When couples begin planning their wedding ceremony, they invariably discover a myriad of marriage rituals.
What are marriage rituals?
Put simply, marriage rituals are a physical representation of a couple’s unification and their journey going forward. Rituals are often simple in structure, and may incorporate close family and friends, together with a range of props.
The trick with rituals (during a wedding ceremony), is to keep them both brief and interesting, whilst delivering a meaningful symbolism. It is very important that the guests can see (exactly) what is transpiring, and that they understand the point of the ritual.
What are the more common rituals?
For centuries, couples of Catholic denomination have commonly performed a candle lighting ritual (also known as a unification ritual). Today, this practice extends beyond the church, and is performed regularly in civil ceremonies (often where [at least] one partner is Catholic). It is also worth noting that the candle lighting ceremony is often avoided by non-denominational couples, for fear of sending the wrong spiritual message.
In western civil ceremonies (where religious denomination is negligible), the most commonly performed ritual is (arguably), the ‘pouring of the coloured sands’. This ritual is very appealing, because it (often) involves parents and close family, whilst the wedded couple have a colourful keepsake (memento) of the day.
Other commonly performed rituals are the ‘warming of the rings’ or the ‘blessing of the rings’. Once again, couples can invite family and close friends to partake (forming a circle around the bride and groom), whilst the bride and groom stand in the centre. The wedding rings are passed into the circle, and physically blessed by the participants.
The release of creatures is also quite popular amongst brides and grooms, generally as a symbol of hope; the most common creatures are homing doves and monarch butterflies.
Other rituals include; the cutting of the ribbon, the hand blessing, the honey & lemon ceremony, and (my personal favourite) the Pagan Hand-fasting (which I will discuss in greater detail in an upcoming post).
My personal view is that the best wedding ceremonies are the ones that have multiple elements, incorporating strong symbolic meaning. It is also vital that couples select a ritual that they can both identify with, and that accurately portrays their union.