The need for a ritual is innate. We need ritual to enable us to connect with our deepest thoughts and feelings, our nascent hopes and our debilitating fears. We need it to re-connect us to our changing bodies and to our changing relationships, to help us create a language that authentically articulates our experience of ourselves in the world and to speak that language both to ourselves and to those closest to us.Isabel Russo – Head of Ceremonies, British Humanist Association
What Are Rituals?
Rituals are more than just a pretty feature for wedding pictures. They pay homage to cultures and traditions as every country and every nation in the world has its own heritage.
Throughout human history, rituals have been created to express the need to mark and articulate moments of transition and meaningful experiences, as they can connect us to our deepest humanity. Our ancestors have crafted rituals powerful enough to last through ages and if you think about it, even nowadays we all have rituals that we put into practice in daily life.
A wedding ceremony, be it civil, religious or secular, as one of the major moments of social and emotional transition in life, represents the union of two people but also the coming together of two families, often from different cultures.
Wedding Traditions & Unity Rituals
Unity rituals can be a significant part of the wedding ceremony, representing a deeper meaning of two becoming one, as a unique and creative alternative or along with the traditional wedding rituals, such as the exchange of rings. But that’s not all: sometimes rituals can be incorporated to recall a spiritual aspect of the ceremony, to honour or to give thanks to someone in particular, to carry on the tradition or pay homage to a culture, or to symbolize the merging of two different backgrounds.
Incorporating a meaningful ritual in your wedding can be a great way to give an overall picture of your relationship, express your vision and intentions for the future or pay homage to your roots and culture. But as every ritual has its own meaning and history, it is important to choose carefully. It has to be something that truly relates to your story, your cultural background or your personal beliefs, otherwise it will just look like a clumsy misguided attempt to be original by all means.
Choose Your Ritual Wisely!
Since I started my studies as a professional Celebrant, I’ve seen and heard of many rituals being conducted and performed without knowledge of their deeper meaning or a relevant connection with the couples’ own background and heritage. And that’s because nowadays it’s easy to pick a ritual and include it in a wedding ceremony; if you search the web for inspiration, you have a multitude of popular rituals and “how to” at your fingertips. But if you wish for your ceremony to be meaningful and heartfelt, that’s something you really should avoid!
Most of the times couples are offered a list of rituals to choose from, that are irrelevant or worse, in contradiction with their actual background or personal interest. Worse still, some couples are pushed into including a ritual just because “it’s a nice touch”. It can be a nice way to personalize your wedding day and a great opportunity for some unique pictures, for sure! But if it’s not somehow related to who you are as individuals, it may be confusing for your attendees and might give an inadequate context of your relationship and commitment. A borrowed and mismanaged ritual is likely to seem staged or insensitive and even offensive to some cultures.
So if you’re thinking of incorporating a unity ritual in your wedding ceremony – be it a groundbreaking gesture or a deeply rooted cultural custom – don’t just settle for the overused sand ceremony or a random handfasting ritual; talk it over with your Celebrant or Officiant – but don’t let them convince you into having one by all means! On the contrary, they should help you choose the kind of ritual that’s most significant and in line with your cultural background, love story or personal interest. Or even custom-design one that is appropriate for your, if needed be: and believe me, there’s no limit to creativity when it comes to unity rituals!
“Each solstice is a domain of experience unto itself. At the summer solstice, all is green and growing, potential coming into being, the miracle of manifestation painted large on the canvas of awareness.”Gary Zuka
The Symbolic Meaning of the Summer Solstice or Midsummer
The Summer Solstice is believed to be a time of gathering and celebration. It is the longest day of the year – the one with the most daylight in the Northern Hemisphere, while it is the exact opposite in the Southern Hemisphere – when the sun reaches the height of its growth and we can more easily perceive its overwhelming power. Symbolically it means more energy, more passion, more acceptance and openness. The time of year when we should be more receptive to new beginnings and accomplishments and open ourselves, to leave out the old and unwanted and allow lightness and new, positive energy in.
The word solstice is formed by the latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) because on this day the sun seems to stand still, before reversing direction and starting its descent towards the Southern sky. Which is why, this day is believed to be the confluence of all energies: the perfect balance between darkness and light, the day and the night. Not surprisingly, the Druids celebrated this day as the marriage between day and night.
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ever since ancient times, the rhythm of daily life has been marked by ancient beliefs and the inevitable passing of the seasons. The Summer Solstice has always been the time of year when people would gather together to harvest and savour the fruits of their hard work, to acknowledge all that they had accomplished through their labours and to celebrate the beginning of summer, a new phase. A time of joy and abundance, to share with friends and family.
Does it ring a bell?
The Connection Between the Summer Solstice and Wedding Celebrations
Getting married at a time of solstice, and in particular on the day of the Summer Solstice, is considered to be very lucky and auspicious. And if you think about it, the highly significant symbolism of this day can easily be linked to a wedding celebration, in many ways.
Love makes the world go round, just as the earth circles the sun: at birth we’re given much love from our family then as we grow, we receive love from our friends as well and finally, when the moment comes, we find a different kind of love and share it with our partner. Each person that touches our life in someway contributes to the overall energy of our existence, just as the joyful gathering of your loved ones for your wedding celebration, will contribute to the vibrant energy of that special day.
On the day of the Summer Solstice, the sun is at its peak, as it completes the cycle of growth. Likewise, a wedding ceremony is a peak moment in time, when you come to celebrate all that you have accomplished together through your love and partnership, through tears and laughter, through great times and hardships; you come to acknowledge your growth as a couple and enter a new phase of your relationship.
More Ideas for your Summer Solstice Wedding Celebration
A powerful symbol that well represents this season and which can be meaningfully incorporated in a Summer Solstice wedding ceremony, is fire. A fire ceremony or ritual may be found, with different interpretations but deeply rooted, in every culture in the world.
A Fire Ceremony is a powerful Shamanic practice used to release old or unwanted energies, to make space for new intentions and beginnings, which is usually held during the change of seasons or in other moments of transition, such as welcoming the new year.
According to an old African tradition, fire represents the union of two families and it is lit by combining flames from each family’s hearth. This practice is commonly reinterpreted in modern ceremonies, as the couple simply light a fire together. As a special touch, parents or even all the guests may be invited to kindle the flame.
In Hinduism, fire is regarded as a purifier and a sustainer of life. The Saptapadi (Sanskrit for seven steps/feet), is a key ritual of the Hindu ceremony and represents the legal part of Hindu marriage, where the spirit of Agni is invoked to purify the union from all the evil eyes and words, while the couple walks around the fire, praying and exchanging their vows. Sometimes called Saat Phere (seven rounds), the Holy Fire in an Indian wedding ceremony is also considered a witness of the vows they make to each other.
While in some parts of the world, bonfires are often lit as an integral part of the celebration.
But of course, lighting a campfire or even using a small fire pit, may not always be possible. So as an alternative, candles or sparkles can be used to symbolize this element and give a meaningful touch to your Summer Solstice themed wedding celebration.
Whatever your belief and the meaning you’ll want to give it, the Summer Solstice is a great way to begin the journey of your married life. All these connections and meaningful symbols can easily be incorporated in the speech of your wedding ceremony, as a significant reminder of the powerful energy, the openness and the perfect balance of everything that surrounds us.
How choosing your Officiant can make a big difference to it!
You’ve come a long way from the moment you have decided to get married. All the planning, the details, the sleepless nights doing research and pinning posts about wedding styles, table settings, floral decorations, wedding gowns and centerpieces. Well, looks like you did a great job thinking about every detail: the guests, the music, the dress, the entrance, the cocktail, the party, the cake and all the rest of the – apparently never-ending – things you’ll need for your wedding, but what about your Ceremony? I mean the actual part of getting married. Most of the times it’s being lost sight of, when actually it’s the one thing that should never be left up to chance.
Now I know that being caught up in planning a wedding, especially if you’re thinking of doing that abroad, makes it very easy to lose sight of something that’s really important, and many couples are clueless of where to start and what to think of first. For that and other million reasons, it would be advisable to ask for the precious help of a good wedding planner. However, if you want to make sure you’ve got everything under control yourself, it’s vital that you understand the importance of what you and your beloved are about to embark on.
What makes the perfect wedding?
The details of a wedding are countless, we’ve already said that, and you’ll want them to be taken care of by inch, so that your guests will be impressed by the gorgeous setting, will have fun and will keep a good memory of your special event, forever. Nothing more true than that! But from my experience, I can tell you, of all the things your guests will see, hear, eat and do on your wedding day, it’s actually how they felt, that will resound forever in their mind.
They won’t remember the person who served them at the table, or what they had for dinner, but they will surely recall the great taste of what they ate and the big laughs they had with their diners, as well as they won’t remember the exact type of very-expensive-flowers in your bouquet, but they’ll surely keep a memory of you walking down the aisle with an armful of stunning blooms. Being able to give an emotional touch, to make people take part in your union and feel the love that you share, is not such a foregone conclusion, as some may think. You only have those fifteen-twenty minutes of reading, vowing and kissing to go through, but afterward, you and your guests will hardly ever remember the exact words that were spoken. As I said, it’s what you’ll have felt in that very moment, that will recall forever in your mind. And believe me, nothing is more disappointing, in an overlooked and clumsy handled event, than the awareness that it was your once-in-a-lifetime chance and it didn’t came out just the way you wanted.
This is why, a heartfelt wedding ceremony is the key to making your wedding day just perfect: unique and unforgettable. And for that, you might want to consider the help of an experienced wedding Officiant: someone to hold the reins of your ceremony all the way through. To be able to plan and take care of every detail and give your ceremony that special touch, that’ll keep your guests engaged.
Where to start looking?
So where should you start looking for a wedding Officiant? As I said before, your wedding planner is the best resource when it comes to choosing your vendors. However, regarding your Officiant, you should consider asking for more information and doing your own research as well. It’s your choice, but whether you decide to have a friend or a family member celebrating your union, or go for a professional and more experienced individual, there’s one important thing you have to keep in mind: that person will be the one with the greatest influence in setting up the mood of your ceremony, and consequently, of your entire wedding day!
First of all, you need to keep your mind focused on what you’re looking for: generally, the kind of ceremony you’ve decided on having, will define the type of Officiant you should be searching for. So start off by figuring out whether you’re going to have a modern non-traditional, rather than a religious, a secular wedding ceremony, or perhaps a civil, interfaith or same-sex union.
Next thing, you should consider their character and personal style – do they match your wedding’s tone? Make sure their religious or social beliefs (if required) are on the same page as yours, but most of all, choose the one that you feel more comfortable with, and make sure that the feeling is mutual!
Know your Officiant
It’s essential that you establish a deep connection with your Officiant before the wedding day, since you’ll be sharing a very intimate moment in time. You’re granting them with telling your story, witnessing your union and generally guiding you through the most important aspect of your wedding.
If what you’re searching for is a touching storyteller of your love, then beware of those who do not pay attention to your requests, and are not looking for a consistent conversation about you, your story and the reasons why you’re getting married and love each other. Loose those who won’t provide clear information about what they will or will not do with your ceremony, and those who won’t share their advice and experience with you, or send the final speech for your approval, previous to the wedding day (you should always have the last word on that, I believe.)
Always keep in mind that a good wedding Officiant should be the one you can turn to at any time, whether you have questions or doubts about anything regarding your union, or you’re just anxious and scared about the Big Day! So choose someone who is able to keep track of all the details of your ceremony: if handled perfectly, they can add up that extra something, that will make everyone take part in your union emotionally, and cherish that memory forever
Choose someone who is interested in telling your story: that moment is yours and should be all about you! And last but not least, choose someone who inspires you confidence: it will help you get through the whole ceremony thing stress-free and relaxed, with a big smile on your face!
Photographer – D2 Italy Wedding Photography
Planning – IWP Collection
It all began with a simple Hello,
a handshake, a glance and they’d soon fall in love.
But little they knew, the path they took on,
would lead them to bind and never let go.
They talked about life, about feelings and fears,
and as their love flowed, it all became clear.
Minutes turned into hours, than a day… a year,
and so they arrived hand in hand today, here.
Both happy and thrilled, united they stand
before family and friends to profess their true love.
A commitment to life, until the last breath,
That has been blessed from above.
They vow and they kiss while everyone’s moved,
and some even shed a few tears.
For they have been joined as Husband and Wife
from this day, through all the coming years.
They’ll walk hand in hand on life’s winding way,
together through both tears and laughter.
Because that’s what they call in the fairytales,
Happily ever after!
Wedding Planner – Blooming Eventi
Photographer – Luis Mendoza
Just an ordinary summer day you’d think. The sun was shyly hiding behind some cloud here and there, mocking everyone over the fear it would rain. The valley seen from up there appeared so quiet and all the buzzy excitement of Florence seemed dozed off under a hot and stuffy afternoon sun.
But it wasn’t just an ordinary July afternoon for Paola and Alan, for it was to become the most important day of their lives: the one that would mark the beginning of a long journey together!
The music starts playing as guests are arriving, filling the air with talk and laughter while preparing to take their seats. A visibly moved Groom is approaching the altar, while shaking hands and greeting all present. On the first row, seating straight and looking very serious, the page boy is focused on the shiny box he’s holding between his little hands, as if he was the proud guardian of the most precious relic in this world.
The excitement rises as we’re all waiting for the highlight moment of the evening. The sun is now shining completely but everyone is ignoring the heat. A quiet hum is arising, as the music in the background changes to a more solemn sound.
An old lady in the front seats, pulls off a hanky. Everyone is on the edge of their seats, with bated breath and watery eyes. The Groom faces the back of the aisle with his hands folded in front and an obvious emotional look on his face.
Suddenly, the long-waited moment arrives. Three lovely little girls show up, announcing the arrival of the Bride and then shyly but graciously walk down the aisle, taking their seats.
Dressed in a dazzling romantic white lace gown, with a beautiful radiant smile on her face, the Bride slowly walks down the aisle on her father’s arm. She is astonishing and gracious, her tasteful elegance is coming through with every step, and everyone is amazed by her natural beauty. She has kept her brightest smile for the Groom, as her visibly touched father hands her to him. They are now standing in front of me, smiling and looking into each others’ eyes and they are as beautiful as can be. Their enthusiasm is contagious and you can feel their love and excitement filling the air.
The ceremony begins and it’s all about them; it tells their amazing story together, from the first glance of acquaintance to this moment of crowning their dreams. Everyone is impressed and some even shed a tear or two. The Groom’s brother reads a funny poem that makes all laugh and lightens the atmosphere a little bit, before the defining moment of the rings.
A romantic feeling of joy and tenderness is perceived, as they pledge their sincere promises to each other. The page boy stands up proudly like a little trooper: his moment has arrived, so he approaches the altar with the rings.
All present whiteness their commitment to be united in marriage for as long as they shall live, and a loud, heartfelt applause bursts as they seal this vow with their first kiss as Husband & Wife!
Photographer – Rene Rossignaud
Planning – IWP Collection
Florist – Flowers Living