Today, Marie and I are celebrating 10 years together. Every Cinco de Mayo, we head out for a nice long walk along the beach and follow it up with a delicious meal somewhere, recreating the time we spent together on our first date. It's our way of reconnecting to the initial flush of joy, connection and giddiness that we felt on that first evening together (minus the stylish but uncomfortable shoes and the usual first-date nerves).
Our anniversary time together is one of the rituals that keeps us tethered to our shared history and to what we want to keep alive in our relationship today. I'm not sure if our anniversary ritual is common or uncommon -- let me know your experience -- but it works for us.
Our anniversary got me thinking about wedding rituals and the ways that people incorporate what's meaningful to them into their special day. I imagine that we've all attended a wedding or two where there was some ritual element -- maybe a sand ceremony or unity candle -- that sort of felt contrived or out of place, given our knowledge of the couple. Don't get me wrong; if you both love the beach, then a sand ceremony is a great way to symbolize what matters to you. If it's just a token unity ritual for the sake of demonstrating the connection between you, then I'd suggest giving it a miss. Or, better yet, dig a little deeper to make it your own.
Ways to personalize common wedding rituals
There are loads of ways to make sure that any kind of unity ritual in your ceremony reflects the specifics of your relationship. Love drinking wine together? Then, by all means, have a wine ceremony, but make it yours by using wine from your favourite winery, sipped from glasses that you picked up from that cute second-hand shop where you bought your first dining table.
Love gardening or spending time together outdoors? Craft a planting ritual that includes a clipping from a plant or tree that's meaningful to you -- maybe the maple that held your tree house growing up, or a lilac like the one you always walked past during your early days of courting. Rather than just pour topsoil and water from simple vessels that you find at a big box retailer, use those teacups that were handed down from your grandma and fill them with soil from your favourite forest walk, and water from a lake where you shared a memorable starlit night. In short, try to make every element of the ritual meaningful to you.
Open up the fun to include your guests
If you're uncomfortable with the focus just being on you as a couple, include family or friends to show the connection to your broader community. Design a ritual that brings them into the ceremony directly. It can be as simple as passing around your rings for a ring warming, inviting guests to imbue them with good wishes for your happy union.
Stuck for ideas about a meaningful ritual? There are tons of examples and ideas online. Find a few to get you started on my Pinterest board about Wedding Ceremony and Ritual Ideas.
Share the story of why you're doing what you're doing
It's entirely up to you how much you want to share about the meaning of your ritual elements with your guests during the ceremony. That being said, guests love to hear the story behind the ritual: Why that kind of tree? Why those teacups? Why this ritual in the first place? Give your guests some context for why your handfasting cord is made up of palm fronds or red licorice. These stories always make for fun conversation at the reception.
Have you seen (or used) a unity ritual that you really loved or loathed? Tell me about it in the comments below.
In the meantime, I'm off for a walk with my sweetie.