Breaking of the Glass: Among those of Jewish faith and ancestry, stomping a glass is a joyous moment at the end of the wedding. A wine glass is typically wrapped in a cloth napkin. Placed under the foot of the groom, he heartily stomps and shatters it to the cheers of the guests. In unison, guests wish the couple a “Mazel Tov,” which translated….or Congratulations. There are numerous interpretations of this ritual: the breaking of glass signifies that the world is not whole, connoting the destruction of Jerusalem and the historical struggles of the Jewish people. This tradition acknowledges that great joy may be tinged with sorrow and may also be connected with those individuals that the bride and groom have lost. On a lighter note, many contemporary brides and grooms focus on the break of the glass as a custom of good luck. In fact, some Jewish bookstores and gift shops offer handcrafted colored glasses that are used for the breaking. These pieces of glass can be fashioned into artwork, after the wedding for display in the couple’s home.
Blowing Bubbles: As the tradition of throwing rice, a custom associated with fertility, has fallen out of favor due to ecological reasons, many couples distribute pre-packaged bubbles to blow during the recession of the wedding party. Under the sunny skies or a summer wedding or perhaps at an outside or beach wedding, the bubbles make a terrific photo opportunity.
Wedding Bells and Wedding Belles: I recently worked with a couple who were partial to a ceremony and vows informed by the Buddhist faith. In reading about these traditions, I was reminded of the practice of ringing chimes or bells to denote sacred times and places (such as before the practice of meditation). With small hand held bells available at party shops or other gift shops, this tradition could be a wonderful and unusual way to end the ceremony.
Crackers: About a month ago, I married a couple of Chinese ancestry, originally from Hong Kong. Due to the English influence in Hong Kong, the couple distributed crackers to the guests. As the wedding party recessed, the guests popped the crackers (loudly!) and confetti exploded to shower the couple and their attendants. I had been familiar with crackers, distributed to children at Christmas time, but had not seen them used at weddings!
Sparklers: In most places on the east coast, individuals are prohibited from purchasing and igniting fireworks….but that isn’t the case everywhere in America! In my home in Oklahoma, for example, roadside stands sell fireworks of unimaginable variety. The simple sparkler set off during a night time wedding (like the one shown here) is a phenomenal view.
Rose Petals: For a more subdued wedding, rose petals can be distributed to guests which will be showered on the lucky couple as the leave the venue of the ceremony or, perhaps, leave the reception location for the honeymoon. The showering of rose petals is common in Indian and Irish weddings. (The Irish custom of showering the bride and groom during their first dance can easily be modified to throw rose petals after the final blessing or words of the ceremony.) The inclusion of rose petals offers the chance to create special hand-held vases (such as the “tussy mussy”) as keepsakes from the ceremony.
In the end, creative language can present and opportunity to create interesting customs and rituals throughout the ceremony—including the last moments, as everyone prepares to join the reception party.