Simple Ceremony, Special Touches

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Last weekend, I officiated a private wedding for Fabio and AnnMarie, a terrific North/South American Couple. Although the wedding ceremony was simple and planned on short notice, I was impressed by how a number of small, but meaningful, embellishments really made the ceremony extra special for the innovative couple.

The bride and groom were accompanied by five loved ones, who carefully arranged a circle of roses in which the bride and groom stood to take their vows. This is a popular trend with beach weddings, but with a dozen or two inexpensive bouquets from any local bodega, the custom can be deployed to a landlocked wedding. In addition to exchanging the vows within the circle of flowers, the couple also did a “first dance,” in the area following the ceremony. Their selection? “What a Difference a Day Makes.” These days, with an IPod and portable speaker, any elopment can boast music for the “processional,” “recessional,” and “reception!”

AnnMarie and Fabio looked for some nifty ways to include their guests in the ceremony. The bride proposed a communal ring blessing. Before the rings were exchanged, the bands were passed slowly around to each guest, who warmed the rings with their hands and hearts, offering silent good wishes for the couple’s future. I was also very impressed that one of the guests penned and read a poem especially for the day.

I, too, came with a few tricks up my sleeve. In honor of the groom’s South American heritage, I modified a familiar coin sharing ritual often used in traditional Catholic ceremonies, of Latin background. The traditional ceremonial element goes something like this: The groom brings 13 coins which are blessed by the priest. The groom then offers the coins with his bride as a symbol of his willingness to support his new bride. The bride then returns the coins to her beloved, as a sign of her desire to share what she has with the groom. I reconfigured the ritual bit using 13 international coins, collected from my own travels, including a number from Central America. I suggested the bride and groom add “my” coins to their box of wedding mementoes, as a reminder of our shared experience. We finished off with a special wedding cake, from my new favorite bakery Two Little Red Hens and a champagne toast. We capped it off with a video message of thanks from the bride and groom to their loved ones in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, as well as a toast offerend by the best man (who is newly engaged, I learned!).

I have long believed that necessity is the mother of invention and that brides and grooms faced with budget and time constraints will always rise to meet the occasion–in style. This was certainly the case with AnnMarie and Fabio! Bravo!