STAY TUNED!!! NEW POSTS COMING SOON!!!! (Promise!)
This morning's unexpected chopping down of a huge maple tree in front of my residence has me sitting and contemplating new blog topics for your wedding ceremony; for you and your beloved as a couple; some unique rituals and their history in wedding lore; and some fun items for your enjoyment.
STAY TUNED!!! NEW POSTS COMING SOON!!!! (Promise!)
So, you just got engaged and everyone is asking the question of the hour, "So when are you getting married? When is the big day?" We all know that weddings, whether big or small, take planning (even though I went from engaged to married in 10 short weeks, every single day was full of planning, whether cake tasting, or talking to the DJ, or having a mid-week meeting with the caterer). Most of the time, if you go to a venue that you both really connect to, their "prime wedding dates" are already taken (sometimes, for the next 2 - 3 years!) Have you ever considered the opportunities that exist in having a winter wedding?
Just a couple of great reasons to consider a winter wedding:
When I think of winter, I think of pine cones, snowflakes, snowmen, cranberries, hot chocolate, candles and fireplaces. I think of the brightest color palette possible to stand out against a white snowy winter backdrop (evergreen, cranberry red, midnight blue, silver, gold). Have a hot chocolate bar; have the bridal party engage in a snowball fight for the pictures; include candles and fire for the prettiest glow. For more ideas, check out this link from Buzzfeed: 42 Lovely Ideas for a Cold-Weather Wedding
How can I best serve you in creating a ceremony for your winter wedding ceremony?
Have you wondered why things might not be going according to plan? Does it seem as though the Universe is going a little haywire at the moment? Well, it might not be for the reasons you think.
Today, June 13th, 2014 is auspicious for a few reasons. First, to the chagrin of many paraskevidekatriaphobics out there, today is Friday the 13th. As if that wasn't enough to bring out all of the loony behavior in the best of us, at 12:11 AM here on the East Coast, we experienced a Full Moon. Since we are in the month of June, this month's Full Moon, according to legend and the Farmers Almanac is The Strawberry Moon.
"This name was universal to every Algonquin tribe. However, in Europe they called it the Rose Moon. Also because the relatively short season for harvesting strawberries comes each year during the month of June . . . so the full Moon that occurs during that month was christened for the strawberry!" - Farmer’s Almanac
And to add a third item to the mix, this is the first Friday the 13th Full Moon in June since 1919. We will not experience another Full Moon on Friday the 13th in June until the year 2098!
So what does this mean for all of us? According to the website, Chakrology, we should be thinking about the following for this day's Full Moon:
The ideal thoughts for this Moon is reconciling the desire for exploration with the comfort of knowledge and information. Learning new things, exploring a new place, or growing beyond your comfort levels is the goal behind the energy of this moon. It challenges knowledge for the unknown. Tackle new ideas, discuss opposing viewpoints, or challenge yourself to learn something you previously found that you did not agree with. It is a good time to learn to be open to new experiences rather than over analyze old ones.
For all of you crystal healers and lovers out there, it is also a wonderful time to re-charge and re-energize your crystals with the light, beauty, essence and energy of The Universe and Mother Nature in its purest form. So get those crystals on your window sill, sit back, and allow the unknown to happen!
There are many couples, particularly here on the Eastern End of Long Island, who have begun opting for beach, vineyard, or farm wedding ceremonies; ceremonies containing more rustic and outdoor elements, those of air, water, sky and earth. For those couples who want a more personalized touch to their wedding ceremony and are in a “nature-based” frame of mind, the Sand Ceremony is an excellent item to incorporate. Not only does it allow for each of you, as partners, to add your own individual touch; it also allows you to incorporate your respective families, children from previous marriages, as well as all of the long-standing relationships that have come before you.
The current incarnation of the Sand Ceremony can trace its roots back to the Native American culture, either through Hawaii’s indigenous peoples or Native Americans from the mainland. Colored sand dyed with various natural elements (i.e. gypsum for blue, ochre for yellow, etc.) was used to create sand paintings part of spiritual healing ceremonies. In keeping with this tradition, in a “typical” sand ceremony, each member of the couple is asked to choose a color, one that resonates with a personality trait, is a “power color”, or simply their favorite color. A third color of sand (typically standard beach sand or plain white) is chosen to represent the friends and family of the couple, the “foundation” on which each individual stands. The officiant (or family member) begins the sand ceremony by pouring the “foundation” sand into a vessel the couple has chosen [I have seen vessels ranging from heart shapes to simple bowls to frames]. The couple then pours their colors of sand on top, creating a unique one-of-a-kind pattern, symbolizing the combining of two lives into one. Once the sand colors are poured into the Unity Container, the belief is that, as long as it should take for each grain of sand to be extracted from one another and brought back to their separate containers – that is how long you should be together. The couple, now in a physical representation of the vows they have just spoken, is forever joined and entwined like the grains of sand.
For some more in-depth information on the Unity Sand Ceremony, check out these links. They will help you begin to think about colors, vessels, ideas, and allow you to make this ancient ritual your own, either as a couple or a family.
SHARON VAZ – UNITY SAND CEREMONY
SANDSATIONAL SPARKLE – CHOOSING YOUR COLORED SAND
KENSINGTON CLASSICS PINTEREST PAGE (Ideas for vessels and colors)
Dun-Dun-Da-Da – “Here Comes the Bride”
Who among us doesn’t know the traditional notes of “The Wedding March” signaling the entrance of the bride, providing the background for her walk down the aisle and the start of the wedding ceremony? Yes, this music is significant; yes, this music speaks to years of wedded bliss and millions of ceremonies between two beloved parties. What happens, though, when these dulcet tones don’t speak to YOU and YOUR day of celebration? What notes can you turn to?
Traditionally, when working on a ceremony, there are 2 to 3 pieces of music you will want to incorporate – the processional (the entrance of the bridal party); the bride’s song; and the recessional. Some of the questions you may want to ask yourselves when delving into the music realm are as follows:
Once you have answered any or all of these questions, now it’s time to have some FUN! Go on to YouTube and type in the names of some wedding songs you have heard. Listen intently and see yourselves either walking down the aisle or recessing together as husband and wife. What do you envision? In some of my previous ceremonies, people have used traditional instrumental pieces (Canon in D, Pachabel’s Canon, The Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream); a great many have used non-traditional pieces, such as “Somebody’s Getting Married” from The Muppets Take Manhattan, the Theme from the Legend of Zelda, and “The Imperial March” from Star Wars.
When you begin to think about your unique relationship and what you truly want to remember for your special day, the sky’s the limit! Be creative! Be yourselves! Express it in music!
According to the calendar (maybe not so much Mother Nature), SPRING HAS SPRUNG! For a lot of people, that heralds in the tradition and ritual of "Spring Cleaning." Typically when we hear this term, we think of scrub brushes, mops, dust bunnies, and that lovely bleach smell that means we have aired out the house from the winter and we can face the rest of the year knowing we have made our living quarters pristine.
However, for me, Spring Cleaning is a great deal more than this. I invite you to see this time of cleaning as expunging the old habits, the old "tape loops" inside your head (your personal room) that might be holding you back from taking the next steps in your journey in this body. Are there default habits and responses that are no longer working for you? Say "Thank You" to them (for they worked for you in the past) and then clean them out with some "virtual scrub brushes" - whatever that means for you ... if that means meditating on them, praying, rituals to clean the inner heart and sanctuary that is your body...
Spring Cleaning doesn't just mean the physical surroundings... we must also cleanse ourselves - our minds, bodies, souls and spirits - so that we can move forward on the path we were destined to trod.
What cleansing rituals will you be doing this spring?
Today marks the beginning of one of the most sacred times in the Christian and Catholic faiths - Ash Wednesday, originally called dies cinerum (day of ashes) marking the start of the 46 day period of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which, according to tradition, prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which, it is believed we attain redemption.
The tradition of placing ashes on one's head, it is believed, hearkens back to the 8th Century. The earliest description of Ash Wednesday is found in the writings of the Anglo-Saxon abbot, Aelfric - in his The Lives of the Saints, he writes , "We read in the books both in the Old Law and in the New that the men who repented of their sins bestrewed themselves with ashes and clothed their bodies with sackcloth. Now let us do this little at the beginning of our Lent that we strew ashes upon our heads to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during the Lenten fast."
The rite of ashes on Ash Wednesday are recommended to the Christian as an opportunity for repentance and spiritual renewal within the framework of confession and absolution.
That being said, most people think that, for the next 46 days, it is all about "giving something up"... something like candy, coffee, chocolate... something that can be boasted about, something that we can be proud of having "removed" from our lives, without really understanding the purpose of the Lenten promises and Fast.
Why give something up for Lent? My friend and colleague, Rev. Allyson Szabo at Patchwork Interfaith Ministries put it the best...
Why give something up for 46 days? There are lots of reasons. First and foremost, because it's spring, and spring cleaning should always begin with the soul. By giving up some luxury item (or adding some new task to your day, such as daily exercise!), you are taking the time to remind yourself that you are a spiritual being. Second, it reminds us just how privileged we are in our country. We have so very much that often, deciding WHAT to give up can take almost as long as the giving-up. Third, that slight prick you feel when you realize, "Oh, can't have that... it's Lent," that's a wonderful reminder to say thanks to whatever Divine agency you pray to. Thanks for life, thanks for all the things you normally have, thanks for having so much that you can give something up and not suffer unduly.
So, what are you willing to "sacrifice"? How will you continue to make your life better, even past this 46 day season? How will you shine your light into the world in a new way? How can you better your journey and the steps of those surrounding you?
"Signs, signs, everywhere are signs... "
One of the most popular trends I have seen in both the weddings I have performed as well as those I have had the honor to attend as a guest for family and friends are signs. These signs range from the simple "Here Comes The Bride" that the littlest of participants carries down the aisle in the procession (to the ooh's and aah's of all in attendance) to the intricate... the personalization and uniqueness of the couple's love is reflected in these seemingly simple items. They add a one-of-a-kind flavor to your ceremony and are a wonderful way to involve your guests.
Buzzfeed posted 40 of the most awesome signs they guarantee you will want to see and use in your ceremony. Check them out here.
What awesome signs have you had the pleasure of seeing at weddings? I would love to see them. Contact me and let me "read the signs"!
"Who... who... who wrote the book of love?"
Catchy song lyric, and very poignant and proper for this very day, February 14th, when we celebrate the Feast of St. Valentine. Millions of people purchase flowers, chocolates, items dotted with hearts of pink and red... all in the effort to say "I love you" (and make sure they are not in 'the dog house' the next day!). However, did you ever wonder where exactly this holiday came from? Where does it find its roots? What is the origin of this fluffy, seemingly saccharin and Hallmark-ian holiday?
According to The History Channel, there are those who claim that the Christian church placed the Feast of St. Valentine in the middle of February to "christianize" the Pagan holiday and celebration of Lupercalia.
"Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.
To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage."
During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.
Want more amazing tidbits on Valentine's Day? Check out this link at The History Channel's website, where you will find videos, pictures, quotes, and awesome love stories.
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY EVERYONE!!!!!
In Your Own Words: Selecting and Writing Your
Reprinted from the blog, East End Experience (February 9, 2014)
With the New Year, we have a new installment in Rev. Sarah Wilson’s Down the Aisle Series of advice and tips from a wedding officiant. This time, she lends guidance to the daunting task of creating your own vows.
Did you get engaged over the holiday season? Are you in the throes of preparing your wedding ceremony and celebration? Have you ever been to a ceremony (for a friend, acquaintance, or family member) and thought it was a personal and intimate experience, reflecting the couple and their relationship? Well, perhaps, if you enjoyed that ceremony, what you might have heard were vows personally written by the couple.
“But Rev. Sarah, I am not a writer! I wouldn’t know what to say!”
Many couples are daunted by the mere suggestion of writing and hand-crafting part of their own ceremony. Yes, it is an intimate and personal expression of your love for one another and you are putting your emotions at the forefront of your special day. However, if not now, what better time to express these things to your beloved?
Legally, for a couple to be married in the State of New York, an officiant (minister, justice of the peace, priest, rabbi, etc.) needs to hear an affirmative answer from both parties (“I do”) and have two witnesses hear that the couple has answered “Yes” to the question of being joined together in the bond of marriage. Altogether, it counts for about 28 words. The remainder of your ceremony is up to you and your unique relationship! I have heard couples use song lyrics, words from Winnie-the-Pooh or Mr. Rogers, or just spoken their hearts to each other in the moment. They write their vows on index cards, pieces of paper, or just speak from their memory.
There are many sites containing many beautiful words and vows on the Internet and in books. I recommend sitting down with your partner, taking a good look at the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with, and allow your heart to do the rest. You know why you chose this person – why not express it to the rest of the world by writing your own vows? You won’t have a ceremony like anyone else in the world – it will be yours and yours alone. Shouldn’t we all have one thing in the world that is just ours?
Next time, we will chat about music choices – another personal expression of your unique love.
An Ordained Interfaith Minister & Licensed wedding officiant.