A Beautiful Ceremony

"I have united many Christians and Jews in marriage. It is important to recognize each other’s backgrounds as an integral part of your beloved. You are marrying a person not a project. Most rabbis and ministers will try and coerce couples toward their particular tradition. "

Rev. Dr. David Cole

World Wedding Traditions

There are so many meaningful wedding traditions to choose from. Each country has its own unique ambiance. This delightful international flavor can spice up your wedding. Embracing and celebrating your own cultural heritage is part of being American. It is an extraordinary way of honoring your family and truly making your wedding ceremony your own. The more you put into your wedding ceremony, the more you will cherish its sacred symbolism. The more you put into your wedding, the more memorable it will be to you and your guests. These selections are to help you, not to limit you. Dr. Cole encourages you to explore your own family history and discover your own traditions. These customizations and your own are available with the ROYAL WEDDING PACKAGE.

SCOTLAND “Kirking the Tartan”
This tradition harkens back to the highlands of Scotland. The English overlords had forbidden the clans to wear their own tartan. They considered these colorful plaids, representing the ancient family name, to be a banner for rebellion. The Scots, ever resourceful, found a way to keep the Tartan custom alive. When a couple would wed, strips of the family tartan were secretly used. The hand of the bride and groom were ritually bound to one another by gently wrapping the wrists together. The pastor would then bless or “kirk” the tartans (“Kirk” is Scottish for “Church”). This also symbolizes the joining together of two families to become one clan. If either the bride or groom has some Scottish blood this custom is highly appropriate. If families do not know their specific tartan, the Royal Stewart colors can represent all those of Scottish extraction. A Beautiful Ceremony has the Stewart Tartan and a beautiful selection of bagpipe music on CD. This is all included in the Royal Package.

IRISH Claddagh Ring
This is the traditional Irish Wedding Band. The Claddagh ring displays three beautiful symbols. The heart represents love, the crown means loyalty and the joined hands represent friendship. These symbols add meaning to the Exchange of Rings. The words for the exchange of rings can be customized to embody these emotions.

The Claddagh ring embodies great virtues—virtues that will strengthen a lifelong relationship. Scripture extols the virtues of the qualities. “LOVE is patient, love is kind, it is not arrogant or rude, and looks to the interest, not of self but others…. Love never fails.” The greatest FRIENDSHIP was expressed in the ultimate gift of love. Greater love hath no man, than to lay down his life for his friends. The wedding ring represents the rest of your lives that you are gladly sharing with each other as a gift of friendship. Love and friendship are fulfilled in LOYALTY. “Entreat me not to leave you or turn back from following you where you go, I will go, where you lodge I will lodge, your people shall be my people and your God my God…. May the Lord do thus and so and even more as well if anything but death separates me from you.”

HISPANIC Laso Ceremony
This tradition is similar to the Scottish Tradition in that the couple is symbolically bound together using a laso. A laso is like a big Rosary, which is about 5 foot in length. A white cord (plain or decorated) may also be used. Towards the end of the ceremony, the priest places it over the head of the bride and groom in a figure 8. There is a passage from the Bible that appears to have been handmade for this delightful ceremony. It is a time-honored custom in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central and South America.

Ecclesiastes 4
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
10 If one falls down,
the other can help him up.
But pity the one who falls
and has no one to help him up!
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

It should be obvious whom the third strand in the passage represents. Two are better than one. Three is better still! If God is the third partner then success is assured.

ORTHODOX Coronation Ceremony
The crown is an ancient symbol that is traditionally used in Orthodox Christian weddings. Christ the King rules not with an iron fist, but with iron nails in his hand. He rules with grace, love and with mercy. These crowns represent Christ's sovereignty over you both and signify that just as Christ is your sovereign so are you both King and Queen of your household. Accordingly, you should always treat each other royally--with mutual admiration and adoration. And all who enter your house should be received with royal hospitality and generosity.

Father Cole places crowns on heads. Blesses couple in name of Father, Son, Holy Spirit and says “Lord, our God, crown them with glory and honor.” Pastor and best man traditionally exchange crowns on couples head three times.

Unless you have access to the Crown Jewels, you may use costume crowns. Realistic crowns of medieval grandeur can be purchased or rented. Alternatively, you may fashion laurel wreaths or stylized crowns of any suitable foliage. Tiaras are also acceptable for the bride if a suitably masculine matching crown can be found for the groom.

The wedding that Christ attended in Galilee is recorded at the beginning of the Gospel of John. This was actually a Jewish Wedding, not a Christian one per se. Whether you are Christian or Jewish, these customs are intensely symbolic. They are a rich tribute to our shared heritage. In a Jewish ceremony, both the bride and the groom are given away. Both sets of parents participate and the mothers and fathers are included equally.

Ideally, a Jewish ceremony is performed outdoors. If indoors, the chuppah (decorative canopy pronounced “hoopa”) represents God’s creation. Accordingly, chuppahs are beautifully designed with heavenly bodies and natural features. During the ceremony seven members of the congregation pronounce blessings upon the bride and groom. The couple acknowledges each blessing by sipping from a chalice of wine.

After the vows comes the grand finale. With dramatic affect, the groom smashes the wine glass under his heal. There is no turning back, this represents the destruction of his old single life and the eager embracing of his new married life. (It also is said to symbolize the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.)

Dr. Cole has united many Christians and Jews in marriage. It is important to recognize each other’s backgrounds as an integral part of your beloved. You are marrying a person not a project. Most rabbis and ministers will try and coerce couples toward their particular tradition. Dr. Cole will respect them both. Securing both a rabbi and a minister is difficult and it costs twice as much. Not to mention, have you ever tried to get two reverends to cooperate on a ceremony? (Oi Vey!!!) One good compromise is to have Dr. Cole perform an entirely Jewish style ceremony.

© 2014 Rev. Dr. David Cole