When same-sex couples come to our office, the first thing I try to do is steer them away from having an out-of-the-book wedding. Historically speaking, LGBTQ weddings are relatively new and we’re enjoying the traditions that work for our community and leaving behind the ones that don’t.
For symbolic gestures, we want to come up with a unique plan for the couple and find meaning within their relationship that we can apply to their wedding ceremony. Often we can do this through ceremony enhancements. These are rituals that you can participate in during your wedding that help symbolize the blending of two lives.
Unity Painting. If you consider your relationship young at heart and fun-loving then the unity painting ceremony is perfect for you, but it might also take you back to art class. The unity painting starts with a blank canvas and two cups filled with different colors of paint in each. During the ceremony the couple takes their color and pours the paint over the canvas at the same time allowing the colors to blend and mix over the canvas naturally. There will be places where the colors blend and mix flowing together to create a new color representing a new life together.
Wine Blending. As you might have guessed, the wine-blending ceremony enhancement involves a bottle of wine and one or two glasses. During a moment in the ceremony the bottle is uncorked and blessed by the officiant, then poured into a glass and handed to the couple. The couple take a drink together (if using two glasses) or sip from the same glass. As you take a drink the officiant makes a statement about how marriage is like wine, it ripens with age, which makes this ritual that much more meaningful. Think about how nicely this could fit into a vineyard wedding. (There are many variations of this one.)
Reverse Unity Candle. An alternative to the traditional unity lighting ceremony, the reverse unity candle ritual gives a couple the opportunity to involve all of their invited guests to participate in the ceremony. This ritual requires that everyone present receive a candle (make adjustments for larger affairs) and starts with the couple lighting the main unity candle and then passing the flame along to two members of your wedding party who continue passing the flame down the pews until the whole room turns into a candle-lit heaven! It’s intimate and perfect for indoor and evening celebrations.
Love-Letter Ceremony. The love-letter ceremony involves the marrying couple writing letters to each other and listing all the reasons why they fell in love. The letters are then sealed and placed in a box along with a bottle of wine to be opened either on a set anniversary date. On the set date, the couple opens the box and reads the letters to one another and toast to the marriage. Then they can choose to write new letters and start the cycle over. This enhancement can continue throughout the life the partnership and isn’t just limited to the wedding ceremony.
Hand-Washing Ceremony. The hand-washing ceremony is a very symbolic observance. During the marriage ceremony, the officiant takes a moment to pour water over and cleanse the couple’s hands to purify them. It is meant to symbolize a cleansing of all the faults of the couple that were committed as singles, and presenting them with a clean, fresh start as a married couple. Once the hands have been washed, often the hands are then blessed and then the couple proceeds to declare their vows. This ceremony enhancement is romantic and a powerful way to declare your endless love.
+ Chanda Eddens – Daniels is an Equally Wed sponsor and a pioneer in the same-sex wedding industry. Learn more about her Oakland, California, wedding planning business for LGBTQ couples A Monique Affair here and here.