They decided to have a “Commitment-To-Be-Married” ceremony and include their children and immediate relatives. By doing this, they felt the children would see the love and commitment their parents have for all their children - and the family they were becoming. They did not want their children to feel their other parents were being excluded but rather that the families were growing because of love.
They also felt that by having a minister and other family members there to celebrate this union with them, the honoring and solemnity of the occasion would create a bigger impression on the children, helping them awaken to the beauty of a blended family. And they were right. It did. Carol called me a week after the ceremony and told me what an impact it had had on the children as well as she and John and she was so happy that all had worked out even better than she and John had hoped.
For this celebration of love and family, all the children were included. Prior to the ceremony each person had tile-covered a letter in the word, “Family,” which they carried into the ceremony. As each entered - including Carol and John together - each person carried in the letter they had decorated and placed it on a table at the front. What a unique and lovely tribute to family in all its many forms.
The tulip bouquet Carol held was gathered from every family member in attendance - including the children. As she and John entered, they went down both sides of the chairs, collecting flowers into which everyone had placed their wishes for a long and happy life together. When at the front, John and Carol combined all the flowers they had gathered and Carol’s daughter tied them all together with a ribbon.
The Ring Bearers were 8 year old boys and they had been given the task of deciding for themselves what kind of ring containers they should use for carrying the rings into the ceremony. We were all curious to see what they would come up with and how charming it was to realize that the ball caps they were wearing before the wedding (of their favorite teams, of course) were to double as the ring containers! That was a first for me at any wedding and the sincere human-ness of it made my heart smile.
They were very proud of their ring container choices.
To show their unity as a family, a Unity Sand Ceremony was included, where each of the children and their parents poured sand into a jar as a wedding keepsake. When the sands were poured, Carol and John spoke from their hearts to the children about love and family and the family they would become. It was truly beautiful and I noticed some hankies in use in the audience.
This was a family ceremony all the way around. The children escorted their grandparents into the ceremony before we began, Carol’s brother read from First Corinthians, Carol’s father spoke for all the parents as he offered a Parents Blessing, and their “adopted daughter” sang a solo while accompanying herself on a guitar. (Note the cute headband she had chosen for the occasion.)
After the ceremony was finished we all took photos of ourselves together. I particularly love the one below with the Family sign.
Then the family gathered at the lake edge for some group photos.
As I headed back out to the car to go to my next ceremony that day, I took a couple of photos of the ceremony area - Shelter 8 at the Ebenezer Church area of Jordan Lake. I think this has now become my favorite place on the lake. I have performed a christening and a commitment ceremony there and each time I was struck by the beautiful serenity of Nature there. It feels magical.
I had noticed when I arrived for the ceremony that they had lit the fireplace and I had wondered why, since it wasn’t a particularly cold day. But as I walked by the stone fireplace on my way out to the car, it came to me in a flash the reason it had been lit, even if the awareness had not been in the minds of the lighters…
A hearth represents home. And the fire represents love’s eternal flame.
This hearth contains the loving flame of this family.
Thank you, God, for that beautiful revelation.
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