Tuesday, September 22, 2009

i thee wed.

as a wedding planner, i have experienced first-hand many different wedding rituals. some are based on religion, some culture or heritage, some tradition and some a bit of all three. incorporating rituals into the ceremony and reception is as important to me as it is to my client. i think this develops the framework for the couple, to start their lives together whilst incorporating who they are and where they came from.

one of the things i work towards when designing a wedding is, as the guests depart, to hear them say: "that was so THEM". i love that the event exuuuuuded the couple, the couple's family and the couple's heritage. this is usually done through time honored traditions and/or rituals.

here are a few ive seen or done in my weddings and their meanings:

unity candle
lighting of the unity candle symbolizes the joining together of two families. the taper candles are typically lit by the mother of the groom and the mother of the bride. as the center candle is lit by the wedding couple, the love of both families is brought together in a united love of the newly married couple. cute.

the wedding ceremony takes place under the chuppah or "canopy" which symbolizes the home they will build together. the sides are left open to signify that all friends and family are welcome into their new life and home. a great chance to incorporate flowing fabric and fabulous flowers too.

breaking of the glass
nothing says "jewish wedding" more than this. but what does it mean? depending on who you ask, the breaking of the glass, can symbolize the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem or a representation of the fragility of human relationships. i must admit, when i found out the glass was actually a LIGHT BULB, i felt the same as i did when i saw my mom pull a tooth out from under my pillow and replace it with a shiny quarter. a great conclusion to the ceremony and a chance to yell "mazel tov"!

an israeli circle dance typically danced to the music of "hava nagila" (or jock jams, depending). it usually takes place at the reception and our non-jewish guests affectionately refer to it as "the chair dance" as bride, groom and parents too are hoisted into the air to the rhythm of the music. fun stuff.

the henna ceremony takes place before the wedding. women gather to celebrate the bride as she is adorned in fanciful inks. there is music, dancing, laughter and food. different cultures within the muslim faith practice the henna ritual differently, however all are based in the idea that the future bride is to be served and spoiled as she readies for her big day. the ink typically lasts a few weeks. mine lasted about as long as my marriage. ;)

african american
jumping the broom
this wedding ritual symbolized various things, depending on the culture. those of south african descent used it as a representation of the wife's commitment to "cleaning the courtyard", whereas african-americans of the american south, the custom determined who ran the household (highest jumper = decision maker). during times of slavery when marriage amongst african americans was forbidden, publicly "jumping the broom" was an open declaration of settling down in a marriage-like relationship. because of the slavery stigma this tradition went away for some time but there is a somewhat recent resurgence nowadays with its reference seen similarly to "tying the knot".

latin american
it is customary in many latin american countries for the groom to present his bride with 13 gold coins. the coins represent his trust and the fact that his wife is now the mistress to all his worldly goods.

other rituals (all originally based in culture or religion) would be a wedding cake, grooms cake, veiling and unveiling of the bride, parent recognition (giving of a flower, special poem, embrace, etc.), honoring the deceased (through a poem or passage, lit candle, floral arrangement or excerpt in program), receiving line, throwing rice (or releasing doves, butterflies, other living/flying things).

until next time,
lindsay piram
event planner & producer