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April 25, 2012

Wedding Recap: Unity Ceremonies

Not only is today Wedding Wednesday, but it’s my birthday (the big not so exciting 2-7)!  Scott is taking me out later tonight, so I’m starting off the day with a continuation of my last Ceremony recap.

*All photos used in this and all wedding related posts are from Elegant Imagery.

Unity Ceremonies

Our vows may have been traditional, but our unity ceremonies were anything but ordinary.  Most couples light a unity candle or partake in a unity sand ceremony, but Scott and I aren’t like most couples, (shocker.)

When choosing what unity ceremony to do at our wedding ceremony, we spent a good amount of time researching different options and narrowed it down to two.

Sharing Vows

We went back and forth trying to decide which one represents us the most and while Scott was persistent on one, I was persistent on the other.

Alas, we finally come to a decision to do both unity ceremonies.  We could do that. It’s our wedding, so why not?

Wedding Ceremony Programs

The back of our programs were simple.  We wrote a special thank you to our families, friends, and vendors as well as a description of both unity ceremonies.

Foot Washing

While meeting with our pastor months before the wedding, he asked if we would ever consider doing a foot washing.  I had never heard of this before, but Scott had.

At first I was reluctant.  I didn’t think our guests would understand the purpose behind washing feet at the altar, and to be honest I was worried it might be perceived as a little weird.  After thinking it over, I decided to give it a shot and discussed it further.

On our final meeting with our pastor, his secretary popped in and told us she was in a very similar situation before her wedding day.  She too was hesitant of foot washing, but agreed to have her husband wash her feet at the altar.

She told us – without a doubt – that moment where her husband washed her feet was the most meaningful part of the entire day, and still hears people talking about it.

Footwashing Ceremony Wide View

Since Pastor Dave was officiating the ceremony, we completely trusted him to explain what we were doing.  As a reference, we printed the following on the back of our programs:

Foot Washing

“Throughout the Bible, there are many instances when foot washing was practiced.  It was a token of reverence offered to guests when they visited another’s home, as the feet are often considered the dirtiest and the lowliest part of one’s body.

However, the greatest example was offered on the very last night of Jesus’ life, as He washed the feet of His disciples, as a sign of submission and humility to those He loved.

Today, Scott will wash Heather’s feet as a sign for a life of humility, devotion, and complete surrender to her.”

The foot washing ceremony started with a talented soloist and friend from our church, Doug Pierce.  He sang a Brian Litrell song that Scott and I both adore called “Grace of My Life.”

As soon as the music started, Joseph the best man brought a chair over and helped Scott get the crystal basin and pitcher of water.  I sat down and Scott took off my shoes, washing one foot at a time.

Footwashing Ceremony Scott looking at me

We were both crying and I was so wrapped up in the moment that I didn’t even look around to see any other reactions.

Footwashing Ceremony unhooking shoes

The hardest part was getting my shoes back on.  They were beautiful shoes, but definitely not the easiest to put on and take off.

Scott washing my feet on our wedding day was an experience I will always cherish.  I will never forget how he looked at me, with such care and devotion.  No matter what anyone thought and at the end of the day, that is what meant the most to me.

Handfasting

While researching Irish and Scottish wedding traditions, I came across a ceremony called handfasting: “the tying or binding of the hands of the bride and groom with a cord or ribbon,” (Wikipedia.)

Pastor explaining Handfasting

After looking at different cords online, I decided to make my own to really represent us.

Handfasting cord 1

We knew our guests wouldn’t really understand why we were tying ourselves together, so we explained it in our ceremony program which read:

Handfasting

“An ancient Celtic tradition practiced when a couple could not afford a formal ceremony, or when a priest could not be found, this involves literally tying the couple together by the wrist in a sign of unifying their lives.  A couple would traditionally only be bound for one year and a day, sparking the phrase ‘forever and a day,’ although we plan to be bound for life.

They will be wrapped by a cord of three ribbons: a green one representing him, a pink one representing her, and a white one representing Christ.  The pastor will form a unity symbol around their wrists with a cord, and then he will tie it in a knot to seal the unity.

This is also where the phrase ‘tie the knot’ originated.”

Handfasting Ceremony

When we explained the idea to our Pastor, he loved what it represented but also saw it as a challenge when it came to tying the cord correctly. He did a great job explaining the significance of the three colors and how we were literally tying the knot that day.

Handfasting Ceremony

Before our ceremony, he practiced on the Scott and a groomsmen and it came together perfectly.

Tying the Knot through Handfasting

We are now bound forever and a day.

Pastor closing handfasting ceremony

Our ceremony lasted longer than the average 20-30 minutes, but the feedback we got back from guests confirmed our wedding ceremony was very personal and meaningful.  Looking back, Scott and I both agree that we wouldn’t have changed a thing.

We carefully crafted the story of us, our love for each other, and our growing faith together.

We're married!

We did it!

 To be continued next Wedding Wednesday…

In the mean time, see what recaps are coming up on the Wedding Page!

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3 Responses

  1. Rachael says:

    Love this… I am wanting to do the foot washing as part of our ceremony too but really wasn’t sure whether we should or not because it is different… You just inspired me to definitely make it apart of our wedding :) Thank you! :)

    • Heather says:

      Thanks! I was actually a little hesitant at first too, and ended up doing it to please my groom. It turned out to be one of my favorite parts of our ceremony and something our guests STILL talk about! Glad you are willing to put yourself out there and do something truly unique! :)

  2. AMH says:

    Hi! Thanks for sharing your sweet story and pictures. Do you remember how long the foot washing took? I want to include it in my ceremony but I don’t know how much time to allow for it.

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