One of my longtime friends got hitched this past weekend. Now I’ve been to my share of weddings, but her ceremony was a bit different from the other ones that I had previously attended. In addition to pouring sand into a jar, they also did a Celtic blessing followed by a broom jump. That was when I started to get curious: what did all of these different traditions mean? And were there others? After doing some research, I learned that there are all sorts of little rituals that one can do when tying the knot.
Sand Unity Ceremony: This tradition features two glass containers that are each filled with a different color of sand. The bride and groom then take turns pouring a layer of colored sand into one larger glass container until it is filled. The container is then sealed and kept as a keepsake and reminder of their special day. As for the meaning behind this, the different colors of sand represent the individual lives of the bride and groom. By combining the two different types of sand in the same jar in layers, the couple is “becoming one”, as the grains of sand can never again be separated.
Tea Ceremony: You don’t have to be of Asian origins to practice this popular ritual. Whether it’s for cultural reasons or you simply like the way it looks, this sacred ceremony is believed to bring happiness to the newlyweds and foster good relations between the bride and her in-laws. Legend has it that placing lotus seeds and two red dates in the teapot will bring children into the marriage early on. The groom’s family sits in chairs while the newlyweds kneel in front of them and serve tea, which is served in a special order: first the groom’s parents, proceeding from the oldest family members to the youngest. After everyone has been served, the bride and groom them receive red envelopes stuffed with money or jewelry. Cha-ching!
Broom Jumping Ceremony: Okay, so this isn’t like a scene out of “Bewitched” where the bride and groom ride off into the sunset together on a matching pair of brooms (but how fun would that be?) In this case, the bride and groom simply jump over a broom, which symbolizes a sweeping away of the past and welcoming of a new beginning together. The brooms remain on the ground, however, as the minister told us, “There have been accidents in the past.” Yikes.
Ring Warming Ceremony: This particular (and fairly new) ritual involves everyone at your ceremony. Towards the beginning, the bride and groom’s rings are handed out to their guests, giving each person a chance to hold the ring, say a silent prayer or blessing, and then hand it off to the next guest. This is supposed to form a sense of unity at the ceremony by collecting everyone’s loving energy and positive wishes for the new couple together.
Breaking the Glass: Most common at Jewish weddings, a glass is covered with cloth then broken by either the groom or the couple, followed by a communal “Mazel tov!” which means “good fortune.” This has numerous interpretations: some see it as a reminder of the destruction of the First Temple of Jerusalem, while others say it serves as a reminder that marriage is fragile like glass and that a couple should enjoy every day as if it were their last.