When looking to design a ceremony that has meaning and perhaps a bit of wisdom, why not include your own life?
Did the two of you meet at Starbucks through on-line dating? Share a cuppa coffee at your ceremony?
Do you ride bikes together as part of your exercise program? Then come down the aisle on a pedicab — probably the one with the big poofy white dress should ride, but it’ll get a giggle if you go the other way. (I’d practice first, however!)
Don’t over emphasize it, just make it a moment, but acknowledging your life is a good way to help people understand why you’re compatible!
Tip: remember! you want to have a good time at your wedding even as you’re taking it very seriously.
The image you chose as a metaphor
8. should support the wedding vows you are making.
You don’t need to have it in the vows, but the picture the image offers helps everyone to understand why you are offering those specific promises.
Your vows should be written from your strengths, values and talents. They should shore up those areas of your relationship that are not perhaps inately your best talents. Your metaphor should help everyone envision the work you are undertaking. It should be a talisman throughout the years to remind you of the work you are doing… and the joy you have in making these commitments.
Tip: The stronger the identification you can make with a metaphor, and the more frequently the image appears in your life, the more support it will offer your marriage. It will also remind your community to support you whenever they see the image show up and they make the connection to your promises to one another.
The image of a metaphor is strengthened if
7. it is somewhat common.
You want to reinforce the notion that love is ubiquitous and that your relationship thrives in the every day. Marriage, after all is an every day activity. The metaphor you choose to illustrate your love in your wedding ceremony should be frequently encountered.
If something is too exotic in your life, then your chances of encountering it are slimmer. You loose the reinforcement that common activities offer. So using an image that involves the life-cycle of a camel if you live in Rhode Island, even if it can be made gloriously beautiful, is not going to provide the daily reinforcement that the tides of the sea or the changing of the seasons might.
Tip: Choose a metaphor to describe your relationship that has value and frequency in your life. Then it can be something more than poetic beauty, it can be a marital aid.
Metaphors work best
6. When there is an activity that accompanies it.
Food you eat, things you plant, water you spill out. These allow the image to settle in more deeply.
The more common the images, the more they will be reinforced in our daily lives. The more they’re reinforced in our daily lives, the greater the meaninng they will have in our marriages.
Tip: choose a metaphor to describe your love that can be reinforced with a small activity. Use it in your wedding ceremony. For 3 weeks afterwards, do the action and think of the way you love one another. There you are, with your love for one another sealed into the sharing of bread, for the rest of your life.
Metaphors work, as I’ve pointed out. But what you want is for them to work well. You’re looking for them to help out your marriage. So, choose a metaphor that will help you.
4. The image should be “contagious” and appealing. It should be something that people can understand quickly.
Hallmark does so well because it uses metaphors that appeal to us. Your job is to find something that appeals specifically to you, but is completely graspable by your community.
Part of the lovely nature of metaphor is that it takes something complex and simplifies it for us. OH, your love is like a game of tennis between two friendly and seasoned competitors. Good volleys, interesting shots, as much interest in an enjoyable game as in winning the point. (No, really, there are people like that!)
Tip: Find a metaphor that is attractive. Something you would want in your life on a daily basis. Something simple you can work with on a daily basis and then let it help you grow a great marriage.
You want metaphors that last through time because you want your marriage to last through time. Therefore:
3. The image should be enduring.
Even flowers have cycles. So build an image that includes the cycles, the fragility and the strength that lie behind the blossom.
So if you’re going to talk about a rose, don’t just talk about the blossom. Remember what Linda Ronstadt’s song said: “Love is a rose, you’d better not pick it, it only grows when it’s on the vine. Handful of thorns and you know you’ve missed it, lose your love when you say the word mine.”
Tip: If you’re going to use something like a rose, use the bush, rather than the cut flower. Celebrate the way the flower blossoms and then turns inside during winter. You can find stuff to work with here that will make your wedding ceremony sparkle and your marriage sizzle.
For metaphors to work well, they need to have reference to our lives. Once we’ve set them up, the more reminders we have of them, the stronger the connections they’ll make for us.
2. The image should be pertinent to where you are.
If you’re starting out your life on the prairie, don’t choose the ocean as your metaphor. The prairie offers plenty of wide expanses for exploring! Do you live in a city, where life is vibrant, pulsing and exciting. Or in a forest where life is stately and slow?
Tip: think about those things that are essential in your relationship. Then look for a metaphor that speaks to that characteristic. Then, once you’ve found a way to use it in your wedding ceremony, start bringing it into your daily life. If your life is expansive as the prairie is expansive, start taking a daily walk in the prairie. Now you’re not only spending time together, you’re walking that metaphor into your heart and marriage.
You want to find one good metaphor to use at your wedding ceremony. Metaphors can lodge in our psyches and remain there to encourage us. Ritual activities and metaphors that we use ceremonially will remind us for the rest of our life of how we felt when they were first employed. Something as simple as a metaphor can strengthen your marriage for the rest of your life.
1. The image should be pertinent to who you are.
You don’t want to talk about relationship as a stewpot, blending your life into a flavorful broth, if your relationship is built on or at least more like extreme sports. (Be careful about choosing a metaphor or activity that you might not always be able to do. Babies, health, careers can make demands on lives and marriages and triathlon training may not get to be the center of your life always and forever!)
You would only talk about relationship as a stewpot if you LIKED stew, or were foodies. You would only talk about relationship as a journey if you enjoyed journeying together.
Tip: The more familiar the metaphor to your life, the better it will work for you.
Metaphors are those word pictures that allow us to “get it” very quickly.
If you say that your life together is like a pot of fragrant and delicious stew constantly cooking on the stove, constantly changing and transforming, you get a pretty good idea what is important. You are saying that marriage simmers, nurtures, and delights. You are offering a metaphor that will surface time and time again (if you cook). Because every time one of you makes a pot of stew, or even better when you learn to make it together, being respectful of one another’s tendencies with the spices, you will be reminded of your wedding day and the promises you made and the dreams you had for your married life. All that from a stewpot.
Tip: At your wedding ceremony you have the opportunity to create small ritual activities, ones that make sense in your life now and that you will want to carry on for the rest of your life. Repeating an action that occurred in a ritual moment will call back all of the emotions of that moment.
It’s frustrating that with our emphasis on the importance of the wedding, we fail to understand that marriages are made day by day. Sure, in your wedding ceremony you announce your vows. But really, these are promises you’ve been working out over the span of your relationship. They will continue to transform and become more clear and more useful along with the relationship.
But something else is true about vows:
Promises are something you make and keep every day. Your wedding day is simply the start of your promise-making. Everyday is the day you agree to the importance of these vows. Every day is the day you decide to make your marriage happy and healthy.
Tip: If you understand that your promises are a work in progress, that every day when you roll over in bed to greet your beloved, that you are recommiting to marriage, your marriage will be richer. Every day you have the opportunity to do what is right for you, right for your partner and right for your partnership. It’s up to you: are you going to guard your promises and work hard at loving, honoring, cherishing and respecting. I hope so. No reason not to make your marriage a work of art and love.