Saturday, June 16, 2012

Notes on unusual weddings

Firstly, we were very, very fortunate to be on the same page with our relatives.  They were endlessly generous and helpful, and very open-minded.  So we pretty much named our ticket in terms of decor and ceremony.  Not everyone is so fortunate, but there's always ways to work in something different.

  • Location - if you have an nontraditional location, nontraditional ceremonies tend to follow!  We used university facilities, having the ceremony in a Geology museum that has been around since the 19th century.  It wasn't a "normal" location, so our guests were ready for anything.
  • Script - before our officiant started the ceremony, we had a little "nota bene", a small outline to the guests saying what he would say and when, what would happen in the course of our ceremony, etc.  This took all of 30 seconds (this was a small ceremony), and reassured anyone who was put off by all the bones and specimens, and didn't know what to expect.  Don't be afraid to let your folks know what's coming - try to look at your ceremony and other wedding/union stuff from an outsider's perspective. 
  • Research - comb libraries, trawl the net, and above all, look at documents first.  Googling, say "humanist wedding ceremonies" or something similar can be a good starting point, but when I did it, I found a lot of repetition.  There's a lot of texts that can be made weddingable.  Who are your favorite writers, and how were they on the topics of love, trust, friendship, etc.?  Look outside of the "first hits" on search engines or heavily anthologized works if you feel stalled.
  • Examine everything:  is there a religious spiritual tradition you like anyway?  We really liked the unity candle and wine glass breaking.  My personal feeling is that if you learn about the original tradition, and tell people you're aware of the origins and the way you've changed it, you may offset the issues of appropriation.  But be sensitive.  Our geode smashing ceremony was taken as charming and (of course) unusual.  Again, we were lucky!  Mileage varies, naturally, but communicate with people so they know you didn't just play cultural tourist.

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