From the legals to the sublime : sample ceremonies

The following is  series of smales and examples to draw inspiration from.

1. The Legal Essentials

This is the shortest legal ceremony that can be conducted in Australia.

The marriage celebrant must say at least the following words:

“My name is _____ and I am duly authorised to conduct marriages according to law. 

Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter. Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

The parties to be wed must say at least:

“I call upon the people/persons here present to witness that I, (Jo Citizen) , take you/thee, (Sam Citizen), to be my lawful wedded wife /husband /partner”

2. A Creative Garden Wedding 

This sample wedding puts together several creative rituals and ideas into the one ceremony.  One could choose just a few of these elements to make a fulfilling ceremony.

The hosts, welcome guests and offer refreshments.  They gather the guests around them in the expansive garden setting

Arrival of couple

Bride and Groom arrive in a wooden canoe across the lake, with their son, and walk up the bank to the awaiting guests.

Planting the trees

Bride and Groom plant two trees in the gardens, to represent the growth their relationship will experience as time flows slowly by.

Engaging the guests in a fun game

Bride and Groom stand in different grassy glades of the garden, and ask families and guests to be the support of one.  The children are requested to relay messages back and forth between the two parties.  Questions, comments, jokes bounce between two communities and families, until both parties agree that it is a great idea to be married.  This ceremony is to be fun and light hearted.  Once they have agreede, they link hands and follow the piper.

The processional

A musician pipes the two groups together and into a stone circle.

Introducing the families

Celebrant: I’d like to introduce myself, Kari, and Bride, _____
…………who introduces her family (her Son, Mum, Dad, brothers & wives & children, and Aunties)

Celebrant:  And I’d like to introduce Groom, _____

…………who introduces his family (Mum, Dad, brothers & wives & children, grandmothers and Aunties)

Their Love Story

Friends, we are here today to celebrate the marriage and the intertwining of the destinies of Groom and Bride.  Through being ruthlessly and wonderfully themselves, they have fallen in love and chosen to get married, to begin the journey and ride the waves of life together.

Two years ago Groom and Bride met in a Park while weeding on the small island there.  They spoke briefly about native plants and art….and then I believe Bride ran away due to the intensity of the attraction!  Groom uncharacteristically called out to her as she left.  ”Are you going already? But what’s your name?”  You may be able to persuade them to fill in the rest of the story later.

From that moment they have been making informal promises and agreements, until this day when they have chosen to acknowledge and celebrate their union in this native garden amongst those they love.   

Asking the parents & the guests

Dad and Mum#1, you stood together in a church many years ago and made a commitment to each other while wondering in your hearts what would become of your life together.  Part of that answer stands here in your son Groom.  We see the pride you take in him and the love and respect you have for him he also feels for you.  Part of the reason Bride chooses him for her life’s partner is because of all that you have given to him out of your lives.

Dad and Mum #1:  “ Bride, on behalf of our family, we welcome you and support your marriage”…they also said, “and as well as gaining a daughter we also gain a grandson.  We welcome you too Their Son”

Celebrant: Dad and Mum #2, you stood together in a church many years ago and made a commitment to each other while wondering in your hearts what would become of your life together.  Part of that answer stands here in your daughter Bride.  We see the pride you take in her and the love and respect you have for her, she also feels for you.  Part of the reason Groom chooses her for his life’s partner is because of all that you have given to her out of your lives.

Dad and Mum #2: “Groom, on behalf of our family, we welcome you and support your marriage”

Celebrant:   

Friends, you have been invited to share this occasion because of your friendship and special relationship to the bride and groom.  I ask if you support this union and give them your warm wishes?

Guests:  “WE DO!”

Asking the couple

Celebrant:

Groom, do you happily choose to embrace the adventure that is your future with Bride.  Will you respect her, be understanding and support her as the partner of your life and undertake the promises of marriage?

Groom: “I certainly do”

Celebrant:

Bride, do you happily choose to embrace the adventure that is your future with Groom.  Will you respect him, be understanding and support him as the partner of your life and undertake the promises of marriage?

Bride: “I certainly & surely do”

Their Vows

Celebrant:   

Hold hands now and make your vows to each other

Groom:

“My Darling Bride, you have been my friend, my lover, my partner, and today I embrace you as my wife…….. his vows

Bride:

“From this day on I choose you, darling Groom, to be my life’s partner …. her vows

Exchanging Rings

Celebrant:   

Who brings the rings?

Their Young Son “ Me”

Groom: “I offer this ring as a symbol of my love”

Bride:  “I offer this ring as a symbol of my love.  Son, thanks for bringing our rings, we love you too

Groom “Son, Thank you for welcoming me into your family”

A Ritual of food and drink

Celebrant:   

Groom and Bride wished to bring a symbolic meal and drink, as a reminder that as their bodies need nurturing so does their love.  They wanted to bring whatever is bread and water to them, their daily bread. 

Bride asked that Groom make one of his omelettes, as he did for their first breakfast.  This omelette is made with eggs from their own loved chooks, with herbs and greens grown by Groom.  Feed each other now a piece of this omelette.

Bride brings a pot of tea brewed from the rainwater that fell in their garden.  In the teapot made by Groom is a mixture of herbs from their garden, peppermint given by a dear friend, chillies for the warmth of their relationship, cinnamon for the spice and liquorice for the sweetness they experience with each other.  Drink to each other.

Tying the Knot

Celebrant passes a green cord to Groom, and a red one to Bride, and says as they tie a lovers knot:

And finally you can tie the knot. 

The lovers knot is a knot of two lines, that symbolise two lives tied in the middle of their journey’s path; individual and separate yet inextricably linked.

The Pronouncement

Bride and Groom you are now entwined, entangled, en-knotted.  I ask all those here to join in saying…………. “We, your family and friends, now pronounce you married.”

3. The Pagan Ceremony

Celebrant: Blessings and merry meet. We are here today to join (bride) and (groom) together, they have asked you here to share in their joy, and to declare their love for one another before you as a community.

Celebrant To the Bride: What is your desire?

Bride: To be made one with (groom)

Celebrant To Groom: What is your desire?

Groom: To be made one with (bride)

The celebrant at this time would take up a wand and sprinkle it upon the bride

Celebrant To bride: Repeat after me: I (bride), do come here of my own free will, to seek the partnership of (groom) I come with all love, honor and sincerity, wishing only to become one with him, whom I love. Always will I strive for (grooms) happiness and welfare.

The celebrant at this time would take up a wand and sprinkle it upon the groom

Celebrant To Groom: Repeat after me, I (groom) do come here of my own free will, to seek the partnership of (bride). I come with all love, honor and sincerity, wishing only to become one with her, whom I love. Always will I strive for (brides) happiness and welfare.

At this time the celebrant would sprinkle the rings with the wand and take them up, handing the brides ring to the groom and the grooms ring to the bride

Celebrant: As the grass of the fields and the trees of the woods bend together under the pressures of the storm, so too must you both bend when the wind blows strong. But know that as quickly as the storm comes, so equally quickly may it leave. Yet will you both stand strong in each others strength. As you give love, so you will receive it. As you give strength, so will you receive strength. Together you are one, apart you are as nothing. Know that no two people can be exactly alike. No more can any two people fit together, perfect in every way. There will be times when it will seem hard to give and to love. But see then your reflection as in a woodland pool, when the image you see looks sad and angered, then know it is the time for you to smile and to love. It is not fire that puts out fire. In return will the image in the pool smile and love. So change your anger for love, and your tears for joy. It is no weakness to admit a wrong: more is it a strength, and a sign of eternal growth. Forever love, help, and respect each other. The constant circle of love you share is symbolized in these rings. Let them be a token of your friendship and the partnership you have come to celebrate on this day. When the waters are rough, let these rings remind you of the ebb and flow of life. Let them remind you of the happiness you feel at this moment, and let your memory soothe your spirit.

The bride and groom would exchange rings at this time

Wedding vows….

Celebrant: It is with great happiness that I present you to the community as husband and wife. May you always remember the love that brought you here on this day, and may the God and Goddess bless this union. So Mote It Be. You may now kiss….

After conducting your ritual or consecration, you or the celebrant must take down the circle. Return to the middle of the circle, stand in the Goddess position and say while gradually lowering your arms to your side:

The web of life is an endless circle never to die only to change form. What was begun is now complete. Welcome home these energies borne. The circle is open, never broken. So Mote It Be!

When your arms reach your waist quickly drop them to put the energy back into Earth Mother. The circle is released. You may extinguish the candles and move to your reception area.

4. A Handfasting Ceremony 

Celebrant: Greetings friends and family and welcome to this day of celebration. We are united to witness the marriage of ____ and ____. We’ve been invited to share in the commitment they make to each other today. They ask your blessing on this joyful occasion.

If life has any meaning to us at all, it possesses it because of love. Love enriches our human experience. It is the reason for the peace in the family and the peace of the peoples of the Earth. A meeting between two beings who are made for each other is a beautiful miracle.

___ and ____’s understanding of the true meaning of marriage has resulted from many influences; their families, their friends, and each of their own personal beliefs. We are here not only strengthen the binds of ___ and ___’s love for each other but also to bring family and friends together to celebrate these same said bonds that hold us all together.

What defines ___ and ___’s love today will change and grow to new depth in the future. It takes three seconds to say I love you, but it can take a lifetime to show it. This ceremony is the celebration of a single stage in a much larger process that is the love between husband and wife. The promises made today and the ties that are bound here greatly strengthen your union. They will cross the years and lives of each soul’s growth.

Do you seek to begin this ceremony?

Couple: Yes we do.

Celebrant: The human soul shares characteristics with all things divine. It is this belief which assigns virtues to the cardinal directions; North, South, East and West. Let us offer a traditional blessing in support of this hand-fasting ceremony.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the East: communication of the heart, mind, and body, fresh beginnings with the rising of each sun, and the knowledge of growth found in the sharing of silence.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the South: warmth of hearth and home, the heat of the heart’s passion and the light created by both to lighten the darkest of times.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the West: the deep commitments of the lake, the swift excitement of the river, the refreshing cleansing of the rain and the all encompassing passion of the sea.

Blessed be this union with the gifts of the North: firm foundation on which to build, fertility of the fields to enrich your lives, and a stable home to which you may always return.

Now I ask the couple to look into each others’ eyes.

Celebrant to groom: Will you cause her pain?
Groom: I May

Celebrant to groom: Is that your intention?
Groom: No

Celebrant to bride: Will you cause him pain?
Bride: I may

Celebrant to bride: Is that your intention?
Bride: No

Celebrant to both: Will you share each other’s pain and seek to ease it?
Both: Yes

Celebrant to both: And so the binding is made. Join your hands.

The first cord is draped across the bride and grooms hands.

Celebrant to bride: Will you share his laughter?
Bride: Yes

Celebrant to groom: Will you share her laughter?
Groom: Yes

Celebrant to both: Will both of you look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other?
Both: Yes

Celebrant: And so the binding is made.

The second chord is draped across the couple’s hands.

Celebrant to bride: Will you burden him?
Bride: I may.

Celebrant to bride: Is that your intention?
Bride: No

Celebrant to groom: Will you burden her?
Groom: I may

Celebrant to groom: Is that your intention?
Groom: No.

Celebrant to both: Will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union?
Both: Yes

Celebrant: And so the binding is made.

Drape third chord across the couple’s hands.

Celebrant to bride: Will you share his dreams?
Bride: Yes

Celebrant to groom: Will you share her dreams?
Groom: Yes

Celebrant to both: Will you dream together to create new shared realities?
Both: Yes

Celebrant: And so the binding is made.

Drape fourth chord across the couple’s hands.

Celebrant to groom: Will you cause her anger?
Groom: I may

Celebrant to groom: Is that your intention?
Groom: No.

Celebrant to bride: Will you cause him anger?
Bride: I may.

Celebrant to bride: Is that your intention?
Bride: No.

Celebrant to both: Will you take the heat of anger and use it to temper the strength of this union?
Both: We will.

Celebrant: And so the binding is made.

Drape fifth chord across the couple’s hands.

Celebrant to bride: Will you honour him?
Bride: I will

Celebrant to groom: Will you honour her?
Groom: I will

Celebrant to both: Will you seek to never give cause to break that honour?
Both: We shall never do so.

Celebrant: And so the binding is made.

Drape sixth chord across the couple’s hands, and tie all chords together while saying.

Celebrant: The knots of this binding are not formed by these chords but instead by your vows. Either of you may drop the chords, for always you will hold in your own hands the making or breaking of this union.

Once the chords are tied together they are removed.

Celebrant: Spirit of Love, may ___ and ___ know great love together, and may they live in the desire to always support each other in positive and uplifting ways. May they strengthen one another in sorrow, share with one another in gladness, and be companions to each other in times of silence. May their home be a haven, and wherever they are plagued by changing fortune, may they be united not in word and outward form alone, but by the presence in the hearts of each, of the deepening love they share.
You are husband and wife.
Celebrate with a kiss.