Symbols for your Wedding Service

Posted by on Feb 2, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Symbols for your Wedding Service

Dear engaged couple-

       How many words would it take to describe an ocean wave as it crashes on the shore, do you think?  You’d want to include a description of the white froth, which lies like creamy icing on a cake—only in this case, that cake is blue-gray water  You might want to say how the blue of the ocean contrasts with the blue  of the sky on this cloudless day.  Perhaps you would want to describe in detail the pelican that dives into the water, out beyond that wave that is crashing on the shore—or the little boy who plays chase with the wave—and his parents who watch him vigilantly from their beach blanket.  You see how many words it takes to explain one picture—and we haven’t yet addressed the color of the sand, the little boy’s bathing suit, the sandpipers who are tiptoeing back and forth along the shore.  It is as they say– a picture really IS worth a thousand words.    

    That is why we use symbols in wedding services.  A well placed symbol in a service can take the place of pages’ worth of double-spaced lines in a preacher’s manuscript.   One of the classic symbols we use in a service is the ring exchange.  I always ask the couple I am marrying to stand sideways at this point in the service, and far enough away from each other, so that the exchange is highly visible to the wedding guests.  .After the groom makes his pledge to his beloved, he picks up the ring I am holding.  Sometimes his hand trembles and you wonder, “has the gravity of what he is about to do just now hit him?  Is he almost overcome by the finality of it all?”  Gently, gently, he pushes it onto his beloved’s finger.  Gently—that is key.  He is concerned for her safety.  Yes, he is going to look after her, take care of her the rest of her days.  The same goes for the bride.  Well, not exactly.  Her hands may not tremble, but she tears up. Before she takes the ring she is going to give her beloved, she wipes away a tear. It is obvious that she, too, then,  is struck by the magnitude of this moment. This is a point in time she will remember the rest of her days.  Then, she slips the ring on HIS finger—also gently.

You see how much is relayed in this one simple act—this exchange of rings? 

But weddings aren’t limited to the one symbol.  Many couples today search the internet for other symbols that ring true for them as regards their love for one another.  Below are some traditions that are gaining popularity among brides and grooms today:  I hope that you will send me others that you may have learned about, or witnessed for yourselves.

1)    The lasso (or lasso) is very common in Mexican weddings.  It works like this:

 A lazo (lasso), is a large rosary, a ribbon or a decorated cord.  Members of the wedding party drape it around the necks or shoulders of the bride and the groom, while they are kneeling during the service.    It is gently twisted in a horizontal figure eight (infinity) pattern.  The lasso symbolizes the couple’s commitment to be together always, side-by-side. The couple wears the lasso throughout the remainder of the service.

At the end of the ceremony, the lasso is removed and is given to the Bride as a keepsake. New Zealand weddings also feature lassos or “infinity loops” and in the US, a tradition similar to the lasso is used—handfasting–or a binding of hands.  It is a Celtic tradition (either Christian or not) originating in Medieval days. The handfasting symbolizes the couple’s intentions to be bound to one another in love.       

2)    Brooms are sometimes used in weddings, too.  The broom ceremony is thought to have originated in Wales.  After the vows are said, the bride and groom are pronounced man and wife, and the couple turns to make their retreat during the recessional, someone puts a broom across the aisle.  The couple must decide:  will they jump over it?  Step over it?  Walk around it?  Will he pick her up and carry her over it?  The broom represents the household chores that now await them as a married couple, and perhaps, too, the divvying up of responsibilities at home. 

                                                                                                                                    (A Katubah)

3)    Finally, I mention here the wedding contract.  In some traditions, notably the Quaker and Jewish traditions, the bride and groom actually compose a contract.  In the Quaker tradition the contract is signed by the bride and groom and then witnessed by the gathered assembly after the wedding.  In the Jewish tradition the contract, or Katubah, is signed by the couple immediately following the ceremony and then signed by officials in the bride’s or groom’s synagogue.  The contract (whether Quaker or Jewish) can be hung in the couple’s house to remind them of the  important commitment they have made to each other.  While the contract is composed of words and not pictures, thus seeming to belie the notion of “a picture is worth a thousand words” it is probably the presence of the framed contract hanging on a wall, and not the specific words of the contract itself,  that remind the couple of their commitment to each other.

Yes indeedy.  One picture IS worth a thousand words.   Blessings to you as you continue to explore symbols for your special day!  Gay Lee

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