Ceremony Elements, Traditions and Customs There are many religious, cultural, and family rituals & practices as well as readings, poetry, and music that can be included throughout a wedding ceremony. Talk about it together with your “spouse to be”and decide on what you would like to incorporate as part of your ceremony. We will work with you and assist you each step of the way to ensure that you have a wonderful celebration.
Below are suggestions and all can be modified to your liking.
Hands Ceremony This is a very moving recitation of the importance of the hands of the bride and groom. It is spoken by the officiate while the bride and groom are simply facing each other while holding hands:
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow and forever.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours as together you build your future. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch will comfort you like no other. These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief temporarily comes your way. These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy. These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children. These are the hands that will give you support and encouragement to chase down your dreams. These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times. These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it. These are the hands that will lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into eyes that are filled with overwhelming love for you. And lastly, these are the hands that even when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
Hand Fasting Hand-fasting is an ancient Celtic ritual in which the couples’ hands are tied together with a ceremonial cloth or cord. Hand-fasting is a declaration of intent, where the bride and groom clearly state that they are marrying of their own free will.This is usually incorporated (and replaces) the standard vows. (Personal vows may still be used). Unity Candle The Unity Candle is a very traditional wedding event. In this ceremony the mothers of the bride and groom light the candles on either side of the unity candle. The two lighted candles signify the separate lives, families and experiences before the wedding. After the exchange of vows but before the exchange of rings the bride and groom take each side candle and light the unity candle together thus symbolically uniting their families and experiences into one. (You may include children in this ceremony, if applicable).
The verbiage for this ceremony can be as follows or a personalized ceremony can be created for you.
Unity Candle Ceremony #1. _____ and _____, the two separate candles symbolize your separate lives, separate families and separate sets of friends, in other words, your lives before today. Lighting the center candle represents that your two lives are now being joined together as one. Please pick up the lighted candles and together light the center candle.
Unity Candle Ceremony #2. _____ and _____ have chosen to affirm their love by the lighting of a unity candle. They have also asked their families to participate in the lighting ceremony. In so doing, they signal their desire to not only join as one in their union but to also unite two families together as one. From every human being there rises a light and when two souls that are destined for each other find one another, their streams of light flow together and a single, brighter light goes forth from their united being.
Communion Communion brings a spiritual aspect into a marriage at the inception of the marital relationship. The origin of Communion comes from the New Testament as recorded by Matthew when Jesus broke bread and shared the cup with His disciples just prior to His betrayal and arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. It symbolized the breaking of His body and shedding of His blood which was soon to take place on the cross. To include this ceremony in a wedding establishes a family altar in the home where the couple is symbolically demonstrating their desire to recognize Christ as the head of their home. (The officiant would serve a small loaf of bread and juice or wine in a goblet and allow the couple to have a few moments to pray over their new relationship. He could then also pray over them, if desired. This would be appropriately placed after the pronouncement).
Rose Ceremony There are essentially two different ways to incorporate a rose into a wedding. This is your wedding and you can present a rose in any way that feels right to you. Some suggestions: Rose Presentation to Mothers of the Bride and Groom: This is usually done at the beginning of the ceremony. The bride and groom can offer a rose to each mother after the presentation of the bride or they can give a rose at the beginning of the ceremony.
Rose Exchange After your wedding vows you may want to consider a Rose Exchange ceremony. The wedding officiate or the maid of honor and best man can offer the rose to the bride and the groom at the appropriate moment.
The Rose Exchange Minister: After the exchanging of rings, your first gift to each other as husband and wife is a single rose. The rose is a symbol of love so it is appropriate that it is your first gift. Please exchange your first gift as husband and wife.
Groom gives his rose to the bride. Groom: ______, I give you this rose as a symbol of my love. It began as a tiny, tightly closed bud and blossomed into this perfect rose that opened with the warmth of the sun, just as my love for you has grown in the warmth of your soul. Bride gives her rose to the groom.
Bride: ______, I give you this rose as a symbol of my love. It began as a tiny, tightly closed bud and blossomed into this perfect rose that opened with the warmth of the sun, just as my love for you has grown in the warmth of your soul.
Minister: _____ and _____, in remembrance of this day and as a reaffirmation of your love and of the vows you have spoken here today, please give each other a single red rose each year on your anniversary. In the best of marriages there are difficult times. There are times of hurtful words, times of neglect, times when we must wait patiently to be together again. Those may be the times when the words you really need to speak are difficult. I ask that you remember this moment and that when words fail you, that you place a single rose on your spouse’s pillow as a way to say, “I remember our vow,” and “I love you.” Let this exchanging of roses be the beginning of a lifelong tradition of unspoken love.
Coins This originated in Spain. Centuries ago a man would give his bride thirteen gold coins, a token of his pledge to support her. The coins represented Christ and His twelve apostles. The act symbolizes entrusting the stewardship of all his earthly possessions to his new bride. Her acceptance signifies her promise to be a wise and responsible steward for the sake of the family. Today it is common for her to pour the same coins back into the groom’s hands representing a mutual commitment to provide for their joint needs. (The coins are then placed back into a pouch and handed off to the best man for safekeeping).
Salt Covenant In Bible times, people understood the meaning of vows and keeping promises with each other at all costs. This was symbolized in something called ‘The Covenant of Salt.’ Men wore a pouch of salt tied to their belt and when they made covenants, they would each exchange a pinch of salt, putting their grains of salt into the other’s pouch and vice versa. If a man would try to break his covenant, then the other would say, “Yes, if you can retrieve your grains and yours only from my pouch of salt.” Obviously, this was impossible because the grains of salt would all become as one when they were mixed together.
Here is one sample of the Salt Covenant. “_____ and _____, our God is a God of Covenant (Promises) and is loyal as expressed in the OT phrase, “The Lord keeps covenant for a thousand generations to those who fear Him.” ‘Covenant’ is the most sacred word in human speech. There are several types of covenant spoken of in scripture. Today, this relationship is symbolized through the pouring of these two pouches of salt, one representing you _______ and all that you were, all that you are, and all that you will ever be, and the other representing you _______, and all that you were and all that you are, and all that you will ever be. As these two pouches of salt are poured into the third container, the individual pouches will no longer exist, but will be joined together as one. Just as these grains of salt can never be separated and poured again into the individual containers, so will your marriage be. _____ and _____, you are now entering into an eternal covenant with each other. You have exchanged vows and now you are going to unify salt from each other’s pouch and then shake it.
The shaking of the box symbolizes the finality of the covenant of loyalty between you.” (Pouring of Salt and Shaking of Container)“You are now bound in the covenant of loyalty. May God bless you, keep you and preserve you!”
Sand Ceremony Two vessels of sand are poured together either into a third keepsake or into the wind to represent the coming together of your lives. (You may include children in this ceremony, if applicable).
Here are a few sample Sand Ceremonies.
Sand Ceremony #1. “Today, this relationship is symbolized through the pouring of these two individual containers of sand. One representing you _____ and all that you were, all that you are, and all that you will ever be and the other representing you _____ and all that you were, all that you are, and all that you will ever be. As these two containers of sand are poured into the third container, the individual containers of sand will no longer exist, but will be joined together as one. Just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the individual containers, so will your marriage be.”
Sand Ceremony #2. _____ and _____, today you join your separate lives together. The two separate bottles of sand symbolize your separate lives, separate families and separate sets of friends. They represent all that you are and all that you’ll ever be as an individual. They also represent your lives before today. As these two containers of sand are poured into the third container, the individual containers of sand will no longer exist but will be joined together as one. Just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the individual containers, so will your marriage be.”
Hawaiian Lei Exchange In Hawaii , in the memory of the islands and their wedding ceremonies, the Lei has been a traditional MAKANA – a gift exchanged between the bride and groom. LEI ALOHA – Necklaces of Love – are offered and accepted open-heartedly as they give of their beauty. The lei is a symbol of love; it is also a symbol of things fragile and temporary. A lei will last for only a day or two, and then it is gone. Our lives are like the lei within the span of eternity. We are here in this life for only a brief moment, therefore live with tender consideration for each other; love one another, and your marriage will last. The bride and groom are given the opportunity to speak a few simple Hawaiian phrases.
Lasso The Lasso is a wedding ritual in which the couple is bound together (around their shoulders, in a figure eight) with a ceremonial cord (or Rosary). Lassoing is a declaration of intent, where the bride and groom clearly state that they are marrying of their own free will. The Lasso remains draped until the end of the ceremony, at which time the officiant offers a prayer, and the Lasso is removed by those who draped it. It is then presented to the Bride who carries it as they walk down the aisle.
The Veil and the Cord/Lasso Ceremony The Veil and the Cord/Lasso are both associated with a wedding prayer during the ceremony. Special additional members of the wedding party are responsible for draping a white veil over the bride’s head and the groom’s shoulders. Then a yugal (decorative silk cord) in a figure-eight shape – to symbolize everlasting fidelity – is placed over the shoulders of the kneeling bride and groom. Thus symbolically tied together and clothed as one, the couple remains kneeling for a prayer. After which, the Cord/Lasso then the Veil are removed.
The Wine Cup Ceremony The use of the wine cup at a wedding is an ancient tradition. The cup of wine is symbolic of the cup of life. As you share the cup of wine, you undertake to share all that the future may bring. All the sweetness life’s cup may hold for you will be sweeter because you drink it together. Whatever drops of bitterness it may contain will be less bitter because you share them. The couple serves each other the wine.
Time Capsule (Love Letters/Wine) Prior to the wedding day, the bride and groom write love letters to one another expressing the reasons they fell in love with the other, their hopes and dreams for their future together, and anything else they want to share, and seal them in individual envelopes. Then, they decorate a wooden wine box with whatever they want – line the inside with some material, enclose a CD mix of special songs, other romantic mementoes, etc. The box will essentially be a relationship time capsule.
During the actual ceremony, the officiant will share with the guests the reason and meaning behind your wine box. Then, with everyone witnessing, the bride and groom will place their letters in the box along with their favorite bottle of wine.
The box is not to be opened until a special wedding anniversary (five, ten, twenty-five – it’s up to you!). The exception if you hit a rocky patch in your relationship. At that point, open the box, uncork the wine, and read the letters you wrote to each other while drinking a glass of the wine. Hopefully this would remind you of the reasons you love each other and how meaningful your relationship truly is, and start you on the road to getting back on track.
Dove Release This is usually done immediately following the Introduction of the couple when the Recessional music begins and the bride and groom begin walking down the aisle. An alternative is the moment the couple kisses. The white dove is the symbol of Love, Peace, Purity, Faithfulness, and Prosperity. Doves chose one partner for life and make this commitment until death. The “Noblemen of Olde” released the dove as symbols of their eternal love for their brides to be. It is said that if doves are seen on your wedding day, a happy home is assured. Releasing doves uplifts the eyes, signifies new beginnings and true celebrations in flight.
Butterfly Release According to an American Indian Legend. . . If anyone desires a wish to come true they must first capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it. Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly cannot reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit, who hears and sees all. In gratitude for giving the butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the wish. So, according to legend, by making a wish and giving the butterfly its freedom, the wish will be taken to the heavens and granted. The butterfly symbolizes new beginnings, freedom, and happiness.
Bubble Reception Before the ceremony begins, everyone is given a small bottle of bubble solution. After being pronounced, Mr. and Mr. ____________. The officiate then announces, “Everyone please take the bottle you received as you came in and give this beautiful couple a wonderful Bubble Reception as they take their first walk together.”
Broom Jumping Jumping the broom is a popular African-American wedding tradition that symbolizes the sweeping away of the old and the new, and the welcoming of the new. This custom stems back to the time when slaves were prevented from marrying. They developed this ritual as a way to unite in ceremony. This ceremony is a way to represent the joining together of two lives and the need for support of the marriage from the community.
Breaking the Glass A suggestion as to the meaning of the broken glass is that the latter comes to remind us of the fragility of human relationships. According to this view, the breaking of the glass comes as a somber warning to the bride and groom as to the constant possibility of the breaking apart of a union that, perhaps at this moment, seems so strong and full of optimism. It is blessed with a strong sense of realism in its dealings with human beings, their potential, and their shortcomings.