Because of my long involvement in the Seattle Wedding Community, first as an Event Planner (beginning in 1984) and secondly as a Minister of 17 years, I believe the general involvement of the Grooms in all aspects of the wedding – including the creating of the ceremony, is the most significant (and positive) transformation.
In the past 15 years, the actual wedding ceremony has morphed from the dull cookie cutter ritual of religions past to a service customized to represent not only the two unique individuals, but the third entity – the couple as a whole.
Stellar reshaping of this ritual is involving the parents of the Bride and Groom as well as their families in a more inclusive way.
Here are some specific trends that I am applauding:
- The groom seating his mother (occasionally his father as well)
- Both parents escorting the Bride
- The Mother of the Bride escorting the Bride
- Young or adult children escorting their parents who are either the Bride or Groom
- Fathers and Mothers are honored during the service by an acknowledgement of gratitude for their love and support of the Bride and Groom (sometimes roses are given to the Mothers at this time)
- Deceased relative(s) being mentioned in a moment of silence – or a reading (Recently we honored a sister of the groom lost in 911.)
- Flower Ceremony: relatives are each given a unique flower and the family creates a colorful bouquet representing unity/variety while an appropriate prayer or reading or music takes place
- The couple’s children are involved in the service with vows or a family blessing
- Readings recited BOTH in English and the language of origin to accommodate the family visiting from another country
- Interpreters have been hired for 3 of my weddings in 2010
Of late, I have seen Brides and Grooms writing poetry to one another and keeping their creations a secret until they read it during the ceremony.
Another “surprise” at the altar is jewelry!!! A bride recently surprised her groom with a special wedding ring, an heirloom from his beloved Grandfather (who had passed away the year before). Up until that moment he had sworn never to wear a ring! And Grooms have been handing me additional and unexpected bling bling during the Ring Exchange – to the total shock and delight of their brides!
I think the most unique thing that I was asked to do this year was to write a piece called the “Vase Ceremony”. (Certainly not a trend because it has only been requested once.) The couple bought a special vase – that would always be kept in whatever home they would live. The Bride and Groom agreed that their more challenging disagreements could be mended by one of them putting a “truce” rose in the vase and absolution would follow from their partner. During the “Vase Ceremony” they placed the first roses in the vase.
As Ministers, just as so many others in this industry, most of us try to accommodate and be creative bringing the couple’s true personality and flavor to their day and making it the most memorable experience possible.
Rev. Mary Calhoun