Can a wedding ceremony be holistic? You betcha!

Every couple wants something special, but in the end most couples settle for the standard fare and spend tons of money on the venue and the reception, while the ceremony itself seems almost an afterthought.

by Rev. Irene Conlan — 

As a minister, I have officiated at quite a number of

weddings. Each has been beautiful, customized and special. Holistic, though? No. In fact I had never thought of a wedding in terms of being holistic.

Then came Erik and Rebecca. They wanted what every bride and groom want — something special. Yeah, right! They all say that, but in the end most couples settle for the standard fare and spend tons of money on the venue and the reception, while the ceremony itself seems almost an afterthought.

But these two were different. “How can we make it our own?” they asked. And we began to dialog and “brain bust.” Here is how it unfolded.

Their venue was a beautiful place in Phoenix — the amphitheater at the Desert Botanical Gardens. It is a cozy space with tiered, rounded concrete seating (which was covered with pillows for comfort), surrounded by trees and many different desert plants and cacti — like a little desert fairy-garden tucked away in a secret place just for them. It had special meaning and memories for both, individually, and as a couple.

The bride wore green — an iridescent fabric that changed shades as she moved. It was beaded with pearls and crystals, and she looked like a nature princess as she walked in on the arm of her father. She was breathtaking. One look at the groom’s face told me that he thought so, too.

The greetings and usual introductory comments were followed by what we called “pop-ups.” Six guests had written brief statements about love, about the bride and groom, and about marriage. The statements ranged from beautiful to serious to hysterically funny. They were wonderful.

Before the vows were said, the guests were invited to imagine that they could open their hearts wide and send pure, unconditional love to Erik and Rebecca. They did just that, and the outpouring of love was probably felt around the planet. The plants at the botanical gardens must now be growing even more abundantly than before that powerful love message was sent.

After the vows, while music played that must have been straight from the angels, the rings were presented by the “ring bears.” Two little boys wearing bears’ ears brought the rings to the matron of honor in the mouths of two plush trout. The rings were then passed around for the guests to bless. After the music stopped, we were supposed to continue with the ceremony while waiting for the rings to reach the last guest.

As I watched what was transpiring, I told the bride and groom to face their guests and watch what was unfolding. Some guests simply held the rings with such love that it was palpable. Some kissed them. Some held them to their hearts. We could only watch, speechless, and feel the love pouring out to this couple. No one moved, no one whispered — all were enchanted.

After the ring exchange, there was another exchange.  Erik and Rebecca fed each other honey and vinegar to represent the bitter and sweet they had promised to face together, and they drank wine from a little silver goblet to symbolize their oneness — two unique individuals forming a new unit, a new family. They signed the marriage certificate in the presence of their guests as a final acknowledgment of what they had just declared.

The ceremony ended with the Blessing of the Apaches, which begins with, “Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other.” It ends with, “May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth.”

How is this holistic? In the ceremony, Erik and Rebecca involved each of the senses and they addressed body, mind, emotions and spirit. Family and friends of each were welcomed, embraced and made an integral part of the ceremony. Nature was honored and its beauty utilized, like the beauty of an old cathedral. All worked together as a whole package.

How could anything be more holistic? And so we pray that their days — their years, actually — be good and long upon the earth and that they always walk in beauty.


Irene Conlan has a master’s degree in nursing, is a certified hypnotherapist and a certified past-life regression therapist in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 3, June/July 2007.


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