That’s it, you’ve decided to have a secular ceremony! You’re overexcited, like little kids on Christmas Eve. You’re also slightly nervous because of the endless list of elements you’ll have to consider. If you can rely on a professional’s help and expertise, no worries, you will be coached throughout the process and you’ll be able to relax. Yes, but… some fundamental steps are going to require more thoughts than others. I am thinking of symbolic rituals in particular.
What’s a symbolic ritual?
If you regularly follow my blog, you already know what it is. In a nutshell, it is a symbolic act that you can carry out during your ceremony to affirm your commitment. Through meaningful gestures, you will be able to express your commitment. A symbolic ritual can be carried out by the couple, with the participation of family, best man/maid of honor or loved ones, but also in a collective way by having the guests participate.
I gave a few examples of widely known rituals, without going into too much detail. Because my goal is not to provide a comprehensive set of existing rituals. Just as I don’t ask couples I meet to pick a ritual out of a list, like browsing through a catalogue.
The value of a symbolic ritual
Above all, a ritual is a symbol. The symbol of a union, of a relationship, of a message, of something strong that binds the couple. And this symbol must have meaning for the newlyweds-to-be (or the parents if this is a baptism).
On that note, rituals are not for everybody. Some couples do not identify at all with these types of symbols. Rest assured that there are other ways to personalize your ceremony. And it’s best to feel comfortable with yourself and your beloved in this very important moment.
Actually, I don’t think that it’s necessary a good thing to think about including a symbolic ritual too early in your wedding preparation. There is a process to follow to create a ceremony and to give it meaning. Pondering symbolism is a step that comes after an outline has already been decided. And only once a couple has managed to express the meaning of their commitment and that the officiant has understood it.
How can you find a symbolic ritual that is truly meaningful?
By searching the web, you will find lots of ideas for rituals. Maybe one will resonate with you or perfectly embody the theme of your wedding. That’s great! At that point, it is up to the officiant to find the best ways to personalize it, depending on what this gesture means to you. And it is also the officiant’s job to find the right words to present this ritual, to explain its true meaning and to find its rightful place in the ceremony. Remember that you can do whatever you want, it’s your ceremony! It would be a shame to take up a pre-written ritual off the internet, wouldn’t it?
Another option, one towards which I tend to steer my couples: the creation of one-of-a-kind ritual(s). Because your ceremony, just like you and your story, should be. It is such a meaningful moment in one’s life, it should reflect what you are and what you want to share that day. Nowadays, it is the role of an officiant worthy of their name: to always search a bit further, to give their creativity free reign, to dare to imagine something really special. Agreed, it’s not always easy! But that’s what a quality wedding planning can bring forth. It means that the officiant needs to do their best to understand the couple, their wishes, their personality, their style. It is by walking the path together that we can create a ritual that is truly meaningful. And not merely picking one that “looks nice”, to “fill” the ceremony, or “because everyone does it”.
We can only choose one symbolic ritual then?
Not at all! You can go far with symbolism. If you want to express several things, to honor your union but also to make your guests participate, you can absolutely include several rituals. The officiant will advise you on the best way to include them in the ceremony, so that it makes perfect sense.
Your ritual, your choice
You get it by now, choosing the symbolism to express during your celebration is not something you can just Google. There are key elements that need to make sense when you reflect on symbolism. And it is also, and mostly, the role of the officiant to guide you through it, step by step. The best ritual for you is the one that will have a deep meaning for you.