Home Is Where the Heart Is

As a child growing up in the days before VCRs, DVD players, and cable TV, I looked forward to the yearly opportunity to watch The Wizard of Oz when it was broadcast on network television. Besides the fact that the tornado footage frightened me even more than the witch and her flying monkeys, I always got completely caught up in Dorothy’s adventures as she and her friends followed that yellow brick road.

Near the end of the story, Dorothy is sent back from Oz to Kansas after she closes her eyes and repeats, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” When she awakens in her bedroom surrounded by her family, one of the lessons Dorothy says she has learned is that if she ever wants to go looking for her heart’s desire, she will look no further than her own backyard. As a child I never knew what she meant by that. Recently, though, I thought of Dorothy, her heart’s desire, and of what we can find in our own backyards. And then I thought of Katie and Jered’s wedding.

This past weekend, I officiated at a wedding ceremony for Katie and Jered. During the months in which we discussed their ceremony script, there were many things I learned to enjoy about them as a couple. But one of the loveliest things about the ceremony itself was the significance of the location.

Katie and Jered had decided early on in their planning that they wanted to have their wedding ceremony in the backyard of her parents’ home, which used to be her grandparents’ home. They decided to do this, at least in part because this is the same backyard where, thirty-three years ago this month, Katie’s parents Bob and Maggie were married.

At wedding ceremonies we celebrate, among other things, that two people have found someone with whom they can share their hearts and make a home. Of course, Katie and Jered and Bob and Maggie did not find their heart’s desire in that backyard, but it was there that they celebrated the treasure, the desire of their hearts, found in one another. What a fabulous reminder that our love for one another is truly sacred, right in the midst of our everyday lives, even in our own backyards.

Honoring the Deceased in Your Wedding Ceremony

Weddings are filled with memories and emotions for most of their participants. This is especially true if someone who was close to the bride or groom has died, and even more so if the death occurs within a few months of the date of the wedding.

For this reason, I always ask couples if there is someone whom they would like to remember in their ceremony. This can be done by simply mentioning the name of those who have died as part of the introductory remarks. Some couples prefer that I add a few words about the one who has died, describing the significant role she or he played in their lives. Other couples place photos in the ceremony area, light candles, or have special flowers in memory of those who have died.

At Dana and Mark’s wedding last September, Dana chose to have her father’s saxophone up front in the ceremony area as a symbolic representation of his spirit. Personal touches like this can help you to symbolize your ongoing connection to the one who has died.

Whatever you may choose to do, the goal is not to distract from a joyful celebration of a marriage, but to acknowledge the love and significance of those who, though deceased, continue to be alive in the hearts and minds of the bride and groom and their families.

Green Is Beautiful

We are living in a time of rising eco-consciousness, which is just fine with me. Every aspect of our lives needs to be examined, possibly challenged, and often changed so that we may all learn how to live in a more sustainable way, thus ensuring a healthy planet for future generations.

And this includes weddings. For many of us, considering the environmental impact of our actions is still new and unfamiliar territory. Thankfully, there are plenty of people who have been giving this subject lots of thought. Search for “green weddings” on the web and you will see what I mean.

I was delighted to discover that one of the couples at whose wedding ceremony I will be officiating in June is among those who are leading the way for the rest of us. Leah’s blog not only has suggestions for brides and grooms who want to make their weddings a little greener, but she also rates the suggestions in terms of which are the most economical. Enjoy!


Flower Power

Last year in May I officiated at a wedding which was running late due to a sudden nasty storm that blew in at exactly the wrong moment. It took about forty-five minutes for the venue staff to move things indoors and for the DJ to dry off his equipment. Mostly everyone took it in stride, although I know it was a little bit stressful for the bride and groom. Overall, the wedding party was able to adjust to the changes easily enough.

Except for the flower girl. When it came time for her to walk down the much shorter aisle than what had been rehearsed outside, she carefully walked forward, took petals one at a time out of her basket and dropped them to the floor. When she arrived at the front of the room where the bridal party was assembled, she turned around and started back down the aisle, still carefully taking one petal at a time from her basket. She was half way to the back of the room when I realized what she was doing. She thought that her job would not be finished until she had emptied the basket completely of those rose petals. And, by golly, she was going to do just that! So when she got to the back of the room, she turned around again to head up the aisle. Well, by this time we were all grinning and giggling, and some of the guests started snapping photos of this very serious and conscientious flower girl. When she got to the front a second time, her mother intervened and the bride was finally able to make her long-awaited appearance.

This lovely young lady was just another reminder that when children are a part of a wedding ceremony, you should be ready for anything to happen! If you prefer that things be predictable or more formal, then you may want to think twice before including children in your wedding party. It can become way too stressful for both you and the child. But if you can go with the flow and are open to the surprises (and delights) that children in weddings can bring, then by all means include them in your ceremony!

From the Sacred to the Mundane: Outdoor Weddings, Part Deux

OK, so a few years back I attended an outdoor wedding that took place at high noon in 95-degree heat on the first Saturday in July at a city in the lower Midwest. The concept was creative and a little risky: the bridesmaids and the bride arrived by canoe, one at a time on the shore of a peaceful lake. The rest of us, the guests, Celebrant, groomsmen and groom all waited patiently in the hot sun, waving away the buzzing insects with the thoughtfully provided fans.

What was in short supply, however, was shade. Someone’s grandfather, in a wheelchair and with his portable oxygen supply, wasn’t looking so good, even before the bride made it to the shore. As for me, the redhead-by-nature with super-pale skin: I kept hoping for a quick ceremony so I could rush back to the shade and AC of my ’97 Chevy Prizm.

Well, as it turns out, the bride and bridesmaids arrived without a hitch, and the wedding ceremony itself was just lovely. But my experience as a guest at this ceremony informs me now as I talk with couples who are planning outdoor ceremonies. I encourage them to go ahead and plan the wedding of their dreams, but be sure to consider the needs of their guests in the process. Tents, pavilions, parasols, fans, and even providing sunscreen can go a long way toward helping everyone relax and celebrate your big day when you have chosen the great outdoors to be your wedding chapel!

Outdoor Weddings

I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of nature, especially in the seasons of transition, fall and spring. I suppose that’s why so many couples prefer to be married outside, even couples who aren’t necessarily the “outdoorsy” types. You just can’t beat Mother Nature’s décor!

Yet, I suspect there might be something else going on, as well. Once, while riding on a ski lift with a friend, both of us were absolutely awestruck by the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. She commented softly, “It’s hard to not believe in God in a place like this.” The sense of the sacred was inescapable.

Perhaps celebrating wedding ceremonies outdoors helps many of us to recognize the sacred act being performed when two people join their lives in committed love. The beauty and peacefulness that so many of us experience in nature helps us to quiet our noisy lives for a moment or two, hopefully long enough to see a glimpse of the sacred in this powerful moment between these two human beings taking the leap of faith that is a marriage.

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