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WEDDING CEREMONY RITUALS

There are a myriad of rituals we can include in your wedding ceremony. If you don’t have any specific ideas of your own you want to incorporate, here are just a few examples to consider.

HANDFASTING

A folkloric and neopagan custom initially found in Western Europe, the ritual has been adopted by many modern Irish based couples. The wedding celebrant binds your hands together with a ribbon or item of your choice to symbolize the joining of two lives. This is where the term “tying the knot” comes from.

SAND POURING

A popular unity ceremony, the wedding sand ceremony expresses the coming together of two people or two families into one new family. A very simple idea that can be incredibly powerful, typically each person has different coloured sand and takes turns pouring it into one clear vessel, forming a layered effect. Sometimes just the couple participates, and sometimes the couple's children and/or parents join in with their own coloured sand, adding to the layers of colours, and expressing the harmony of the entire family.

UNITY CANDLE

One of the most popular rituals chosen for a wedding ceremony, the couple each take a lit candle and simultaneously light a third larger "unity candle." They may blow out their individual candles; or leave them lit to symbolise that they have not lost their individuality in their marriage union. Sometimes, a couple may opt to have a parent light the first candle before they subsequently take light from it to light the unity candle.

REVERSE UNITY CANDLE

Instead of the above traditional unity candle ceremony, the couple light a single candle together and use this candle to pass light to their chosen number of guests (all adult guests have been given an unlit candle) who in turn pass the light to other guests. The shared community-wide holding of the light can have a stunning impact, particularly in an atmospherically lit venue or evening wedding ceremony.

REMINDER BOX

Or “the fight box” as it is sometimes called! Before your wedding day, gather a wooden box, a bottle of your drink of choice and two glasses. Write love notes to each other, detailing how you feel as you start your married life together. Seal your letters without sharing it with your spouse-to-be. During your wedding ceremony, place the love notes inside the wooden box with the bottle and glasses and take turns to hammer the box shut. The couple agree to keep the box sealed until a special anniversary, or if you hit a rough patch. Then, break open the box, fill the glasses and read the letters to remember what it’s all about!

WEDDING DAY TIME CAPSULE

On your wedding day, pass around a box during the wedding ceremony for your guests to drop in their notes/letters/well wishes. Then, seal it up until your anniversary. (You can of course add the bottle and glasses to this wedding day time capsule if you wish!)

WEDDING GUESTS MAKE VOWS TO YOU

After you’ve made your wedding vows to each other, you can ask your guests to join in. For example: “Now that you, beloved friends and family of the couple, have heard them recite their vows, do you promise, from this day forward, to encourage them to always love each other, to give them your guidance, and to support them in being steadfast in the promises they have made?” Guests respond: “We do!”

COMMUNAL BLESSING OF YOUR RINGS

As you’re not having a religious wedding ceremony, you might like your family and friends to make a special wish for you as they hold your rings (this works best at smaller weddings). Your wedding rings are placed in a ring box or decorative pouch. Each of your guests have an opportunity to hold the rings and silently offer a wish for you. In essence, the rings are warmed by the hands and hearts of your guests.

WISHING STONES

Similar to the wedding rings, the wishing stones (a symbol of strength and endurance) are again a wonderful way to include everyone in your wedding ceremony by providing an opportunity for your guests to offer you good wishes. During the ceremony, your guests write their wishes to you on the note card attached to the stone. This ritual may be performed within the actual ceremony (if your guest numbers are small) or at the conclusion of the service.

BREAKING THE GLASS

This custom from Jewish weddings has now become more popular at Irish weddings. At the end of your wedding ceremony, one or both spouses break a glass (or a light bulb which makes more noise!) by stepping on it while your guests shout out good luck wishes to you, the newly married couple.

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