Andre and I are traditional in some ways but untraditional in many others. In addition to our unique way of seeing the world and also to avoid drama we did our wedding our way instead of the way it's "supposed" to be done. Who decided what's supposed to be done?
We didn't have a formal bridal party. No maid of honor, best man or any of that. I never knew whether or not I'd get married but I knew that if I did, I'd have to have something alternative because my best friend since 14 years old is a gay male. The traditional role of maid of honor or bridesmaids left no room for him. And we'd been through a lot together. He had to be part of it in a special way. Additionally, when I started doing some research on the history of these roles, its all so ridiculous and based on European Traditions that have no relevance to our lives. No shade to anyone who chooses to follow these traditions but I do think it's important to at least know why you're doing what you're doing and not just doing it because everyone else does it. I apply that to every aspect of my life.
Groomsmen were to protect the bride and her dowry to and from the ceremony. Bridesmaids dressing the same was to confuse evil spirits. Something old something new, etc. good luck charms. Throwing the garter was to serve as a distraction from people tearing away at the bride's dress which was considered good luck. Giving away the bride was literal because she was considered property. My dad actually approached me about not wanting to do this because he didn't believe he was "giving me away" cause he doesn't own me.
In any case, I did some research and found a lot of articles on alternative weddings. "Off-beat Bride" was a great resource. The idea of an "I do" Crew surfaced, I ran it by Andre and we went with it. We asked our closest friends and family to be part of our crew. We asked them to wear colors from a color palette but didn't dictate their wardrobe in any other way. They spent the Wedding weekend with us in the Mansion at Noble Lane. We asked them to walk down the aisle to upbeat music but we had no rehearsal. It was super casual and fun. No stress for anyone.
I walked down the aisle myself and instead of being given away, the officiant asked both families if they accepted the bride and groom into their respective families.
For a variety of reasons that would likely be another post, although raised Christian, Andre and I have distanced ourselves from all forms of religion. We wanted a secular service and found a woman from "Journeys of the Heart" who helped us put together, what was described by many regardless of faith, as the most unique and beautiful service they'd ever witnessed. It was truly us.
We included poems about love read by members of our crew. My best friend, Vaughn, and Andre's nephew handed us the rings. We had a sand ceremony based on a Native American Tradition, where we each poured sand of a different color into a vessel. It represents the blending of souls never to be parted. It created a beautiful piece of art that we will cherish forever. The original vessel broke before the ceremony, so we ended up putting it into a mason jar. We did another celtic tradition called a "caim". The officiant spread flower petals around us before we took our vows. It created a sacred space where love, peace, and light are kept in and fear, hate, and darkness are kept out. This was one of my favorite moments. I can't wait to see the professional photos because it really was beautiful. Andre and I wrote our own vows as well.
We had our rings passed around amongst the crew before we placed them on each other. This was a time that they were to silently say a prayer or send us their well wishes. We also had the entire audience take a vow and say " I do" to supporting us throughout our marriage starting that day. that was another favorite moment.
Though very traditional, I am changing my last name and not hyphenating. That's more about convenience. I love my middle name, which is a combination of my parents first names. And I don't want four names. I had a bit of anxiety about the change. But once we got to Mexico for our honeymoon and I was called Senora Jackson all weekend, I felt kind of excited about sharing a name with my new husband. We are officially family!
Below I've included a few direct quotes/ info from our ceremony.
Officiant: Do you support your child's decision to join together in the union of marriage with Andre, and do you vow to receive him as a member of your family from this day on?
Parents: With love in our hearts for both Joy and Andre we joyfully do.
Poems: From The Prophet - Kahlil Gabran and I Love You by Roy Croft
There is a lovely Celtic tradition called a caim... creating a circle with flower petals that will surround you as you exchange your wedding vows. This circle is drawn as a circle of unity… creating the sacred space where you will to give voice to what is in your heart and the promises you make to one another today.
You are encircled. Keep love within, keep hatred out. Keep joy within, keep fear out.
Keep peace within, keep worry out.Keep light within, keep darkness out.
May this be a circle of care and hospitality for one another and for the world around you.
Within it, may you dream and work, hope and love.
Officiant asks guests: Now that you, beloved friends and family of Joy and Andre, have heard them recite their vows, do you promise, from this day forward, to encourage them and love them, to give them your guidance, and to support them in being steadfast in the promises that they have made?
Loved one Responds: We do!
As we move into the ring exchange, we have an opportunity to participate as the community of support for Joy and Andre in a sweet way. Their wedding rings will be passed among the “I Do Crew”, each person holding the ring for a moment along with their blessings and wishes for Joy and Andre. As this is happening, I would ask that each of you take this moment to hold Joy and Andre with your own quiet blessings and wishes for them.
They will wear these rings every day of their lives. And as they do they will be reminded of the love and the support that come to them through this wonderful community of family and friends.
Joy and Andre, you have two vessels of sand here, two different colors… to honor the beautiful individuals you each are, the unique gifts you each bring to our world… and certainly the gifts you each bring to this partnership. This gesture celebrates your decision to join your lives in marriage… as well as honors the ways in which you have already learned to allow your individuality to be contained and supported in this partnership.
In the Native American tradition, the mixing and shifting of sands signifies the convergence of two souls. As you pour these individual containers of sand into this third vessel, these individual colors of sand will mix and shift… blending into a new creation, whole and impossible to separate! So my you be joined in body, heart and spirit.