Rhode Island Wedding Guide

Wedding Planning

Blending of Families & Traditions

By Deborah Belaus, Wedding Officiant/Minister, Bright Path Ceremonies
“How to make them your own for a ceremony”
Contemporary life has brought all kinds of couples together. Increasing percentages of couples getting married are: interfaith, interracial, multicultural, same gender, agnostic, and atheist. Some couples already have children or have children from other marriages. When couples get married outside any specific church or religious organization they are free to customize the ceremony to fit their needs, personalities and beliefs.
RI wedding ceremony
Photo from Bright Path Ceremonies

Contemporary life has brought all kinds of couples together. Increasing percentages of couples getting married are: interfaith, interracial, multicultural, same gender, agnostic, and atheist. Some couples already have children or have children from other marriages. When couples get married outside any specific church or religious organization they are free to customize the ceremony to fit their needs, personalities and beliefs.

Wedding ceremonies are usually focused on the bride and groom, but it is also about uniting their family customs and traditions. Couples can include family rituals or traditions and adapt and weave them to reflect their modern, current lives. Blending, modernizing, and personalizing, offers couples a way to create something that speaks to their unique partnership. It’s about combining the old with the new.

RI wedding ceremony

The question is: How do couples weave together elements of any religion or culture and make it inclusive to both sides?

Everything has a metaphorical meaning. Symbols such as shapes, sounds, colors and images have universal connections. Cultures which have no interaction with one another, neither shared religion, language or common political or economic views often end up with the same symbols to represent similar ideas. Using symbols in a ritual brings more meaning to the ceremony. You are bringing a piece of yourself into it and starting a new tradition that can be passed down to the next generation.

Example and ideas of these are:
1, A Huppah is a wedding canopy that is a fixture at Jewish weddings. Typically it consists of a prayer shawl attached to four poles, which is to signify the newlywed’s new home. It is purposely open-sided to welcome guests. But a couple doesn’t have to be Jewish to use a Huppah because the meaning of home is universal. A couple can take this idea and include their children or parents and each hold a pole, signifying the importance of family and how they all need each other to keep the home sturdy. They could decorate with special fabric that has meaning to them and then hang the fabric in their home as a reminder of the day.
2. At the end of a Catholic mass the congregation is ask to turn to each other, offer a handshake, a hug or kiss with the words “Peace be with you.” This is a sign of love and unity and can easily be placed in a wedding ceremony to bring everyone together in this spirit.
3. Another element in the Catholic mass is the sharing of wine and bread. This idea of sharing food can be a beautiful unity ritual for a couple with children to share in their first celebratory food together as a family. This works well with small children, especially if you have their favorite food to eat. Special plates and glasses could be used and then the family could use them for other special occasions.
4. The art of drinking and serving tea plays a major cultural role in China. Mutual love of tea cements lifelong friendships. A couple can honor their parents by sharing in the sipping of tea together. This would represent that the families accept this couple into their households. For this ceremony the couple could use special china that is given to them by their parents and then be handed down to their children for their weddings.
5. “Tying the Knot”, which is Celtic tradition to symbolize a permanent union can be used for the bride and groom to say their vows. This also can be used for couples with children to add them to the tying and adding vows for the children. Couples can bind using ribbon, cloth, rope, and any textile that has personal meaning. This then can be used to hang as an ornament and reminder of the day for the family.

The possibilities are endless. Before you build the bridge, clarify where everyone is coming from. Research your own customs and then broaden that to other traditions. Use metaphorically the symbols and make them your own.

An officiant with knowledge of other cultures and their meaning can be a great composer of your ceremony. The wording will be key in explaining the meaning of the ritual. Your wedding presents an opportunity for you to start designing a blueprint and laying the foundation for new traditions.

“It’s all in the spirit of Love and Unity!”

Find a RI Wedding Officiant | Traditional or Untraditional Vows? Find Ideas.

RELATED ARTICLES