Matt and I didn’t really know going into this what we wanted to do for the ceremony. We figured something simple, preferably without too much specific religious context as neither of us are Christian, and we take our words seriously enough to not want things we don’t believe as part of our wedding.
A friend introduced us to Lisa, a minister or priestess depending on her mood, who is also a henna artist. This worked out well since we wanted henna for the wedding (more on that part later). Many people who do a non-traditional type weddings think having their dad to give them away reinforces gender stereotypes, implies women are property, you know. I don’t disagree, but I wanted my dad to walk me down the isle.
The Ceremony was vaguely pagan: half earth religion half Buddhist, which worked out perfectly for us. Everyone in the bridal party carried something in. Jen got the chalice – for the goddess, Amy carried the red cord – for the union, Kim had bread to represent earth, and another Kim had sparkling grape juice, representing water.
Frances is carrying a glass full of feathers for air, Jack has a candle for fire, Brian the blade for the god and Greyson has a chime, to represent divinity and because it sounds pretty.
The zoo actually has a nice “stage” sort of area, which was the perfect place to stand and get married. Probably not what it’s built for.
All the people holding elements had a reading, which we forgot to tell them until the day before. Jack had a hard time not laughing, which I liked because I was also feeling pretty giggly.
Kim read water. That’s her container with the sparkling grape juice in it.
Greyson was ready to ring the chime, which he got to do every time Lisa (or anyone I suppose) said “So mote it be.”
He also led everyone there by hitting the chime at the end when we were officially married. As part of their wedding favor, everyone had little silver bells. The rest of the favor was a box of animal crackers, which seemed appropriate.
There was a lot of kissing, which was good. Overall, the ceremony was very casual and happy, which is exactly what we would have planned for if we’d had any idea how to do so. Fortunately Lisa’s a pro.
Since I told everyone ahead of time that the wedding was slightly pagan, I think some of our family were apprehensive about what they were in for, but it was an inclusive, non-threatening celebration. Nobody seemed worried by the end.
After the elemental readings, we joined hands in the infinity symbol (which my geeky side got a kick out of) and Lisa tied our hands with a red cord to symbolize blood (because it makes us family).
I’d never really thought of where the expression “tied the knot” came from, but I liked the symbolism of being bound together like that, so I’m glad we were able to include it in our wedding.
We wanted to keep our wedding simple, and I think this was, but instead of abandoning tradition entirely, we ended up including several traditions. I think it worked out much nicer this way. When we were floundering around trying to decide what to do, I was a little worried that it would end up being so casual it would feel like we weren’t taking it seriously. We were lucky to have someone to lend us better ideas.
After the red cord was nicely knotted, Lisa said we were married, MARRIED, but we still had a few more things to do as part of the ceremony.
Next came the vows and exchange of rings. Matt’s sister Jen carried his ring in, wearing it on her thumb I think, and my brother carried mine in on his pinky. That doesn’t have any particular significance, but I like it.
When I think of getting married, this is the part of the ceremony I’ve always linked to making it reality.
I guess it’s something to do with the physical symbol, something beyond words. Our wedding was that it was packed full of such tangible significance.
I’m laughing here because when it was my turn to ring Matt, he initially gave me his right hand, and it took us both a second to figure out what was wrong. Lisa actually designed the henna on my left hand to have a gap where the ring would go, but Matt’s hand didn’t have a cheat sheet.
After the rings, we took the chalice and the blade.
I guess this is called the Great Rite, another symbolic physical thing. The god is the blade. The goddess is the chalice. You figure it out.
After the Great Rite we had our symbolic “first meal” where we fed each other bread and wine, aka sparkling grape juice.
The grape juice by the way was for a few reasons. One, while they probably would have made an acception for the ceremony, the zoo has a policy about all alcohol being served by zoo staff. Two, I actually really dislike the taste of wine. Three, since we wanted this to be a kid friendly wedding, every table had some sparkling grape juice so the kids could join in on the toasts and general drinking festivities. This first drink was much trickier than we expected because Matt is literally more than a foot taller than I am. We got it figgured out eventually though, and then it was on to jumping the broom.
We landed on our feet.
After that, we were married, in every legal, actual, spiritual, whatever sense.
In fact that’s what I kept whispering to Matt all night: “We’re married!”
*Photos by Willow Rosen unless labled: Morgan, in which case they’re by Matt’s brother in law, Morgan.
Related: Wild Wedding – Part 1