It’s not always easy to explain what a personalized or custom ceremony looks like, because each one is unique to the setting, the needs and intentions of the couple. When I work with a couple to create a custom ceremony, I take the time to get to know them, and they take the time to consider the symbols and relationships that they bring to their lives. It is creative work, and unearths some lovely surprises and meaningful connections. As much as I like to think I bring something to the couple, I find their ideas and visions to be inspiring and uplifting.
Today I performed an intimate ceremony for a second marriage, which included immediate family members. It was bitterly cold outside, and as I drove in to Calgary, the radio announcer assured me the temperature was minus 40 with a wind chill. But things were toasty warm inside the couple’s new home, with a comfy chairs pulled up to a cheerful fireplace, and the coffee table set with an elegant blue tablecloth and fresh white candles and flowers. The mantle was adorned with a pair of carved dragons, two delicate stone eggs, two custom designed rings in their boxes, and a metal disk covered in pink flowers. Large sparkling amethysts and carved and raw stones evidenced a rock hounding passion that has been passed from parents to son.
There were six guests, the people who were “home” to the couple, who had met online 18 months earlier: three sons (one of whom joined via Face Time from Afghanistan), and three living parents. The fourth parent was brought into the room by the presence of a lit candle in the shape of a dove.
I had prepared a script, as I do, which was written in consultation with the couple over the last two months. It contained their love story, several poems and readings, and a house blessing. The three of us had collaborated and come up with a beautiful ceremony that spoke of their love, the gratitude they felt at finding one another, and their commitment to living toward their best selves.
As we started the ceremony, I tried my best to keep to the script, but I noticed there was a good deal of improvising as the ceremony proceeded, mostly in the form of additional kisses. I had to stop the proceedings a couple of time so we could find and use the Kleenex. (Note to self, keep some tissues up my sleeve) There was laughter and a bit of fumbling over the candles, but in the end, the family candle burned brightly, and the connection in the room was palpable. The bride and groom successfully recited their vows by heart, and all of us were touched by the deep sense of presence and sincerity in their words.
The bride’s wedding ring had been designed by the groom. A hammered river, representing the journey their blended family was taking together. Five yellow sapphires, collected by the groom when he was a teenager, had been selected by himself and the boys in a careful, collaborative effort.
As a final blessing, I offered the words of D.H. Lawrence, with his poem, Fidelity.
Man and woman are like the earth, that brings forth flowers
In summer, and love, but underneath is rock.
Older than flowers, older than ferns, older than foraminiferae,
Older than plasm altogether is the soul underneath.
And when, throughout all the wild chaos of love
Slowly a gem forms, in the ancient, once-more-molten rocks
Of two human hearts, two ancient rocks, a man’s heart and a woman’s,
That is the crystal of peace, the slow hard jewel of trust,
The sapphire of fidelity.
The gem of mutual peace emerging from the wild chaos of love.