Devote the time your ceremony deserves.
By Lois Heckman, Wedding Celebrant
To all those couples who are confused by wedding rituals, concerned about combining beliefs or just generally avoiding the planning of the wedding ceremony (because they don’t know where to begin) – allow me to introduce you to one of the finest wedding celebrants in our area Lois Heckman. Ms. Heckman will assist in creating a ceremony filled with special moments and memories of you as a couple. Customizing to incorporate the best of the two of you and bringing together two families who will now become one. So “take a seat, not a side” and enjoy what Celebrant Lois Heckman has to say about three types of wedding ceremonies . . .
As an officiant, I look for inspiration in many places, and each one of the Stroudsmoor ceremony sites has its own unique character. Couples sometimes tell me this is the exact reason they choose their wedding venue. Infusing a ceremony with the personality of the couple is always my goal, and venues have personality, too! Here are three rituals, from three different ceremonies, performed at three different locations - that I created and officiated at Stroudsmoor.
For a ceremony at Lawnhaven last year, we took advantage of the bell that is suspended at the top of the altar pavilion. I believe in acknowledging important people in the lives of any couple. After all, marriage is a life changing milestone, and because it is, recognizing those who have been a part of that journey, even when it is sad to do so, is honest. For this couple, I spoke of those who had passed, and unfortunately there were many, and rang the bell for each one of them. It was a profound moment, and something that could not be done, at least exactly like that, any place else. Weddings are a joyous occasion, but life is complex, and including that was important for this couple and their family.
At Woodsgate’s Woodland Chapel I often speak about nature, and it is one of things that most attracts couples to this particular space. Getting married among the trees is magical. For couples’ who find spirituality in nature, I have on occasion, referenced the writings of John Muir, who is considered America’s first naturalist and ‘father’ of our National Parks. I love this particular passage: “The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.”
I’ve used various poems about trees and interesting quotes of all sorts. If it fits the couple’s world-view, then it will be meaningful. And so it was only natural to create a tree planting ritual at the Woodland Chapel. Trees represent stability, and are a powerful symbol. They put down deep roots and send their branches high – just as you would want (metaphorically) in your marriage. We speak of the tree of life for a reason! Trees must be resilient, they must bend and endure storms. They go through the cycles of the seasons and they dance in the wind. The ancient Celtic people had a strong affinity for trees as part of their spirituality. There is almost a mythical quality about trees. They seem to hold some kind of power, if you take the time to appreciate them.
Another ritual that has universality is a wine sharing. For an interfaith couple who married at Ridgecrest’s Crestview Chapel – appropriately named for the stunning view – we did just that. Wine is such a strong symbol in both Christianity and Judaism. The couple sipped from the cup of wine, which symbolized the cup of life, and family members read special prayers from each faith. The intermingling and common threads of the two traditions worked perfectly. To make it even more special they used a family ‘kiddush cup’ which is special goblet specifically for holidays like Passover, or Shabbos (Friday night sabbath meal). Many Jewish families have heirloom kiddush cups, and this couple did as well, so it was wonderful to use it for their wedding. For Catholics, wine is a sacrament, and while I am not a priest, I was able to reference the importance of wine in celebration of the Eucharist. Wine represents the earth’s bounty, and the making of wine can also harken to one’s ancestors. There’s a lot to see in a simple cup of wine.
Take it from the Wedding Warrior, begin your married life on a high note and give the ceremony the time deserving of the first moments you will spend as husband and wife for the rest of your life.
Every couple is different and there are so many ways to express their unique stories. It’s an honor to be a part of that journey.
Lois Heckman is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant® practicing in the Poconos.
She focuses on creating ceremonies for today’s diverse, modern couples. www.LoisHeckman.com