Now that we have an officiant for the wedding, it’s time to start working on the ceremony. This is anything but simple. Being an atheist, inter-cultural couple comes with its challenges, and creating a ceremony that incorporates all of that should be a special challenge indeed. But I think this will probably be one of the most rewarding parts of planning the wedding, and I know it will make the actual ceremony even more meaningful, knowing all of the thought and emotion that went into it.
I probably won’t go into too much detail about the ceremony on the blog, since I don’t want to divulge too much. But here is a general framework of what I’m thinking:
I’m planning to structure the ceremony around the traditional Jewish wedding. We’ll sign a Ketubah before the ceremony begins. We’ll be walked in by our parents, we’ll have a chuppah. I’m not sure if we’ll have the circling or not, but I’m considering it. We’ll have a ring exchange, the sheva brachot will be recited, we’ll drink some wine, and Steve will break a glass. My absolute favorite part of every wedding is when the groom stomps on the glass and everyone erupts into shouts of “Mazel Tov!” So, that will definitely be happening.
Within that traditional structure, I’ll be adding, subtracting, and changing in order to make this a ceremony that really works for us. First, everything will be egalitarian. We’ll each be giving each other a ring. We’ll both drink the wine. If we include circling, that will have to be egalitarian as well. Second, the Hebrew (and English) wording will be altered to reflect our secular beliefs (or non-beliefs, depending on how you look at it). I’ve found some good Humanistic Jewish resources to use as a guide. We both feel strongly about having the wording of the ceremony match up with our particular set of values; neither of us wants to be simply repeating words that have no meaning for us whatsoever. Third, I’d really like to add some vows in English to the ceremony. Most of our guests will not speak Hebrew, and a large number of them will be completely unfamiliar with a Jewish wedding. Also, neither Steve nor I speak Hebrew, so I like the idea of us doing some vows in English. These will not be personal vows; both of us are fairly private people when it comes to declaring our feelings in public. Instead, I’ll probably use some version of traditional English wedding vows. We’ll change those to make them secular, too. And we’ll have to decide how much of the antiquated language we want to use. Thee instead of you? Probably not. But the part about “I plight thee my troth?” Delightful.
Of course, our officiant may want to add things in as well, so I have a feeling this will be a work in progress for quite some time. For now, I’m just glad to have an idea of where it’s going.