Equipment / Set Up:-
- Small round table with :-
- 1 bowl for stones,
three candles in jars, 2 thin taper candles & 2 gas-lighters or long matches,
- hand-held bell,
- cup of wine or mead
- 1 bowl for stones,
- Handfasting ribbons or cords
- Wireless microphone & p.a. system
- Music player
- Cake & knife
- Signing table
- Marriage certificates
- Pen for signing certificates
Stones distributed by the bride’s sisters as guest arrive and are seated.
“Family and friends, welcome! Please gather around. The ceremony is about to begin..”
Ceremonial arrival of the bride
Bride enters, accompanied by her parents and comes to stand beside the groom.
Introduction by Ishara
Ishara welcomes the bridal party, and then says…
“From the beginning of time, human beings have come together in circles of community to celebrate significant moments in our individual and shared lives. A ceremony, like this one, is a special kind of celebration. It offers us an invitation to pause and reflect upon the things which make life meaningful – our values, our hopes and dreams for ourselves and the ones we love.
“Today’s ceremony is intended to join K. and C. in the intimate union of marriage: to affirm the bond of love that has grown between them and seal the public commitment that they will be making to each other today.
“This is an important step for K. and C., one which feels so very right to them both….
“Today you will hear C. and K. make promises to love and care for each other as husband and wife. You will witness these promises sealed by the ancient Celtic rite of handfasting, the exchange of rings and by their first married kiss.
“Alongside the more traditional elements of their ceremony, our bride and groom have opted to incorporate some less well known wedding rituals. They will be jumping over a broomstick and a sword, symbolising their passage across the threshold into married life. They will light a marriage candle and drink from a shared cup, signifying their commitment to share the bitter and the sweet of life from this day forward. Their invitation to you is to allow yourself to be moved by the feeling and intention behind what you will witness here today.
“The ceremony will conclude with the signing of the marriage certificate, followed by the cutting of the wedding cake. You will then have your opportunity to offer the happy couple your personal congratulations, before the wedding party retires to have photographs taken.
Opening sacred space
“Ceremony works by creating a special time and space set apart from the ordinary doings of daily life. And so I would like to begin by inviting everyone to take a nice deep breath, and as you exhale, gently allow yourself to become aware of warmth of the day, the air on your skin and the solid feel of the ground under your feet. Take a look around at those who have gathered for this wedding. Let yourself appreciate all the love and good wishes that are assembled here today.
“Family and friends, at this time it seems appropriate that we also pause to call to mind those who are not able to be here with K. and C. at this special time. In particular we remember all of their grandfathers, and their dear friend R. They are forever present in our hearts.
Acknowledgement of the Four directions
Ishara – moving around the small table
“We will open our ceremony today as people have done since the beginning of time, by orienting ourselves in space with an acknowledgement of the four points of the compass.
“We begin with the east, where bird-song heralds the rising sun.” Picks up the bell, faces the east and says:- “Spirit of the East, powers of air, you who are thought and the wind upon our faces, I call upon and invite your presence to witness this rite.” …Rings bell
“And following the path of the sun, I turn to face the North, calling to mind the red dust of the iron-rich earth and the blazing heat of midday.” Picks up gas lighter, faces the north and says:- “Spirit of the North, powers of fire, you who are passion and the heat of the summer sun upon our skin, I call upon and invite your presence to witness this rite.”
“On to the west, where we remember the presence of the great Indian Ocean, blue-green waves lit by the final rays of the setting sun.” Picks up the cup, faces the west and says:- “Spirit of the West, powers of water, you who are emotions and pure love, I call upon and invite your presence to witness this rite.”
“And finally, I turn to the south, calling to mind the tall trees of our south-west forests and the myriad stars in the midnight blue sky.” Picks up a bowl of stones, faces the west and says:-“Spirits of the south, powers of earth, you who are the stable ground beneath our feet, the love and support of our family and friends, and the quiet nurture of restful sleep at the end of the day, I call upon and invite your presence to witness this rite.” Replaces stones on the table.
“As I face back to the centre, C. and K., the circle is cast. This is now sacred ground.”
Introduction to the Pebble Ceremony
“Family and friends, each of you has been invited here by K. and C. on this blessed afternoon because of the bonds of family and friendship which connect your lives to their own. Today life itself calls upon each of you to bear witness to this very special quality of love which has sprung up between these two people, C. and K., entwining itself like fine tendrils of green vine around each of their hearts, until neither of them can now imagine a life which does not include the other.
“Marriage is a bold undertaking, and one which I am sure you agree deserves the support of a loving circle of family and friends. As part of today’s wedding ceremony, we will be symbolically enacting this with the help of the tumbled stones you are now holding. Each stone will become a tangible symbol of your love and support – one that you can hold in your hand. Together they represent all the blessings, all the support, that you, their family and special friends, are willing to offer to C. and K. now and into the future.
“Does everyone have a stone? Excellent, then I invite you to hold your stone in your hand as the ceremony unfolds, and let all of the love and good feelings that are in your heart flow into it.”
Giving Away / Parents’ blessing
“Weddings are very much about families, and today’s is no exception. We have present here today, some very special people – these people have known K. and C. longer, and perhaps better, than anyone else. Through the years, C.’s mother and father, K.’s mother and father have shared their highs and lows, their hopes and frustrations, their joys and achievements.
“Parents will you please step forward? Who brings this woman to stand beside this man?”
Bride’s Parents: “We do!”
“And who brings this man to stand beside this woman?”
Groom’s Parents: “We do!”
“We are all here today to thank you and your partners and families for the love and support you have given C. and K. thus far in their lives, for your blessings of their union and for promising to be there for them in their future lives together.
“We have here two candles, representing the two family lines that come together today through the union of C. and K.. At this point I’m going to ask [names] to light one candle for the bride while [names] together light the other candle for the groom.”
The Parents light the candles.
“Congratulations to the four of you. If you would like to take a seat now..?”
Meaning of Marriage
“A wise man, the author Mark Twain, put it beautifully when he said: ‘A marriage makes of two fractional lives a whole; It gives to two lives a work and doubles the strength of each to perform it; It gives to two questioning natures a reason for living and something to live for; It will give a new gladness to the sunshine, a new fragrance to the flowers, a new beauty to the earth and a new mystery to life’
“I am the registered marriage celebrant, duly authorized by law to solemnize marriages according to law. KA and CHR, before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter. Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.
“C. and K., the choice that both of you have made – to stand here today and publicly make these promises to each other – holds the potential deepen your relationship in ways that are both subtle and profound. It gives a new status to your relationship in the eyes of the community and the law.
“Yet powerful as this act is, we all know that getting married is not enough to guarantee a long and happy future for your relationship. In many ways, the act of getting married is more than anything an acknowledgement that your individual lives have become so intertwined that henceforth whatever choices you may make as individuals – the small daily choices as well as the more obvious life-changing decisions – will inevitably impact on your partner, for better or worse. And so the challenge is to continue to make careful and loving decisions in the way you live your life together, day by day, month by month, year by year, for the rest of your lives.
Consent / The Asking
“This is not a step to be taken lightly. And so I must now ask you… C., do you come of your free will and with a conscious desire to be united in marriage with K. ?”
Groom: “I do.”
“K., do you come of your free will and with a conscious desire to be united in marriage with C.?”
Bride: “I do.”
Legal declaration / Vows
“Then I ask you now to declare your intention before these assembled witnesses. C., please repeat after me…
Groom: I call upon the people present here to witness that I, C.H.R., take you K.A. to be my lawful wedded wife.
Bride: I call upon the people present here to witness that I, K.A. take you C.H.R., to be my lawful wedded husband.
Exchange of Rings & Promises
“Do we have the rings?”
Rings are brought forward by the ring bearer.
“From ancient times, the exchange of rings has been a symbol of love given and received, the outward sign and seal of a marriage pact. Shaped in a circle, with no beginning and no end, the ring signifies spiritual union, the joining of two shared lives into a seamless whole.”
Holding hands over the rings in blessing, Ishara says.. “As the rain on the dark earth awakens the sleeping seeds to shoot, to put down roots and grow into their fullness, so may love’s mystery bless these rings as visible tokens of a love that will grow, deepen and flourish, and continue to feed the two of you in your lives together through the years ahead.
“C. and K., you stand here surrounded and supported by people who love you. Please take a nice slow deep breath, look into one another’s eyes and hearts. Allow yourselves to truly feel this moment. C., will you please take up the wedding ring that is your gift to K.?”
Groom does so
“As you hold this ring in your hand, allow yourself to feel all of the love that you feel for this woman. Now it is time for you to speak the truth of your heart to your beloved K.”
Groom: K., I knew you were something special from the moment I saw you.
I picked you out of the crowd as soon as I walked in the room.
Since that night my love for you has grown – past the point where i literally had to ask you to marry me.
And now i am so happy that i can… not only call you my wife
but also the mother of my child.
K., i love you with all my heart and soul.
Groom places ring on bride’s finger.
“And now it is your turn K.. Will you please take up the wedding ring that is your gift to C..” K. does so.
“As you hold this ring, let yourself feel all that is in your heart as you contemplate your beloved. Now is the moment for you to speak the truth of your heart to your beloved C.…”
Bride: “Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that our love will produce love in the loved person.
I knew I loved you from the moment we met and I told you 2 weeks after we started dating.
I wish to officially give my love to you today, then tomorrow and forever and it has always been for you since we met almost 6 years ago.
C. you will always be my love in this life and our many lives to come.
Thank you for choosing to take me on this life journey with you.”
K. places ring on C.’s finger.
“May the exchange of these rings set the seal on the promises you have just made to each other, and remain with you as a tangible reminder of the love and joy you each feel in this moment.”
“Our bride and groom have chosen to incorporate the ritual of handfasting into today’s ceremony. The ceremonial binding of their hands symbolises the union of their two lives. Handfasting is an ancient celtic marriage custom.” Ishara picks up ribbons from the table and holds them up. “Together these two ribbons will become a symbol of an enduring love and commitment which unites these two individuals into a single shared life in marriage.”
“Up until this moment, you have been separate in thought, word and action. As your hands are bound together by this cord, so too, shall your lives be bound as one. Now please join your hands, left to left, symbolizing your heart to heart union.”
Ishara ties the ribbons around the joined hands.
“C. and K., as your hands are bound together now,
so your lives and spirits are joined in a union of love and trust.
Above you are the stars and below you is the earth.
Like the stars let your love be a constant source of light,
and like the earth, a firm foundation from which to grow.”
Ishara then helps them to carefully remove their hands from the handfasting ribbons without untying the knot.
Jumping the sword & broomstick.
“The next part of our ceremony is a contemporary neo-pagan twist on an old Romany wedding tradition involving jumping over a besom or broom stick. The sword plays an important role in old Viking wedding traditions, where it represents both strength and valour and connection to the ancestors. Today our couple will jump over a sword and broom while holding hands. The sword is symbolic of cutting ties with the old life before they were together and the broom represents the old remnants being swept away. The leap that the couple takes over the broom and sword is also symbolic.
M. (the best man) can I have your assistance with the sword please?
to the guests:- Please bear with us as we get set up for the big leap….
Best Man & Ishara organise cloth on the ground with sword and broom on top of it.
“Starting a new life with another person does require a ‘leap of faith’. But by taking the leap, C. and K. make a gesture of dedication to working together through the tough times ahead and the willingness to care for and defend one another. C. and K., I now invite you to take this leap together.”
C. & K. leap the broomstick & sword.
Ishara & M. then gather these up again.
Introduction to the elemental blessings
“The world was once thought to be composed of the four basic elements of water, fire, earth and air. Although modern science has differentiated many more elements, the original model of four elements still maintains a powerful symbolism in the human imagination evoking both internal states and emotions and our ancient connection to the forces of nature.
“In this final segment of today’s ceremony, K. and C. have chosen to use the four elements – fire, water, air and earth – to bless and seal their marriage relationship. They will be lighting a candle together, drinking from a shared cup, hearing the wedding bell ring, and finally, receiving the stones that symbolise all your love and blessings upon this union.
“We begin with fire, and the lighting of the unity candle.”
C. and K. move to stand where they can reach the candle.
“Today, we ask the blessings of fire upon this marriage, that the infinite light and warmth of the divine shine out from this union. C. and K., the candles lit by your parents represent your family lines. Please take the light from your family candles, and together light the centre candle to symbolize your marriage and the creation of a new family through your union here today.”
Bride and groom do so, then place the tapers back into their holders—join hands and remain near the candles
“As this new flame burns undivided, so may the flame of passion burn long and steady in your marriage, passion tempered always with love.”
“And now to the blessings of water. Water is life, and water shared is life shared. Flowing water can wear away stone. Symbolically, water is associated with everything within us that is pure, fluid and flowing, especially the free flow of emotions. ”
Ishara pours the drink into the cup and then offers it to the couple.
“C. & K., as you share this cup of spring wine, may you know the blessing of emotional sensitivity and resilience, flexibility and perseverance to carry you through any difficulties you may encounter along the way. So now, please drink to the love you have shared in the past.”
K. & C. take turns to offer each other the cup to sip from.
“Drink to your love in the present, on this your wedding day.”
K. & C. take turns to offer each other the cup to sip from.
“And drink to your love in the future and forever more.”
K. & C. take turns to offer each other the cup to sip from.
“As you have shared the wine from this Loving Cup, so may you share your lives. May you find life’s joys heightened, it’s bitterness sweetened, and all of life enriched by the mystery of Love and the blessings of your family and friends.”
“C. and K. you have publicly pledged your intent to live together as husband and wife, symbolized by the giving and receiving of rings and blessed by the love of those who have gathered this day to witness your vows. It is my joy and privilege to pronounce you husband and wife. You may seal your marriage with a kiss.”
K. and C. share their first married kiss. While Ishara rings the bell.
Blessing of the stones
“Family and Friends, you have heard K. and C. commit themselves to each other to live together as husband and wife from this day forth. Now it is your turn to add your blessings to this union.
“Earth is the solid ground beneath our feet which supports and holds us up. The blessings of earth are the gift of physical form, the fertile ground, the food to sustain our bodies. Our greatest support, our true riches in this life, are the friendships and family relationships which sustain us through good times and bad. So it is appropriate that the blessings of earth upon this marriage should be symbolised by the small stones which you are all holding in your hands.
“Does everyone have a stone? Can I ask you please to hold your stone in your hand for a moment, as we all focus on the special feelings that we have about K. and C. and the promises that they have just made to each other… Really concentrate on all of the good wishes and blessings you would like to offer them. Feel it like a warm glow in your heart.
“And now I invite you to use the power of your imagination to place your blessing into the pebble. Imagine that all of the warm feelings that are in your heart for C. and K. on this special day are flowing into this little pebble, energetically charging up like a little battery until it fairly glows with love. You may like to give it an extra squeeze or perhaps hold it against your heart as you do this.
“And now if I can ask the designated person to pass the bowl around and gather up all the stones.”
Brief musical interlude while stones are gathered up. Bowl is passed from hand to hand, Ishara to prompt the person at the back to pass it across to the other side if needed.
Taking up bowl of stones, Ishara says:- “C. and K., please accept the gift of these stones which represent the caring support that is always there for you in the circle of community which surrounds you today, and through all the days of your marriage.”
Signing of the Register
“Thank you for your patient attention. We are nearly done. If I can please ask for your patience for a few moments more while K. and C. and their two witnesses sign the marriage certificates., and then I believe we have one final surprise in store.”
Music while certificates are signed by K. and C., the two witnesses and Ishara.
Once signed, Ishara presents the marriage certificate to K. and C. with her congratulations. – Photo moment – then Ishara put certificate away.
Cutting of the Cake
“Now as C. and K. don’t do things traditionally (their words of course), we will now be cutting the wedding cake and during your time of congratulating the newly married couple you will be welcome to help yourself to a slice of cake and glass of champagne. Can I ask you all to stand up and move to the front of the gazebo…”
K. & C. ceremonially cut the cake together using C.’s sword. Function centre staff will be on hand to do the further cutting & serving of cake.
Congratulations & Presentation to Family & Friends
” Family and Friends, it is my pleasure and privilege to present to you the newly married couple… I am sure you are all keen to offer them your personal congratulations, beginning with immediate family members… “