the customs or rituals. At a wedding ceremony if the culture, language or religion is outside of our experience, it can be awkward. Am I supposed to kneel now? Sing? Respond? What do those words mean?

Garth Woods photo

One of my goals in creating ceremonies, is to be sure everyone is comfortable and completely understands what is going on. 

So when the topic of a wedding rehearsal arises, I find myself saying: ‘It’s not rocket science.’  Couples working with me may not need a rehearsal for a number of reasons.  When I write a ceremony, I write all the cues into the script; they are indicated there to show the couple what will happen, but I also actually say them. For example: ‘Please face each other and join hands.’ Furthermore, if you are getting married at a resort with a coordinator there, she or he will be conducting that rehearsal. That’s part of their job.  There are a few good reasons to have a rehearsal such as making it a time for families to meet one another ahead of the big day. Or if just walking through the space helps calm the nerves, that’s reason enough. So yeah, it’s NOT rocket science, it’s not really complicated, but it can still be a good idea. 

An important topic for any couple tying the knot is their wedding vows. There is often confusion about this as well.  Is the ‘I do’ the vow? It isn’t, in my opinion, but it can suffice. Saying a vow, making a promise, is central to your marriage ritual. This is where I go to another tired cliché, ‘You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.’ By this I mean that while most of the ceremony will be very unique and personalized, don’t feel obligated to write a vow like no other. This is the time when you are making a promise to your partner, and very important promise. But – it’s not your life story. Many great vows have already been written (the wheel created for you) and it is perfectly ok to use them. I provide my clients will lots of samples, but it’s certainly easy enough to find vows anywhere.

Vows are never a cliché
Photo: Garth Woods

The classic form is something like: I, ___, take you, ___, to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.

Which begs the question: is that a cliché? And my response is NO – because it is not a shortcut, it is not trite, and it is not lacking in depth. It has not lost its power. And neither has a wedding – it is a time-honored tradition signifying an important milestone in life. Love is never out of style.

As a celebrant, and a supposedly creative type, I am always striving to come up with a ceremony that truly reflects the couples’ personalities and style, and here I am resorting to these formulaic expressions. In my defense, it is a convenient short-cut. There’s a lot to explore with a celebrant style wedding, and I’m so into it, I can take a while explaining all the options. But better safe than sorry, I’m bringing it all to the table, and while it might be an uphill battle, if you play your cards righthang in thereeverything’s gonna turn out just fine! No problem. Absolutely.

find me on facebook – Lois Heckman, Celebrant, and Instagram – Lois Heckman

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