A wedding ceremony has a few essentials; a bride and groom, a preacher or officiant to conduct the ceremony, vows of some sort stating their promises, sharing of rings, a kiss to seal the deal, and a pronouncement of the new union. Cut and dry – that is all that it has to be………and some actually want it as short and sweet as possible…..but some go to great lengths to make it more unique and more special. Let me share some of the interesting ceremony “rituals” that we saw this year.
We had a foot-washing ceremony. Often when this is done, both the bride and groom take turns washing (actually more of a rinsing that a washing) but this time, it was only the groom who gently, sweetly removed the shoes (boots in this case) of his bride-to-be and washed her feet.
Foot-washing symbolizes an act of submission and service for each other. This ceremony has a Christian tradition to it since Jesus washed the feet of his disciples to show that He was there to serve those that He loved. We see foot-washings usually once or twice a year and each time it is an emotional experience to watch where words are put to a visual testament of commitment.
We saw a German tradition of a “log-cutting ceremony” where after the full vows, kiss, and pronouncement of the new bride and groom to the audience is given….the bride and groom head towards the back where there is a fairly large sized log and a huge saw (ya know the kind – like you see in lumberjack contests). The couple gets hands on each end of the saw and begin the slow back and forth motion of cutting the log. This is to demonstrate “working together to overcome an obstacle” and I might add a commentators note that often this process of cutting the log is often quite difficult and if nothing else – that just proves that marriage is often quite a challenge as a couple works together to overcome obstacles….and then that can be a humorous lesson to all of the witnesses too as they see the struggle of cutting the dang log!
We saw a couple who created a time capsule in a wooden box where they inserted a bottle of wine and two love letters to each other – all placed in a box and then they took turns nailing with a hammer to close up and seal up this little box, only to be opened in ten years.
A tree planting ceremony is where a tree sapling has been potted and the bride and groom (and sometimes even the mother’s of the bride/groom) share in watering the tree and symbolizes “nurturing their relationship.”
Tying a fishermen’s knot about the hands/wrists of the bride and groom ritual states that “even through pressure, the knot only strengths and tightens instead of breaking” which symbolizes that the coming together as one – tied together in their commitment – will only be strengthen through adversary.
We did see the sand ceremony again where there is a mixing of two colors of sand into one vessel which symbolizes a “coming together of two into one” of a new family. Once there was several vials of colored sand being mixed because there was a blended family as a part of the new union so the inclusion of all into one vessel was a special twist to the traditional sand ceremony.
Finally there was “gather around” where the bridal party, the family, and any guests that wished to…..circled up around the couple after they had made their vows and shared in a prayer “over the couple” as it showed their recognition that this ceremony was a holy union and commitment to God plus it allows the guests to acknowledge their willingness to be part of the “support of the community” in encouraging their new commitment.
All of these ceremonial rituals helped to make these weddings “special” and fit them and their situations – their preferences – their influences – their priorities. The best weddings are those that find those ways of being unique to “that” couple.