First off, congratulations on your engagement!
Once a couple decides to marry, a journey begins. For some couples there will be a lot of parties and family gatherings to celebrate the coming wedding. It will be a topic of importance for the immediate families as they prepare for the big day. And it will, of course, have those stressful moments that tend to come as part of the package of wedding planning.
One way to set the stage for a more sacred and less stressful engagement is to have a special ceremony. Rather than just charging into wedding planning, it gives couples and families a chance to acknowledge that the journey toward the wedding altar is meant to be loving and sacred, not a ride on the stress express.
You can gather your families and good friends to formally announce and celebrate your decision to marry and open with this special ritual. Or you can plan to do this at an engagement party thrown in your honor or even at a family gathering where many loved ones will already be gathered. The idea is that there should not be a lot of expense for this. It is meant to be simple.
You can ask your clergy person to officiate, but since no marriage license is needed for this you can also call upon a friend.
It can begin with a simple announcement about your engagement. And you can explain that as you begin this new journey together, you feel it is important to have the blessings of your parents, family and your good friends.
This ritual calls for rose petals and a gold ribbon big enough to tie around you both, so have those handy before you begin.
1. First, have the parents to step up and have the celebrant ask:
Do you _______ and _______ freely and happily support _______ in her/his decision to marry _______? Will you help them on the path of married life as they establish their lives together?
Ask the same question of both sets of parents, and step-parents if you like, or any other individuals who are representing the family.
2. Next, you and your beloved come up:
_______ and _________, today is the day you formally announce your engagement to the world. Do you come to this day with an open heart, ready to begin the journey of pledging your love, devotion, honesty, trust and partnership to one another, forsaking all others?
The couple answers yes.
Then we would like to invite you to partake in a brief ritual to express your commitment to one another. It is something inspired by the Celtic hand-fasting, Hindu marriage knot, Thailand string ceremony, Tibetan hand wrapping and American hand blessing. We call it "The Engagement Bond."
3. Have bag of rose petals ready so you can create a sacred circle.
First, we'd like you both to create a circle with these rose petals, symbolizing the creation of the circle of love that you will create together in your marriage. This circle is also meant to be symbolic protection of your relationship.
Now, holding hands, step in together and face each other. Now get closer.
4. Answer to engagement vows spoken by officiant.
We have a few questions, looking at each other, please answer "yes."
- Are you ready and willing to share your hopes and dreams, as well as your disappointments and heartaches in life?
- Establish a relationship build on trust, commitment and belief in one another?
- Argue and air your differences when necessary... compromise when appropriate... and make up as fast as you can?
- Be there for one another, through the great times and the not-so-great times?
- Nurture your relationship through all the seasons of your lives?
- Finally, do you promise that you will love yourselves enough to let the love of your partner in so that you can share a healthy, balanced and successful marriage?
The couple answers "yes," after each question, or can wait until the last question to answer.
5. Have a long gold ribbon ready to create a symbolic bond. The officiant, or someone who can help with this part of the ritual, should tie it around you both as you stand heart to heart.
As you have made all these promises before friend and family,
We now surround you with the Engagement Bond.
Move closer... closer... closest...
Body to body.
Heart to heart.
Soul to Soul.
You have pledged yourself in spiritual union.
May your journey to the altar, your wedding, and your marriage
Be blessed in all ways.
And so it is.
After the ceremony a small feast can begin!
Follow Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway on Twitter: www.twitter.com/revlauriesue