Rites of Marriage: Long Island Inspired Ceremonial Customs to Wow Any Crowd
Oct 16, 2019 11:38 AM Back

Long Island has always had a unique culture of its own. From beachy keen to East End wine country and our glamorous Gold Coast we stand apart from our cousins in The City and in the Boroughs.  So, when it comes to unique and inspired innovative ideas to express our love and commitment to our beloved we are no doubt trend setters. Here are a few fashionable rites and rituals to add that extra wow factor to your wedding.
  1. The Ketubah Culture: While signing the Ketubah has traditionally been something associated and affiliated with Jewish culture, new couture Ketubah contracts….or promises of unwavering, unconditional love are gaining popularity in all cultures and faiths. Customarily two witnesses sign this binding marriage contract before its read aloud following the exchange of vows.
  1. Add some pomp and circumstance to your wedding ceremony by exiting under and arch of swords. This military ritual is a symbolic pledge of fidelity and faithfulness…and for many in the armed services a promise of protection from the military, with the raised swords signifying this special guardianship.
  1. A timeless tradition from our “forefathers”. Since much of Long Island derives its names from Native Americans, it only makes sense to include at least one Native American traditions. Consider the custom of wrapping yourselves in a blanket symbolically depicting warmth, togetherness and unity.
  1. Pay homage to our celebrated wine culture.  Incorporate a wine ritual that is typically used to symbolize the blending of two lives and families. You may choose to drink from the same cup while others may choose to pour two separate and distinct goblets of wine into one as a representation of their new “merger” through marriage.
  1. Indian traditions.  It’s undeniable that some parts of Long Island have a very strong and beautiful Indian population and culture…so why not include some of their most beautiful traditions in your celebration.  In Indi culture it is customary for the bride’s family to show acceptance of the groom by welcoming him into the family. This is achieved symbolically by the groom’s mother in law applying talik (a red vermillion power) on her future son-in-law’s forehead welcoming him into the family and protecting him from evil.
  1. Many Long Islanders and many whom I’ve had the good fortune to call friends are of Irish decent….a heritage rich in rituals and culture.  Among them the Celtic sundial “ceremony” from the Aran Islands. The couple is summoned to touch fingers via holes in the sundial. Those in attendance may offer well wishes by passing a silk scarf through the holes three times and then verbalizing those wishes out loud.
  1. Literally tying the knot. Consider passing a rope to all attendees symbolizing their willingness to help support and strengthen the union/marriage. Once all the guests have had the rope passed to them, it should be promptly returned to the couple who then braid it together signifying their marital blending and union.
  1. Come on baby light my fire. This custom stems from Africa whereby modern day couples are called to start a (small) fire together…symbolic of their never-ending flame of love and passion.
  1. The Circle of Life and Love: Another rich and regal tradition heralding from Jewish faith and culture is the tradition of the bride encircling the groom 7 times as an expression of breaking down any barriers between them. However, many modern day couples choose to encircle each other…tradition with a twist.
  1. Royal Rituals…so to speak: It is customary in Greek tradition for the bride and groom to be crowned (after all they are king and queen for the day). Select representatives, who them become an ultra-integral part of the couple’s life and union, known as the koumbari, are appointed to place the crowns on the couples’ heads and rings on their fingers. The crowns are referred to as the stefana and are attached by a ribbon symbolizing the couple now being attached as the king and queen of their (new) household and family.
  1.  An intimate wedding tradition taken from the pages of Quaker rituals. Perfect for smaller gatherings. Guests are invited to form a circle along with the bride and groom and each gives the couple their words of wisdom for a long, happy and prosperous marriage.
  1. A tradition firmly planted in nature. Perfect for many minimalistic, nature loving millennials. Consider planting a sapling and watching it grow (just like your love).
  1. Reel him/her in. In customary Latin based cultures, it is tradition to symbolize a new union with a lasso ceremony. Once the couple has exchanged vows a designated representative (either the marriage officiant or a family member or friend) who has strung together Rosary beads or flowers and drapes them over the shoulders of the couple in the form of a figure 8 signifying their unity. The couple continues to wear the adornment for the duration of the ceremony until the designated person removes it and gifts it to the bride as a symbol of the couple’s love and commitment to one another.
  1. Blessing of the rings: In some cultures, the priest or officiant blesses the rings, but some more contemporary customs call for passing around the wedding rings for family, friends and guests to bless.
  1. Time Passages. Consider creating a time capsule including items such as your favorite movie from the year you met, a bottle of wine from the year of your marriage, newspaper clippings from the years of your courtship etc. Place all items in a keepsake box and nail it shut “together”, taking turns. Set aside a time to open it on your year, 5 year, 10 year anniversary etc.
  1. A page from the Bible for modern day Christian couples: Consider cleansing each other’s feet. This symbolizes removing any baggage from the past and entering the union with an open and clean heart and mind. A modified version would be washing hands in a bowl at the altar.
Rites of Marriage: Long Island Inspired Ceremonial Customs to Wow Any Crowd
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