There are so many factors influencing a couple when they select a wedding venue….the basics like time, location, price and “that knowing” that this is place to celebrate a once in a lifetime moment. While the place of the ceremony is obviously not a key element of the marriage ceremony, I do think there are interesting, small ways to include a few words about the significance and symbolism of the location as one of many themes in a rich script.
Consider a few examples from recent ceremonies:
The Brooklyn Bridge: Since its creation, the Brooklyn Bridge has been a proud symbol of American creativity, commitment, hard work, and the promise of the possibilities of the United States. It is a powerful symbol for more young couples that you might imagine. Likewise, among those who study ritual, the bridge is a potent reminder of transitioning from one stage of life to another—from being two single people to a married couple. Last November I married two young Russian immigrants, the Bridge was an important reminder of all they had been through to come to the U.S. and all that was to come. During their ceremony, the groom started on the Manhattan side, with the bride opposite on the Brooklyn side. It was easy to pick up on both of these points. Wording I used included the following:
“There are few vistas that are more intimately connected with all of the wonder and hope and grandeur that is New York. This bridge embodies the possibility of human ingenuity, artistic vision, cooperation, and dedication—all elements of successful lives and marriages. Moreover, the bridge is a palpable reminder of connections and transitions, between your lives, your original homeland, your families, and your future. This day and place is a threshold whereby you are passing from two individuals who are deeply in love to become a married couple and a new family.”
Wainwright House: At first glance, the Wainwright House is “just another” stunning venue in Westchester county, situated on the water, with a beautiful main venue for dinners and receptions and a sprawling lawn, perfect for an outdoor summer ceremony. But after a little investigation, the Wainwright house is a very special place described by the original donor of the house Fonrose Wainwright Condict, “This is a sacred house. Because it is sacred, it should be consecrated to the development of human potential, in healing and growing forms, to serve in the advancement of humankind through spiritual, philosophical and ecological paths.” Contemporary programs include seminars on the healing arts, meditation, yoga instruction, programs in contemplative medicine, and the creative arts, among others. Where else would you find a meditation room at a beautiful space holding weddings!? As part of the introductory remarks of the wedding, I included a few words about the intentions of the couple and the principles and goals they valued as individuals and a couple. I believe that holding a ceremony in a place with this purpose sets an unusually purposeful setting for life-changing vows.
Cop Cot Gazebo: This little spot, on the south side of Central Park, is a favorite spot for small weddings. Cop Cot is a Scottish name, translated means “little house on the crest of the hill.” The little Gazebo, which is an open air, large rustic word structure, is a recent replica of the original structure build in the ante-bellum era. In the summer, the black locust trees all about will bloom and fill the air. For those of Jewish ancestry, the Gazebo will be akin to a Chuppah. Otherwise, I often connect the structure to the home that the bride and groom are making as a new family.