In this modern age of perpetual busyness, of forever being 'on', of rushing from one task to the next, one place to another, a significant celebration (like a wedding, christening, birth or death) offers a beautifully rare opportunity to pause, to gather with loved ones and to reflect upon a momentous occasion. Rituals, steeped in symbolism and beautiful intentions, when carefully selected and chosen from a place of authenticity, (rather than gimmick) can only heighten the sense of occasion and ceremony.
Just as the act of blowing out candles on a birthday cake and making a wish, or celebrating the first full moon of April with eggs (both drawn from Pagan history) there are so many rituals woven throughout our everyday lives, sequences that form the tapestry of day to day celebrations, so ancient we take for granted their original meaning and significance.
Handfasting or Handbinding, the smashing of the glass, casting a circle or sacred space, ring blessings, or even the simplicity of a reading, each mean different things to different people. Be sure to select something that feels authentic to each of you and definitely don't include a 'ritual' in your wedding ceremony because you feel you should. Whether drawn from a place of religious significance, cultural tradition or a genuine love of their meaning, be sure to understand on a deeper level exactly what your ritual symbolises, its origins and why you feel connected to it.
Below are a shortlist of some of our favourite rituals, drawn from our personal experience and our hand selected celebrants, rituals that feel beautiful and authentic in their meaning and translation…
Ring Blessing - Particularly perfect for intimate ceremonies, where every single person present is of great significance to you, have each of your rings passed around (at the beginning of the ceremony) to be imbued with a little of the energy of all those who touch them, friends and family celebrating your commitment to one another.
Smashing of the Glass - "Not just a Jewish tradition but from Russia as well. The couple toast each other after their marriage and their empty glasses are wrapped in a linen napkin which the celebrant lays at their feet for the groom to crush with his right foot. The symbolism is that the glasses were whole and individual but can never be put back together again and that marriage is an irrevocable act, as permanent and final as breaking the glass is irreparable. It is also a warning of the fragility of marriage and how it should be handled with care, being careful not to crush it or break it". - Celebrant Liz Pforr
Pouring of Water - "Gathering of different water from different locations that mean something to the couple – this is then poured into a collective vessel eg a shell and then sprinkled over the couple to represent their cultures, ancestry, their history. This symbolises their separate lives up until their marriage then the binding of the two together to never be the same again." - Celebrant Liz Pforr
Hand Fasting or Binding - "An ancient Celtic tradition where the bride and groom have their hands bound in the infinity circle or left hand to left hand, pulses touching. A cord or ribbon is tied around their joined wrists or hands to symbolise their binding love. The colours of the cord/s or ribbon/s symbolise many things depending on what the couple choose. When this is slipped off, it’s placed in a bag, never to be untied, “your bonds are unbroken as, if you pull one way, your bonds are strengthened and if you pull the other, they are loosened.” " - Celebrant Liz Pforr
Casting a Circle - "A sacred space is created by the celebrant for the couple and can be cast from anything – stones gathered from places the couple have been, shells, feathers, flowers, chairs of the guests (even surfboards!) all the way around the couple." - Celebrant Liz Pforr
Earthing - Choosing to wed in bare feet so that your feet are firmly planted on the ground, as you exchange your vows. A particularly beautiful idea if you feel a strong connection spiritually to the place and the energy where your ceremony will unfold.
Collective Bouquet - "The female guests can bring a single flower to the ceremony which can be given to the bride as she walks up the aisle. The chief bridesmaid or matron of honour can then tie them all together for a beautiful bohemian bouquet." - Celebrant Liz Pforr
"My best advice is don't choose a ritual that doesn't resonate with you for the sake of having something different - choose something that will have meaning to you both now but also when you look back in years to come. You are marrying the love of your life, for some, that's enough!" Celebrant Liz Pforr