While marriage is about you and your partner declaring your love and commitment to each other in a public way it also has a strong social and legal component.
You become a new legal entity, recognised in society as a married person.
Society sees that a legal marriage makes a strong connection between two families. Historically this was important for reasons of inheritance of lands and estates and royal titles, at least for the rich people.
When you apply for your marriage licence you have to supply your parents’ names and your mother’s maiden name. Today this joining of families is still an important part of our legal process.
Much more significantly for you though are the connections between your families and how you involve them in the celebrations on your wedding day.
How you express the connections between your families is over to you. Much of it will come naturally or be obvious when you take time to talk about it together.
This process begins with deciding who to invite from your family. This may include grandparents, great aunts, and uncles, cousins and other significant relations. One family may be really large and the other quite small. Some families are estranged and don’t want one group or another present. It is useful to talk to each other about all these things without judgement, criticism or disrespect. If you keep talking openly, listening to each other, and stating clearly what you want you will be able to work out who you will invite and who you won’t invite.
If family is part of your focus there are a number of things you can do to include them in the ceremony if you want.
Having the celebrant acknowledge them, and even to name highly significant people such as grandparents, great grandparents and those who have travelled some distance to get there.
There are a number of ‘traditional’ rituals that you can use to include family members. This may involve redefining traditional actions and giving them new meaning that makes sense to you.
In some cultures the father of the bride would give her away often accompanied by a number of cows, goats and other valuables, in other places the bride was exchanged for livestock and shiny objects.
In your ceremony the bride entering can be a highly significant emotional moment for bride and for father. Some people have both parents accompany them into the celebration space, and for others both bride and groom are accompanied by their parents.
You can use a number of other objects to symbolise the two families coming together through this wedding. You can use candles, water, rocks or plants to create symbols of what you are doing.
Some couples ask their parents to make a formal blessing, recognising publicly that they are letting you go to form a new family unit and promising to offer support and encouragement.
No matter what you end up doing I encourage you to be thoughtful and creative.
You know what would work for you and your families. Ask your celebrant for further ideas.
Contact me:John Faisandier firstname.lastname@example.org +64 4 385 4099 +64 27 246 0411