Wedding with Civil Marriage Celebrant Ishara de Garis held on Bennion Beach, Trigg in Western Australia
The bride’s mother and the groom’s mother each brought 5 ribbons to the wedding, which were then distributed to five family members on each side of the family to tie around the couple’s joined hands with a blessing in a ritual gesture of ‘handfasting’. At the start of the ceremony, all the guests were invited to pick up a shell from the beach and hold it in their hands for the duration. At the end of the wedding ceremony these shells were then presented to the newly weds with love and blessings for a long and happy future together.
Extracts from the ceremony:-
Opening the ceremony space
Ishara: How vast, deep and mysterious the sea is, its tides rising and falling with the pull of the moon. Out of its waters, scientists tell us, the earliest life-forms emerged – making the ocean the original mother of us all. The waves of this Indian Ocean lap on the shores of Africa, Antartica, Asia and Australia, connecting peoples of many different languages, cultures and religions. The beach is an ‘edge’ place, where land, sea and sky meet. I personally have always loved the beach at any time of year, in any weather, for the sense that I get as I stand at ocean’s edge of being a very small being in an immensely big world
Six years ago our groom travelled thousands of kilometres around the world and over oceans from his native Germany to reach Western Australia. Here he would eventually meet our bride, the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Our bride and groom tell me that they first really got to know each other at the beach, and that is part of the reason for their choice of setting for their wedding.
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 today’s proceedings by inviting us all to take some slow deep breaths, and allow ourselves to become fully present in this time and place. I invite you to consciously take this opportunity to open your senses to the warmth of the sun on your skin, the sounds of the sea in your ears, the wide sky above us and the sand under our feet.
A wedding is a joyous occasion and a time of great thanks-giving. At a wedding we celebrate that two dear people have found a mature and lasting love. So now, as we pour out this vessel of sea water onto the sand in honour of the beauty and wonder of this place where earth and sea meet, and in gratitude for the love that our bride and groom have found together. I invite you to pause for a moment of silent thanksgiving.
Ishara pours out some sea water onto the sand.
Ishara: (to the guests)
As part of this wedding ceremony, each one of you is invited to find a shell from this beach, or one that you have brought with you, to gift to the bride and groom, in token of your support for their marriage.
Does everyone have a shell? If not can you please look around you on the beach and find one. It does not need to be big, a little shell will do just fine.
Family and friends, marriage is a bold undertaking, and one which I am sure you
agree needs and deserves the support of a loving circle of family and friends.
Each one of you has been invited here by our bride and groom on this blessed
morning because of the bonds of family and friendship which connect your lives
to their own. Today you are called to bear witness to the love that has grown
between these two people 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.
It means a great deal to them to have your support and blessings, and to
symbolise this, you are asked to hold this little shell in your hands as the
ceremony unfolds, and then, when the moment comes, to offer it to them with
Together these shells will represent all the blessings, all the support, that you,
their family and special friends, are willing to offer to our bride and groom through
all the days, months and years of their marriage, for the rest of their lives
I will let you know when the time comes for us to gather up all the shells. In
the meantime, I invite you to hold your shell in your hand and let all of the love
and good feelings that are in your heart flow into it.
Reflections from the bride and groom after the ceremony
“Our friends and family came and said to us how much they enjoyed our ceremony. I think they felt proud of us for doing it a little bit differently in a way that truly reflected us.” Bride
“It was a very good decision to choose you Ishara as our celebrant and the process was warmer and nicer than expected.” Groom