One of my favorite elements of their interfaith ceremony was the incredible chuppah. Here's an excerpt from the ceremony:
"Today we formalize your union under this beautiful chuppah, made by Meghan’s father. The wedding canopy, made by Meghan’s mother from pieces of fabric contributed by both families, represents your marriage home, a place of shelter and haven of peace. The chuppah is the house of promises, held up by the strength of your dedication and love. It is the home of hope, surrounded with the support of your community."
Adapted from “The Chuppah,” by Marge Piercy
The chuppah stands on four poles.
The sacred promises you make to one another form an unbreakable bond. As you hold the hands of your beloved, I would offer your marriage this traditional Irish blessing:
May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.
May God be with you and bless you;
May you see your children's children.
May you be poor in misfortune,
Rich in blessings,
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.
I had the honor of officiating Persis & Ryan's wedding last July at the Hancock Shaker Village in the Berkshires region of Western Massachusetts. With its verdant lawns and iconic round stone barn, this historic location makes an incredible wedding venue!
"Hannah was a wonderful officiant – she crafted a beautiful ceremony that was reflective of our values and relationship. The ceremony was our favorite part of our wedding, thanks to her guidance and honest writing. She was very responsive to our needs throughout this process and really took the time to get to know us as a couple, which made our ceremony that much more meaningful. I highly recommend working with her!"
In honor of the bride's mother, the couple decided to incorporate a yugal or wedding garland used in the Filipino Catholic tradition. Wrapped around the couple’s shoulders as a symbol of unity, the figure of eight shape signifies their everlasting love and fidelity for one another.
The bride's grandmother recited a brief excerpt from the Lavaan, the four hymns of the Sikh wedding ceremony from the holy scripture of the Guru Granth Sahib, and also sang a portion of a shabad, or Sikh devotional song.
“A Blessing for the Journey”
by Wendy Egyoku Nakao
Let us vow to bear witness
to the wholeness of life,
realizing the completeness
of each and everything.
Embracing our differences,
I shall know myself as you,
and you as myself.
May we serve each other
for all our days,
here, there, and everywhere.
Let us vow to open ourselves
to the abundance of life.
Freely giving and receiving,
I shall care for you,
for the trees and stars,
as treasures of my very own.
Let us vow to forgive all hurt,
caused by ourselves and others,
and to never condone hurtful ways.
Being responsible for my actions,
I shall free myself and you.
Will you free me, too?
Let us vow to remember that
all that appears will disappear.
In the midst of our uncertainty,
We shall sow love.
May we be grateful for all our days,
here, there, and everywhere.
"The Art of Marriage"
by Wilferd A. Peterson
Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens. A good marriage must be created. In the art of marriage the little things are the big things...
It is having a mutual sense of values and common objectives. It is standing together facing the world. It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.
It is doing things for each other, not in the attitude of duty or sacrifice, but in the spirit of joy. It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.
It is not looking for perfection in each other. It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor. It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.
The art of marriage is establishing a relationship in which the independence is equal, dependence is mutual and the obligation is reciprocal. It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner.
It is discovering what marriage can be, at its best.
I love it when one of my couples shares their wedding with a blog, especially Style Me Pretty, the #1 wedding blog! I had the pleasure of officiating Karin and Craig's wedding last October at The Mount, Edith Wharton's estate in Lenox, Mass. A published novelist herself, Karin's love of literature led the couple from Washington, D.C. to a special wedding at the home of her favorite writer.
Karin said... "I am beyond pleased--elated would be more appropriate--with everything Hannah did for us during, before and after our wedding ceremony. She created a custom wedding ceremony for my now-husband and I that incorporated not only our different Christian backgrounds but my Japanese heritage and our love of literature. Not an easy task! But she made it beautiful, personal and it all flowed together seamlessly."
In Japan, the heart of the Shinto wedding ceremony is the san-san-kudo, the sake ceremony. This ancient and powerful ritual is done in silence for, as the bride and groom take turns sipping from a single cup, they are in essence taking their marriage vows.
Craig made this beautiful wooden altar to hold the pottery cup Karin’s father made many years ago. Today, before the couple performs the san-san-kudo ceremony that will join them together, I would offer this norito, or Shinto prayer:
Bless this couple as unmoving and eternal.
May their lives flourish like luxuriant trees.
May they, bride and groom, together with heaven and earth, with the sun and the moon, continue to give out light and radiance.
Thus we do reverently pray.
I'm thrilled to see my own June wedding featured in the #1 wedding blog, Style Me Pretty! I've blogged about elements from our wedding before (honoring family in your ceremony, wedding blessing ribbons...) but now you can see all the details that made our summery garden wedding so heartwarming, unique and wonderful. Enjoy!
Every single detail of our wedding reflected us, and most of it we did ourselves and with the help of family and friends; from the invitations I designed (licensing the work of a local artist) to the flowers we bought by the bucket from a local farm for my mother-in-law to arrange. We were even lucky enough to be friends with our amazing photographer, Joanna Chattman, and with Carla Caruso Jewelry, who made my pearl and diamond necklace and earring set as well as our wedding bands.
Our ceremony was truly the heart of our wedding and many, many guests told us afterward it was the most beautiful they’d ever witnessed. Whitney Acres, a local farm, let us use one of their fields for our ceremony, haying it just before our wedding so the air smelled fresh and summery. My brothers assembled our wedding arch there, which now stands in our front yard.
Everyone loved the blessing ribbons. It gave our guests something to do before the ceremony began and included them in physically creating the sacred space by hanging their ribbon on lines strung from either side of the wedding arch. We felt surrounded by their love and blessings during the entire ceremony, and we moved them with us to the reception tent, too. (Plus they made a great backdrop!) Now they’re decorating our baby’s room (due mid-April!).
Both sets of our grandparents have passed away and my father died when I was 10, so honoring family, ancestors and lineage was really important to us. We asked family members to bring photographs of these loved ones, which we then arranged along a stone wall near the entrance to the field. Guests told us they spent a lot of time lingering over the photographs, reminiscing and guessing who was who. My first tears of the day were shed as we paused there on our entrance.
We also wanted to include a special ritual in the ceremony to honor our lost loved ones. We asked our parents to come up, one at a time, and say the names of their parents, ringing a singing bowl after each name. My stepfather said my father’s parents’ names, and my brother said the name of our own father. I know many couples are worried about feeling too emotional at their wedding, but, aside from our vows, the ancestor ritual was the most powerful part of the ceremony. Many, many guests were moved to tears (as was I), and many spoke to me afterward about how much they loved this ritual in particular.
Alexander and I decided not to have a wedding party, so we felt it was important to include our brothers and sister in the ceremony. We chose readings for each of them that we knew would be meaningful to them, too. (I’m happy to share which poems/readings we chose!) We also asked one of Alexander’s oldest friends, a musician, to play one of our favorite songs just before we took our wedding vows.
Though we got ready separately (by the way, my dress zipper broke and I had to be sewn in at the last minute!), it was really wonderful to make the long walk to the ceremony together. I treasure those moments we had alone, and then our hearts leaping at sight of all our cherished friends and family gathered for us. We had the children following us with bubbles, which was a great activity for them and made for some wonderful pictures, too!
It was also really important that we stood together during the ceremony, not separated between the officiant as is traditional. I loved holding hands and feeling really connected throughout the ceremony. We had our friend/officiant stand aside while we took our vows and exchanged rings so that it really felt like we married each other.
Our reception was at The Curtis House, a short walk from the ceremony site. Gloria Pacosa, owner of The Curtis House, was also our event coordinator (that’s her sewing me into the dress!). We rented antique mismatched china and silverware from her, as well as vintage water pitchers and salt and pepper shakers. The tables were very homey and eclectic, yet elegant. We hung all the lanterns and string lights and made all the bouquets using vases I’d spent a year collecting from thrift shops. My mother also spent a year collecting antique brass candlesticks for the tables, and also making the homemade jam we gave as wedding favors (boy, were those a huge hit with our guests!).
My husband’s family is Greek so we served Greek white wine and our food was Greek-Mediterranean – simple, fresh and summery. A friend also made a special batch of “A & H Love” hard cider. Our biggest splurge was probably the band, but since we love to dance it seemed well worth the expense. The 5-piece jazz/soul group was assembled by local musician friend Jon Fisher and featured New Orleans vocalist Samirah Evans. They rocked the house, and dancing alone to “At Last” was definitely a highlight of the whole day.
A wedding is one of the greatest opportunities you’ll ever have to publicly express who you are. So celebrate it! Exploit it! Take full advantage of the chance to have one day in your life be about being who you really are with those you really love. What an extraordinary opportunity.
Creative artists Hilary and Isaac had their December elopement ceremony at The Montague Bookmill featured in the wedding blog, Offbeat Bride! Offbeat Bride is all about authentic weddings that reflect the couple's personalities and desires, and that's what an elopement is all about!
(Their ceremony had many wonderful details which you can read about on the blog.)
Poetry and Musings of an Interfaith Minister on the Journey of a Lifetime.