|These are some of the aspects of our wedding ceremony you will see|
used today. Some of them you may know, while others may be new to you. We invite
you to learn about these traditions here.
learn a more about our symbology and
Traditions for Our Ceremony
Wound into Tia's bouquet is a horseshoe that will later be hung in our kitchen, with the ends turned up so the luck doesn't run out. The horseshoe was carried by Celtic and English brides as part of an old tradition that was believed to bring good fortune. The good luck of the horseshoe evolved from many aspects, including the belief that blacksmiths were lucky, that iron was magical and could withstand fire and repel fairies, that horses stood in the barn where Christ was born, and that the seven nails in a horseshoe represented the seven ages of life, the seven colours of the rainbow, the seven planets in the universe (in ancient belief), the seven deadly sins, the seven virtues, the seven days of the week, and the seven days between changes of moon phases, making them very very lucky.
Our horseshoe is of Irish origin, a porcelain collector's piece crafted by Belleek. It's really lovely and we'll be happy to show it off!
chuppa is the wedding canopy in ancient Jewish custom. A familiar component of
traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, it can be placed inside a hall, on the platform
(bimah) of a synagogue or out in the open air. It is understood by many today
as a symbolic representation of the house in which the married couple will live,
but the origins of the idea of the chuppa are complex and unclear:
over time, the word "chuppa" came to signify a number of different aspects
of the wedding, such as the covering of the bride with the tallit of the groom.
Only in the sixteenth century in Eastern Europe do we seem to find the meaning
of chuppa in the modern sense an open wedding canopy held up by four poles
under which the marriage ceremony actually takes place. It is now an essential
physical part of the marriage ceremony.
Our chuppa incorporates the symbols we hold as important and uses the sacred pillar designs of Egyptian temples. Our chuppa is, for us, a symbol of the home we're building together and the shelter we give each other - both fragile and needing nurturing to make it strong, and open to welcome friends and loved ones with hospitality and care.
Bell of Truce originates from west Ireland peasant traditions, believed to be
derived from St. Patrick's Bell of Will. St. Patrick believed that bells were
important to his ministry, and helped him in performing miracles. He is said to
have been buried with the iron Bell of Will he carried. Today, it stands on exhibit
in Ireland's National Museum.
Binding, or Handfasting, Cord is an ancient tradition used in many cultures. In
ancient Egypt, the cord was tied around the groom's waist and one end was loosed
to tie to the ring of the bride. Through the ages, variants of tying the groom's
sash to the bride existed in many Eastern, Near Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures.
breaking of the glass is probably the best known part of the Jewish wedding. It
comes right at the end of the ceremony and is followed by festive shouts of "Mazel-Tov"
and the couple's first married kiss.
For us, we include this tradition to represent shattering the bonds of our old life, leaving the broken and irreparable behind us, and to symbolize the beginning of our new life together without the ties of a broken past holding us back, as well as having a reminder that all life and relationships are fragile and need care and nourishment to survive.
The spirit of those gone is very important to the Irish. The feast days of Garland Sunday and All Soul's Day are both dedicated to the departed. On Garland Sunday, a hoop or wreath of twigs is decorated with flowers and ribbons in honour of the dead. On All Soul's Day, a candle is put in the window for each person departed to light their way back home.
Tia and I share the grief of losing our fathers, and have decided to incorporate these traditional Irish customs for honouring the dead into the ceremony we would have dearly loved them both to attend. The tradition includes memories of the departed spoken over the candle as it is lighted by a family member, and we have both chosed to ask our sisters to participate in this part of the ceremony with us.
Water and waterways were places sacred to the Celtic gods. Ancient Celtic weddings were always held near rivers, lakes, holy wells or pools. Wedding guests were given small stones to cast into the water, with each being a wish for the couple's future happiness, health and success.
We have chosen to revive this custom and invite you to celebrate it with us. At the reception, you will find a bowl of stones and coins (yes, this IS where wishing wells came from!) to be dropped into water. A large vase filled with water stands at the table. We invite you to drop a stone or coin into the vase and make a wish. After the ceremony we will be taking the vase home, filled with stones, coins and wishes, to keep as a centerpiece display for our home.
Where did the idea of wedding favors come from? Nobody seems to know for sure. But, we do have records of brides and grooms in England giving away love knots made out of lace and ribbons during the 16th and 17th centuries, and Russians have always been known for the wedding couple not only receiving beautiful gifts, but bestowing one on each guest as well.
Here are some other cultures' takes on the showering-of-gifts-on-your-wedding-guests thing :
Malaysian culture, the traditional wedding favor is painted, decorated eggs -
a symbol of fertility for the couple.
We have chosen to share something meaningful and lasting with our guests. We have created CD's full of the music we feel speaks to our celebration, our wedding, and our relationship, and have decorated each with a ribbon bow to echo the old tradition of handing out bows in the Receiving Line (see receiving line traditions for more on this). We hope you will find them as enjoyable to listen to as we found them to create.
Irish peasant tradition holds it is appropriate that a man should always be the first to offer congratulations to the bride once the ceremony is complete. Should a woman offer the first wish, it results in years of bad luck. We've decided to ask a close male friend of Tia's family to help us uphold this tradition.
and ... one more thing ...
Something old, something new...
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in your shoe ... unlike more traditional custom, we will both have each of these things - and the "silver sixpence" we have for our shoes are old Irish coins minted in the year the other was born.
Traditions you WON'T see Today
Garter Toss is a holdover from some rather barbaric medieval customs. It originally
had two aspects. In one incarnation, the belief that a piece of the bridge's garment
would bring luck led to her garters being stripped from her legs as trophies.
In less genteel society, this was done rather forcibly. This resulted in larger
bridal parties aimed at protecting the bride's dignity (amoung other things) and
keeping her from being literally thrown to the ground while rejected suitors rummaged
under her skirts.
Likewise, the bouquet toss originated to bestow the blessing of luck and fertility thought to belong to a bride upon the next maid who was fortunate enough to catch the bride's flowers. While less offensive, it is still a somewhat tiresome and embarassing practice.
Old Celtic traditions tell of the bride's bouquet becoming the first centerpiece put on the central or dining table in her new home. Thereafter, the bridal flowers of the bouquet would become her own 'signature' flowers, always featured on her table. This is a lovely custom we prefer to revive and will have the bouquet preserved to display in our home.
Suprisingly, the practice of a Receiving Line grew out of response to the Garter Toss, which is why it's listed here, even though we ARE using this custom. In more genteel society, it became a practice for the bride to sew dozens of tiny ribbon bows to her gown. The groom's parents would often present her with a set of wedding scissors on the night before the ceremony, to be used to snip the bows from the gown. In the receiving line, guests would actually RECEIVE something - a bow from the gown - for good luck. This replaced the need to strip her of her garters to gain a talisman in higher society. Much later the meaning changed to the couple receiving the greetings and good wishes of their guests.
We have decided to renew the traditional purpose of the receiving line by handing out our wedding favours at that time.
Please join us in the Receiving Line to receive our thanks for your attendance and allow us to present you with a small token of our appreciation for sharing our special day with us.
The practice of the father giving away the bride originates in ancient times when bride prices were paid and the groom was required to ask the bride's father for permission to marry his daughter. Because neither of our father's can be present in more than spirit for the ceremony, we have decided we do not want to replace them, nor do we feel there is an acceptable substitute for this tradition, so we have chosen to omit it.
confetti over newly weds originated from the ancient Pagan rite of showering the
happy couple with grain to wish upon them a 'fruitful' union. Pagans believed
that the fertility of the seeds would be transferred to the couple on whom they
fell. The throwing of rice has the same symbolic meaning.
Unfortunately, Stonehurst is a historic property that doesn't allow the throwing of any sort of rice or confetti, nor the blowing of bubbles as they may cause damage to the walls or floors of the property, so we have eliminated this tradition from the ceremony. Not to mention, we're not terribly worried about not using a fertility charm...
However, giving to the poor is a wonderful tradition, and anyone who would like to continue this tradition is encouraged to make a donation in the name of the wedding celebration to a charitable organization that benefits the welfare of the needy, preferably a reputable shelter for women and children. You can call SafeLink at 1-877-785-2020 or find a list of domestic violence shelters at http://www.mahomeless.org/shelter/domshelter.html.