Why Include A Special Ceremony Within Your Wedding Ceremony?

Why include a special ceremony such as the Unity Candle Ceremony or Unity Sand Ceremony in the Wedding Ceremony?

Bill and I have found that short, meaningful ceremonies offer a unique way to:

  • include loved ones in the wedding
  • capture keepsake memories on video and in photos.
  • incorporate cultural, religious or family traditions
  • share feelings of love for each other in public
  • acknowledge the sanctity of marriage
  • remember love ones who have passed
  • embrace children and family life
  • evoke tender emotions
  • celebrate a life-changing milestone

These are just some of the many reasons couples decide to include special ceremonies or what are also referred to as “rituals” in a wedding ceremony.

The most popular ceremonies are the Unity Candle, Unity Sand, Embracing Children and the Glass-Breaking ceremonies. However, Bill and I perform all of these and variations of them as well as a number of other very wonderful ceremonies. Sometimes we change words or rewrite or augment a ceremony to suit the couple’s desires.

The following list will give readers an inkling of the different special ceremonies Bill and I have performed:

Jumping the Broom                                               

Presentations of Flowers to Loved Ones           

Irish Wedding Bell                                               

First Gift (Bride &Groom exchange red

Wedding Bell – Toll

Greek Orthodox Crowning

Asian Red Thread

Cambodian Red String

Italian Water and Seed  

Hispanic Coin

Shawl and Tying

Planting a Tree

Letter in a Box 

Wine and Letter in a Box

In Memoriam

Polish Bread and Salt

Irish Hand Fasting

Cana Wine

Wine

Tea Leaves

Asian Tea                   

Wedding Dove Release

Butterflies –Release

Garland (Hawaiian/Indian Versions)

American Indian Blanket

Roses (Gifts) for Mothers

Adaptations of the above and other ceremonies

All of the ceremonies mentioned have the potential of making a wedding beautiful and memorable. Why not explore the idea of including one or more of them? In reality the wedding ceremony itself is made up of three main parts or ceremonies: The Presentation of the Bride; Exchange of Vows and Exchange of Rings: these parts of the wedding can be adapted to meet circumstances and preferences.

Enjoy planning your wedding and don’t be afraid to explore the possibility of including a special ceremony. They are relatively short and the wording can be expected to be beautiful, memorable, meaningful, touching and sentimental in nature.

Weddings at Home: Part Two

In my first blog I talked about officiating at theme weddings that were held in private homes. I have found home weddings to be unique and all of them memorable, but a few do stand out in my mind and I will tell you why.

This first story begins with my husband Bill being asked to perform a marriage ceremony in a backyard tent at a home in a nearby community on Father’s Day. The couple said it was okay for me to attend the wedding so that Bill and I could both go to the family dinner right after the ceremony.

When we arrived at the home, no one was ready for the wedding. The bride was one of the first-ever disabled fashion models. Her jeans covered her prosthetic leg, and she was in no hurry to don her bridal gown. The groom, a famous Russian concert pianist, was entertaining guests in the living room at the piano. The caterer and family members were beginning to set up a bar and buffet table for the reception.

It was a steamy-hot day, but I decided to stay outdoors in the backyard tent that was set up with chairs and flower arrangements for the wedding. I would say it was a few hours before the entire wedding party was ready for Bill to perform the ceremony. The guests filtered in, and I sat in the back row.

The wedding music was provided by someone playing a keyboard. The groom and best man took their places up front next to Bill, and then the wedding procession got under way. After the maid of honor took her place, the ring bearer darted down the aisle. It turned out to be a dog on a leash led by a groomsman, with the wedding rings tied in a fancy bow attached to the dog’s collar.

As Bill was about to ask for the rings, one of which had diamonds befitting the expectations of a high-profile model, the dog dashed off, running into the street. It took 15 minutes to corral him and retrieve the rings.

It was the first of several weddings that Bill and I performed in which a dog played a role!

The next story is a bit sad, but one of my favorites about a home wedding. I accepted an engagement to conduct an October wedding at a home located on an island off Long Island’s North Shore. Unfortunately, there was a freaky ice and snow storm on the day of the wedding. To complicate matters, I learned early in the day that the groom’s mother had passed away the evening before.

Bill was concerned about the weather and about my driving to a house located on the water, so he rushed home from a wedding in Brooklyn to drive me. As we entered the driveway, I realized this was no ordinary house; it was a magnificent mansion. I went to the door and rang the bell, and a butler answered. I was soon greeted by the groom who was wearing a pink rose on his lapel; he appeared melancholy and grief stricken.

I expressed my condolences, and then I was immediately guided to an upstairs sitting area with an adjoining powder room. The bride and groom were most gracious. I performed the wedding on the first floor with guests gathered around us. The groom spoke of his mother.

Following the ceremony my husband was invited to join me for cocktails and appetizers. The most amazing part of this experience was that we had the rare opportunity to view this gentleman’s priceless porcelain collection. It was just such an unbelievable experience to see curio cabinets filled with hand-painted treasures. I am so thankful that we had enjoyed such an incredible day despite the weather and the sorrow we shared and witnessed. I’m sure the groom’s mother must have been very proud of her son.

Weddings at Home: Part One

Throughout the year, Bill and I perform weddings not only in particular public venues but also in private homes and residences. It could be the bride’s or groom’s home, the parent’s home, a grandparent’s condo or a rented house in the Hamptons. Weddings in a home are among our most memorable. I will write another blog on this topic, but at this time I would like to describe two theme weddings that Bill and I performed in the homes of couples we married.

In this first wedding story the bride and the groom were both divorced and between them they had six children. It was Halloween, the perfect day for a theme wedding! The inside and outside of the house were decorated appropriately, from real jack-o’-lantern to ceramic ghosts and goblins. The bride had amassed a huge collection of Halloween nickknacks over the years.

The bride and groom, costumed as a corpse bride and as a zombie set, the mood for the evening. For me, the black roses in the bride’s bouquet were absolutely stunning. The scene was hectic with guests in fantastic costumes arriving at the suburban home, the caterer delivering platters of food and lots of kids in ninja and princess outfits running around.

The ceremony was delayed until we could figure out just exactly where the wedding should be performed. This was a “plan as-you-go along” wedding. After rigging a little light fixture to the railing at the front entrance, I found a perfect spot above the steps where I could stand and pronounce the scary pair “husband and wife.”  A small table for the special sand ceremony was set up. We placed a big glass salad bowl in the middle and surrounded it with eight glasses of sand: black for the groom, white for the bride and blue, red, green, purple, yellow and orange for the children.

The guests were invited to gather on the lawn. I took my place, and the bride and groom soon came out of the house and were standing before me. I looked out and down at the all the guests.  What a sight to behold: there were at least a hundred men, women and children in the most delightful, crazy-fun costumes. The “spirits” of the occasion were palpable.

The ceremony was traditional, dignified and beautiful. The sand ceremony was the part of the wedding that everyone loved most. The bride and groom poured a portion of each of their glasses of black and white sand into the big salad bowl, and then each of the children poured their glasses of sand into the big bowl. Then the bride and groom emptied their black and white glasses of sand to further symbolize their bond of marriage and the unity of the family. The moonlight struck the glass bowl making the multicolor layers of sand sparkle. I ended the sand ceremony by saying, “Just as these grains of sand can never be separated again so will your marriage and your family be.”

I have another story about a memorable home wedding with a great theme; this wedding was performed by my husband in a local home. Bill was asked to marry a couple on New Year’s Eve in a home not far from our own home. The bride and groom wanted to be pronounced husband and wife at the stroke of midnight, which would coincide with the beginning of the new millennium.

Bill and I went to dinner with friends, and then we all went to the couple’s home, which was beautifully decorated for the holiday season. The guests were gathered in the living room and dining room; all were in a nostalgic Auld Lang Syne mood!

Midnight was approaching, and Bill found a nice spot in the living room for the ceremony.  Minutes before midnight, the groom and best man stood next to him, and the guests gathered around them.  Everyone could see the TV. The bride wore a lovely wedding gown and was smiling as she entered. Cameras were flashing. Bill performed the ceremony, and yes, at the stroke of midnight he said, “And now with the powers vested in me by the State of New York, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your lovely bride.” Simultaneously, the “Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball” completed its descent. After the wedding kiss, champagne glasses were raised for a toast to the bride and groom, and everyone began to sing “Auld Lang Syne.” We celebrated the beginning of a new year full of hopes, challenges, changes and dreams and wished the newly married couple much joy and happiness all the days of their lives together.

A photo of Bill and the Happy New Year wedded couple appeared in the local newspaper. We keep the clipping in one of our many albums of weddings we have performed.

The Sweet Tinkle of a Wedding Bell

Wedding ceremonies make a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of wedding guests. Regardless of how modest or elaborate the wedding day plans may be, the wedding ceremony is the most cherished aspect of the occasion.

Inserting a special ceremony within the wedding ceremony can be the perfect way to make the day even more memorable, unique and visually beautiful. The Unity Candle Lighting or Unity Sand ceremonies, the Rose Presentation, the Asian Red Thread or the Jumping the Broom ceremonies and others can be easily included and/or adapted to your wishes.

A wedding is an occasion when we seek to satisfy our senses – sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing. That is why I love my Wedding Bell Ceremonies. When the silver bell first arrived at my office, I was delighted with how pretty it looked and that its delicate ring was so appropriate for a wedding. Many couples select tiny wedding bells as reception favors for their guests. Tinkling commands the Bride and Groom to kiss. Historically, church bells have welcomed a multitude of Brides and Grooms to seal their marriage vows. In New Zealand there is a company that has a vehicle for hire equipped with a Wedding Bell housed in a small church-like steeple.

Being sentimental and a traditionalist, I have created a variety of ceremonies/rituals I derived from an Irish Wedding Bell legend, but my ceremonies aren’t spoiled by talk of arguments the couple may have in the future. Instead, I’ve incorporated the Wedding Bell as an announcement of the couple’s intention to a share a lifetime of happiness and love.

In a recent touching Remembrance Bell Ceremony we arranged for a large and loud hand-bell to toll three times just before the Bride’s entrance. This was done in memory of the Bride’s father who passed before having the honor of presenting his daughter in marriage.

The Wedding Bell Ceremony begins with the Bride and Groom inviting a young boy or girl to be the Wedding Bell Ringer (not the ring bearer). The Wedding Bell is tastefully incorporated into the ceremony, processional and recessional. Verses are selected for the ceremony, and these may vary. When included, the tinkle of the Wedding Bell, adds a sweet, delicate, unique aspect to what will be part of a memorable wedding day. The Bell Ringer rings the Wedding Bell during the processional and recessional. In some weddings another child accompanies the Bell Ringer holding a sign that reads “Here Comes the Bride” and on the flip side reads “Just Married.”

Whether the Bride and Groom select a Wedding Bell Ceremony or one of many other special ceremonies available, it will surely add joy, delight and treasured memories to a couple’s wedding day.