Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Wedding Ceremony Elements | 13 Unity Wine Ceremony Options

The Unity Wine Ceremony is experiencing somewhat of a renaissance here in the UK. The use of this ceremony element, particularly at wedding ceremonies and vow renewals is simple and full of symbolism / ritual and understood by all. Below are 13 samples of how the Unity Wine Ceremony can be weaved into a ceremony by a civil celebrant.
Simple Unity Wine Ceremony
Wine Ceremony 1

This glass of wine symbolizes the sum of your life experiences. It contains within it the sweet flavours of love, joy, wonder and contentment.

This same cup, at times, holds the bitter taste of sadness, pain, and despair. When you drink deeply of this cup of life, you invite the full spectrum of experiences into your life.

As you drink from this cup, you accept the commitment to draw from your marriage all that you need to wash away the bitter flavours of life and to savour the sweet flavours you may encounter on your journey together.

Wine Ceremony 2

As you have shared wine from a single cup, so may you,  share contentment, peace and fulfilment from the cup of life.

May you find life’s joys heightened, its bitterness sweetened, and each of its moments hallowed by true companionship and love.

Wine Ceremony 3

Life is a series of contradictions. It is said that all things end and yet all things continue. All things change and yet all things remain the same.

Wine has been called the symbol of life. It’s like the blood flowing within our bodies. By sharing this glass, the two become one, the parts become whole, two paths intertwined, each separate, yet united in love.

Wine Ceremony 4

Wine, like the life-blood that pulses through our veins, is a symbol of life. It is created through the work of hands and minds.

Love, a feeling, in constant motion like the sea, lies in the soul alone. Just as wine stimulates the body, love stimulates our souls to live life to the full.

As you share this wine glass today, may you be joined in a love as fluid as the drink itself, yet as solid as the hands which made it.

Wine Ceremony 5

This wine glass is to remind you of your love. Delicate, yet strong; filled with love, yet with room for more. It symbolises two people coming together to share one life, one love.

Use this loving cup for miracles. Fill it with forgiveness, understanding and appreciation. Drink deeply and often. Whenever you do, remember this:

Love is real. Once created, it cannot be destroyed. It is eternal.

Wine Ceremony 6

May this cup serve as a ceremonial loving cup for your relationship.

Use this Loving Cup to find your way back home to each other when you have moved apart. It symbolises two coming together to share one love, one life, and the opportunity to live you lives in unison.

In times of unrest, may at least one of you have the presence to fill it with forgiveness.

Wine Ceremony 7

In this glass are the fruits, Mankind and the Earth. The years of our lives are like a cup of wine that is poured out for the sake of labour, honour and love. Many days you will sit at the same table and eat and drink together. Many are the experiences you will share. As with a glass of wine, one of you may find it sweet, the other perhaps dry or somehow different. Let the drink you share today serve as a reminder that although you may perceive things very differently, being right is never more important than being happy. With this space that you give each other, always putting your commitment to love and honour one another first, your lives together will grow deeper, richer and greatly satisfying, like a rare and fine wine. You may now drink from this fountain of love.

Wine Ceremony 8

Kahlil Gibran writes in “the Prophet”:
Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup.

(Groom fills glass with wine)
Fill each other’s cup but drink from your own. Let this symbolise your promise to each other to be yourselves to the fullest and at the same time to honour the unity you share as husband and wife and to cherish the gifts of love and nurturing each gives the other.

I invite you now to drink to one another . . . Let this drinking of wine also remind you that what matters most in life is the spirit, not the letter; the wine, not the cup.

Wine Ceremony 9

Like wine, life is a process of change, growth, compromise and wisdom. As grapes are pressed to give forth their juice, so under the press of time our lives give forth their labour, honour, and love. Long ago, wine was revered as the blood of the earth.

When the bride and groom pledged themselves to one another, they drank wine from a single cup, three times, signifying that they were becoming one blood, one family, one kin.

Cup-raising was an invitation to family and friends to witness this oath and hold the bride and groom to their vows. It is also to remind the newly-weds and their families that a good wine is only good, if it is consumed… so must life be consumed. Savour it till the last drop.

Wine Ceremony 10

____ and ____, this “Cup of Life” contains within it a wine with certain properties that are sweet and symbolic of happiness, joy, ecstasy and love just as the years of life ahead of you together will be. This same wine also holds some bitter properties that symbolise disappointment, sorrow, grief, despair, and life’s trials and tribulations that you will inevitably run into during your new life together.

Be reminded to forgive the frailties of one another’s flaws, for they will be overcome, and bear together life’s adversities and be confident that the “good” will always return and the strength in your love will always prevail.

Through love, your flaw becomes your strength.
Through love, does the world reveal itself.
Through love, each union is made.

Drink from this cup together, as you do, earnestly seek the power and wisdom to use all the pleasure and prosperity that may come to you with gratitude, modesty, and with sympathy for those less fortunate than yourselves.

Wine Ceremony 11

Together the sweet and the bitterness of this wine also represent life’s many Journeys, 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 this day, to share together the fullness of life. As you drink from this cup for the second time, 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 overflowing!

Wine Ceremony 12

As you have shared this cup of wine, so may you share your lives. May all the sweetness that it holds for you be that much sweeter because you have tasted it together. May you find life’s joys heightened, its bitterness sweetened, and all of life enriched by a constant love. 

As you share the wine from this cup, so may you share your lives. As of this moment, you belong to the same current which will carry you to the highest peaks of life. May this bond hold forever true!

Please share this cup of wine one last time as an acknowledgement of the new bond between you as life partners, soul mates, and this evening as Husband and Wife.

Family Wine Ceremony 13

Wine is a universal symbol — of the richness of life and sweetness of love. So it is appropriate, that on this joyous occasion, you toast life with this ancient symbol.

(Parents), please fill BRIDE and GROOM’s glasses and take a sip. This represents the continuous connection between parents and children. It’s also symbolic of the love and encouragement you have provided them and will always provide them in their lives together.

Hand the cups to your children, and they will toast each other by drinking from their own cups as a sign of maintaining themselves and their individuality. (Drink)

Now BRIDE and GROOM drink from each other’s cups as a sign of sharing yourselves and your life together. (Drink)

Let this wine ceremony represent the spirit of your lives together. By sharing this wine now, you have shown your desire to blend your families together even stronger. May you always find life’s joy heightened and its bitterness sweetened.

Thanks to Eric

Wedding Ceremony Elements | Jumping the Broom Ceremony

Jumping the Broom
Jumping the broom is a time-honoured wedding tradition in which the bride and groom jump over a broom during the ceremony. The act symbolises a new beginning and a sweeping away of the past, and can also signify the joining of two families or offer a respectful nod to family ancestors. For all of these reasons, jumping the broom is an increasingly popular part of many modern wedding ceremonies particularly in the UK & USA.

Today's wedding brooms, however, are a far cry from those first used in jumping the broom ceremonies. They're still made with a wooden handle and natural bristles, but they're kept as treasured keepsakes and probably never actually used to sweep the floor.

Some brides prefer to create their own brooms, while others purchase ornately decorated brooms ready-made. Far from ordinary, these brooms are outfitted beautifully with silk ribbons, fresh or silk flowers, bows, beads and more.

During the ceremony, broom jumping can be paired with a reading, song, poem or simple explanation of the tradition.

The broom can even be used to include guests in the ceremony: A couple can have guests write their names on pieces of decorative paper attached to ribbons, and then the ribbons are tied to the broom before it is jumped. This symbolises that the guests -- and their associated well wishes -- go into the marriage with the couple.

Ribbons on the broom may be considered symbolic of the tie that binds the couple, while the broom handle represents life and the straw signifies the couples' families. In pagan ceremonies, the broom represents a perfect balance between the male and female, with the handle symbolising a phallus and the bristles symbolizing female energies [source: Pagans Path].

Regardless of the ways in which the broom is incorporated into a wedding, it should be accompanied by a full understanding of the custom's historical significance.

History of the Jumping Over the Broom Ceremony

There's no definitive answer as to where jumping the broom originated. Some people believe that the ceremony began in the 18th century in West Africa where, among some cultures, handmade brooms were used not only for cleaning but also for removing evil spirits. During a wedding ceremony, the broom was waved over the heads of a couple to ward off these spirits. Sometimes the broom was placed on the ground directly in front of a couple's path as they turned to exit the ceremony, at which point they would jump over it. The person who jumped the highest was good-naturedly designated as the household's decision maker [source: Aaregistry.com].

Jumping the broom was used as a marriage ceremony in the 18th and 19th century American South among some slave populations. It served as an alternative to courthouse or church weddings, which were prohibited by the then race-based laws and customs. Like many African traditions, jumping the broom survived but became less common in the decades immediately after emancipation, perhaps because the ceremony was too closely associated with slavery at the time.

People of African descent weren't the only ones who jumped the broom during that period in history. The wedding custom was a common practice in Welsh, Scottish and Roma cultures [source: BBC]. In pre-christian Wales, couples who wished to commit to each other followed pagan tradition: A broom was placed across a home's doorway and, like jumping a hurdle, the groom leapt over it, and then the bride followed. If neither one of them made the broom fall -- or took a face-plant on the floor -- the marriage was meant to be. If the broom took a tumble, so did hopes for their marriage: The wedding would be cancelled altogether [source: Jones]. The ceremony was widespread enough (especially among couples who didn't want or weren't given the legal right to have a court- or church-sanctioned wedding) that Charles Dickens mentioned it casually in "Great Expectations" in 1861; he wrote that a couple was married "over the broomstick."

Today, jumping the broom is still an important wedding tradition for many -- whether they wish to pay homage to their ancestors, signify a fresh start or add a personal twist to their special day.

Wedding Ceremony Elements | Step-by Step Guide | Unity Sand Ceremony

Coloured Sands and Vase Selections
Weddings were once rather pre-prescribed affairs. In most cases that meant a bride, a groom, an officiant, some witnesses, and vows that were passed down through generations. You could, married or not, probably recite the ceremony by heart.

As cultures and ethnicities have blended, though, the realm of the mainstream has expanded. Additions of "non-traditional" elements like beach locales, personalised vows, civil celebrants, and unity-candle ceremonies have become, if not the norm, then at least very normal, and many betrothed couples are looking for ever-newer, ever-more-surprising ways to make their weddings unique.

One that has rather recently entered the engaged public's consciousness is the sand ceremony, more formally known as the unity sand ceremony. Much like the unity candle with which many of us are familiar, the sand version offers a symbolic, visually poignant moment that can add not only a personalised feel but also a bit of whimsy to an otherwise formal affair.

While the unity sand ceremony has a lot in common with the unity candle ceremony, it differs in some important ways. In this article, we'll find out what the sand version means, what it entails, how to pull one off seamlessly, and about some time-savers available to make it even easier to incorporate this ritual into many different ceremonies

First, what the ceremony is, what it symbolises and how to make it happen…

Unity Sand Ceremony
Unity Sand Ceremony Steps

As far as wedding-ceremony extras go, this one has quickly gained in popularity for good reason. It's a rather simple, visually appealing and highly customisable ritual that not only contributes a bit of worldliness but also leaves the newly-weds with a meaningful souvenir of their big day.

Plus, unlike the unity candle, this ceremony isn't complicated by a light breeze. Sand ceremonies can move outdoors with no problem at all.

At its simplest, a sand ceremony involves a symbolic blending of two different-coloured sands into a single vessel. The meaning is clear: The blending of two different beings, the bride and the groom, into a single, inseparable unit that is their marriage -- the joining of their lives.

Hard as it would be to separate out those grains of sand, that's how difficult it is to separate these two people. It usually takes place after the exchange of rings and vows (although it can go before or even during), and lasts just a couple of minutes.

A basic sand ceremony involves three (typically glass) vessels -- one holding the bride's sand, one holding the groom's sand, and an empty one that will soon hold both, all sitting on a small table or stand. It goes something like this:

  • The celebrant explains the meaning of the ceremony and how it relates to the two people getting married.
  • The celebrant invites the groom to pour a bit of his sand (let's call it blue sand) into the empty vessel.
  • The celebrant invites the bride to do the same with her sand (let's say it's pink).
  • The bride and groom then pour their sands at the same time, in a single stream, into the vessel.
  • The celebrant closes the ceremony with some words about the inextricable joining of their lives.

The end result is a glass container holding one of blue sand (the groom), one layer of pink sand (the bride), and a top layer of purple sand, showing how the joining of the two have created a new, equally beautiful entity.

And, it's an entity that's easy to make entirely your own…
Unity Sand Ceremony Customisations

One of the greatest benefits to the sand ceremony is how easily it is to personalise. It lends itself especially well to blended families, when the bride and/or groom already have children. Having each child (or special relative or friend or parents) pour his or her own coloured sand into the vessel along with the couple involves them in the ceremony -- and in the finished product -- in a seamless, natural way.

Other ways to personalize the ceremony include:

  • Leaving a bit of sand in each original vessel, symbolizing that each person involved in the union will maintain his or her individuality even as their lives are joined
  • Collecting sand from meaningful sources -- using sand from favourite beaches or from holiday spots can add some extra poignancy to the ceremony.
  • Inviting each member of the wedding party to add sand to the container, commemorating the special place they hold in your new life together
  • Coordinating the sand colours to the wedding colours
  • Choosing a vase, urn or other vessel with that has special meaning to the couple

However you decide to make the ceremony yours, you're going to need a few supplies to make it work. They're not tough to come by -- just coloured sand and a few glass vases. But with the increased popularity of this ceremonial interlude, gathering everything you need is even easier…

Unity Sand Ceremony Kits

It's not difficult to find coloured sand. You'll come across it in craft stores, toy stores and art-supply stores, and you can easily buy it on-line. Glass vases are even easier to come by. Any shape will do, and you may even have the perfect vessels lying around the house. A container with special meaning, such as an engagement gift, vacation souvenir or a crystal vase passed down through generations, can make the ceremony and the finished product even more special.
Personalised Sand Ceremony Kits
Still, with all that goes into planning a wedding, you may prefer an all-in-one solution -- a sand-ceremony kit. These kits range in price from about £25 to £75. They can be basic, with three glass vessels (vases or urns) and two colours of sand; customised with extra vases for family members or friends; and engraved with the names of the bride and groom to create a more personal memoir of the wedding. You can also find a sand vessel that also serves as a picture frame.

The simplicity of the sand ceremony is part of its appeal, so there's no need to complicate it with elaborate vows. The spiritual symbolism speaks for itself, so a few words from a celebrant and the betrothed are plenty.

The unity sand ceremony is an excellent alternative to the unity candle and is perfect for outdoor settings. But it does come with a warning: Sand can be messy. If all must be pristine, consider a glass funnel. It'll help the bride and groom combine their lives with more precision.

Thanks to How Stuff Works.

Wedding Ceremony Elements | Top 3 Unity Candle Ceremonies

Unity Candle Ceremonies can be conducted in many, many ways, limited only by the imagination. One thing, however, that they all have in common is that they are symbolic of a union / unity for wedding, commitment, vow renewal, naming, reunion and even funeral ceremonies.

Unity Candle Ceremony with Personalised Candles

Below are three samples of the most frequently used ceremonies. 

When possible, the candles representing the bride and groom are lit before the Unity Candle ceremony begins by someone with a special relationship (parent, relative, child, friend) to the bride or groom.

1. Unity Candle Ceremony (Leaving All Candles Burning)

(Now, Bride's name and Groom's name will commemorate their marriage by lighting a Unity Candle (Bride and groom walk over to the candles) 

Light is the essence of our existence. Each one of us possesses an inner glow that represents our hopes, our dreams and aspirations in life. 

Groom's name and Bride's name, the two distinct candle flames represent your lives before today, individual, unique and special. Please take the candle symbolising your life before today, and together light the center candle to symbolize the union of your individual lives. 

(Place the tapers back into their holders—join hands and remain near the candles) 

As this new flame burns undivided, so shall your lives now be one. From now on your thoughts will always be for each other rather than just your individual selves. Your plans will be mutual, your joys and sorrows both will be shared alike.

Although you are now entering into a marriage relationship, you do not, however, lose your personal identity. Rather, you will use your special individuality to create and strengthen the relationship of marriage. Therefore all three candles remain glowing. 

The individual candles represent all that makes each of you the wonderful and unique person the other admires and respects. The Unity Candle in the center symbolizes the union of your lives, families, and friends, as well as your shining commitment to each other, and to a lasting and loving marriage. *(Walk back to wedding celebrant)

2. Unity Candle Ceremony (Extinguishing Individual Candles)

Same as the above with the addition of: 

Extinguish the two flames symbolizing your previous lives and you are forever united together in love. (Each blows out their individual candle and walk back together to their wedding celebrant)

Extinguishing Individual Candles leaving Unity Candle

3. Unity Candle Ceremony (Symbolic, Very Few Words)

Bride's name and Groom's name, the two separate candles symbolise your separate lives, separate families and separate sets of friends. 

I ask that each of you take one of the lit candles and that together you light the centre candle.

The individual candles represent your lives before today. Lighting the centre candle represents that your two lives are now joined to one light, and represents the joining together of your two families and sets of friends to one.

Each of the above ceremonies can be concluded with: 

(Optional to be read by celebrant, if you choose, as you walk back to the  the wedding celebrant after lighting the Unity Candle) 

May the blessing of light,
Be with you always,
Light without and light within.
And may the sun shine
Upon you and warm your heart
Until it glows
Like a great fire
So that others may feel
The warmth of your love
For one another.

Thanks to the Marriage Man

Monday, 17 February 2014

UK Society of Celebrants Newsletter - February 2014

By way of introduction for those who don’t know me,  I am Jade Gracie (Civil Celebrant & Tutor) from  the Rainy City – Manchester. I guess many of you have had your fill of rain too over the last two months?

Many of you will know our co-founder Phil Hammond. Phil will be away for a while due to an unexpected health scare and I hope you will join me is wishing him a speedy recovery. All Trainee / Member Celebrants affected have been contacted by their contingency Tutors / Mentors and remain on track to complete their courses as planned and have their Mentor support continue.

New Members
We are delighted to announce that January 2014 has been our busiest month to date even before “The Funeral” on Coronation Street was broadcast. Since then the phones have not stopped ringing. It looks like Celebrancy is finally becoming mainstream, making this a particularly exciting time for Civil Celebrants and more importantly our future clients. If you are still contemplating becoming a Civil Celebrant and you think you have what it takes, you would be wise to get on board soon.

Group Training
Last month we implemented changes to our Group Training Courses in response to feedback received from all of our Group Training Candidates over the previous 12 months (see January Newsletter).

The effects of these changes were met with instant approval from all our candidates. After an initial adjustment period, our Tutors have also embraced the changes. As a result we have decided to limit the number of people attending Group Training Courses to three.

No other celebrant training provider can match our student / tutor ratios, our training facilities , our course fees, our tutors or our undoubted value for money.
Help Us to Help You!
Internet Marketing
We once again encourage all our Members who currently do not have their own website to talk to their Mentors. We will build, integrate social media / blog and optimise your sites ( for PC & Mobile) for FREE – All we ask is that you purchase your domain name and hosting package through us at a current cost of £10.80 for the first year (£26 pa thereafter). Also remember that you will maintain instant 100% editorial /layout control of your site and you will be shown how to do it. This may sound scary but is far simpler than it may appear.
Help Us to Help You!

FREE Phone Numbers
We have now had a Free Phone number at UKSOC for over 2 months. The resulting number of calls to that number is at least 5 times more than our landline number produced. Now that Mobiles can access 0800 numbers for Free too, it may well be worth your while trying such a number yourself. For the monthly cost of a couple of coffees at “CostaBucks”, what have you got to lose? For more information contact you Mentor.
Help Us to Help You!

Celebrant Tale Competition
The Winning Entry to our recent Celebrant Tale Competition will be published by way of a separate Blog Post later this month. The winner - Colin Trelawny has now started his Diploma Course and has continued to be just as creative. I know, because I am his Tutor. (Daniel’s Funeral Ceremony was something to behold – Remember Daniel & his Mankini?)
New Premises
Just a few weeks in and we have settled at our New Training Facilities & Offices at the Terrace in Lincoln. Our Training & Admin staff love it as do our Trainee Celebrants. Our very own onsite Coffee Shop / Bistro “CafĂ© Portico” should be experiencing a significant upturn in turnover.
The Terrace , Lincoln

Celebrant Workshops
You may be aware that we have developed and written a series of Workshops for Celebrants. Our intention has always been to provide as many workshops as possible for free. Workshops to be held in Lincoln will always be free and refreshments will be provided. However, Workshops held outside of Lincoln may necessitate a small charge being made £5-20 depending on the venue and expected attendance.

As a result of the above, we need feedback from our Celebrant Members regarding their likelihood of attending such events either local to them or in Lincoln. Comments welcomehere.
Help Us to Help You!
That’s it for this month . Take Care of Yourseves!
Jade Gracie
Tutor |