Gwen Downs - Wedding Celebrant
Sharing of Wine
This is a tradition where the couple drinks three times from the same cup. The first is a drink to friendship, the second to commitment of love and the third represents the unity of spirit.
Tree Planting Ceremony
A Tree planting ceremony is a great option when couples are getting married in their own back yard. It's great for gardeners or couples who love the outdoors. Planting a tree together, setting down roots together. Often, couples will bring dirt from each of their family's homes to the plant or tree they grow together. If you don't have a home yet you can pot a small tree you will plant when you find your own house with a yard together.
Breaking of the Glass
Symbolically, the breaking of the glass reminds us of the fragile nature of life. The custom has also come to symbolize the shattering of the old and the beginning of the new. The breaking of the glass insures the uniqueness of the moment that arises and passes away, a letting go of the past and looking forward to the future.
Tibetan Bells or Singing Bowls
Tibetan Bells or Singing Bowls are ancient chimes which are commonly used nowadays for the purposes of meditation, healing and welcoming presence.
They are often rung at the beginning of the ceremony to sanctify the space and then again at the end to "close out" the ceremony. The sound of the bells or bowls invites us to stop, be present, and recognize that wherever we gather to observe, recognize, acknowledge, pay tribute or celebrate is truly a sacred space and sacred time.
According to American Indian legend, if you want a wish to come true you must capture a butterfly, whisper your wish and release it. As the butterfly makes no sound your wish will never be revealed, only the Great Spirit hears and sees all. In gratitude for giving the butterfly life and freedom, your wish is granted. It is usual to ask the guests to whisper their own special wish for the couple as the butterflies are released.
Lighting a Memory Candle
This single candle represents any loved ones who have passed and symbolizes their spiritual presence at your ceremony. The candle is lit in memory of their absence, but in recognition of their love and family ties.
The Huppah is a wedding canopy that has been a part of Jewish weddings for thousands of years. It symbolizes the first home shared by the married couple, a home that they will create together. Keeping with tradition, the Huppah is open on all sides to suggest that the couple's home will be open to all those who need shelter and to allow their family and friends to share in their ceremony. While the Huppah may be made of branches and flowers, the roof is covered by a tallis, or prayer shawl.
The Handfasting Ceremony
There are many variations of the traditional handfasting. After the bride and groom both declare their intent to enter into this union, the hands of the couple are clasped and fastened together with a cord or cords just before, just after, or during their vows are made to one another.
The wrapping of the cord forms an infinity symbol. The handfasting knot that is tied is a symbolic representation of oneness between the couple. In a show of unity, they become bound to each other.
This ceremony works particularly well for ceremonies which take place next to water – a lake, river or the sea. The couple is given stones to cast into the water to symbolize their unity so long as the river flows or the tide ebbs and returns.
Unity Candle Ceremony
The Unity Candle Ceremony symbolizes the joining of the couple and the two families; it symbolizes two lives becoming one. There are a number of variances to the candle lighting ceremony and it can be customized to your unique relationship. If you are creating a new blended family, you may wish to include the children in the lighting of the Unity Candle. Often this is done by having the bride and groom light the candle for the children and then everyone lighting the center candle together. This is an excellent way to involve children from a previous marriage.
In this ceremony, the couple chooses a glass bowl that they'd like to have in their home. Each person involved pours colored marbles or colored glass rocks into the glass bowl--each person has a separate color. When everyone has poured their colors in, including the bride & groom, the layers of separate colors are swirled into one big mosaic--a true blending of lives into an ongoing, living piece of art.
The list of rituals is endless. You can incorporate any personal unique touches or family traditions for your ceremony if desired.
Bubbles are a fun way of ending the wedding ceremony. This takes place just before the bride and groom recess down the aisle as husband and wife.
The couple exchange a single red rose which symbolizes their love and commitment to each other on their wedding day and forever. Another variation is that after walking down the aisle, the couple gives a rose to each of their new mother-in-laws.
The exchanging of wedding rings between the couple can be completed during the vows. The wedding rings are usually entrusted to the Best Man or anyone special to the couple and symbolize the visible signs of their commitment to one another.
Warming of the Rings
This ceremony is popular with a smaller wedding party and is often initiated at the start of the wedding rather than during the vows. The rings are placed in a small organza bag and passed among all the guests to hold, thus giving their personal blessing before they are received by the couple who then exchange the rings. With a ring warming in your ceremony the rings will not only be a gift from one to another, but will be given with the love, support and wisdom of all who are present.
A popular ceremony for beach weddings is the Unity Sand Ceremony.
Using two containers of different colored sands representing the individual lives of the couple, each of them pours the sand into a third container. This represents their new life together as one, just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again – a symbol of their new life together as one.
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If you choose one of these rituals you will be responsible for providing any and all props to be used in the ceremony.
The Unity Puzzle Ceremony
The unity puzzle ceremony is perfect for a blended family wedding and is a terrific way to involve the children in your ceremony. It is shaped in a complete circle. The circle is never ending. At the time of the ceremony each member of the family places their puzzle piece in the puzzle tray to complete the circle.