Friday, 21 February 2014

Marriage Ceremonies ... within the Marriage Ceremony

Just the right ceremony for you! - by Guest Contributor, Robyn Rodda, CMC 

These days, weddings are so much more fun than they used to be. Gone are the days of having to go through a ceremony that's long and boring for the bride, groom and guests. Couples have a lot more input now, with as little or as much personal aspects as they wish. Another benefit of the modern day wedding is the innovation of different ceremonies and rituals, such as “The Heart Lock” (where couples use a lock as a symbol of their lifetime love for one another) and the “Rose Ceremony” (with the bride and groom during the ceremony each presenting the other with a rose, representing the words “I love you”).

While most of these rituals come from much earlier days, they have adapted to modern times to be short little ceremonies within the main wedding ceremony. For example, a Handfasting ceremony comes from Celtic weddings but is now often adapted to suit any contemporary service. But undoubtedly, the most popular of these ceremonies within ceremonies are Sand, Ring Warming and Unity Candles.

 A wedding sand ceremony is very popular. Two vessels of sand are poured together either into a third keepsake vessel or into the wind, to represent the coming together of your lives. It can also be a wonderful way to unite two families if either party has children already from a previous relationship. Each member of the family is represented by different colour sand, and as each is poured into the container, the individual portions of sand will no longer exist on their own, but will instead be joined together as one. Just as every individual grain of sand has its own unique beauty, strength and character, when blended together, they form an entirely new and extraordinarily more intricate whole. Like marriage, the sand ceremony respects the individuality of each person, but also unites them as one.

The ring warming ceremony is one that can include all of your guests or just a handful of them. During a ring warming, the couple’s wedding rings are passed among their guests, as the rings are a visible sign of the couple’s commitment to one another. Each guest is invited to hold the rings for a moment, warms them with their hands and makes a silent prayer, blessing or personal wish for the health and happiness of the couple, and their future together. When the rings come back, the warmth of these precious rings represents all the hopes and dreams from their family and friends.

But my favourite ritual is the Unity Candle Ceremony, although it is not recommended to be done outside as the candles will not stay lit. The flames from the candles represent the “light” and “souls” of the bride and groom, and this ritual is done with one large, central “unity” candle, and two smaller candles on either side. The two smaller candles symbolize the separate lives, families and experiences of the bride and groom before the wedding day, and these candles are lit early in the ceremony by a member from each family, usually the mother. After the exchange of vows, but before the exchange of rings, the bride and groom take each side candle and light the centre unity candle together, uniting the families and experiences into one.

The beauty of all of these types of ceremonies is that they can be adapted to suit anybody in any way. Changing the core of the ceremony does not necessarily make the service right or wrong, but more individual. And by adding one of these rituals, the wedding can be far more entertaining and personal, and not tiresome or uninteresting.

Robyn Rodda
Civil/Marriage Celebrant