Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Joining Rituals

The Joining Rituals
Groom gets congratulated. He is holding bound copy of text.
This week continues our discussion of wedding rituals with our exploration of what I refer to as the Joining Rituals. These rituals symbolize the joining of two lives on separate paths into one path, and generally appear early in the service before the vows.

Unity Candle
The first of the Joining Rituals is the Unity Candle, the most used ritual in weddings. A staple in Catholic weddings it can be done several ways and the text varies a little based on which way you pick. This is a very pretty ritual and text. My only objection to this ritual is that it is used so much.

The Basics
The basic ritual text talks about the joining of the two lives and that the candles represent the divine light that lives in us all. The Bride and Groom light their individual tapers from the altar candles as I talk about how the candles represent them as individuals. Then as I talk about the joining of their lives the Bride and Groom take their taper candles and light the pillar candle.

Here there are two ways to go and vary the text. IN the first way we leave the tapers burning and I talk about maintaining your individual strengths. In the second way each of you blow out the other's taper as I talk about the closing of each individual's life as they embark on the shared path.

There are several ways of incorporating family in the ritual
Unity Candle Ritual

For couples without children in the Family Unity Candle Ritual the mothers step up to the altar and light the altar candles right after they come down the aisle in the processional. Later during the actual ritual the Bride and Groom light their tapers from the altar candles which their mothers lit.

For couples with children, if the children are old enough, you change the arrangement of candles. Instead of two long tapers and one pillar you add smaller candles, one for each child. Then the Bride and Groom and the children all put their candles in to light the pillar candle. I can't stress enough that the children need to old enough and mature enough to be included in the ritual.

All Guests
This is an add-on to whichever Unity Candle Ritual you choose from above. With this version you have small candles on each seat at the ceremony. What seems to work pretty well and inexpensively is to get some tapers and cut them into three inch candles. Take a cupcake holder and cut a slit in it to slide the candle through. This keeps lit candle wax from dropping on people's hands during this part of the ceremony.

When it is time for the ritual the ushers go from row to row lighting the candle held by the person sitting on the aisle and they pass the flame to the next person and so on until the everyone has a lit candle (I don't suggest this with small children.)

The text in this version talks about how each lit candle signifies that the attendees support the path that the Bride and Groom are about to take.

Sand Ritual
Sand Ritual
The Sand Ritual is very visual and pretty. I've read that it is derived from a Native American ritual but I can't confirm that.

In the Sand Ritual the Bride and Groom have small glass containers each with a different color sand. At the appropriate time in the ritual the couple pours the sand into the larger container. The text in the ritual talks about how the fact that you can still see the individual colors is symbolic of the couple being able to maintain their individuality and the blended sand shows that their marriage will be a blend of both their strengths.

This ritual can also be done to incorporate the children if they are old enough. In the family version there are three sizes of glass containers and each container has a different color of sand. Text in this version talks about the strength that is brought by the combination of all of the family members.

A quick note. Some companies sell a heart shaped large container for this ritual that has a very narrow opening at the top. I would avoid this product as the narrow opening makes it very difficult for you to both pour the sand at the same time and still get it into the large container.

Salt Ritual
The Salt Ritual is essentially the same ritual as the Sand Ritual. This ritual was designed for folks who have issues with using the Sand Ritual because it supposedly comes to us from Native American ceremonies. The Salt Ritual is supposedly more Christian.

Wine Ritual

This is a very pretty ritual both visually and in the text. Toasts have long been part of the wedding traditions. With more and more weddings being done at wineries this ritual has grown in popularity.

 We have prepared on the altar two bottles of wine, one red and one white and two glasses. It is hard to find a red wine and a white wine that taste good when blended so I suggest you get two bottles of a white wine and put red food coloring in one.

The text talks about each glass of wine representing you as individuals. Each of you pours a glass of wine for the other and we have a toast to the person that you met, fell in love with and decided to marry. After the toast I ask each of you to pour the other half of your glass into a chalice that I provide. Then the two of you hold the chalice and drink of the blended wine with a toast to your life together as husband and wife.

This ritual stands on its own or can be combined with the Time Capsule below.

A kiss overlooking the Arch
Time Capsule
The Time Capsule can be tied in with the Wine Ritual above if you desire. After the toasts we take the wine glasses and put them in a box or other container along with a bottle of "blush" wine. In advance I ask each of you to prepare a letter to the other detailing a little about what lead you to this point, why you want to marry this person and perhaps a little of your dreams for the future. I ask that you not show these to each other. We put these letters into the time capsule with the wine and glasses and seal it up to be opened on your 1 year, five year or ten year anniversary.

These are the primary Joining Rituals. Next week we will talk about other possible rituals for your ceremony.


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