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Breaking the glass
A suggestion as to the meaning of the broken glass is that the latter comes to remind us of the fragility of human relationships.  According to this view, the breaking of the glass comes as a somber warning to the bride and groom as to the constant possibility of the breaking apart of a union that, perhaps at this moment, seems so strong and full of optimism.  It should not be thought that Judaism is pessimistic, but it is blessed with a strong sense of realism in its dealings with human beings, their potential, and their shortcomings.  This can, in fact, lead to some very positive outcomes in a relationship.  According to this interpretation of the breaking of the glass, we have a sober warning – born not out of pessimism, but of realism.

Broom Jumping
Jumping the broom is a popular African-American wedding tradition that symbolizes the sweeping away of the old and the new, and the welcoming of the new.  This custom stems back to the time when slaves were prevented from marrying.  They developed this ritual as a way to unite in ceremony.  This ceremony is a way to represent the joining together of two lives and the need for support of the marriage from the community.  Jumping the broom has become one of the most popular African traditions at weddings – traditional African-American centered.  History tells us that the ancestral roots of this ritual began deep in the heart of Africa .  It’s original purpose and significance has been lost over the years because of the association with slavery.

Butterfly Release
According to an American Indian Legend. . . If anyone desires a wish to come true they must first capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it.  Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly cannot reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit, who hears and sees all.  In gratitude for giving the butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the wish.  So, according to legend, by making a wish and giving the butterfly its freedom, the wish will be taken to the heavens and granted.  The butterfly symbolizes new beginnings, freedom, and happiness.

Dove Release
The “Ceremonial Dove Release” has been a custom for centuries.  The “Noblemen of Olde” released the dove as symbols of their eternal love for their brides to be.  Doves chose one partner for life and make this commitment until death.  The white dove has been used throughout history as a symbol of Love, Peace, Purity, Faithfulness, and Prosperity.  It is said that if doves are seen on your wedding day, a happy home is assured.  Releasing doves uplifts the eyes, signifies new beginnings and true celebrations in flight.  In Scripture doves are more numerous than all other species.  Luke 3:22 states “The heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove.”  The dove is a symbol of peace and the presence of the Spirit.  They have been chosen by God to be the messengers of the day.

Hand Fasting
Hand-fasting is an ancient Celtic ritual in which the couples’ hands are tied together with a ceremonial cloth or cord.  Hand-fasting is a declaration of intent, where the bride and groom clearly state that they are marrying of their own free will.  This is usually incorporated (and replaces) the standard vows.  (Personal vows may still be used).

Hawaiian Lei Exchange
In Hawaii , in the memory of the islands and their wedding ceremonies, the Lei has been a traditional MAKANA – a gift exchanged between the bride and groom.  LEI ALOHA – Necklaces of Love – are offered and accepted open-heartedly as they give of their beauty.  The lei is a symbol og love; it is also a symbol of things fragile and temporary.  A lei will last for only a day or teo, and then it is gone.  Our lives are like the lei within the span of eternity.  We are here in this life for only a brief moment, therefore live with tender consideration for each other; love one another, and your marriage will last.  The bride and groom are given the opportunity to speak a few simple Hawaiian phrases.

The Rose Ceremony
The Rose Ceremony is simple yet profoundly moving.  The bride and groom exchange two red roses, symbolizing the giving and receiving of their love for each other throughout their entire married life.  The Rose Ceremony also conveys how to use the rose and its symbolism in difficult times in order to forgive each other.  The bride and groom can also present their moms with a single red rose, symbolizing their undying love and gratitude for all their moms have done for them throughout their lives.

The Sand Ceremony
This ceremony has the same meaning as the Unity Candle ceremony, without the religious connotation.  If for any reason you decide not to use the Unity Candle ceremony, the Sand Ceremony is a beautiful and meaningful alternative to your vows.  The ceremony uses three small containers, one for you and your fiancée to pour the sand into, and two for each of you to pour the sand from (different colored sand is usually used).  After the Officiant reads the text you will be instructed to simultaneously pour the sand from the two individual containers into the third container.  You may leave a small amount of sand in each container to symbolize that although you are now joined as one, you each remain individuals.  (You may include children in this ceremony, if applicable).

Thirteen Gold Coins ( Arras )
The custom of the coins originated in Spain .  Thirteen gold coins (arras) are given to the bride by the groom, signifying that he will support her.  Often presented in ornate boxes or gift trays, this represents the bride’s dowry, and holds good wishes for prosperity.  These coins usually become part of the family heirloom.

The Unity Candle Ceremony
The Unity Candle symbolizes the very essence of the wedding ceremony.  Two taper candles, representing the couple as individuals, are used to light a single center candle, as a visible symbol of their commitment to each other.  The individual tapers (Mothers’ candles) can be lit by the bride and grooms mothers, either at the beginning of the wedding ceremony or at the start of the Unity Candle ceremony.  There are many variations on the ceremony and the details are up to the bride and groom.  (You may include children in this ceremony, if applicable).

The Veil and the Cord/Lasso Ceremony
The Veil and the Cord/Lasso are both associated with a wedding prayer during the ceremony.  Special additional members of the wedding party are responsible for draping a white veil over the bride’s head and the groom’s shoulders.  Then a yugal (decorative silk cord) in a figure-eight shape – to symbolize everlasting fidelity – is placed over the shoulders of the kneeling bride and groom.  Thus symbolically tied together and clothed as one, the couple remains kneeling for a prayer.  After which, the Cord/Lasso then the Veil are removed.

The Wine Cup Ceremony
The use of the wine cup at a wedding is an ancient tradition.  It is particularly appropriate at a marriage where the background of one (or both) parties is of the Jewish faith.  The cup of wine is symbolic of the cup of life.  As you share the cup of wine, you undertake to share all that the future may bring.  All the sweetness life’s cup may hold for you will be sweeter because you drink it together.  Whatever drops of bitterness it may contain will be less bitter because you share them.  The couple serves each other the wine.