The Mister and I are, in fact, both confirmed Catholics. Our ceremony, however, was non-denominational.
Why? Because if someone were to ask either of us when the last time was we were in a church, we would have to think hard. It's been years. The point is, we're not practicing Catholics, and I had some sincere issues with faking that close relationship with any particular dogma on such an important day. When I was younger, I was a strongly practicing Catholic, and I know my past me would be offended at that kind of faux-religious display.
Catholics, if you are not familiar, are brought up in a tradition that places strong importance on ceremony (some are referred to as sacraments), and the symbolism behind the actions therein. There is a reason for when a congregation at mass sits, kneels, or stands. For how you hold your hands when you receive holy communion, for when signing the cross, and the order everything goes in. Growing up Catholic I found a lot of comfort in these meaningful actions, and they helped to drive home the importance of why we gathered.
We both knew not getting married in a church might be a bit of a sticking point for our families, and so when we looked at ceremony options, instead of a straight-forward non-denominational ceremony (which would have lasted maybe 5-10 minutes), we decided to insert a bit of pomp and circumstance of our own.
Please note this does not mean we're atheists (not that being an atheist is wrong, I just want to be clear that for us, there is a difference between believing in a higher power and adhering to a specific dogma).
Our officiant offered us a few alternatives to look at. Some were decidedly a little outside our comfort zone (jumping the broom seemed a bit off for our anglo-saxon-selves.), but there was one which stood out as such a good fit for us that it was easily one of the most straight forward and simple decisions we agreed upon for the whole celebration: The Wine Box Ceremony.
There are are a few variations on this tradition that I've seen online, but let me tell you how ours went: Prior to the big day, both the Mister and I took some time to ourselves and wrote letters to the other. These letters talk about how we feel about each other, our aspirations for the future together, and why we choose to marry each other. Even if the wine box ceremony isn't something you would do for your day of, I can't tell you how much this simple activity of writing out a letter to the Mister really helped me get my head around how special he is, how much I truly love the ever living snot out of him, and how important his presence in my life is. It was really affirming for me. Letter-writing: I recommend it.
Those letters were sealed in envelopes. Which were then sealed in a box along with a bottle of wine. Some people nail these boxes shut. We chose instead to lock our box, and give the keys for that lock to our Maid of Honor and Best Man for safe-keeping.
The box is to be kept in a safe place in our home (it's in our bedroom so we can see it everyday), and we open it to read our respective letters and drink the wine in one of two scenarios:
- We reach a point in our marriage where it's either open that box or call it off.
- We reach our 50th wedding anniversary.
Our officiant actually had a small snafu in his script and said that we would open the box on our fifth anniversary. I think both of us felt aiming for only year five was really quite a "woah! dream big!" type of fail. After the ceremony the Mister started one of my favorite conversations from the day:
The Mister: He said five instead of fifty. FIVE?! We can't open that box at year five! We won't have even reached the seven year itch!Hmm. maybe it was funnier if you were there.
KpMcD: I know, right!? I told him fifty, he must have missed the zero-key when he typed it into his script!
One of the Mister's brothers: You know what? I'm pretty sure it'll be okay and you can still wait until year fifty. Your officiant's not going to show up on your fifth anniversary and hold you both at gun-point shouting "OPEN THE BOX! OPEN IT!"
Long story short, seeing as we're madly in love, we're obviously aiming for year fifty as opposed to a end all be all fight, or piddly little year five. The Mister's awesome networking skills paid off here when he contacted a wine-maker friend of his from a local winery, who hooked us up with a low-sugar wine that should in theory still be drinkable at fifty years out. And then she did him a super solid and put his (now our) family crest on that bottle.
There is something very important to The Mister and his family about the McDermott crest. As Swedes don't typically have crests, my Peterson upbringing didn't really give me a comparable experience. So while I can say it's fun to have such an identifying and unifying symbol, I can't pretend to truly get it. However as an artist, I can put that crest on any and every, thing my hands touch*.
A few hours of hand painting, and the McDermott family crest adorns our wine box. The Mister squealed with joy when he first saw it. I couldn't think of a more appropriate label. Because that box and what it stands for means we're a family now.
What was special about your Wedding Ceremony?
Do you hold a strong faith in a particular religion?
How would you have felt about our non-demoninational decision? (I really want to know)
Have you seen this wine box thing done at a ceremony?
Or have you seen another unconventional tradition we
wouldn't normally see in a 'movie' wedding?
Do you have a family crest?
Tell me in the Comments!
*That crest maybe showed up in a few more spots at the wedding. Which was the Mister's favorite?