Choosing Rituals & Polish for Your Unforgettable Ceremony.
Maybe you and your partner are totally into Chinese food or love the same pizza joint. Maybe you’re both fans of Japanese Anime. But how similar are your backgrounds? If ever there was a time to highlight the unique aspects of your cultural heritage, and the fantastic journey that brought your two worlds together, it would be at your wedding!
From tasty international treats to the era of your dance music, to flaunting your favorite celebrity inspirations, here are some tips for incorporating your unique backgrounds, values, and traditions into your ceremony and reception:
Think globally, act locally: Take inspiration from weddings around the world. Consider incorporating red accessories and decorations —the Chinese consider red the most auspicious color and it is believed to represent love, happiness and prosperity. Or awe your guests with a traditional French wedding cake, or croquembouche—not actually a cake, but an impressive tower of vanilla cream-filled puffs bound with ribbons of caramel and decorated with sugared almonds.
Honor your ancestors: Find out what your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents did at their ceremonies—or wish they had done! Choose one element from their unions to replicate in your own. Do you have relatives who have influenced you in love? Maybe your centerpieces resemble those that graced the tables at your mother’s wedding. Maybe you have a great aunt who was never able to publicly celebrate her own commitment ceremony, and you can honor her through yours—by playing her favorite song or wearing one of her bracelets. This can be a great opportunity to learn more about your partner’s family and to involve relatives on both sides in the planning process. Also consider famous authors and activists who came before you on a similar path—incorporate quotes from your mentors in your ceremony and program or include readings from famous authors whose stories exemplify your background and feelings about commitment. Consider these for inspiration:
“All mankind love a lover.” --Ralph Waldo Emerson
"I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you."
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning
“If God had wanted me otherwise, He would have created me otherwise.”
- Johann von Goethe
“The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals. That doesn't mean that God doesn't love heterosexuals. It's just that they need more supervision.” -Jewish, lesbian comedian, Lynn Lavner
Eclectic treats: Set up a goody station with sweets from each country reflected in your heritage. Include little flags or description cards, so guests know the country of origin of the treats. Invite each guest to fill a bag with whatever global mix suits their fancy.
Religious freedom: If you are having a ceremony outside of the church, you can incorporate elements from a variety of religions that may be represented in you or your partner’s heritage, or that are otherwise meaningful to the two of you. Consider including a reading from religious texts of two or three different religions. If you aren’t sure where to begin, a nondenominational or Interfaith minister can usually make great suggestions. You might also consider incorporating a ritual from a tradition not directly represented by your heritage but that is symbolic to the two of you in some way—perhaps lighting a candle for each relative that has passed on that you would like to honor as is often done in European cathedrals, or calling in the four directions as in the Native American tradition.
Equal Rights: Your ceremony doesn’t’ have to make a political statement, but it can be an opportunity to showcase what matters to you—in however big or subtle a way as feels right to you.
Work with LGBTQ friendly vendors. Ask specifics about their experience with same-sex unions, and their commitment to equality.
Consider doing a theme of equality, incorporating homages to your favorite activists and politicians, or showcasing your pride with a rainbow wedding- featuring a rainbow cake, rainbow decorations, and inviting your guests to dress in the colors of the rainbow!
How about inviting the local gay chorus to perform at your wedding?
Community Center: Chances are, the guests who will be present are only there because they’ve played a big part in your journey. Here are some ideas for showing your tribe how much you value their support. Incorporate a sense of community through:
Your theme: create a theme around the concepts of community, family, or gratitude. Invite your guests to write wishes or blessings for you and to put them in a box. Return the favor by sending each of them home with a personalized fortune cookie!
Your ceremony: Honor your community through a ritual at your ceremony—you can invite all guests to greet and acknowledge each other through a variation on the traditional Catholic church ritual of “Passing the Peace” or involve your guests in a ring warming, in which your rings are passed around, in a small pouch, through the hands of each of your guests as they each take a turn offering a silent wish for your lives together.
Your gifts: give back to those who gave to you. Invite guests to give to a faborite charity that exemplifies your values- it gives them, and you, an opportunity to give back for your blessings, and to make a difference.
Blaze a trail: Create your own tradition: Why not make your wedding day the start of an on-going tradition exclusive to you and your sweetie? You are trailblazers! Why not flaunt it by making this the theme of your wedding—incorporate quotes from favorite trailblazers, name your tables after area trails, have nature elements throughout. Maybe, you sneak off and share a private moment- some kind of small but meaningful ritual you could do again to honor the start of each new day together.
Rev. Dawn is an Interfaith Minister, spiritual counselor, and writer. She has conducted workshops on goal manifestation around the country and her articles on spiritual living have been featured in Whole Life Times, LA Yoga, Awareness Magazine, Oracle20-20 and on GetMarried.com. She is proud to guarantee that if she performs your commitment ceremony in a State that has not yet legalized same-sex unions, she will gladly perform your legal ceremony at no additional cost once they are.
RainbowWeddingNetwork.com has been the trusted wedding resource for the LGBT community since 1999. Along with the diverse services through their website, the company produces an ongoing national tour of LGBT Wedding Expos. Additional wedding & parenting related articles are available through the site. www.RainbowWedddingNetwork.com