Creating Your Own Wedding Ceremony? Try These Helpful Tips
By Tina B. Tessina on June 21, 2014
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Exchange of Vows
I consider this the heart of the ritual, and believe that most of your attention needs to be focused here. Either your presider can ask each of you “Will you promise to:” or you can just say “I promise to...” to each other.
Exchange of Tokens
Most of us think weddings are synonymous with wedding rings. Although they are traditional, rings aren’t legally necessary in marriage. For your ceremony, you may want to exchange rings, or you may prefer tokens, such as a two-part pendant with each person wearing half, or watches, bracelets, or any other item that can be worn constantly, will last, and represents the nature of your pledge.
Some people have the tokens inscribed with date, initials and perhaps a message. When tokens are exchanged, a separate vow usually accompanies the exchange of tokens. This is the traditional “With this ring, I thee wed” part, but you can use “As I give you this token, I pledge....” Here’s a sample: I give you this ring as I give you myself, with affection and hope. I offer you love, I offer you strength, I offer you my support and understanding, as long as we both shall love.
Here the couple can take traditional Communion as prescribed by their faith, or simply share a sip of wine or fruit juice, along with prose or poetry they composed, or want to quote. This part of the ceremony is a symbolic sharing of the necessities of life, the abundance of the planet, as well as blessing from a Higher Power. In the Jewish faith, after the wine is shared, there is a ceremonial smashing of a glass, (today it’s normally a light bulb wrapped in cloth for safety and ease of breaking) symbolic of the one-time, unique nature of the event.
The charge is an empowering statement made by the Presider, usually beginning “I charge you both...” The Charge is more often found in ceremonies ordaining ministers, but my clients and I like the feeling of being empowered and consecrated to an intent.
A sample charge:
“I charge you both with the responsibility to keep alive and grow, to maintain your capacity for wonder, spontaneity and humor. I charge you to remain pliant, warm and sensitive, to speak your minds with gentleness and your hearts with openness. I charge you to see the meaning of life through the changing prism of your love for one another, to live responsibly and creatively. I charge you to live in full awareness of the abundance that has been provided for you, receiving it with respect and gratitude.”
Prayer or Affirmation
Traditionally given by the minister, the prayer asks for guidance and help for the couple, and for the congregation, whose responsibility it is to support the union. If your orientation is not religious, you can simply ask everyone to join hands, symbolizing the solidarity of the community and the Presider can recite a poem or quote that expresses your hopes for the future.
Image: Ben Salter via Flickr
Need I explain? Symbolic of the shared love, and replacing old royal customs where the closest retainers retired to the bedroom with the couple to witness the consummation.
Traditionally the Presider gives the blessing. Here’s a lovely one written by a minister I know:
“And now, may you have love--a love that is new and fresh each hour; as new as the rising of the evening star, as fresh as the coming of each new dawn. “And may you have peace--not the peace of the stagnant pool, but of deep waters flowing. “And may you have poise--not the poise of the sheltered tree, but of the oak--deep rooted, storm strengthened, and free. “And may you have the power--not the power of fisted might, but of the seed--quickened, growing toward and infinite and eternal Light. Amen. Go in peace.”
If you’re not connected to a religion, you can ask your Presider/Officiant to express good wishes for you, or you can write a statement for yourself.
This can be either at the very end of the ceremony, or as you enter the reception.
The Presider says:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you .........”, filling in your new names, if you’ve chosen some, or just saying your full names, followed by “partners in life”
This “introduces you to society” in your new status, and, since many couples keep their own names, hyphenate their surnames (Smith-Jones), or even adopt an entirely new name, this announcement solves everyone’s confusion of how to address your mail.
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