Every time I officiate at a wedding ceremony I am awed by the extraordinary energy that becomes available when two people in love literally step up to commit themselves to sacred union. As an interfaith minister, I am frequently called upon to solemnize marriage vows outside of traditional religious settings, and I have seen time and again that a holy temple can be created anywhere love is present.
Although many of us grew up attending traditional weddings, in churches, synagogues and temples, in recent years we have seen the emergence of a new type of wedding, where couples marry outside of a formal house of worship. Because of the increase in interfaith pairings and also an increase in couples seeking non-denominational wedding services and the growing numbers of same-sex unions, modern couples often opt for ceremonies that are non-traditional, personal and unique.
Whether the ceremony includes a blending of religious traditions, or not, most every couple wants their ceremony to be sacred.
Many couples relish the idea of a memorable and special sacred ceremony - but they want to tread lightly on some of the traditions and trimmings that relatives with strong religious beliefs would find upsetting or offensive. They also want ceremonies that are welcoming to loved ones and can easily include the participation of friends and family.
The modern sacred love wedding ceremony is one that has to be crafted by and for each individual couple. It's rarely something you can just pull out of a book. It's personalized, and has to include elements that will help that couple truly seize on the energy of the moment - such as creating a sanctified space that is like a sacred container for their love and vows. It doesn't have to look like a classic Jewish or a Christian Ceremony, or Hindu ceremony or a Buddhist ceremony or seem like a reenactment of the sacred love ceremonies of ancient times. It can be a groom in a tux and a bride in white who walks down the aisle or a shoeless couple on a beach. It may be two grooms or two brides, and it can contain elements or rituals of existing traditional or non-traditional ceremonies. It can include any religious, spiritual, cultural or family traditions the couple chooses. The main ingredient is their love and their conscious intent to express that love to one another - and share it with their community -in a way that is holy and sacred to them personally.
Some things to consider as you plan and prepare for your sacred love ceremony:
1. Select an auspicious the time and date. In the Eastern traditions such as Hinduism and Buddhism wedding dates are decided upon with the assistance of professional astrologer. It is firmly believed marriage rites should occur on a day that reflects the most astrologically favorable aspects for love and commitment for both partners. Many modern couples ask western astrologers to suggest dates.
2. Arrange for a meaningful venue. Love between a couple is what creates a temple - anywhere. Pick a place that is personally meaningful and sacred. Many couples are married in the same local as the ceremony - in a room or area set off from the reception Hall. Let it be a place that represents the spirit of your relationship, and that lends itself to the kind of celebration you would like to have.
3. Choose the wedding officiant that is a good fit. Find a loving, caring, supportive clergy person that you feel a connection to. If your family clergy person is open-minded and game, by all means ask that person to officiate or co-officiate with a clergy person that represents your in-law's faith. There is also a growing profession of non-denominational officiants and interfaith ministers who are trained to create any kind of personalized ceremony. Many of them are hip, open-minded and willing to co-create the ceremony you truly want.
4. Create and speak sacred vows. A couple's expression of love and commitment can be expressed throughout the ceremony yet the exchange of vows is the hallmark of a sacred love ceremony. It's important to really give the vows some thought, and be willing to speak from the heart and soul. Contained within those vows are the seeds of dreams to come true, intentions for a sacred marriage and deep declarations of love. It is particularly meaningful when the couple writes and reads their vows to one another.
5. Celebrate your souls and your soul connection. In sacred love ceremonies, the emphasis is on an even greater spiritual connection between the couple--but that does not necessarily mean "religious." Rather than relying on "God or Goddess above" to create and strengthen their union, the couple is empowered to see their own divinity and the divine light within each other.
6. Keep an eye toward marriage, not just the wedding. It is so important to fully utilize the wedding ceremony as not just the start of the big wedding celebration, but as a true rite of passage that takes the couple to the next level of their love and gives their relationship a strong foundation to build on over time.
7. Know that love is the most sacred bond of all. Every wedding is a sacred event that holds profound meaning and potential for the two who come before Divine Spirit and witnesses to declare their love. The sacred love ceremony gives marriage an extraordinary start. It is a way to honor soul mates, whether they are male and female, or share the same sex, and whether they are from the same faith and cultural backgrounds, or born worlds apart. There is nothing more sacred than two people uniting in the spirit of committed love.
"There is a unique anticipation that fills the hearts of every couple, and the hearts of those who come to witness their sacred union. While it has been experienced by so many people in love, throughout the ages, it is a moment in time that is unique and unto itself. Your wedding ceremony experience will be your unique moment in time!"
- Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway, Wedding Goddess