Private Betrothal Ceremony for a Couple Planning to Marry

I very much enjoyed creating and performing this special ceremony for a quietly reserved couple who wished for an opportunity to celebrate their love very privately ahead of a big family wedding the following year. This ceremony was to just for the two of them, no witnesses other than myself.

Ishara

Betrothal Ceremony for M & J in the park off Portsea Rise in Mosman Park, Western Australia – November 2009.

Setting for a private betrothal ceremony for a couple engaged to be married the following year.

 Ishara was lovely and very willing to work with us to design a unique ceremony to celebrate our relationship. Very easy to get along with!”

  1. Reading – “In Marriage Two People can create an Infinite Love” by Regina Hill
  1. Declaration of Intention

Ishara:           M and J, I understand that it is your desire and firm intention to get married, and that you plan to solemnise your marriage at a wedding ceremony that you will celebrate with your family and friends next year.   I further understand that is your mutual desire to have this opportunity to privately pledge your commitment to one another, as a further step in deepening your relationship and in anticipation of your wedding next year.

                        M and J, in other times and places it has been the custom for a couple who planned to marry to enter a formal betrothal. As it is commonly understood, a betrothal is a mutual promise, engagement or contract for future marriage.  

                        The word betrothal has evolved from the archaic word ‘troth’ meaning plighted word, good faith, loyalty, truth.   It is in this spirit of truth and loyalty that I invite you to approach today’s ceremony.  

                        I feel it is my duty to remind you that the pledges that you each make to the other in good faith today can be expected to become the heart of your marriage relationship contract. They will give voice to your aspirations, and become the touchstone of your shared love and commitment for many years into the future.

                        J and M, marriage is a serious commitment that can be entered into only by persons who are both legally and spiritually free to offer themselves to one another.  And so before we proceed I must now ask you..

                        M, do you come here of your own free will, with a conscious desire to pledge yourself to marry J?

M:         I do.

Ishara:           J, do you come here freely, with a conscious desire to pledge yourself to marry M?

J:        I do.

3.                  On the way to the wedding – Circling the bower

Ishara:           M and J, you have chosen to make your promises to one another under this leafy arbour.

                         An arbour is a traditional place for lover’s trysts. It is also reminiscent of the wedding canopy that a jewish couple stand under, representing the new home that they will create together.  This “home” initially lacks furniture as a reminder that the basis of a home is the people within it, not the possessions

                        For the purposes of today’s ceremony, this arbour we are standing in front of becomes a living symbol of the marriage relationship that you will create together.   Looking at the arbour, you can see that it has a strong framework that holds it up and holds it together. This is like the conscious commitments that you will be making today and reaffirming on your wedding day – your mutual commitment to cultivating trust, respect, honesty, thoughtfulness and compassion in all your dealings with each other.   Looking at the arbour you can also see that it is the green growing things that give it its unique beauty – these are like the love that grows and flowers between you, the deepening appreciation and respect for each other’s unique humanness that can continue to develop and blossom over the course of a lifetime.

                        Soon it will be time for you to enter into the bower and make your promises together, but before that can happen, there are some preparatory steps that I will ask you to take.

                        In this next part of the ceremony I will invite you to take turns to walk around the outside of the wedding bower, symbolising the journey of your lives to this point.  One of you will start, while the other stands waiting here with me, in front of the arbour.    Then you will swap places.

                        The one who is walking – imagine that you are making a pilgrimage to join your beloved.  If you wish, you may retrace in your mind some of the steps on the journey of your life to this point – this threshold at which your beloved stands waiting for you.

                        The one who is waiting – imagine that you are waiting for your beloved who has been away on a long journey.  Breathe into your heart and allow yourself to feel all the yearning that is in your heart for an intimate and abiding relationship with this special person who is your beloved.

                        Who would like to go first?

M & J take turns at walking and waiting for each other (circle once each).  When they have both completed their circling, Ishara continues:

  1. Preparing to take the next step – ceremonial hand-washing

Ishara:           Now that both of you have found your beloved, there is another step that we need to take, to prepare the way for your union.

                        At times such as this, whenever a significant spiritual passage in life is made, the wisdom traditions of the world recommend a ritual cleansing or purification to make ready for a new beginning.        

                        Water is a very precious element, essential to the sustenance of all life. Since antiquity, water has been a symbol of purity and devotion.   As the water flows over your hands today, it symbolises the washing away of anything in your individual or shared pasts, which might stand in the way of the deeper union which you desire. 

                        J., as I pour the water over your hands, I invite you to imagine that it is dissolving away any old thoughts and feelings, anything you may have said or done in the past which you do not want to carry forward into your marriage.   Feel yourself becoming lighter, more open and receptive to love and life, ready and willing to take the next step.

            Ishara pours water from a jug over J’s hands.

                        M, as you dry your beloved’s hands, I invite you to let it become an expression of the tenderness that you feel for him today as well as the promise of tenderness shared through all your tomorrows.

            M dries J’s hands with a small towel..

                     M, as I pour the water over your hands, I invite you to imagine that it is dissolving away any old thoughts and feelings, anything you may have said or done in the past which you do not want to carry forward into your marriage.    Feel yourself becoming lighter, more open and receptive to love and life, ready and willing to take the next step.

            Ishara pours water from a jug over M’s hands.

                        J as you dry your beloved’s hands, I invite you to let it become an expression of the tenderness that you feel for her today as well as the promise of tenderness shared through all your tomorrows.

            J dries M’s hands with a small towel..

  1. Promise to marry & exchange of keepsakes … “and thereto I plight thee my troth.”

Ishara:           M & J, I now invite you to step into the wedding bower where you will make your pledges to one another.

M & J step under the arbour.

Ishara:           J, will you now promise to take M to be your wife?

J:               I will.

Ishara:           J, I believe you wish to make a personal commitment to M at this time?

J:               Yes I do.

Ishara:           Then I invite you to take her by the hands and look into her eyes as you repeat after me…

J:             M, all that I am and all that I have,
I offer to you in love and in joy.
I will trust you and respect you,
laugh with you and cry with you,
loving you faithfully
in good times and in bad,
regardless of the obstacles we may face together.
Everything I am, and everything I have is yours,
from this moment forth, and for eternity.

Ishara:           J, I believe you have a small keepsake to give M as a memento of this day?

J gives M a  gift

Ishara:           And now M, it is your turn.  Will you now promise to take J to be your husband?

M:         I will.

Ishara:           M, I believe you also wish to make a personal commitment to J at this time?

M:         Yes I do.

Ishara:           Then I invite you to look into his eyes as you repeat after me…

M:       J, all that I am and all that I have,
I offer to you in love and in joy.
I will trust you and respect you,
laugh with you and cry with you,
loving you faithfully
in good times and in bad,
regardless of the obstacles we may face together.
Everything I am, and everything I have is yours,
from this moment forth, and for eternity.

Ishara:           M, I believe you have a small keepsake to give J as a memento of this day?

M gives J a gift

  1. Sealing the union – sand-pouring & a kiss

Ishara:           M & J 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.

                        This beautiful union is symbolized through the combining of these two individual vessels of sand. The first jar represents you M, in all that you are, and the other vessel represents you, J, in all that you are.

                        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.

                        As you now pour the sand into this common vessel, it symbolises the union of your two lives.

M & J pour their sand into the vessel they have chosen for this purpose.

When complete, Ishara continues..

Ishara:           M & J, just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the individual vessels – so will your marriage be a moulding of two individual personalities, bonded together forming one heart, one love. The life that each of you experienced up to now, individually, will hereafter be inseparably united, for the two shall become one.

               I now invite you to seal your commitment in the traditional way with a kiss.

M & J kiss

Ishara:           M and J, your betrothal represents a commitment to deepening the intimacy between you and to working together to build a clear vision of the marriage relationship that you seek to co-create.  I would invite you to use the time between now and your marriage ceremony to cultivate a lively curiosity that will lead you to continue to learn more about each other and deepen the mutual appreciation and respect which is already present between you.

  1. Reading – ‘Marriage is A Journey You Take Together’ by Erin McGraw
  1. Walking the marriage journey – the third circling

Ishara:           M and J, as you are now united in your hearts and minds, I will invite you to take a third turn around the bower, this time arm in arm, representing the journey that you take together from this point onwards.

M and J circle the bower a third and final time.

M & J, I now ask you to seal this commitment by joining hands and repeating these words:

 “We swear, by peace and love to stand
Heart to heart and hand in hand
Mark O Spirit, and hear us now
confirming this our Sacred Vow”

M and J repeat the vow together.

  1. A Final blessing  – ‘Keep your passion alive’ by Shaman Ochaum Climbing Eagle

End of Ceremony.


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