Creative Ceremony Ideas For Your Wedding
I love ritual and have a deep respect of what it can do for us. Rituals add extra layers of meaning to milestones in our lives and give the people we love insight into who we are and what’s important to us. They might include a family tradition passed down form generation to generation, a religious custom, or an experience from your travels that you want to share with your friends and family; no matter what its inspiration adding ritual to the ceremony turns a collection of many individuals into a single united congregation.
1. Love Banners: With the invitations or confirmation package, guests receive a piece of ribbon or fabric, two or three feet long. They’re requested to inscribe it with personal words, a wish, a blessing, a poem, a quote, a memory, or anything about the couple they’d like to share. The guests are instructed to bring these ribbons or streamers to the ceremony, where they are hung from an arch erected at the head of the aisle, at the altar, or even strung down aisle stanchions by the bridesmaids. The intention is for the couple to be married surrounded by the love and good wishes of their guests and the positive energy of the congregation. Have extra ribbon and a suitable writing pen available at the guest arrival area, just in case the forgetful guest accidentally left her wishes at home.
2. African Earth Ceremony: The day before the ceremony, the bride and groom each collect a cup of the local soil. At the altar, these samples of earth are kept in separate wood bowls until the bride and groom (or the officiant) merge the bowls’ contents into a third bowl. This ceremony is literally grounded in the acknowledgment that we are all taking in something from nature, and using it to sustain ourselves. It is simple, visual, and profound all at once; it requires that the bride and groom think about what’s supporting them; and it involves them, in an elemental fashion, with their ceremony. For a variation, soil can be replaced with sand for a beach wedding, or you can substitute flower petals from roses or tulips. Flower petals are definitely a favorite of many of the brides and grooms I’ve worked with, and it’s a lovely image when they merge the petals with their own hands while looking into each other’s eyes.
3. Circle of Love: A circle is established around the ceremony site with a garland of greens, a string, a piece of rope, or even more gorgeous ribbon. When guests arrive at the ceremony site they’re invited by an usher, family friend, or officiant to collect some small piece of the natural word- flower petals or seashells, shining crystals or smooth stones- from bowls placed at the entrance to the isle. Before being seated, guests carry these items to the site, and place them upon the circle, creating the sacred space for the ceremony. Since all the guests participate, they feel a part of the marriage, engendering an almost tribal sense of community; this happens before the wedding starts, thus providing a participatory and visual element while guests wait for the main event; it can be employed with virtually any size congregation. My favorite is when a heart shaped is created out of greens fashioned into a garland. At the top of the aisle, each guest is given a flower, such as a gardenia blossom. They walk down the aisle and place the flower in the garland while making a wish for the bride and groom. The couple get to exchange their vows in the collective love and energy of their family and friends.
4. Handheld Hearts: When guests arrive, they are invited to draw, from a designated bowl, heart-shaped crystals or stones, along with a set of printed instructions that instruct guests to hold the heart during the ceremony, to put their love and support and best wishes into this heart, and, after the ceremony, to deposit the hearts in a box, for the bride and groom to keep. In this way, guests become even more emotionally vested in the ceremony- they are putting their own hearts, their love and wishes and energy, into these symbolic hearts.
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