OPTIONAL CEREMONIES

 

Optional Ceremonies are small ceremonies within your wedding ceremony.
Below I have detailed some of these, and various readings which are part of each.

Your ceremony is completely customizable, and you can include any of these
 -- or even more than one -- at absolutely no additional cost to you.
In addition, I can re-word any of these ceremonies to better reflect you,
and what you want said in your ceremony.

OPTIONAL CEREMONY GUIDE

What your guests see far outweighs what they hear. I highly encourage the use of visuals in the ceremony.
Not only will you delight your family and guests, but your wedding video and photos will be rich in imagery, creativity and memories.

 
Hand Blessing Ceremony - Version #1 - (Version for couples planning to have children)
Bride, please hold Groom's hands palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you.
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as he promises to passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness.
These are the hands that will work along side yours, as together you build your future, as you laugh and cry, as you share your innermost secrets and dreams.
These are the hands you will someday place with expectant joy upon your stomach, until he too, feels his child stir within you.
These are the hands that look so large and strong, yet will be so gentle as he holds your baby for the first time.
These are the hands that will work long hours for you and your new family.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes: tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief engulfs your heart.
These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes: eyes that are filled completely with his overwhelming love and desire for you.

Optional: At this point while the groom’s hands are still on top, the officiant asks the groom to take a good long look at the position of his hands. As the groom looks down at his hands the officiant says, "Because this is the last time you will have the upper hand".
 
Groom, please hold Bride's hands palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you.
These are the hands of your best friend, smooth, young and carefree, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as she promises to passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness.
These are the hands that will hold each child in tender love, soothing them through illness and hurt, supporting and encouraging them along the way, knowing when it is time to let go.
These are the hands that will massage tension from you neck and back in the evenings after you’ve both had a long hard day.
These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times.
These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick, or console you when you are grieving.
These are the hands that will hold you in joy and excitement and hope, each time she tells you that you are to have another child, that together you have created a new life.
These are the hands that will give you support as she encourages you to chase down your dreams. Together as a team, everything you wish for can be realized.
 
G-d, bless these hands that you see before you this day. May they always be held by one another. Give them the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. Keep them tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their wondrous love. Help these hands to continue building a relationship founded in your grace, rich in caring, and devoted in reaching for your perfection. May Groom and Bride see their four hands as healer, protector, shelter and guide. We ask this in Your name, Amen.

OR

May these hands be blessed that we see before us this day. May they always be held by one another. May they have the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. May they remain tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their wondrous love. May these hands continue building a relationship founded in love, rich in caring, and devoted in reaching for perfection. May Groom and Bride see their four hands as healer, protector, shelter and guide.
 
Hand Blessing Ceremony - Version #2 - (For couples not planning to have children)
Bride, please hold Groom's hands palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you.
These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as he promises to passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness.
These are the hands that will work along side yours, as together you build your future, as you laugh and cry, as you share your innermost secrets and dreams.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes: tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear or grief engulfs your heart.
These are the hands that when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes: eyes that are filled completely with his overwhelming love and desire for you.


Optional: At this point while the groom’s hands are still on top, the officiant asks the groom to take a good long look at the position of his hands. As the groom looks down at his hands the officiant says, "because this is the last time you will have the upper hand".
 
Groom, please hold Bride's hands palms up, so you may see the gift that they are to you.
These are the hands of your best friend, smooth, young and carefree, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as she promises to passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness.
These are the hands that will massage tension from you neck and back in the evenings after you’ve both had a long hard day.
These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times.
These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick, or console you when you are grieving.
These are the hands that when wrinkled and aged will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
These are the hands that will give you support as she encourages you to chase down your dreams. Together as a team, everything you wish for can be realized.

G-d, bless these hands that you see before you this day. May they always be held by one another. Give them the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. Keep them tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their wondrous love. Help these hands to continue building a relationship founded in your grace, rich in caring, and devoted in reaching for your perfection. May Groom and Bride see their four hands as healer, protector, shelter and guide. We ask this in Your name, Amen.

OR


May these hands be blessed that we see before us this day. May they always be held by one another. May they have the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. May they remain tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their wondrous love. May these hands continue building a relationship founded in love, rich in caring, and devoted in reaching for perfection. May Groom and Bride see their four hands as healer, protector, shelter and guide.

 
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Sand Blending Ceremony
________ and ______ may your love always be as constant as the never-ending waves, flowing endlessly from the depths of the sea. Just as the waters touch and nourish the many shores of the earth, may your love be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Just as there will never be a morning without the ocean’s flow, there will never be a day without your love for each other. You have just sealed your relationship by the giving and receiving of rings. This beautiful union is symbolized through the combining of these two individual shells of sand. The first shell represents you ______, in all that you were, all that you are, and all that you will ever be, and the other shell represents you ______, in all that you were, all that you are and all that you will ever be. Each one holds its own unique beauty, strength, and character. They can stand on their own and be whole, without need of anything else. However when these two are blended together they create an entirely new and extraordinarily more intricate entity. Each grain of sand brings to the mixture a lasting beauty that forever enriches the combination. Please pour the sand into this common container to symbolize the union of your two lives. This container of sand now represents your new life together, although you are two separate people your lives are now entwined as one. Just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the individual containers, so will your marriage be a molding of two individual personalities, bonded together forming one heart, one love. The life that each of you experienced now, individually, will hereafter be inseparably united, for the two shall become one.
 
Family Sand Blending Ceremony
We are all members of one family, G-d’s family. Today as ______ and ______ have sealed their commitment to each other with the exchange of rings they too make a commitment to their children. We recognize the significant role that ______, ______ , _______ and ______ play in this marriage celebrated today. They will now join ______ and ______ in this commitment to each other by contributing a part of each individual person into one blended family. Today, this relationship is symbolized through the pouring of these _____ individual shells/containers of sand, each representing a member of the family in all that they were, all that that are, and all that they will ever be. As each individual’s sand is poured into the family’s one united common container, the individual containers of sand will no longer exist, but will be joined together as one. Please pour the sand into this common container to symbolize the blending of your lives. Just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the individual containers, so will become the bond with your family.
 
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Rose Ceremony
The Bride & Groom give each other a red Rose as their first gift as husband & wife. Two roses are all that is necessary.
______ and ______ your gift to each other for your wedding today has been your wedding rings - which shall always be an outward demonstration of your vows of love and respect; and a public showing of your commitment to each other. You now have the most honorable title that may exist between a man and a woman - the title of "husband" and "wife." In the elegant language of flowers, red roses are a symbol of love; the giving of a single red rose is a clear and unmistakable way of saying the words "I love you." For this reason it is fitting that the first gift you exchange as husband and wife would be the gift of a single red rose. Please exchange your first gift as husband and wife. You both have given and received one of the most valuable and precious gifts of life - one I hope you always remember - the gift of true and abiding love within the devotion of marriage. In every marriage there are times when it is difficult to find the right words, and the ones we love the most are the ones we can most easily hurt. There are times when it may be difficult to say "I'm sorry" or "I forgive you" or "I need you" or "I'm hurting." ______ and ______I would ask that wherever you may make your home, that you choose a special location. And at those times when words fail, that you leave a red rose at that spot you have both selected -- a rose that will say what matters more than all other words..."I still love you; The other should accept this rose for the words that cannot be found, and remember the love and hope that you both have shared today.
 
The Rose Ceremony (Short Version)
In the elegant language of flowers, red roses are a symbol of love, the giving of a single red rose is a clear and unmistakable way of saying the words "I love you." For this reason it is fitting that the first gift you exchange as husband and wife would be the gift of a single red rose. Please exchange your first gift as husband and wife. You both have given and received one of the most valuable and precious gifts of life - one I hope you always remember - the gift of true and abiding love within the devotion of marriage. ______ and ______ I would ask that wherever you may make your home, that you choose a special location. And at those times when words fail, that you leave a red rose at that spot you have both selected -- a rose that will say what matters more than all other words..."I still love you; The other should accept this rose for the words that cannot be found, and remember the love and hope that you both have shared today.
 
White Rose Ceremony (May be used as exchange of vows)
Groom (as he hands his bride a long-stemmed white rose): "_____, take this rose as a symbol of my love. It began as a tiny bud and blossomed, just as my love has grown and blossomed for you"
 
Bride (as she places the rose into a bud vase filled with water): "I take this rose, as a symbol of your love, and I place it into water, a symbol of life. For, just as this rose cannot survive without water, I cannot survive without you."
 
Groom: "In remembrance of this day, I will give you a white rose each year on our anniversary, as a reaffirmation of my love and the vows spoken here today"
 
Bride: "And I will refill this vase with water each year, ready to receive your gift, in reaffirmation of the new life you have given me and the vows spoken here today".
 
Groom (as he and his bride join hands around the rose-filled vase): "And so, this rose will be a symbolic memory of my commitment to you this hour; I vow to be a faithful husband to you, to comfort you, honor you, and respect you and cherish you all the days of my life."
 
Bride (as they continue to hold the vase together): "And I commit myself to you, to be a faithful wife, to comfort you, honor you, respect you, and cherish you all the days of my life".
 
The Family Rose Ceremony (Outdoor alternative to the unity candle ceremony)
It is only out of families that new families emerge. Today the roses that were placed here from both of your mothers symbolize your separate lives and your two individual families. ______ and ______, you come to this moment from these two families, and the new emerges from the old… the present from the past. I ask that each of you take one of the roses and together place them in the center vase. The center vase with the roses signify that your two lives are now joined as one, and represents the joining together of your two families as one. From now on your thoughts shall be for each other rather than for your individual selves. Your joys and sorrows shall be shared alike. Today a new family makes its beginning.

 
Mothers Rose Presentation
Marriage is a coming together of two lives and a celebration of the love of two people. But it is more. The love that ______ and ______ feel for one another is the flowering of a seed their parents planted in their hearts years ago. As they embrace one another in their love, so do they embrace the families which have been brought together on this happy occasion. As a sign of their love for their families, ______ and ______ would like to offer these symbols of eternal love, these roses, to their mothers, ______ and ______.  
 
______ and ______ want you to know that your efforts were not in vain and that your love is very much appreciated, they thank you for everything you’ve instilled in them. These Roses are a promise that no matter how far apart you are that you are not forgotten and a reminder that you are always in their hearts and prayers. 

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Ceremonial Dove Release
The "Ceremonial Dove Release” has been a custom for centuries. The "Noblemen of Olde" released the dove as symbols of their eternal love for their brides to be. Doves choose one partner for life and make this commitment until death. The white dove has been used throughout history as a symbol of Love, Peace, Purity, Faithfulness and Prosperity. It is said that if doves are seen on your wedding day, a happy home is assured. These birds released here today represent the love and commitment you have given to one another this day. From this day forward, when ever you see a white dove, may you be reminded of this moment"
 
Release of Doves
The release of Doves in ceremonies extends the message of Peace, the celebration of Life, and the expression of Love. Releasing doves uplifts the eyes, signifies new beginnings and true celebrations in flight. In Scripture doves are more numerous than all other species. Luke 3:22 states: "The heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove." The dove is the symbol of peace, and the presence of the Spirit. They have been chosen by G-d to be the messengers of the day.
 
Legend of the Dove
Once the L-rd of heaven chose two doves, both young and fair, and told them of a very special journey they would share. "Go now upon the earth and see two hearts where you may dwell, and there I shall surely come and make my home with you as well. We'll join the two and make them one. A Husband and his Wife, my spirit will endow their love with everlasting life." Today the Doves will bring the sacred promise from above, to those whose hearts are open to the miracle of LOVE.

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Wine Ceremony
Officiant pours wine into goblet, holds it up and says:
The years of life are as a cup of wine poured out for you to drink. This “Cup of Life” contains within it a wine with certain properties that are sweet and symbolic of happiness, joy, hope, peace, love and delight. This same wine also holds some bitter properties that are symbolic of disappointment, sorrow, grief, despair, and life’s trials and tribulations. Together the sweet and the bitter represent “Life’s Journey” and all of the experiences that are a natural part of it. Those who drink deeply from the “Cup of Life” with an open heart and willing spirit, invite the full range of challenges and experiences into their being.

This “Cup of Life” is symbolic of the pledges you have made to one another to share together the fullness of life. As you drink from this cup, you acknowledge to one another that your lives, until this moment separate, have become one. Drink now, and may the cup of your lives be sweet and full to running over."

Officiant hands glass to groom, who drinks, then hands it to bride, who drinks, who passes it back to officiant.

Officiant: As you have shared this cup of wine, so may you share your lives. May all the sweetness that it holds for you be the sweeter because you taste it together. May you find life’s joys heightened, it’s bitterness sweetened, and all of life enriched by G-d’s blessings upon you.

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Breaking of the Glass Ceremony

Breaking the glass can symbolize the fragility of human happiness. It can represent the breaking with the past, that the couple may now move forward togther.

The breaking of the glass, perhaps the best known feature of a Jewish wedding, is not law but rather minchag (custom). It is the most somber part of a Jewish wedding. Rabbi Moshe Isserles notes in the Mapah (the 16th century Ashkenazi commentary on the Shulchan Aruch) that in some communities it is a practice to break a glass in order to remember the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, the destruction of the Temple, the loss of political sovereignty and the exile of the Jewish people from the Land of Israel. In our miraculous day political sovereignty has been restored to the Jewish people after 2,000 years of dispersion and exile. Nevertheless, Jews are still forbidden from prayer on the Temple Mount and the majority of the Jewish people still reside, out of choice and free will, in galut (exile). Under these new circumstances, this custom takes on new significance. Another reason given for this minchag (custom) is to tone down frivolousness and excess (Brachot 31a) and remind us to focus not only on the immediate simcha but also to serve as a reminder that the bride and groom are a part of, and have a responsibility to, Am Yisrael, the Jewish nation;

A fragile wine glass is placed on the altar or table, filled with no more wine than the two of you can comfortably consume quickly in front of all your guests. At the very end of the ceremony, either accompanied by words of explanation or not, the officiant or Best Man hands the Groom the glass of wine. The Groom presents it to the Bride, who drinks as much of it as she wants without draining the glass. She then hands the glass back to the Groom who is required by the mechanics of the situation to finish the wine. The empty glass is handed back to the Best Man, who wraps the glass in a linen napkin and places it on the floor in front of the Groom. The Groom stomps on it, and general hurrahs or mazel tovs erupt from the guests. Then the Bride & Groom recess.

The breaking of the glass at the end of a wedding ceremony serves to remind of two very important aspects of a marriage. The bride and groom—and everyone—should consider these marriage vows as an irrevocable act - just as permanent and final as the breaking of this glass is unchangeable. But the breaking of the glass also is a warning of the frailty of a marriage. That sometimes a single thoughtless act, breech of trust, or infidelity can damage a marriage in ways that are very difficult to undo - just as it would be so difficult to undo the breaking of this glass. Knowing that this marriage is permanent, the bride and groom should strive to show each other the love and respect befitting their spouse and love of their life.

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Hand-Fasting Ceremony (May be used as a substitute for the Declaration of Intent)
_____ and _____ have chosen to incorporate the ancient Celtic ritual of Hand-fasting into their wedding ceremony today. Hand-fasting is a wedding ritual in which the couples' hands are tied together with a ceremonial cloth or cord. Hand-fasting is a declaration of intent, where the bride and groom clearly state that they are marrying of their own free will.
_____ and _____ know now before you go further, that since your lives have crossed in this life, you have formed eternal and sacred bonds. As you seek to enter this state of matrimony you should strive to make real the ideals that give meaning to this ceremony and to the institution of marriage. With full awareness, know that within this circle you are not only declaring your intent to be hand-fasted before your friends and family, but you speak that intent also to G-d. The promises made today and the ties that are bound here greatly strengthen your union and will cross the years and lives of each soul's growth.

Do you still seek to enter this ceremony? (Yes)

_____ and _____, I please look into each others eyes. (Hold hands – Bride’s left hand, Groom’s right hand)

Will you honor and respect one another, and seek to never break that honor? (We will)
The first cord is draped over the couples' hands.

Will you share each other's pain and seek to ease it? (We will)
Second cord is draped over the hands.

Will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union? (We will) Third cord is draped over the couples' hands.

Will you share each other's laughter, and look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other? (We will)
Fourth cord is draped over the couples' hands. Tie cords together

_____ and _____, as your hands are bound together now, so your lives and spirits are joined in a union of love and trust. The knots of this binding are not formed by these cords but, rather by the vows you have made. For always you hold in your own hands the fate of this union. Above you are the stars and below you is the earth. Like the stars your love should be a constant source of light, and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow.

G-d, bless these hands that you see before you this day. May they always be held by one another. Give them the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. Keep them tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their wondrous love. Help these hands to continue building a relationship founded in your grace, rich in caring, and devoted in reaching for your perfection. May Groom and Bride see their hands as healer, protector, shelter and guide. We ask this in Your name, Amen.

OR

May these hands be blessed that we see before us this day. May they always be held by one another. May they have the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. May they remain tender and gentle as they nurture each other in their wondrous love. May these hands continue building a relationship founded in love, rich in caring, and devoted in reaching for perfection. May Groom and Bride see their
hands as healer, protector, shelter and guide.

Untie the cords.

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Unity Candle Ceremony #1
______ and ______, you have just sealed your relationship by the giving and receiving of rings. You have committed here today to share the rest of your lives with each other. This beautiful union is now symbolized by the lighting of the Unity Candle. The center candle you are about to light is a candle of Marriage. Its fire is magical because it represents the light of two people in love. It is a candle of Unity because both must come together, giving a spark of themselves, to create the new light. This candle is also a candle of Commitment because it takes two people working together to keep it aflame. It has been said that life is like a flame, It has its own warmth, and its own brilliance. But it's in the union of Two, that something brighter, warmer, more wonderful takes place. ______ and ______ please light the center candle to symbolize the union of your lives. As you have lit this candle today, may the brightness of the flame shine throughout your lives. May the radiance of this one light be a testimony of your unity. May this candle burn brightly as a symbol of your commitment to each other. May it give you strength and joy in your bodies, minds, and spirits. The life that each of you experienced now, individually, will hereafter be inseparably united, for the two shall become one. May your union be forever blessed.
 
Unity Candle Ceremony #2
______ and ______ your relationship was just sealed by the giving and receiving of rings. This beautiful union is symbolized through the lighting of the Unity Candle. The two distinct flames represent your lives to this moment; individual and unique. The center candle you are about to light is a candle of Marriage. Its fire is magical because it represents the light of two people in love. It is a candle of Unity because both must come together, giving a spark of themselves, to create the new light. This candle is also a candle of Commitment because it takes two people working together to keep it aflame. ______ and ______ please light the center candle to symbolize the union of your lives. As you have lit this candle today, may the brightness of the flame shine throughout your lives. May the radiance of this one light be a testimony of your unity. May this candle burn brightly as a symbol of your commitment to each other. May it give you courage and reassurance in darkness. Warmth and safety in the cold.
 
Family Unity Candle Ceremony
It is only out of families that new families emerge. Today the family candles that burn in our midst symbolize your separate lives and these two families. ______ and ______ come to this moment from these two families, and the new emerges from the old… the present from the past. I ask that each of you take one of the lit candles and that together you light the center candle. Lighting the center candle represents that your two lives are now joined as one, and represents the joining together of your two families as one. As they move together, they form a new light, the light of their union, it burns separately but not alone. From now on your thoughts shall be for each other rather than for your individual selves. Your joys and sorrows shall be shared alike. Today a new family candle begins its glow.

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