In Search of My Sacred Wedding Ceremony

Carving out a ritual that goes beyond our vows

by Jennifer Tomscha, Writing Fellow

I was inspired to go to divinity school by the religious scholar Mircea Eliade who, in The Sacred and the Profane, argues that humans have an inherent yearning for the sacred. Even if we don’t practice a form of organized religion, we create our own divisions of sacred time and space. We carve out the sacred in a profane world. We make holidays of significant events, we create rituals for ourselves, we give spaces their own powerful significance. Growing up, I loved a set of strange boulders settled in the valley of a neighborhood park. I called them the Wizard Rocks. To me, they were holy and had what some would call “energy.” Once I cried when a friend got Cheese-Whiz all over the largest rock.

Twenty years later, Dan jumped off that same rock and knelt in the grass. He started with “You were a strange kid, and I was a strange kid too,” and then he proposed.

Death and other inappropriate ceremony subjects

We strange kids-turned-adults have spent the past month working on our wedding ceremony. It’s been kind of a problem, a problem best expressed to me when Dan and I were out walking the other evening. As we wove through the high-heeled Shanghai ladies and the dumpling stands of our neighborhood, I pointed out an adorable kitten sitting on a ledge. “How can we get that thing into the wedding?” Dan said, teasing.

Fair enough. It’s true that perhaps I’ve been eager to include all that we love in our ceremony. For example, I want all the readings. How can we only choose two or three readings, when there are so many incredible poems to share? And Dan and I have a tendency to want all the slightly depressing readings. When my sister asked me to choose a poem to read at her wedding, I picked “A Blessing for a Wedding” by Jane Hirshfield, a beautiful, but somber piece (“Today when someone you love has died / or when someone you’ve never met has died”). It was not the favorite. Roy Croft’s “Love” was the favorite (“I love you / not only for what you are / but for what I am / when I am with you”). Dan and I like the Margaret Atwood poem “Habitation,” in which Atwood writes that marriage is “the edge of the forest, the edge / of the desert… the edge of the receding glacier.” Dan’s a sucker for things that acknowledge the severity of life. And deserts.

We’ve also known for a long time that we would include one of Robert Frost’s weird later poems, “Too Anxious for Rivers.” We spent a summer afternoon several years ago sitting on Dan’s couch in Ann Arbor and reading from Frost’s collected works. We loved the poem immediately and set about trying to memorize it: “Oh, I am too anxious for rivers, / to leave it to them to get out of their valleys.” The poem asserts the mystery of love, how we were created in its efforts, but it is more than anything else about how we know and what we cannot know. It has meaning to me and Dan, but will probably leave the audience slightly perplexed. Where’s the romance? After all, the ceremony isn’t just for us, but also for all those we love who will witness it. It can’t be a secret exchange of inside knowledge. The ceremony must be meaningful, in some way, for everyone.

We’ll also have a reading from the Bible, but its historically rooted, hodgepodge of texts has been making our selection difficult. We want to move beyond the often-used verses from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. (This same instinct to “do something different” is what made both Dan and me choose the viola instead of the violin in elementary school. We never got to play the melody.) Of the wealth of the Bible, Dan and I both prefer the Book of Job to anything else, but Job’s meditation on senseless suffering and its poetic assertions of God’s power don’t seem quite right for a wedding. “If only Job had gotten married in there at some point,” Dan sighs.

Into the Sacred

My great uncle, my maternal grandmother’s sister’s husband, will marry us. He is a Presbyterian minister. I was raised Lutheran, Dan Episcopalian. Our ceremony will be a traditional Protestant wedding. Although appropriate, this fact has left me slightly unsatisfied. The marriage rites are sacred, but they don’t seem sufficient somehow. Dan says the vows themselves are enough for him. Our vows, which we will write together, are illocutionary acts: the saying is also the doing. Shouldn’t it be enough that we stand in front of everyone we love and commit our lives to one another, that we stand in a long tradition of others who’ve done the same?

I suppose it should be, but I want something beyond text and music. Something that visualizes what we’ve done. But what? Protestantism offers little extra in the way of wedding ritual. We have the exchanging of rings, but that seems too small and too easily confused with the vows. I went to the wedding of a Hindu friend in which her uncles carried her to the site of the ceremony in a bamboo basket. Yes, I thought, I wish I could do something like that. Or the Jewish chuppah and the breaking of the glass. Or even the communion, the full Catholic Mass that gives the ceremony weight, or at least length. You can blink and miss a Protestant wedding ceremony.

The Sacred… Sand?

Although this perplexes me, the sand ceremony made it to South Dakota in a big way. Two electric-neon colors, one for the bride and one for the groom, poured together to make a jar that recollects an elementary school art project I once completed (to be fair, I loved the way those sand layers looked). Sand ceremonies make more sense to me in a beach wedding, but in South Dakota sand is scarce. Corn pieces dyed with food coloring, perhaps, but sand?

I’ve always liked the unity candle ceremony, although the tradition chapter of A Practical Wedding has changed my mind a bit. (Hint: The unity candle comes from a soap opera script.) Anyway, we can’t have candles at the lake because the American West is a tinderbox. So that’s out.

I suggested to Dan that we could sign the marriage certificate as part of the ceremony. My sister married a Canadian in Canada, and after their vows, the two of them headed over to a table set up on the lawn and made their vows Canadian legal. The witnesses signed as well, and my sister gazed lovingly at her new husband. This might be a good idea, eh? But Dan was immediately opposed. No way the government was worming its way into our wedding ceremony. We’d sign the state-issued marriage certificate hurriedly and afterwards. I’d forgotten, for just that moment of asking, that Dan is from Texas.

Crown Me With Love

So we’re on hunt (or I’m on the hunt) to find a way to meaningfully express what happens in the vows. Something symbolic without being too cheesy, and something that offers up love as its center, but not the easy, romantic love. Something that reminds us that our lives are beautiful and strange and hard, and that what we’ve just done is beautiful and strange and hard too.

Something like having the bridal party process to “Purple Rain.” The song is so big and grand and solemn, and at 3:47, the guitar solo begins and it’s the perfect swelling of sound and emotion for the bride’s entrance. The song opens with the lyrics “I never meant to cause you any sorrow,” which is perfectly in keeping with our somber poetry selection. And Prince is awesome. But can we ignore the second verse and Prince’s crooning, “I never wanted to be your weekend lover”? What about the next line: “I only wanted to be some kind of friend”? Is “Purple Rain” (and whatever purple rain signifies) right for a wedding ceremony?

Here’s where we have to make our own decisions about what will be a significant ritual for us and what will be special to us, not only at the moment of the ceremony, but for years afterward.

One day I might say: This guitar solo. This is when I stepped off the gravel path. I looked out over the lake. There were paddleboats. There were so many people we loved. There was the man I’d chosen, waiting for me.

Jennifer Tomscha

Jennifer Tomscha is a native of the Great Plains now living in the neon future of Shanghai, where she teaches in the Writing Program at New York University’s newest campus. In 2010, she met her now-fiancé Dan in a fiction workshop at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!), where they first fought about the proper spelling of the word “koozie.” They’ll be married this summer in the Black Hills of South Dakota, beside a lake with paddleboats. Her email is currently monitored by both the NSA and the CCP, and she is at work on a novel about love, surveillance, and the multitude of Jennys.

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  • Louise

    I totally get your yearning for a sacred symbol to incorporate into your ceremony. I don’t have a lot to offer, but I will build off your idea to incorporate the marriage license– we did that in a totally non-government way. We were inspired by the idea of a community-solemnized ceremony, and we created our own document to sign and have our guests sign as witnesses. We wrote vows together and hired an artist to paint them onto fancy paper, leaving space for signatures. It could have easily been a part of the ceremony (I sort of wish it had been!).

    • Emma

      My mom and stepmom had their vows typed on fancy paper and then everyone at the wedding signed it (I was a super excited 8 year old because I had just learned cursive and signed it 3 times). It has been hanging outside their bedroom ever since. That was a little different though, because at the time they couldn’t get a marriage license so they did this instead.

      • Emily

        What a beautiful and intimate idea! I just love it! We, too, have been looking for ways to make our ceremony especially sacred and meaningful. This is perfect.

      • Alyssa M

        That really is beautiful. That has to be my favorite way of involving community in the ceremony EVER.

  • Alyssa M

    I TOTALLY feel you on the lack of ritual in protestant ceremonies. It was my biggest hurtle when it came to writing our ceremony… we did sign the marriage license in the ceremony and it worked better than a unity ceremony would have for us, but it still didn’t really fulfill my desire for a ritual. Things like that make me intensely jealous of Catholicism and Judaism.

    • snf100

      Our Methodist church does offer the option of holding communion during the ceremony, and we opted to do so. At our church communion is done by intinction (dipping the broken break into the cup of wine/grape juice) so for our ceremony my husband and I each held a half of a loaf of bread and broke it for our guests and our pastor held the chalice. It was a wonderfully special moment and was something that really brought the ceremony together for us, but I recognize that our church is a little different in terms of protestant churches. Our church is the oldest Methodist church in the US and so offering communion is something we do every Sunday as a way to be welcoming and provide for our community and our guests, so it was natural to extend that to our wedding. My point with my long ramble about our ceremony is that while ritual might not be typical of a protestant wedding, its not totally unheard of and if its important to you to have then ask, your pastor might have great ideas or be on board with incorporating communion.

      • Alyssa M

        That’s actually a pretty brilliant idea that I’ve never heard before. Our wedding was actually last October, so too late for us, but anybody else who feels that way should totally do that!

        • snf100

          Sorry I misread your post, but hopefully it can help others out though

      • shannonly

        I love that! So beautiful.

    • Meg Keene

      Dude. I will debate you ALL on this, as a Baptist born and raised who converted and had a Jewish wedding and missed all of her own tradition and ritual. See comment above!

      • Alyssa M

        Ok, so from your perspective, what exactly are the rituals of a protestant (or even specifically Baptist) wedding? Cause when it came down to it, all my parents could come up with was walk down the aisle, say vows, exchange rings, kiss, walk back down the aisle. I actually had to look up where to put readings in because the weddings I’ve been to all did it differently… aaand while music is absolutely unquestionably a protestant ritual… I’ve never sung a hymn at a wedding…

        I don’t say this to challenge or even debate, I’m genuinely curious about your perspective here…

  • Amanda L

    My husband and I are both big wine drinkers. I had some of the same reservations that you did about the sand ceremony and the unity candle, so we ended up doing a wine ceremony. It was similar to the one here:

    It resulted in one of my favorite pictures from the wedding, and it was very much ‘us’

    • Meg Keene

      Totally (as always) not suggesting cultural appropriation as ever being a good idea, but drinking wine is a BIG part of the religious Jewish service. You can find more about the two cups of wine here in a (not super egalitarian) description of the jewish service, under “Blessings of Betrothal.” The good part about using this for a Prodistant ceremony is that wine is also part of the prodistant tradition (in a different way). You’d just need to clear with your clergy member that their are not theological issues. IE, it’s unblessed wine, so it’s not the blood of Christ, so I think you’d be ok, but you’d need to check.

      We used a dessert wine from our favorite really small winery, so we now often get it for big occasions and anniversaries, and have it just the two of us.

      • Lauren from NH

        Hey Meg, (you may be too busy to answer but) I thought last summer you and/or one of the other staff members said we could shortly expect a post on cultural appropriation as relating to venues I believe, but I don’t remember that one was ever published. Any chance this is going to be revived at some point?

    • Eh

      Two small caution about wine ceremonies : 1. There may be a restriction on when it can fall in the ceremony (I was part of a wedding where it had to be after the license was signed as both parties had to be sober which was interpreted by the church as no alcohol before signing the license – it wasn’t even allowed to be in sight before the license was signed), and 2. venues may have restrictions on it (we were not allowed alcohol in our ceremony venue).

      • Meg Keene

        Though, I just did WAY too much research on this (hey writing a book). *Legally* you do have to be sober, but that would not preclude you from having had something to drink. You just can’t be drunk. (With Jewish weddings the Ketubah and the legal ceremony is done before you’re in front of anyone.)

        Do check with your venue though, wise words!

        • Eh

          I agree that a sip isn’t going to make you drunk but I don’t think the couple wanted to have that argument with their pastor. They wanted to be married in their church and by their pastor.

          • Meg Keene

            No, obviously not. I’m just saying that in terms of the big picture and issues that 95% of people will have, legality is what you need to look at, and you’ll be fine legally here. If your clergy person isn’t going to allow something, frankly, that’s going to be that. Whatever it is, unless you decide to get a new clergy person. That’s just how religious weddings work!

  • Katarina

    I’m running into the exact same thing. Our current thought is maybe some sort of ring warming? I like the idea of having our guests touch the rings and put love into them before we put them on. I also want a chance for a contemporary Christian song. We’re having a hymn during the ceremony (For the Beauty of the Earth), but I felt uncomfortable about having all of our guests sing along to anything else, and I’d like some Jars of Clay or something (obviously still working on that part) that our guitarist would play while we do … something meaningful?

    • Lisa

      Not particularly helpful, but I just wanted to say that “For the Beauty of the Earth” is one of my favorite hymns as well! I arranged it for a women’s quartet, and four of my friends sang it for my bridal entrance. It’s one of my favorite memories of our wedding. :)

    • Em

      Just wanted to say we had a ring warming and it was THE BEST. You should definitely do it.

    • Kayla

      One small note to add. Do try to make sure you have something happening during a ring ceremony (readings, songs, whatever). It’s a bit awkward to sit there in silence for 10-20 minutes as the rings make their way around (some people will want to warm those rings for a looooong time).

      • Kayla

        I meant “during a ring warming.” Disqus is not my friend today.

    • Angela

      We did a ring warming! It was beautiful!

      -If you have a large congregation, you might invite a smaller group (immediate family, wedding party) to come stand in a circle at the front to actually pass the rings around, while others send their “warming” vibes from afar (this way it doesn’t take too long).
      -Practice it during the rehearsal.
      -Have the rings attached to/in something–we had a small bowl that my dad made and I know you can purchase ring warming bowls on Etsy, but really anything will do. This is for your own peace of mind–rings are so small and people get nervous! You can attach them so that people can still touch or hold the rings if they would like.
      -Re: a song, we used a hymn (Be Thou My Vision) but it was just played on the piano, no singing. It was quiet and lovely. Because our friend was playing it on the piano, he made it as long as it needed to be.
      -See if you can arrange the ceremony so that the officiant crafts their speech around the warming or at least introduces the concept before it happens so people get what’s going on.

  • 39bride

    As a fellow protestant (small “p”) who participates in Catholic and Episcopal services as a musician, I have a deep appreciation for the role of ritual in the sacred, despite a religious background that is grounded in LACK of it. We added sacred ritual to our ceremony by including a ring-warming and a congregational vow. Not only was it deeply meaningful to us, but it drew our guests into the ceremony and focused them on their role as a community surrounding our new marriage. To us and many of the guests who commented, the ceremony felt deeply sacred and meaningful despite a lack of Mass, holy objects, traditional movements, etc.

  • Colleen

    It’s common in the Quaker wedding tradition to have everyone who is present at the wedding sign the Quaker wedding certificate, which is then displayed at home as a reminder of your commitment. This is not the legal marriage certificate and if you Google it, you can see lots of beautiful examples!

    • jubeee

      In the state of PA it is! (we have strong quaker roots)

    • Rebecca

      Oh my goodness, thank you, THANK YOU for sharing this!!! I am new to Quakerism but have been attending meeting, and I’m SO happy to have found this before our wedding in September!

  • RMC

    As a Jewish bride, I appreciated all of the built-in ritual and didn’t have to think about creating my own so I found this piece really thought-provoking and beautifully articulated. Just a couple of ideas based off of what I found most meaningful in our ceremony… (1) the Jewish ketubah is a (usually beautifully decorated and calligraphed) marriage contract that witnesses sign and that often the couple also signs. It seems like you could certainly write a document of your own to sign if you like that idea but don’t want to use the legal license. (2) using the idea of consecrated wine that each of you drinks – at Jewish weddings, during the grace after meals this is repeated with some fancy mixing of wines to symbolize the couple coming together… alternatively maybe a hand fasting? I know some weddings on APW have done that and I always think it looks so powerful. I think ringwarmings can be powerful too but I would recommend having it happen during another part of the ceremony. I was at a wedding where we all were just waiting for the rings to go around 140 people and it was a blisteringly hot day. It ended up feeling like something to rush through rather than a moment of intention and blessing.

    • Meg Keene

      You know, Jenny and I debated this during the writing. As someone who grew up very religious and protestant (my mom is a published liturgist for goodness sake) and converted and had a Jewish wedding, I actually will debate with anyone what protestant services have less ritual than Jewish ones. I think people are just more USED to protestant services, and hence gloss over all the important ritual.

      I loved our Jewish wedding, and I loved our ritual, but I PAINFULLY missed every ritual and aspect of my own birth tradition. We incorporated what we felt we could, but it wasn’t a ton. We lengthened our Jewish Service to the breaking point, because while I loved the Jewish ritual, I wanted to cram as much of my own in there as we could. Me: “Where are all the hymns?” David: “What hymns?” Our Cantor: “So you’ve added a lot of… music. Which is great. I wouldn’t say using this is traditional at all, but… it’s fine!” Etc. On the plus side, a WHOLE LOT OF RELIGIOUS MUSIC now reminds us of our wedding!

      In short, all religions have so much ritual and tradition, you just have to stop and really look to find your own, sometimes.

      • TeaforTwo

        Agreed. We had an Anglican wedding that was 20 minutes TOPS, including several pieces of music, an enormous wedding party processional and a homily, and it was jam-packed with tradition and ritual. And even then, we cut out a lot of pieces to appease my atheist husband. (Who very generously appeased me by agreeing to a church wedding.) I was surprised by how many of the small things I really missed, even though I knew it was important to compromise.

    • Thanks for these points, RMC.

      I will be entering an interfaith marriage in which neither of us are very religious. (I am Jewish and like to continue my traditions, but more for cultural continuity than actually believing in G-d).

      Can you or anyone else suggest Jewish rituals that are not too religious-based?

      • Meg Keene

        Man, that is a (good and) complicated question. Basically what you’re asking is where Jewish religious practices end and Jewish cultural practices begin. At the end of the day, I think you’re going to have to answer that question yourself, because the line is going to be different for everyone. If you haven’t read The New Jewish Wedding, you should pick up a copy. It’s great, and it will basically give you every single idea to play with.

        I’d pretty firmly put the huppah and breaking the glass on the cultural side of the line, probably along with the Ketubah. But Jewish practice is SO varied, and everyone’s relationship is so different, it just depends. I loved the circling (we did 4.5 and 4.5 circles) and I would have done it in a culturally Jewish way, for example, but that would feel too religious for some people. I wouldn’t have done the seven blessings in a non-religious context, but it’s totally possible to re-write those to be secular, if that feels like a fit to you.

        The good news is there is a LOT for you to work with here, as you shape something.

        • Thanks, Meg!

          I love the breaking the glass and huppah rituals – those are part of my family tradition and feel really real to me. For some reason, people in my family don’t do ketubahs (at least not the nice, pretty ones that many couples display nowadays), so starting that tradition now would feel false to me.

          The New Jewish Wedding sounds like a great resource! I will have to check it out

      • RMC

        The only thing I would add to what Meg wrote is that, to some extent, all of the rituals are religiously-rooted and some of the “original” meanings are pretty intense – for instance, the breaking of the glass is in memory of the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem and an acknowledgement that we live in an unredeemed world since the Messiah hasn’t come yet. That said, even though my husband and I are traditionally observant Jews, we chose to frame that moment about the world being broken by adding a passage from the Massachusetts marriage equality ruling to our program to highlight an injustice that felt particularly painful and relevant to that moment.

        I know there have been lots of conversations in the past on APW about refraining from cultural appropriation if it’s not your cultural heritage, but since Judaism is your heritage I think you have a fair amount of latitude to frame whatever rituals you choose to include in a way that feels comfortable and authentic to your relationship. As Meg said, the line between religious and cultural is different for everyone but The New Jewish Wedding is an amazing resource to start exploring!

        • That is a great metaphor for our broken world! (Actually something I love about Judaism is acknowledging that our world is in fact broken, and nothing is perfect.) The same-sex marriage issue is one that is close to our hearts.

          Thank you for sharing this perspective. I’m excited to start exploring!

      • eating words

        another resource that i’m finding really helpful is Beyond Breaking the Glass, by Nancy Wiener.

  • joanna b.n.

    May I humbly offer our version of a sand ceremony, which was intended to not only bring a beach-like feel to our land-locked desert wedding ceremony, but also symbolize from whence we came…

  • Eh

    I have only attended protestant and secular weddings. I do understand that there is a lot more built-in ritual to other religious wedding ceremonies. We had a secular wedding and one of my biggest concerns was that it would be quick, legal and dry (as most of the secular weddings I have been to have been like that). We wanted our ceremony to be heart-felt and have feeling (and not be only five minutes long). We did not have a unity ceremony (I don’t like most of them). We did have a reading which we carefully picked out. We also wrote our vows (actually we wrote the whole ceremony with the assistance of our officiant). We considered a right warming ceremony but the logistics were more complicated then we wanted. For us, our officiant and all of her experience was key. Since our guests are used to protestant ceremonies we wanted a similar feel. Many of our religious guests didn’t even notice that we had a secular ceremony (we got lots of comments about our “minister” and my step-mum even compared our ceremony to the ones conducted by her beloved pastor).

    We live in Canada so it is pretty standard to sign your marriage certificate during the ceremony. I think that the suggestions to sign something similar (e.g., guests signing a typed up version of the vows) is a great alternative.

    • Carolyn S

      I actually had no idea until today that American’s didn’t include the signing of the certificate in the ceremony!

      • Eh

        I came across it when I was doing research on ceremonies. Most of the resources I used were American. I noticed that there was no spot in the ceremony where the license was signed. Our officiant frequently does ceremonies in locales where she is not authorized to conduct marriages (eg another province or destination wedding) and in those cases the license needs to be signed separately. I think it would be odd in Canada for the license not to be signed during the ceremony (except in the cases I just listed). I see lots of comments (during Happy Hour or on other posts) about getting married months before the wedding but I don’t think that this is as common in Canada (probably since it would be very obvious that the couple didn’t sign the license).

  • Sarah E

    We’ve just recently finished our wedding ceremony (with still a touch of fine-tuning to do), and I can relate to wanting some emotional heft to it. We created a non-religious ceremony, but as a former (lapsed? cultural?) Catholic, I like to have sacred ritual.

    One of the things we wrestled with– mostly separately, though a little together– is that I wanted a physical something to add weight to the ceremony (weight being measured by more meaningful words and more time) and to represent our commitment in a more tactile way. Our lengthy guest list put the kabosh on a ring-warming, so I suggested a handfasting. In fact, the more I looked into it, the more excited I got about having a handfasting. Then P said he wasn’t terribly comfortable with it. That (as white folk, on half-Irish, the other part-Celtic somewhere!!) we were flirting with cultural appropriation if not stepping over the line. It really set me back, because I found the idea so rich with meaning for us, especially considering the increased participation of our friends and family for it, which is one of the central points of our ceremony. At the same time, I tried to come to peace with the fact that it may not happen. I certainly couldn’t include something in the ceremony that made my partner feel squicky, especially such a big something.

    Eventually, after months of alternately chatting a bit about it or letting it go completely, he decided that he was alright with having the handfasting. I’m thrilled, and I triple-checked with him that he was okay with it. So we’re putting in the introduction to it that we’re “remembering a small part” of the tradition, and we both really enjoyed working through what we wanted each person to say as they added a binding. We talked through the values we wanted to represent and what each meant to us, and it was a pretty cool thing.

    • Eh

      We considered a hand fasting ceremony – I learned about them years ago and thought that it would be a really neat idea to incorporate into our ceremony. We decided against it because my BIL and SIL had just had one at their wedding the summer before, and my SIL is unfortunately someone who would have accused us of “stealing” the idea from her (even though I have known about them since before her wedding). At the time we were not getting along and I didn’t want to deal with that head ache. Also it wouldn’t have had the same impact as it did at their wedding since half of our guests would have seen it at their wedding.

      • Sarah E

        That’s fair. Our wedding is going to be so completely different from what most of our friends and family have seen before. Having a time where they can feel represented in the ceremony (ie, a person from their friend group/extended family is an active participant) will help bring everyone along for the ride. Part of the impact is certainly that it’s new to other folks, if not new in the world. Though when you think about it, one of the joys/struggles with ritual is making it feel new over and over again. I think that’s one of wonderful and difficult parts of creating a ritual for yourself. You get to shed all the undesired noise that’s become attached to some things, but at the same time, you can also lose the impact of centuries behind you. Of course, peace with the SIL is a struggle that has stood throughout the eons of time as well.

        • Eh

          My MIL was concerned about our ceremony because we had a secular ceremony and my husband’s side is religious (my husband was raised in the church but is no longer religious). She requested that we get married in their church or by their minister and we declined (I have never been to church so I would be uncomfortable and I think it would be disrespectful for the people that hold those beliefs). We decided to have a secular ceremony that they would be comfortable with. We were concerned that members of his family would think we were not taking marriage seriously if we had something that was completely different than they were used to. We made sure that we were comfortable with all of the elements of our ceremony and that they reflected us and what we believe. And then we did things that were “different” (at least for my husband’s family) at the reception. I think some people like sand or candle ceremonies because they are familiar and I think other people don’t like them because it’s the same over and over (and it’s hard to make them innovated and new).

          lol and peace with my SIL is still a struggle – after our wedding she told us she was offended that we did not use the left over decorations from her wedding. Someone pointed out to her that her wedding colours were turquoise and pink and we got married in the fall so they didn’t really fit.

  • lady brett

    oh, yes, i had a lot of difficulty with the “death and other inappropriate subjects” aspects of trying to craft a meaningful wedding.

    for me that was mostly about the music – i was torn over the idea that a wedding is a celebration and the music shouldn’t be somber and the fact that every song that pulls at me as a meaningful love song is a bit dark. which, of course it is, because love of the deep and long variety *is* somber – it is hard and terrifying, in all the best ways, and the things that speak to *that* are the ones that fill me over with joy.

  • Gayle

    How about the covenant of salt? It’s ancient/Old Testament, kind of a little dark but also very beautiful (the whole thing, where you put salt on each others tongues before mixing the two salt vessels, which is a lot like the sand thing but with the added discussion of sharing each others tears as well as joys).

    • Meg Keene


  • qj

    What a lovely way of communicating the challenges, and desires, in developing meaningful ritual around your ceremony. I am married to a Diest who loves science + the somber/solemn, the ceremony was done by our good friend, a Presbyterian minister, and I was raised Disciples of Christ (and study performance + ritual, loving the sacred). We currently attend an Episcopal church. :) We ended up poring over the Book of Common Prayer and then tweaking some of those,(i.e. a community affirmation, where we all made promises of community together, etc.), incorporating some of the story of Ruth and Naomi (our minister did an amazing job explaining how a Biblical passage about dead husbands could be appropriate and relevant in the homily) and ultimately, literally brought a piece of a sacred space (a stained glass window from a beloved family church that has since been shuttered) to infuse our pond-side ceremony with the bits of the sacred we adored. I hope that you find and build what resonates with you & yours as you bring everything together!

  • today

    Thank you for this. As a new Episcopal emerging from Holy Week, I am still thinking about the power of the various rituals – water! fire! foot washing! sharing a meal together! silence! darkness! incense! chanting! So many different ways to help our inner beings calm down, sit still, and notice what is happening.

    In another vein, here’s a sweet German tradition, still very commonly practiced: after the ceremony, the couple saws through a log together to symbolize working together.

  • Kelly

    Ha! My MIL read Jane Hirshfield’s Blessing for a Wedding during our ceremony, and I loved it so, so much…just read it again and got choked up about how warm and light and full of love our ceremony was…of course, we also had Litany by Billy Collins to lighten things up a bit. One thing that has become somewhat surprisingly “sacred” is an old window that we hung from the arch we got married under. It’s the one physical object from our ceremony (besides our rings) that we could keep, and I think carries some very nice symbolism.

  • kcaudad

    suggestions: talk through the ceremony issues with your pastor – I remember specifically says to our pastor that I did not want the wedding ceremony to only last 5 minutes! He did a mini “sermon” throughout the ceremony discussing the significance of marriage and two people becoming one and choosing each other. We also had several readings, songs, the candle unity ceremony, and said our own vows in addition to the “traditional” Christian vows. My favorite part was saying our own vows to each other that we had written. But, I also wanted to say the traditional vows – so the pastor suggested that we do both! Our ceremony was about 20-25 minutes long.

  • Lisa

    Wow,intelligence is hella sexy, innit!

    We had a small Chinese music ensemble play “Moon River,” at our wedding. When they launched into yet another verse, we laughed, and in lowish voices asked my Jewish brother-in-law who officiated to nod at the musicians to be done.

    Traditions are not always known beforehand.

  • Acres_Wild

    Totally feel you on the “might be inappropriate for a wedding” content… We went back and forth on this for a while but ultimately decided to keep in several references to death, overcoming hardships, etc. because it felt true and important to both of us. We got lots of positive comments on the ceremony, so it seems to have gone over just fine.
    Regarding rituals – we used a love letter ceremony, which I thought it was a lovely and practical way to give a nod to the hard times and work involved in a marriage without being too over the top. Basically, we each wrote a love letter to the other without reading each other’s letters, and during the ceremony, we locked the letters into a box, only to be opened if our marriage is in trouble. We put two locks on the box, and gave the keys to the maid of honor and best man, with the idea that if there are problems in our relationship, we will be forced to reach out to our community for help and guidance. I can send you the text we used if you want – just shoot me an email (laurencbethke at
    (Also, as an aside, we decided on our own that we would open the box every five years and write new letters, even if everything is fine, but we didn’t put that in the ceremony because I couldn’t figure out how to explain it clearly in a few sentences.)

    • Meg Keene

      As my dad said to me when we picked our (dark, odd, and also religious readings. We go in for variety.) “Weddings are all ABOUT death!” (Which, I very much agree. If getting married doesn’t make you really ponder your own death and the death of your partner, I donno what will!)

      One of our readings closed with: “This goes on/ Until one dies.” (See it here:

      • Absolutely. In marriage equality discussions I almost always bring up that the marriage license is most useful to you upon death and health crises. In terms of the practical benefits, nothing but a marriage license will give you Social Security benefits or the ability to be there for your partner through the Family and Medical Leave Act. Nothing. Watching my couple friends with brain tumors, ALS, and cancer brings home to me even more that marriage is much more than flowers and symbols. My friends who experienced a spouse dying are just incredible to me. I think of them often.

  • CP

    We had a relatively short, secular ceremony that we wrote ourselves. It included two readings, picked and read by our moms, but no physical/tangible rituals other than exchanging rings (and kissing, obvi). It was very reflective of us, and there are many parts of it that will forever hold a lot of significance for me and my husband. I’ve attended weddings with rituals that seemed really sweet and sincere to the couple. I’ve also seen a lot of rituals that felt like the couple just checked a ritual off a list. Marriage quality does not seem to correlate with either of these. You don’t get bonus marriage points for a unity candle. If no significant ritual comes to mind, it’s ok to let the wedding be ritual enough.

  • Rose

    Yeah. We’re getting married in a UCC church (the one I grew up in), although my fiancee isn’t religious. Her whole family is either agnostic or ex-Catholic (well and a few still Catholic), so it’s an interesting blend. One thing that I definitely want to include in the ceremony is a few hymns; we’re considering For the Beauty of the Earth, which I saw mentioned in another comment, but the one I have my heart really set on is Won’t You Let Me Be Your Servant (looks like it’s called Will You Let. . . in some other hymnals). To me it’s a reflection of what I want my vows to be, but also a community promise. So I’m hoping that some of the music might help provide some of that sense of ritual.

    There is an option for having communion, but given that not only are most of our guests not religious, but my fiancee isn’t either, I don’t think we’ll do that. So I’m definitely interested in some of the other ideas people have here.

  • This is the script we used for our sand ceremony. People seemed surprised at first when we said we would cause each other anger but then it was addressed in the next question. There are fancy sand ceremony kits one can buy, we went to Michaels and got perfectly good sand and jars there.

    “You both have come to this relationship with your own unique set of experiences, patterns of being in relationship, ways of protecting yourselves, with needs, and wants…with hopes and dreams…

    Yet you may think what was in your life-containers before can be set aside and that you can start fresh with that one new empty jar full of possibilities which is this marriage.

    I ask each of you to take the container of sand that represents all of who you have been to date. I ask for each of you to hold your container, to bless all that it holds all the painful and all the joyous –all that has made you who you are, all that converged to make you the person standing here right now… all the history, lifetime of experiences, learnings, patterns… web of relationships. …and bless all of it.

    Then, look into each other’s eyes.

    Will you cause each other pain? If you can say YES, then pour a little of your own sand into the jar of possibilities, of who you will be forever together.

    Will you share each other’s pain and seek to erase it? If you can say YES, then pour a little of your own sand into the jar of possibilities, of who you will be forever together.

    Will you share each other’s laughter? If you can say YES, then pour a little of your own sand into the jar of possibilities, of who you will be forever together.

    Will you look for the brightness in life and the positive in each other? If you can say YES, then pour a little of your own sand into the jar of possibilities, of who you will be forever together.

    Will you burden each other? If you can say YES, then pour a little of your own sand into the jar of possibilities, of who you will be forever together.

    Will you share the burdens of each so that your spirits may grow in this union? If you can say YES, then pour a little of your own sand into the jar of possibilities, of who you will be forever together.

    Will you share each other’s dreams? If you can say YES, then pour a little of your own sand into the jar of possibilities, of who you will be forever together.

    Will you dream together to create new realities and hopes? If you can say YES, then pour a little of your own sand into the jar of possibilities, of who you will be forever together.

    Will you cause each other anger? If you can say YES, then pour a little of your own sand into the jar of possibilities, of who you will be forever together.

    Will you take the heat of anger and use it to temper the strength of this union? If you can say YES, then pour a little of your own sand into the jar of possibilities, of who you will be forever together.

    Will you honor each other? If you can say YES, then pour a little of your own sand into the jar of possibilities, of who you will be forever together.

    Will you seek to never give cause to break that honor? If you can say YES, then pour a little of your own sand into the jar of possibilities, of who you will be forever together.

    It is not the sand from your two individual containers now poured into one, that will hold your lives together,
    but rather it is your promises…to be who you already are and will be, and to create together who you will become because of each other. These individual grains of sand now in the jar of possibilities are like you unique, yet poured together now, they would be impossible to separate and put back like they were before.

    Your lives from this day forward will always be intertwined, your histories, your experiences, your web of relationships…one, all contained in the jar of possibilities.”

    • genevathene

      This is so wonderful! Especially the parts about angering and burdening each other, because it’s so true.

      • When we were creating the ceremony, my wife initially objected regarding the burdening line. Then I said I feel like I burden her all the time! Being in partnership means that we both adjust and make changes that we might not do if we were single, that’s just part of it. It doesn’t mean anything bad. Would I be living with seven animals if it weren’t for her? Would she be accommodating having my wish for a garden if she were alone? No. But we both know it’s not about us as individuals, it’s how we are together.

  • ruth

    Loved this post. We got married two years ago, and I think one of the best decisions we made related to the wedding was taking the time to craft a ceremony that felt meaningful to us. Wrestling with these sometimes thorny issues is worth it, because they’re only going to come up again in married life, lol. In the end, we had a tri-state interfaith wedding – Jewish, Catholic, and Buddhist, reflecting our different cultural heritages and shared interest in Eastern philosophy (with a very cool priest, cantor, and Buddhist chaplain who were willing to work together! ) Our Buddhist officiant taught our guests a brief meditation and we all meditated together. We used traditional vows, because we couldn’t come up with anything deeper than ’till death do us part’ but we each wrote personal letters to each other that our officiants read. I think we had worried beforehand about whether our guests would find all this weird – we are also two strange kids grown up (love that!) But when you put enormous heart and sincerity into something, people feel that.

    • Sakhi

      I love the idea of a shared meditation!
      Another idea is to borrow from Hindu traditions, which refer to fire as the “eternal witness” who sanctifies the marriage ceremony. Throughout the ceremony, different herbs, spices, clarified butter, and even water droplets are tossed in the firepit to keep it burning and to acknowledge each vow.

  • AR

    We did a ring warming, which was a lovely way to involve all the guests. We heard a lot of nice comments about that afterwards. As a unity ritual, we did a tree planting ceremony. We’re both biologists, so we really liked the idea. We had our parents bring soil from where we each grew up (we don’t leave near either family). During the ceremony, we scooped the soil from each of our childhood homes into the pot of a small tree we had purchased at a native plants nursery. After the wedding, we planted the tree behind our house. We also heard a lot of nice comments about that; I don’t think anyone had ever seen something like this before, and it really felt very “us.”

    • Emma

      I LOVE the idea of planting a tree! It reminds me of this song from my childhood “if you love me if you love me if you love love love, plant a rose for me, but if you think you’ll love me for a long long time, plant an apple tree”

      • lady brett

        i had forgotten ’till just now, but my folks had an elephant ear that was in some way related to their wedding. it was in one of those 1-foot terracotta pots…and when they moved out of our house about 25 years later, it was 8 or 10 feet across, covered some of the doorway, and the pieces of the pot it had busted out of were still “planted” in the ground with it!

  • Cleo

    Sorry, no suggestions, just wanted to drop in and say hi from a fellow violist…who also chose the viola because I wanted to do something different! And in the middle of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto, Number 3, 3rd Movement, there is a killer viola solo that I was lucky enough to play in my high school orchestra.

    Best of luck with finding a sacred element that works for you!

  • Erin

    We didn’t have any type of ritual in our ceremony outside of the ring exchange and vows, but my BIL and SIL had each of their parents bring a jar of soil from their yard to the wedding. During the ceremony, BIL and SIL combined the soil (like a sand ceremony). It actually looked pretty cool, too, because they are from different parts of the country, so the soil looked very different. I think they are planning to use it to plant a tree in their yard — or something along those lines. It was short, but felt meaningful.

  • Antonia

    My in-laws lit a unity candle during their Christian wedding ceremony 50 years ago, so there’s definitely some history behind it. If a unity candle “speaks” to you, I say go for it!

    • LP

      I share this story not to discourage anyone from doing a unity candle, but because I think it’s funny and sweet in the way that so many little wedding mishaps are. Also, if you’re doing a unity candle, be careful about fans.

      A friend got married last summer in a very beautiful old church that didn’t have air conditioning. There were a handful of fans on, including one up by the altar, I assume to prevent the bride and groom from becoming a sweaty mess. Their candles were lit before the ceremony started, and the bride’s was much closer to the fan than the groom’s. By the time they got to the unity candle part of the ceremony, the bride’s candle had burned down to a tiny nub of a candle in a little pool of melted wax, but the grooms was still recognizable as a candle. After the first look of shock from the bride, they played it off pretty cool and just both held on to the groom’s candle to light the center candle. I thought it was such a good reminder of why it’s not usually worth it to worry too much about the little details. You can agonize over the color of your unity candles, but they may burn down before you get to through the ceremony.

  • nik

    My fiancé and I are going to do a foot washing ceremony. We are trying to bring in the sacred, though not having a religious ceremony. I love the foot washing ritual because it is a reminder of how I want to approach my marriage, in particular, with humility: my needs are not greater, my logic is not stronger, and my opinion is not better (though these thoughts do often come up in my head). In addition, I want to serve my husband, to support his growth and successes, and especially to recognize the goodness and beauty in him.

  • Alison O

    This piece feels like it was birthed of my soul more than any other I’ve ever read in 6 or so years on APW. Except…my partner and I refer to ourselves as “morose” instead of somber, LOL. Practically every day I gaze at my dog and reaffirm that he’s the best dog ever, and then I think about how he’s going to die and isn’t it all just tragically beautiful.

    • Alison O

      oh, and, as an aside, I am crossing my fingers so hard that we can find a Catholic church that will let us have soloists sing “Simple Song” by Leonard Bernstein’s from the musical, Mass. talk about haunting and sad and lovely. I’ll have to find a way to squeeze “on joy and sorrow” by khalil gibran into the reception since a Catholic church is unlikely to allow that one. of course, NPR features it in a series about death: My partner’s mother’s illness and death and the aftermath has been a huge part of our five years together and I can’t think of a reading that feels truer to me.

      • Eh

        While I was planning our wedding I couldn’t figure out why so many other (read: WIC) wedding websites had aversions to referring to deceased loved ones during the ceremony (I read many times that mentioning them or any reference was morbid). I felt like not having any reference to my mother or my grandfathers was like excluding a piece of me from my wedding day. (I actually read that it was morbid to have any pictures of deceased people at your wedding – that would have involved carefully crafting our slideshow and all of the family pictures we had as décor at our reception.) My husband and I were not together at those points in my life but those people and events shaped who I am today (and I could see how being together through such an event would shape your relationship).

  • shannonly

    I relate to this so much! I’m also a former religious studies major Christian who revels in mystery and feels my deepest connection to the divine through things like Job and the beautiful and dark new Sufjan Stevens album (which I HIGHLY recommend btw). So yeah since I vowed long ago not to use 1 Corinthians 13 I’m really struggling with the readings. Please shre what you come up with when you do figure it out :)

    Also, if it helps you CAN do a Protestant ceremony with Communion! I’m not 100% sure about Presbyterian but I’ve been to Lutheran and Episcopian weddings with Communion. We are having an Episcopalian wedding with Communion. Actually I was worried that it might freak out my non-Christian friends but what pushed me to stick to my guns and do it was a wedding I saw on AP (the potluck Episcopal one! I’m on my phone otherwise I’d try to link) and the bride talked about how the first meal they served as husband and wife was Communion. Dang, is there nothing more Divine meets Profane meets Love meets Mystery meets Sacrament than that!?

    Good luck, Jennifer! I can’t wait to read more about your plans!

    • TeaforTwo

      Yep, Episcoplian weddings love communion! My partner is an atheist who agreed to a church wedding, but put his foot down about no communion. I appreciated his flexibility about the church wedding, but I do fondly remember a lot of the weddings in the church I grew up in, where the bride and groom would administer communion to their guests.

    • kd

      One of my readings was from revelation 21 and my officiant talked about how wedding celebrations foreshadow the wedding feast of the lamb “then I saw the holy city… beautifully dressed as a bride for her husband… There shall be no more mourning or sadness or crying or pain”.

  • Kate SB

    If you’re looking for a Scripture reading that’s a bit beyond the typical, we went with three readings that are about love, but aren’t the typical I Corinthians or Ephesians. I particularly love the Song of Solomon reading.

    Song of Solomon 2:10-13, 8:6-7
    [10] My beloved speaks and says to me:
    “Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away,
    [11] for behold, the winter is past;
    the rain is over and gone.

    [6] Set me as a seal upon your heart,
    as a seal upon your arm,
    for love is strong as death,
    jealousy is fierce as the grave.
    Its flashes are flashes of fire,
    the very flame of the LORD.
    [7] Many waters cannot quench love,
    neither can floods drown it.
    If a man offered for love
    all the wealth of his house,
    he would be utterly despised.

    1 John 4:7-16
    [7] Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. [8] Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. [9] In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. [10] In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. [11] Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. [12] No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

    [13] By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. [14] And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. [15] Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. [16] So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

    John 15:9-12
    [9] As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. [10] If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. [11] These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
    [12] “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

  • Julianne

    Since you have your Wizard Rocks and your fiance proposed there maybe instead of sand you can use pebbles from your special spot. Maybe he can get pebbles from a special spot to him. You could also ask each of your guests to bring a pebble to the ceremony or just each of your families or siblings or attendants or special people to you.

  • Massiel

    My husband and I come from traditionally Catholic families but we (especially me) wanted to find a way that took them into consideration without becoming bogged down in some of the less practical, sometimes problematic facets of religion. Although we did have a full mass, both of us spent quite a bit of time going through everything beforehand, picking readings that we felt reflected sentiments we wanted prevalent that day — I was adamant about NOT having any Catholic guilt, original sin, or essentially any scare-factors. Personally, I don’t feel religion should be scary in any sense. We wanted a happy, inclusive, and thoughtful ceremony. The readings we picked were Song of Songs 2:2-17; 8:6-7a, Psalm 145:8-9(a), 10 & 15, 17-18, Hebrews 13:1-4(a), 506(b), Matthew 5:1-12. Originally, I wanted to get married outdoors, since the only times I personally feel any sort of spirituality is when I’m in nature. But since we went with a church ceremony, I wanted to bring that outdoorsy peace to our service. That’s why I just went nuts with the Song of Songs. The language in there is just so poetic. I had about three or four paragraphs of that thing read! A little longer than normal, but whatever. The imagery is so vivid and beautiful. Parts of it did get a little intense, but I was ok with that:

    “Set me as a seal on your
    heart, as a seal on your arm; For stern as death is love, relentless as the
    nether-world is devotion; its flames are a blazing fire. Deep waters cannot
    quench love, nor floods sweep it away.”

    As for the traditions, I ditched the unity candle but kept the lasso and the coins. The lasso was the same one my parents used at their wedding, and the coins were kept in a tiny wooden chest my dad painted for us. We have it decorating the dresser in our bedroom now and lovingly refer to them as our wedding doubloons.

  • guest

    We used Hosea 2:14-end. It is an allusion to wooing/marriage, but really talking about God reconciling the world to himself on the new earth. We actually kind of mashed a few translations to get the words from the different versions that were most striking–but it’s comparing how awful things were to how right they will be. So definitely acknowledging darkness/struggle/death. Our ceremony lasted more than an hour because it was chocked full of meaningful rituals–3 readings, 2 Bible passages (the other was the Beatitudes), handfasting while a responsive blessing was read, 4 hymns, everyone (180 guests) taking communion, and both sets of parents sharing a personal blessing to the both of us.
    From the NRSV:14. Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.15. From there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she shall respond as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.16. On that day, says the LORD, you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer will you call me, “My Baal.”17. For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more.18. I will make for you a covenant on that day with the wild animals, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety.19. And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy.20. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD.21. On that day I will answer, says the LORD, I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth;22. and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel;23. and I will sow him for myself in the land. And I will have pity on Lo-ruhamah, and I will say to Lo-ammi, “You are my people”; and he shall say, “You are my God.”

  • Kaylee

    Exchanging rings, whose infinite roundness symbolizes eternity, that you will wear forever, is a pretty potent symbol. Sometimes we overlook what is already there. If the standard Presbyterian ring-exchange text doesn’t seem symbolic enough, you could write your own.

  • FancyPants

    All the Yes’es to this wonderfully written essay.

    Somehow, in all this planning of the Big Event….the ceremony planning sometimes gets placed on the very far back burner.
    My main man and I are bone fide procrastinators- and total ‘strange kids’ back when. We just looked at each other the other day and were like ‘So! What’s important to you in a ceremony?’ We are getting married in 16 days.
    There are so many thoughts and feelings and questions running around in our heads about ritual, tradition and what our love means to us. It is hard, dark, scary, light, silly. It is everything and it is just another part of our lives.

    This is a beautiful piece of writing, and really simmered down what I am feeling and brought out new intricacies that I hadn’t grappled with yet. Thank you!

  • Sarah N.

    We were getting married after ten years, so we felt that it was incredibly important to acknowledge this was a union of two people, but also the merging of two families. My husband and I had our parents offer family recipes and put them in a recipe box as our family unity ritual.

  • Sarah

    We used a Greek tradition of exchanging walnuts and honey during our ceremony. Walnuts split into 4 pieces, representing the bride, groom, and each family. They are bitter, as life can be bitter. The honey is sticky and sweet, as love surrounds us and sticks to all our nooks and crannies, making the bitter bearable. I hope you love this phase of wedding planning. Choosing our ceremony components was my favorite part.

  • Jenna

    We did a hand blessing and it was perfect. We didn’t bind hands with Ribbon but just held hands and it was so meaningful.

  • weedingcane

    I think that you can’t create the sacred, profound or sublime, only invite it. Create the circumstances where it may appear. Which I imagine by having a public commitment to love someone, surrounded by people who love you is enough to invite it. If I think about the everyday occurrences of the sublime, and they can be daily, they only require me to be present and to notice and no set of words, sand pouring, warming, washing of feet is required. I think you could just wake up in the morning with your honey-love, with your frowsy breaths and just promise to love each other till the day you die then make breakfast together that would seem pretty sacred to me. I’d say don’t overthink it.