J acqueline and Frank were a perfect couple to work with. Both special education teachers in New Jersey, they had a kind, gracious attitude that was infectious. Having witnessed a Celebrant-led ceremony at the wedding of Jackie’s sister, they embraced the possibilities of acknowledging the bride’s Catholic heritage and the groom’s Persian background, as well as their mutual commitment to Buddhist principles in daily living. In addition to these rituals, there were traditional hallmarks of a celebrant wedding including a re-telling of the couple’s romantic story and personal wedding vows.
In honor of Jackie’s Christian upbringing, the couple chose to do a unity candle lighting, often connected with both Protestant and Catholic Services. I included one of my favorite quotations for the ritual: “From every being there rises a light that shines in the universe and when two people are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together, and a single brighter light goes forth from their united being.”
We got creative with Persian rituals. Among the items usually included in the Sofre-ye-Aghd, the elaborate spread of food and decorations, is a bowl of silver of gold coins, representing the future prosperity of the bride and groom. Frank and Jackie chose to leave coins on the seat of each guest. At one point during the ceremony, we invited the guests to participate in the ceremony by holding the coins and intentionally imbuing them with good intentions for the couple’s new life together. The coins were collected at the end of the ceremony and will decorate their home.
Second, we incorporated the practice of sharing honey as an additional unity ritual. Like many traditions, Persians encourage the couple to share food and drink. Jackie and Frank dipped their pinky—part of this Muslim custom—in the honey, and fed it to each other. Obvious in symbolism, it magnifies the sweetness of their life together.
Finally, the Buddhist homily below emphasizes the bride and groom’s commitment to loving kindness and full acceptance of themselves and their partner.
Nothing happens to this man and woman accidentally, but is the foreordained. This tie can therefore not be broken or dissolved.
In the future, happy occasions will come as surely as the morning. Difficult times will come as surely as the night.
When things go joyously, meditate according to the Buddhist tradition.
When things go badly, meditate.
Meditation in the manner of Compassionate Buddha will guide your life.
To say the words “love and compassion” is easy.
But to accept that love and compassion, built upon patience and perseverance is not easy. Your marriage will be firm and lasting if you remember this.
To Jackie and Frank, I wish you peace, prosperity, health, and much happiness.