Dara Molloy: Celtic Monk & Celtic Priest

Putting Together

A MARRIAGE CEREMONY

Priest / Minister / Facilitator

  • Decide what role you want this person to play: priest, minister, facilitator, master of ceremonies
  • How do you want this person to dress for the ceremony: priestly gear, as a monk, as a druid, or in lay clothes?
  • You could have a man and a woman team do the ceremony, to represent male and female energies equally (as in photo).

Setting

  • plan a layout for the location of the ceremony
  • where will the couple go to on arrival.
  • where will parents go?
  • best man, bridesmaids? Musicians? Guests?
  • create a focus e.g. a table or altar, a candle, flowers, a tree.
  • how will you decorate the scene?

Entrance

  • will someone show people to their places?
  • Will the bride, or bride and groom, enter formally, or just gather with the rest?
  • Do you want music for the formal entry, if you have one?
  • Will somebody give the bride away?

Ideas for the Beginning

  • The couple lights two candles to represent themselves as two individual persons
  • A member of the bride's circle presents her to the groom and his family by saying a few words about her
  • A member of the groom's circle presents him to the bride and her family by saying a few words about him
  • Have the priest/minister/facilitator say a few opening words to welcome everybody, explain the ceremony and put people at their ease
  • Have the priest/minister say a prayer

Readings

  • Choose short readings that mean something to you - I can e-mail a large selection to you
  • Appoint people from your guest list to do the readings at the ceremony
  • Choose up to three readings

Music

  • Instrumental music e.g. harp, or Irish traditional tunes (flute, fiddle, bodhrán)
  • Songs
  • Hire musicians or make use of the talents of your guests
  • Music on CD or tape is still better than no music at all

Remembrances / Intercessions / Blessings / Thanksgivings

  • Remember the dead. Have someone come to the front and name those you wish to remember
  • Intercede. Have one or more say a prayer or prayers for special intentions
  • Bless. Use the occasion to pray a blessing on whoever you wish. Have someone read the blessing
  • Give thanks. Have someone say the thank you for you, or do it yourself.

Preparation for Making the Vows

  • Invite the priest/minister/facilitator or someone else to present some thoughts on the meaning of marriage
  • Ask the priest/minister to bless each of you individually before you take your vows
  • Receive the 'blessing of the four elements'.
  • Ask the priest/minister to invite all present to bless you both - they could, for example, hold the palms of their hands out towards you as the priest/minister prays.

Making Your Vows

  • Choose carefully the words you wish to use - they can be your own words or a standard set of words
  • Will you both exchange rings? What words, if any, will you use?
  • If you lit two candles at the beginning, now is the time to light the third candle.
  • Other ideas: a handfasting (a cloth or ribbon that is tied around your held hands); an exchange of gifts

A Blessing for Your Relationship

  • Health and Wholeness: this is a blessing I offer using olive oil. The oil is placed on your forehead or your hand and I pray that your relationship will remain healthy and grow and develop in a wholesome way throughout your lives together.
  • Protection: this is a blessing I offer using water from a holy well. I sprinkle the water around you as a couple by walking around you three times. I pray that your relationship will be protected from any situation that would damage or endanger it.

Other Ideas You Might Consider

  • Have each guest, or each grouping (e.g. family) of guests, light a candle for you on the altar or table
  • Invite both families and both sets of guests to intermingle and shake hands. A wedding is the coming together not just of two people, but also of their families and friends
  • Tell the story of your relationship: how you met, all that happened since then, and your decision to marry. (You could tell it yourselves, or someone could tell it for you)
  • Include in the ceremony symbols of the various aspects of your lives that are important to you - place them on the altar or have them brought up during the ceremony
  • Invite some of your guests to speak during the ceremony - they might speak of their memories, or what their hopes and wishes are for you.
  • If there are to be children at the ceremony, involve them in some way: a little performance, their art, bringing up gifts.
  • A chance to be generous on your wedding day:- a small gift for everybody who came; a donation to a charity
  • Dancing:- a performance of a dance by one or more people; or you as a couple dance to music after you make your vows; or a circle dance for everybody in attendance with someone leading it.

Exit

  • Decide how you want the ceremony to end: With music? With a procession out?
  • Decide the order of the procession out, if you are having one.
  • Will you stand as a couple and greet each of the guests as they emerge?
  • Will there be a glass of champagne as a toast for you as you emerge?
  • Choose suitable music for the exit.

That's it! Go through this with a pen and paper, and write down what you want, step by step. Leave things out, put things in, change the order, do whatever you want. It's your ceremony. Don't be afraid to make it your own.

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